Kristen Seaton, LMT, MMP
Remarkable healing. True relaxation. Natural well-being.

Self-Care

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Regular massage therapy administered by a skilled practitioner will enhance your quality of life immeasurably.  But have you considered the importance of at-home self-care?  The choices you make daily will significantly contribute to or detract from your physical and mental well-being.

You have only one body, and you will live in it for the rest of your life.  If you allow it to fall apart, you cannot trade it in for a new one - you are stuck with the consequences of your choices - so take good care of it.

Our health affects all aspects of our lives.  In order to manage our lives efficiently, our bodies must be able to meet all the demands placed upon them.  Constant fatigue and difficulty meeting pressures are obstacles to success. 

  1. Eat a balanced diet; take appropriate supplements.
  2. Participate in regular physical activity.
  3. Get sufficient rest.
  4. Drink plenty of clean water.
  5. Understand when to use ice vs. heat for injuries.
  6. Set up a regular schedule for massage/bodywork; see other health care providers as needed.

 

Balanced Diet

The body doesn't function properly if any necessary nutrients are absent.  Good health depends largely on the kinds of foods we eat.  By eating a variety of healthy foods regularly, you are creating an internal environment that supports the proper function of body organs and systems.

  • Foods for building/repairing the body: meat, legumes, fish, poultry, eggs, milk.
  • Foods for protecting against disease: fruits and vegetables.
  • Foods for energy: whole grains and products, such as bread, rice or noodles.
  • Foods to be eaten sparingly: fats, sugars, caffeine (coffee/tea/energy drinks).
  • Foods/substances to avoid: alcohol, tobacco, drugs.

Some of us may have to work harder at changing our attitudes toward food.  For example, consider the quality of food you normally feed yourself.  Are you giving your body the construction materials it needs to build strong, healthy tissue?  You shouldn't give your body poor quality food (a.k.a. "junk food") any more than you would give your contractor poor quality materials to build your home.

If maintaining a balanced diet is a challenge for you, you may want to consider taking a nutritional supplement.  I recommend Pure Encapsulations supplements.  They are pharmaceutical grade, hypo-allergenic, vegetarian, and are only available through licensed health-care professionals (like myself):

  1. Click here to go to the Pure Encapsulations website:  http://www.purecapspro.com/KSeaton.  As a special service to my clients, I have arranged a 15% discount on web orders (discount will be applied at checkout.)
  2. Go to “Patient Sign-In” and “Create Account”.
  3. Provide your name, email address and password.
  4. Log-in to place orders with secure shopping cart technology - all major credit cards accepted.  (If you need assistance with choosing supplements, please e-mail me.)
  5. Select desired shipping method and submit order.
  6. Receive your Pure Encapsulations supplements!

 

Regular Physical Activity

Many people who say they dislike exercise will go to great lengths to find reasons not to do it.  I challenge you to do the opposite: find reasons to get moving.  Here are just a few of the many proven benefits of exercise:

  • Decreased risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, and multiple cancers.
  • Reduced depression and stress-levels.
  • Increased energy, self-esteem, mental concentration and alertness.
  • Enhanced quality of sleep.
  • Improved digestion, enhanced immune system.
  • Improved body composition, assistance with weight loss and maintenance.
  • Increased metabolic rate and appetite for healthy foods.
  • Toned and firm muscles, enhanced coordination and balance, reduced joint discomfort, increased bone density.
  • Improved blood flow and circulation, reduced varicose veins, lowered resting heart rate.

How much physical activity is enough?  If you have been sedentary for a while, have been injured, or are significantly overweight, consult your doctor first, then start slowly.

Dr. Laskowski on MayoClinic.com says, "For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends:

  • At least two and a half hours a week of moderate aerobic activity (think brisk walking or swimming) or one hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running) — preferably spread throughout the week
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week

"As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase your activity even more. If you can't set aside time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day. Remember, the more active you are, the greater the benefits."

  1. Consistency in exercise is key.  Do something every day, even if it's small. 
  2. When setting goals, make them realistic, and don't beat yourself up when you have setbacks (because occasional setbacks, such as illness or injury, are unavoidable).
  3. Increasing your physical activity must become a new way of life, not just a temporary task until your symptoms subside.
  4. Consider signing yourself up for an event, such as a 5-10K run or triathlon.  Find one that is a few months away and will be an appropriate challenge.  Having a specific goal date can be incredible motivation on a daily basis, especially when you have already pre-paid for it.

