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Massage During Cold and Flu Season

It’s that time of the year when lousy weather drives us all inside to more easily share our various diseases with one another. Colds, flus, acute bronchitis, and pneumonia are spreading like wildfire right now so I’m going to put on my pathology teacher hat and talk about how to avoid getting and spreading these pathogens.

Should you make or keep a massage appointment?

I’m hearing a lot questions from clients who are either getting, in the middle of, or just getting over an infection about whether massage will help or cause more misery.

As a general rule of thumb if you are starting to feel bad or are experiencing the symptoms of one of these respiratory diseases massage will make you feel worse. Although gentle massage can be soothing I recommend you wait until your symptoms have passed before coming in for body work. Additionally you could make me sick as well which won’t make me or the clients I’d have to cancel very happy.

If your symptoms are mostly on the way out massage can worsen the symptoms for a few hours but may help your body recover more quickly.  Also, after the worst has passed there are body work techniques that can help drain stuffy sinuses and loosen lingering mucus in the lungs. Keep in mind you may still be contagious even if you’re not feeling bad, please let your therapist know if you’re getting over an illness.

I protect you during your appointment by washing my hands before and after each session and using hand sanitizer during the treatment to reduce potentially spreading disease. If I get sick I stay home and reschedule my appointments to avoid spreading infections to others.

A cold and flu primer:

Both the common cold and influenza are caused by viruses that love the mucus membranes of your nose, sinuses, and sometimes lungs. Viruses invade body cells and hijack them to turn them into virus making factories spreading themselves around and killing your cells in the process. They manage to do all of this despite not being living things, just some protein and genetic material.

Colds are relatively tame and might make you sniffle and cough for a bit, influenza is more serious causing fevers, body aches and other severe symptoms. For most viruses our immune system comes to the rescue although it may take some time for it to defeat the disease and all the while you’re feeling miserable. Once you’ve fought a cold or flu virus off (or been vaccinated) you may gain immunity to that particular strain that lasts from a few months to a lifetime.

These viruses (with a few notable exceptions) aren’t often terribly dangerous in and of themselves although in some cases influenza can be life-threatening. A more common hazard is the potential for another pathogen, a virus or bacteria, to take advantage of the immune system’s distraction and attack the lungs causing pneumonia, a serious and potentially lethal disease. Those at high risk for such a secondary infection are the very young, very old, or people with suppressed immune systems due to medication, organ transplant, or other disease.

How to prevent and manage colds and flus:

*Wash your hands well with warm water and regular soap and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer a lot, especially in public. These pathogens are hardy outside the body and can be picked up from doors, sinks, and other things that sick people have touched. Keep your hands clean and away from your face. Antibacterial soaps contain chemicals that may be harmful to the environment and increase the formation of bacteria resistant to them. They have not been shown to be more effective than regular soap, please don’t buy or use these products.

*Get the flu vaccine and if you are in a high-risk group for secondary infections, a pneumococcal vaccine. Serious adverse effects due to vaccination are extremely rare, in fact you’re more likely to get elected to congress, become an Olympic athlete or struck by lightning. Pneumonia however is the number one cause of hospitalization and the 8th leading cause of death in the US killing more than 50,000 people per year. For more information on vaccines click here.

*If you do get sick stay home, eat some good food, drink plenty of water, and binge something on Netflix. If it’s not possible to stay home wear a surgical mask to prevent spread to others.

*Keep yourself in good health. Exercise, healthy diet, proper stress management, and properly managing other diseases keeps your immune system humming.

A word on medications:

Antibiotics DO NOT treat viral infections including colds and flus. If you’re in a high-risk group they can help protect you from a secondary bacterial infection but they will not cure or abate the symptoms of the cold or flu. If you are prescribed an antibiotic take the entire dosage to ensure any bacterial infections are completely resolved. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics has led to the formation of dangerous bacteria that are untreatable by most or in some cases, all known antibiotics. Please use them wisely.

Over the counter meds can help with symptoms but overuse can make your infection longer and worse. Antihistamines can dry out the protective mucus in your respiratory tract making you more likely to get a secondary infection. Also, fevers work to boost immune system function, if they are not dangerously high they will help shorten your illness. Fevers lasting more than 3 or 4 days, fevers over 104 that last for more than a day or one with other severe symptoms should be seen by a doctor.

