Have you carved out time for yourself recently?

You’ve probably spent the season carving faces into pumpkins. Now you’re getting ready for carving the Turkey. Have you taken the time to carve out time in your schedule for yourself for a massage?

Whether you’ve had a massage before, surely you had some preconceived ideas of what the massage was for. Maybe you came in as a treat for yourself, or to reap the benefits of relaxation. Maybe you slept on your neck wrong and needed some relief from a tense or cramped muscle. Maybe you’re an athlete who needed to give your hard-worked muscles a break.

Whatever the reason for your curiosity, there are a number of reasons regular (meaning monthly appointments or more frequently) massage is becoming more of a mainstream treatment option, not just a luxury you treat yourself to once in a while. Here are a few of the top benefits of massage:

It is relaxing. We live in an ever-connected world where every buzz, beep and ding could lead to another grain of sand on the beaches of stress. As stress increases, the body responds in a multitude of unhealthy ways including:
Tense muscles
Increased levels of cortisol
Digestive Issues
Weight Gain

Regular massage – and the regular opportunity to unplug and unwind – allows the body to enter recovery mode.

It reduces stress. Not only is regular massage a break from a stressful life, but regular monthly massages help keep stress reduced between sessions the longer it remains a part of your regular self-care routine.  The prolonged massage sessions can boost energy, reduce pain, and also promote emotional healing.

Massage was once considered a fringe, luxury purchase when you wanted to treat yourself or to celebrate a special occasion. Now it is considered a mainstream treatment option for numerous conditions. We believe in helping our clients treat themselves and promote their overall health.

Have you ever heard of Shiatsu Massage?

Shiatsu is a style of massage that originated in Japan, and is based on traditional Chinese medicine. This style of massage relies on the use of fingers, thumbs, and palms to apply pressure to the body to promote energy flow (called “chi”) and release blockages of energy. This modality works to improve overall health of the entire internal energy system. When one area is ‘blocked’ it prevents that energy stream from entering another area, leaving it ‘empty’. Blocked chi can contribute to a variety of aches, pains and illnesses. The goal of Shiatsu is to bring balance to the energy streams within your body. This promotes healthy circulation, reduces stress, soothes pain, and can calm the sympathetic nervous system.

Shiatsu and Acupuncture have a similar foundational understanding. Both forms of Eastern Medicine rely on “energy highways” in the body referred to as meridians. These energy highways are responsible for carrying different forms of energy throughout the body. When we say your meridian is “blocked” – it’s like the energy in your body is stuck on I-75 at 6pm on a Tuesday during construction season – it’s moving, but not at the rate or pace you’d prefer on a highway. While Acupuncture uses needles to move, or release the energy blockages, Shiatsu uses massage pressure – also called Acupressure – to release the energy.

One of the core differences that most people notice first is that this style of massage is performed clothed, on a padded mat on the floor. When attending a Shiatsu session, it is recommended that you dress like you would to attend a class at your local gym. Loose fitting, stretchy clothing is ideal.

Our Owner, Jerry Stutz, is our Shiatsu Practitioner. He has been studying the craft for almost a decade and has mastered the blend of art and science in the practice. Sessions are typically an hour and a half to ensure full energy work is accomplished. If you see Jerry, feel free to ask him about his experience with Shiatsu, and why he believes so strongly in its healing capabilities.

No Judgements Here!

When working in close proximity with another individual, sometimes you might wonder if things can get a little too personal. Here are a few situations that are very natural that your technician won’t think twice about during your session.

1.    Gas. Everybody passes gas. It’s a fact of life. It’s also a natural body function for releasing gases produced during the digestion process. Some foods simply create more gas than others. When you are relaxed, your digestive function is influenced – it relaxes as your body relaxes. This is beneficial for your digestive system, as it moves more fluidly! However, this means that it is more likely gas will be released. This is the same reason many people feel the need to use the restroom right after their massage.  If you pass a little gas, don’t worry, your technician won’t judge. In fact, trying to clench and keep it in might undo the relaxation you’re trying to accomplish.

2.    Weight. Most people feel self-conscious about some part of their body. We unfortunately live in a society that plays on that self-consciousness – with stick thin ladies and 12-pack abs gentlemen in nearly every advertisement, followed by another diet or pill plan that can help you achieve that aim – it’s easy for us to judge ourselves about our bodies, and assume a new stranger might as well.Fortunately, your therapist and esthetician is far more interested in you taking care of yourself than what your body looks like. They are more interested in working with you on achieving your goals for taking care of yourself in the best way they can. You’re never too big, or too small, to let your size be what keeps you from taking care of YOU.

3.    Being Touched. Sometimes it’s not a weight issue that causes self-consciousness. Sometimes, we just don’t want certain areas to be touched. This is more common in massage, where areas like the glutes, belly, thighs or feet may be worked on.Your therapist is far more concerned with how the tissues in an area are functioning than in the way they look. A therapist is judging the structure of your body – the muscles, connective tissues, etc. – and how they can help you improve its movement. And if you’re still uncomfortable being touched in a certain area – PLEASE DO NOT be embarrassed sharing that with your therapist.  It is their role to help you relax, not leave you feeling uncomfortable.