 

Sufficient Rest

The body needs to be relaxed and rejuvenated after work, stress and exercise.  This can take the form of sleep, rest or participation in a relaxing activity.

Make time each day, whenever possible, for a period of rest or relaxation.  Short naps, reading, listening to music, meditating, or pursuing hobbies can rejuvenate the body and spirit.

For athletes, remember that the recovery period is just as important as the exercise.  Building muscle is a constant process of tearing down and rebuilding muscle.  Without proper rest, there is no rebuilding.

We could all use more hours in the day, but do not be tempted to steal those hours from your sleeping time.  Sleep deprivation can negatively affect your immune system and your ability to concentrate during the day (not good if you are driving or at work, for example).  Seven to eight hours a night is recommended for adults.

 

Drinking Water

It is important to drink enough water after a massage.  Massage helps push toxins out of your muscles and into your lymphatic system to be removed as waste; drinking water after a massage aids in the flushing of the lymph system and the removal of these toxins. Clients who do not drink water after massage may experience mild flu-like symptoms: headache, muscle ache and slight nausea.

Remember it is essential to drink adequate amounts of water at all times, not just after massage.
 
Consider these water facts:

  • 75% of the human brain is water; 83% of the blood is composed of water; bones are made of 25% water; 70% of your skin is water and 70% of your lean muscle tissue is water.
  • Water plays many roles in the human body.  It acts as a solvent, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, aids in temperature regulation, provides lubrication and shock protection for joints, is a component in chemical reactions, protects organs and tissues, and removes waste.
  • The body's thirst signal is an indication that it is already dehydrated.
  • With strenuous exercise the body can lose 2 quarts of water per hour.  If fluids are not replaced, the body's cells will lose water, which will lead to dehydration and overheating.
  • The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of water a day and women consume 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of water a day.  The experts are still debating the details, but according to the Mayo Clinic, "if you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate. If you're concerned about your fluid intake, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that's best for you."

 

Ice vs. Heat for Injuries

The application of ICE or HEAT on an aching muscle depends on the stage of the injury. 

ICE:

  • Ice is best used on acute injuries that have just occurred (up to 48 hours).
  • Ice decreases pain directly.
  • Ice reduces swelling and inflammation.
  • Ice decreases metabolism of the cells so they don't need more oxygen than is available.  The result is less damaged tissue and a smaller area to be repaired.  Also, there is less swelling, and repair can begin sooner. 
  • In order to benefit from ice, you must use it correctly.  Avoid putting ice directly on the skin; first wrap ice in a heavy towel or plastic bag, then apply.  Chill the injured area 5 to 20 minutes, or until it gets numb (icing longer than 20 minutes may damage skin and nerves.) 
  • Do not use ice if you have circulatory insufficiencies, Raynaud's Disease, or cold allergies.


HEAT:

  • Heat works well on chronic injuries that are recurring and on injuries in the maturation stage (when mobility and strength are the focus).
  • Heat decreases muscle spasms, which reduces pain. 
  • Heat increases circulation of blood, bringing new oxygen to injured areas and increasing metabolism and vasodilation, all of which help in the healing process. 
  • To be used properly, heat should be applied to the aching muscles for 5 to 20 minutes. 
  • Moist heat is preferable over dry heat. 
  • Do not overheat, or leave on for extended periods, as burning of tissue may occur. 
  • Do not use heat if you have fevers, infections, acute inflammatory conditions, cardiac/circulatory insufficiencies, and malignancies.

 
VASCULAR FLUSH (ICE and HEAT used alternately): 

  • Acts as a pump for faster healing.
  • Inflammation is reduced, then new oxygen is brought back in to heal. 
  • This is most effective for sub-acute injuries (after the first 48 hours). 
  • Begin by icing for 20 minutes, follow with 10 to 15 minutes of heat, then gently move and stretch the injured area.  End with 5 to 10 more minutes of ice. 
  • Repeat at least three times a day.

 
If you are one of the many people who don't like cold, try this trick:

  • Place the ice on the appropriate muscle, but put a heating pad somewhere else on your body. 
  • You will still receive the therapeutic benefits of the ice, but you won't be traumatized by the cold.

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Last updated on 14 June 2017

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