Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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TEN FOR TODAY Add Warmth to Your Sessions By Rebecca Jones 1. ENHANCE YOUR OFFERINGS Yes, heat is comforting, but it also increases the benefi ts clients receive from massage. "Hot therapy increases the blood fl ow to the affected area," says Jeff Baskett, marketing director for Sombra Professional Therapy Products. "This is good to promote healing and increase muscle elasticity, which enhances range of motion. Hot therapy enhances relaxation and decreases muscle tension and pain." 2. PREPARE MUSCLES DURING THE OPENER As an opener to the session, a focused heat treatment not only relaxes tissues and decreases pain, but also prepares muscles for further work. "It can help the therapist go deeper," says Jacqueline Painchaud, licensed physical therapist and owner of Grampa's Garden, a Brunswick, Maine, supplier of therapeutic hot and cold packs. Consider, for example, a heated neck wrap or body shawl. "Put the heat on right away: 15–20 minutes is the optimum time," Painchaud says. "It relaxes the muscle before the therapist even begins to work on it." 3. WARM YOUR OILS For years, the Holy Grail of massage oils has been fi nding a product that would heat up as it's applied. "That's a diffi cult product to come up with because the ingredients that give you warming tend to be sticky, so you can't massage with it," says Jean Shea, founder and CEO of Biotone. Since "hot" isn't available, Biotone offers "warm" with its Healthy Benefi ts Gel. "It's not off-the-scale warm, but it's a nice warm without being too tacky, too greasy, or too irritating." Until researchers invent massage oil that heats as it is applied, you can always just warm your existing oils. Top-of-the-line bottle warmers can exceed $200, but for those on a budget, Massage Warehouse offers a nonelectric bottle warmer for just $30. 4. REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST Hot stone massage has steadily gained in popularity since its modern introduction nearly 20 years ago, but don't be fooled by pictures of clients relaxing with hot stones resting along their spine—that practice is unsafe. "That's not how stone massage should be done," warns Pat Mayrhofer, president of Nature's Stones Inc., one of the top stone therapy training companies. "It's done with the stones in the therapist's hand. You never place a hot stone on bare skin without moving the stone." Of course, proper education, including information about how to properly sterilize stones after their use, is crucial for therapists wanting to practice hot stone therapies. (For more information on proper hot stone techniques, watch ABMP's "Stone Massage Safety Guidelines" video at abmptv/video/stone-massage-safety-guidelines.) 5. GIVE HOT AND COLD A SHOT For a variation on hot stone therapy, try alternating hot stones with cold stones. "It confuses the brain a little," Mayrhofer says. "The brain says, 'What do you want me to do, contract or expand the blood vessels?' We call it vascular gymnastics." When therapists alternate between temperature extremes—a hot stone in one hand, a cold stone in the other—the heat boosts blood fl ow and the cold draws out infl ammation. "This is a treatment you could get in the middle of the day," Mayrhofer says. "As relaxing as it is, it energizes you so you don't feel sleepy." See what benefits await you. 25

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