There’s a Massage for That
by Catherine Spinley
It’s a bit telling my favorite poem growing up was Shel Silverstein’s “Sick.”
“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
At one point in my miseducation, I could recite the poem from memory because it was ingrained in my 8 year-old ethos. A few years later I would break it to my family I had Lou Gehrig’s Disease after watching his biography on A&E and a particularly warm summer afternoon that left me feeling a bit wilted and lethargic. This was years before WebMD would come along and fuel my never-ending, self-diagnosis tour, but I was not deterred. I’ve had “mono” many times and I thought I was paralyzed for a brief 10 seconds back in the 6th grade after aggressively trying to pull off a back flip (turns out I just knocked the wind out of myself).
As I’ve gotten older and developed some minor (but, I mean, major in my own mind) health quandaries I’ve learned when to go to Urgent Care or a doctor or when to simply Google a treatment. In the past few years, I’ve incorporated three massages into my routine that relieve me of some ailments or annoyances I face from time to time.
FULL DISCLOSURE: These are health tips from a blogger and shouldn’t replace a doctor’s opinion or diagnosis. I’ve seen a doctor for all of the issues I have (and even the ones I don’t), and confirmed it’s safe for me to treat these things holistically. Make sure you see your health care professional, as well. Science is not to be ignored (ahem).
THE MY BELLY IS DISTENDED- IS THERE AN ALIEN IN THERE? MASSAGE (10 MINUTES)
There’s this junk food drawer at work and I’ve tried to quit it but, inevitably, something goes wrong and suddenly I’m huffing white cheddar Smartfood. Like clockwork, by the end of day my jeans are holding on for dear life and there’s a mighty wind yearning to break free. Tested for Celiac Disease before it was trendy, my negative results tell me laying off foods containing preservatives might be my best option (ahem - RIP Pop Tarts). But while I continue to flirt with a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I’ve discovered this abdominal massage recommended by the - wait for it - Bowel Control Program at the University Of Michigan. It works wonders and takes about 10 minutes.
Put on a pair of comfortable bottoms - yoga pants are best - and lie on a hard, flat surface. It’s best to have the support of a hard floor, not a soft bed mattress when performing this massage.
Place your right hand on the lower right abdomen and begin lightly pressing downward into the stomach with a gentle kneading motion.
As you press down and work the air downward move hand up right side of abdomen, in effect pushing the air down and out of your stomach. This should take 1 minute.
Repeat on the left side of the abdomen for 1 minute.
Alternate sides for 10 minutes (5 rounds on each side)
You’ll know it’s working when you hear your stomach gurgle, which is an indication you’re displacing the air causing the bloat. It will sound like you’re very hungry.
You should not feel sharp pain. If you do, a visit to the doctor is probably in order.
THE MY FACE IS *LITERALLY* A WATER BALLOON LYMPHATIC MASSAGE (5 MINUTES)
My face has been puffy since 1978. I look perpetually sleepy, hungover or fresh off a long bout of tears. I’ve tried cucumber slices, chilled spoons, eye masks and creams galore and nothing works as well as a quick session with my jade roller. There are so many benefits that come from jade rolling but I will focus on the cosmetic ones: a reduction of facial swelling and puffiness (i.e. a good lymphatic drain), decreased appearance of fine lines, increased circulation and...it can help product penetrate into the skin better. Here’s the massage:
Ensure your face and jade roller are clean before you begin. Applying your favorite serum is optional but if you’re making this a part of your morning or evening routine, why not?
Begin on at the right temple and roll upwards towards the hairline. Do not roll back down. Pick up the roller, place at the right temple and repeat the upwards roll.
UPWARDS, I SAID. Never, ever roll downwards. Gravity is evil, haven’t you learned that yet? UPWARDS.
Repeat this on the left temple and forehead.
Place roller under the lower right cheekbone - where the contour would end if you contoured. Roll upwards towards your ear. Repeat a handful of times and then move to the left cheekbone.
Place roller under the chin and roll along the jawline outwards towards the earlobe and repeat on the other side.
Within 5 minutes you will notice your skin will have a healthy flush from the increased circulation while feeling cool to the touch from the jade. You should also notice the puffiness begin to decrease, especially after repeated use.
The Jade Roller/Lymphatic facial massage should be done daily.
AM I DYING? REALLY, I THINK I’M DYING MIGRAINE MASSAGE & YOGA (20 MINUTES)
Not to be outdone by my history of puffiness, my battle with migraines is one of epic proportions. They started in 2000, triggered by stress, and nearly 20 years later, the migraines are just as feral. They are triggered by stress, alcohol, sun and dehydration. I’m forever on high alert and with water in hand. I’ve had brain scans (“It’s nahhhht ahhhhh tuuuuuuumorrrrrrrre.”) and taken a bunch of meds but the pills cause side effects almost as bad as the blinding pain in my skull. Avoiding alcohol and drinking 10-12 glasses of water a day is purely preventative. Should a migraine strike, I get myself to a dark quiet room ASAP and do this life-altering regimen, which I found on You Tube during one frantic search for relief. Yoga by Adriene’s 20-minute technique is a combination of stretches, massage and pranayama (breath) and the effects are nothing short of a miracle. Watch the video for the exact steps but here are some tips from the video to help you the next time you’re in the throws of a severe headache or migraine:
Dim or turn off all lights and put away your laptop, phone and/or ipad. Blue light from the screen is migraine accelerant.
Drink water and drape a hand towel spritzed with lavender or peppermint oil over your eyes. I also like to rub lavender oil on my arms, legs and feet.
Face, temple and neck massages help release pressure from the crown of head and face. This regimen utilizes all three massages.
Deep-breathing helps calm your system which is in Fight or Flight Mode during severe migraines. I learned about alternate nostril breathing when I found this video and it works wonders. I’m so focused on doing it correctly, I begin to forget about the pain.
Select yoga poses help with head pain. This massage features Bunny Pose, Child’s Pose and Seated Forward Folds (along with a few other stretches) to loosen muscles and tension in your body.