If taken early in the disease process Tamiflu can shorten the length of illness although not by much, some reports say only about a day.

Good luck out there, may the viruses stay away and your immune system be strong.

If you have any questions about the flu from pathology teacher Ali or massage therapist Ali please feel free to contact me. Stay well!

Give Comfort and Joy for the Holidays

Gift certificate packages are 15% off now through December 31.  Show your friends and loved ones that you care about their health and well-being with a gift of massage.  Get one for yourself as well, you deserve it!  Click here to purchase.

By shopping local for the holidays and always you help your neighbors like me, keep businesses diverse, get personalized and better customer service, and keep a lot more of your money in your local economy.

Taking a Vacation July 5-August 1

I will be out of the office from July 5th through August 1.  I hate to leave my beloved business for so long but sometimes life makes you an offer you can’t refuse!  If you’d like to get a massage before I leave please click the Schedule Now button to see what is available and save your spot.

New Location


It’s official! I’m in my new office space in Stream Point Wellness at 2039 Regency Road #3. I’m excited to be in a newly renovated office and share space with other complimentary medicine professionals.  You can see my schedule by clicking the Schedule Now button on my page.


What Don’t You See? A Hidden Benefit of Regular Massage

When is the last time you took a really good look at your back?  Your legs?  The bottom of your feet?  Most of us probably don’t spend much time inspecting our skin for oddities, unusual spots, moles that change, or lumps and bumps that weren’t there before and even if we did we might not think much about it.  As a massage therapist who teaches budding therapists about diseases I’m always on the lookout for things that don’t look or feel right.  If something seems wrong I’ll recommend my client get it checked by their doctor if they haven’t already.

I bring this up because I ran into a client who I’d seen regularly for a bit but hadn’t had an appointment for several months.  The last few times he was in I’d mentioned an irregularly shaped and multi-colored blotch on the back of one of his calves.  When I saw him in public several weeks ago he pulled up his pant leg to show where just that week he had a sizable chunk of skin and tissue removed from the area.  He showed his doctor the unusual spot and it was diagnosed as malignant melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer that if not caught early enough can metastasize and spread to other areas of the body.  I was stunned.  In all the times I’d pointed things out to clients they had either already had them checked and were fine or I never got any kind of follow up.  I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to help someone catch what could have been a potentially fatal disease.

When I teach my students about skin pathologies I make sure they can recognize potential cancerous lesions.   We don’t diagnose diseases but can notice when something looks suspicious and let you know that it’s worth having a physician take a look.  Give yourself a good inspection every now and again as well.  If you notice new discolored areas, changes to older moles or spots, bumps that scab over but never heal, or things that seem to be changing rapidly please see your doctor and get it looked at.

Your chances of getting skin cancer increase with age and exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds.  Make sure you protect yourself with sunblock, clothing that covers exposed areas, hats, and sunglasses.  Don’t forget to protect your head, face, ears, and hands as well as they’re often overlooked.  These precautions not only protect you from skin cancer but also from premature aging.  Go outside and enjoy the sun but protect yourself, your skin will thank you!

New Research Supports Massage For Neck Pain

Neck-Pain-ReliefChronic neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck.  It makes doing everything from working at the computer, to driving your car, to sleeping uncomfortable and sometimes downright impossible. It can cause trigger points and compensation patterns that cause headaches, back, and shoulder pain.  Neck pain can be caused by repetitive postures or movements like computer work or reading, traumatic injuries such as a car or bike accident, or other issues like degenerative disc disease.

A new bit of clinical research demonstrates that a 60 minute massage 2-3 times per week can significantly reduce chronic neck pain.  The study ran for 4 weeks with a follow up at 5 weeks.  This is the first study that has allowed 60 minutes for the sessions and included work on compensation areas and integration of the entire body.  This approach along with the frequency of treatment was much more successful than previous trials with shorter duration and focus only on the neck.  You can read the study here.

I have had great success with moderate neck pain by doing 60 minute treatments once per week for 3-4 weeks then beginning to decrease the frequency of treatments.  This also includes having the client note when pain begins to return and adjusting our scheduling to treat before that happens.  This study will likely change my strategy for clients with more significant pain and those who have had pain for a longer duration.