4.    Taking off your Clothes. Your massage therapist or esthetician will likely advise you to undress to your comfort level. For some – this means removing all of their clothing. For others – this means removing very little. If that is your preference – RIGHT ON! You should never feel pressured to take more clothing off than you feel comfortable with. Your massage therapist can work over clothing, and your esthetician can avoid skin areas that remain covered by clothing. However, in a massage session, it is important to know that the massage while clothed has very different results than massage without fabric covering the skin where oil cannot be used.Most clients find themselves in a happy medium with leaving their underwear on. Regardless of your preference, you remain modestly draped under a sheet and blanket for the duration of your service. Only the area the therapist is working on is exposed, and is placed back under the blankets once that area is complete.

5.    Your Health History. While Body Therapy Massage & Spa is not a medical facility, your technician will ask you questions about your health history, and your prescriptions. We recognize the trust you are placing in us, and hold your privacy as our highest priority. Your information is never shared or divulged. Your technician will need to know what is going on, as certain medications and health conditions impact the products we use (especially during facials), or how your body will respond (especially during massages). If you are unsure as to why your therapist or esthetician needs to know certain information, please feel free to ask them during the pre-brief. They will be happy to share.

6.    Your Income. We will never ask you for income specific details – but we also recognize not everyone can afford regular massage and facials. One of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients is how often they should be coming in. The answer can be as often as every week, but for most individuals a monthly massage and facial is enough for maintenance. Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t have the whole enchilada every month. Our Platinum Membership Plan is designed to reward our clients who come in for our services on a regular basis, and leaves them an opportunity to spoil themselves with a little something extra when their budget allows.

7.    You Didn’t Shave. Your technician won’t judge you for your body hair. Again, your therapist and esthetician are most concerned about you helping to take care of YOU. Whether it’s your legs, arms, armpits or other areas that you are self-conscious of for not shaving – there’s no need to worry. 

8.    Ladies: You are on your cycle. Your menstrual cycle is a very normal bodily function. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. If you are experiencing any symptoms related to your period (acne, cramping, bloating, constipation, etc.) – please let your technician know during the pre-brief. Chances are, they have a solution they can offer to help. This can include special products for hormonal skin during a facial, or stretches that your therapist can show you that may help with cramps. Your technicians are on your self-care team – feel free to ask for their expertise to help you!

Have a Healthy Heart!

This coming Sunday (September 29th) is World Heart Day! Are you taking care of your Heart Health?

You might be aware of some of the benefits of massage as it relates to stress and muscle tension relief. But did you know that regular massage sessions also benefit your heart?

Regular massage therapy sessions can help lower blood pressure. Some studies have even shown that consistent massage can reduce both the systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) pressures. Lowering stress and blood pressure in turn can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and/or kidney failure, along with numerous other health conditions hypertension impacts.

Furthermore, regular massage can help improve circulation. The long-term benefits of massage cannot be overlooked as many of the benefits accumulate over time like a snowball effect. Proper circulation brings a blood supply to tense, stiff or damaged muscles to promote healing. Circulation increases because massage uses hands-on pressure which helps move the blood through the body. It also helps blood move through damaged and congested areas of the body, and causes new blood to flow into tissues. This helps the oxygenation of tissues, and for waste in the tissue to be moved away. In turn, this increased circulation plays a role in lowering blood pressure, and improves overall body function.

Regular massage care is more than just relaxing and treating yourself to a spa day. It is an effective addition to your regular overall health routine. Taking care of yourself is the most important work you’ll ever do. Have you set aside time in the coming week for self care?

What is Massage Therapy?

Perhaps you’ve had a professional massage before.  You’ve likely noticed the difference between a professional massage and that time your friend rubbed your shoulders when you were tense.  What’s the difference between a good shoulder rub, and a professional massage?

Massage therapy (as defined by the Medical Dictionary) is the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues and consists of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, and/or causing movement of or to the body.   There are many types of massage therapy – referred to as modalities.

There are two fundamental types of massage categories:

  • Rehabilitative, which can be referred to as deep tissue, medical, or clinical massage; and
  • Relaxation, also known as Swedish massage.

At Body Therapy Massage & Spa, all of our appointments are classified as “Therapeutic” because we believe in the therapy portion of massage.  However, you get to decide with your Massage Therapist on an appointment-by-appointment basis what type of therapeutic massage you need.  You might decide you need the emotional benefits of a relaxing Swedish massage.  You might need the rehabilitative benefits of massage while training for a marathon.  You are the expert in your body’s needs, we are the experts in using massage therapy to accomplish your goals.

Where Science Meets Art

Professional massage therapists must be licensed to practice in the state of Michigan.  Licensing requirements include 500 hours of training, with at least 200 hours in massage and bodywork assessments and practice.  Following training and education, they must pass their license examination.

Our team of therapists see massage beyond the science – they also recognize the necessity to include an intuitive art.  They blend their knowledge of the function of the body with their artful reading of each client’s unique circumstances.  When the two meet – excellence follows.