The obvious sticking point here for most people is cost.  Finding a way to manage chronic pain is priceless.  It will improve your quality of life, period.   Work, play, sleep, and family time will all be better.  To help out on the financial end I also offer a package of 5 massages for the price of 4, a savings of 20%.

If you have questions about how massage can help with your chronic neck pain feel free to call or email.

I Have _______________… Can I Get Massage?


So many times I’ve heard people say “I have (insert disease or condition here) so I don’t think I can get bodywork.”  That hurts my heart because there are a lot of folks missing out on pain relief and relaxation as a result of assumptions, lack of information or misinformation. 

I have been teaching pathology, the study of diseases, to massage students for ten years and have seen a lot of changes in how we approach different conditions as more and more clinical research is done on manual therapies.  For example not too long before I began to learn my trade it was wrongly thought that massage should not be done on cancer patients because it might cause the cancer to spread.  That had already been disproven but we still weren’t sure what role if any massage could have for people with cancer.  Thirteen years later and not only are we teaching students how to safely work with cancer patients we have a 100 hour continuing education class for professionals in conjunction with Central Baptist Hospital on working with patients both in and out of the hospital.   

If people dealing with some of the most serious physical challenges one can face:  chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, radiation therapy, and cancer itself can get relief from pain, anxiety, and depression through massage what about those suffering from other things?

Because of amazing advances in medical science people are living successfully with a great variety of diseases and conditions.  For many people, even the very ill, bodywork can be modified to accommodate for most any physical limitation.  In fact because even gentle massage is such an enjoyable and positive experience it can improve the quality of life for most anyone.  In some cases massage may even be an important part of managing or healing a condition or injury.

Here is a sample of some conditions clients of mine have had:

Surgical repair of shoulders, knees, and spines                                     Cerebral Palsy

Lupus                                                                                                              Spina Bifida

Cancer (patients and survivors)                                                                Tendinitis/Tendinosis

Psoriasis                                                                                                        Migraines

Joint Replacements                                                                                     Diabetes

Osteoarthritis                                                                                               Cardiovascular Diseases

Rheumatoid Arthritis                                                                                  Depression/Anxiety/PTSD

Multiple Sclerosis                                                                                        Spondylolisthesis

Muscular Dystrophy                                                                                    Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Sprains/Strains                                                                                             Varicose Veins

When going to get a massage be honest about any injuries, illnesses, or surgeries you have had so that the therapist can work with you in the best way possible.  Experienced therapists will ask you about your condition and how it affects your life and will be able to treat you in a way that maximizes the benefits of massage and minimizes the possible problems that could arise. 

If you aren’t sure if you can get massage or are concerned about negative effects from bodywork please contact me, I would be happy to talk to you about it!

University of Kentucky Study on Massage Therapy for Low Back Pain

UK researchers and massage therapists teamed up to do a study that confirmed massage therapy can help alleviate pain and improve quality of life for those with complex chronic low back pain.  Using complementary therapies could reduce the need for dangerous and addictive opioid pain medications.

Watch a video on the study here.

Client Satisfaction Survey Results

To celebrate my two year business anniversary I sent a survey to all of my clients to discover where I can improve my business as well as what I’m doing right.  I’m very grateful to those who participated and gave me feedback about their experience.  Here I will share the results of my survey and address many of the critiques clients had about my services and office environment.

Here’s what I learned about my clientele:

  • 50%  get a massage at least once per month and 30% at least every couple of months
  • 83% get massage to manage pain, 48% use it to manage stress, and 55% to do something nice for themselves (this was a ‘choose all that apply’ for you math whizzes)
  • A whopping 87% say that quality of treatment is the number one reason for choosing a therapist

Weekend Warriors and Serious Athletes

Spring hasn’t quite made it here yet but I know it’s on everyone’s mind.  I definitely have cabin fever and am desperately awaiting the warm weather so I can ride my bike, take a hike, paddle, or just go outside and play!  What are you chomping at the bit to do outside?  Have you been keeping in shape this long winter or have you hibernated on the comfy couch waiting for the sun to recharge your batteries?

If you’ve been fairly inactive for a bit it’s easy to overdo it in your eagerness to get out, enjoy the weather and have some fun.  Your muscles aren’t yet conditioned for a lot activity making them fatigue more quickly, more prone to injury, and increasing your chances for delayed onset muscle soreness, that nasty ache you get a couple of days after strenuous activity.