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Best Massage in Cincinnati---Specializing in barefoot deep tissue massage
Sunday, September 30 2007

At the AMTA convention this past weekend here in Cincinnati, the Ashiatsu booth picked a winner each day for a $200 gift certificate off tuition. The three winners were picked at random each day and did not need to be present to win.

Congratulation to the following massage therapists!

  • Lisa Jacobs; Harrison, OH
  • Pam Kostecke; E. Rochester, NY
  • Michele Croston; Louisville, OH

The winners can receive $200 off tuition for any  2007 Barefoot Basics class located at a permanent training facility in the US. Thanks to all the 200+ LMTs to entered the contest!

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 10:08 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 28 2007

Cincinnati's hosting of the AMTA national convention started off with a bang. Booths were busy with massage therapists and family members from all over the country perusing products and experiencing various massage modalities.

The Ashiatsu booth was packed all night, and within an hour, the sign up sheet for free massages was filled up for the weekend! X chatted with Ashi grads and those who are very interested in watching, receiving and learning barefoot massage. Cincinnati AOBT grad James Reischmann and I gave demos all evening.

The booth next to ours, Bamboo-Fusion, was also packed all evening with founder Nathalie Cecilia demonstrating bamboo chair massage to willing LMTs! Nathalie's bamboo massage website is here.

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 07:23 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 26 2007

Ohio's AMTA chapter will host the AMTA national convention starting tomorrow. Even if you don't take any of the continuing education courses, please stop by the Vendor's Marketplace. It will be a great place to meet therapists from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and the rest of the US. Hob nob with other LMTs and check out the vendors.

Ruthie Hardee, founder of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, will be at out AOBT booth #612. Any ashi grads can stop by and get a free AOBT bumper sticker, which are new this year. Nathalie Cecilia, founder of the Bamboo-Fusion, will be there right next to our barefoot massage booth!

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 07:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 24 2007

Cincinnati is hosting the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) national convention this week. The Exhibits Marketplace's grand opening will be starting at 4:30 pm on Thursday, September 27, 2007 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati, OH. Exhibits of modalities (including Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy and Bamboo-Fusion), table manufactures, supply stores (such as our local Massage Supplies and Such) and vendors like Mother Earth Pillows will be proudly displaying products and features!

The Exhibits Marketplace will run

  • Thursday, 9/27 from 4:30-8:30 pm,
  • Friday, 9/28 from 11:30-3 pm and 5-8:30 pm
  • Saturday, 9/29 from 11:30-3 pm

The marketplace is open to the public for massage therapists and the general public.

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 20 2007



Bamboo massage is becoming more popular among therapists and clients. Why use bamboo? It's easier on the therapist, but it's more comfortable on clients than traditional tools. Using warmed bamboo or rattan, the therapist rolls and presses these unusual items on the client's lubricated body.

Live bamboo stocks steamed in essential oils are massaged into the body using a combination of rolling, sliding, kneading, and tapping to relieve and renew stressed muscles. This exotic treatment is not only relaxing but is also very therapeutic. By utilizing the bamboo your massage therapist is able to customize the depth of your massage to suite your personal needs.

I received a bamboo chair massage at the AMTA convention in Atlanta last year. It was suprisingly relaxing and soothing. Nathalie Cecilia teaches Bamboo-Fusion massages and is credentialed to teach in Florida. National CEU approval is pending. You can contact her at Nathalie will be at the AMTA convention in Cincinnati next week (September 26-28) giving out free demonstations. Stop by and give it a try! She'll be right next to the Ashiatsu booth (we're booth 612).


Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 11:06 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 19 2007

Ashiatsu Training and Classes

Although there are no special height or weight requirements for the Basics course in Ashiatsu training, the advanced worshops do require you to have some muscle strength! I have taught LMTs who have weighed upwards of 200 lbs in Barefoot Basics, and they've done great. One simply needs grace and coordination and no fear of standing on the massage table!

With Deepfeet 2 (the two footed barefoot strokes), as long as the Ashi therapist has clients that weigh at least 50 lbs more than them, a bigger therapist can still be good to go. We do recommend that the therapist taking advanced courses make sure that he or she can do some push ups and pull ups when coming to class. Taking pilates, yoga or any core strengthening will help get the motivated Ashiatsu therapist in good shape for the advanced Ashiatsu classes.

I teach Barefoot Basics Ashiatsu training classes in Cincinnati, OH on a regular basis. For more information, check out I also teach Ashiatsu classes in Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky periodically. For those groups of therapists or spas needing training close to home, give me a call at 513-238-0970 or email at There are some more specifics on Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy training at off site locations at

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 09:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 17 2007

Just before I graduated from college, my car died. Well, more than that. I had to leave it on a country road when it stopped running, only to find one week later that it had been towed because some hillbillies thought it would be fun to ram into the side of it with a pick up truck. Barely driveable, I tried to get it back to school. But while it had been lying on it's side prior to being towed, all the oil had run out of it. So the engine caught on fire, and that was truly the demise of my Datsun B-210 (I loved it, despite it's oxidized paint and holes in the floor boards).

Armed with the practical "Theatre and Film" degree (minor in Business Admin), I had planned to seek my fame and fortune (or at least meager earnings) as the next Steven Spielburg. Yet, I decided that a car was necessary. And that, in turn, required a paying job. So I fell into retail management for a short spell.

I accidentally got a job after a couple of years in restaurant management, and the hours weren't conducive to any type of theatre work. With a new husband and a baby or two, it was looking less and less like I would follow my passion. I really did enjoy many aspects of restaurant management. It was fast paced, I got exercise and ate for free. But the hours were killers, and I was unfulfilled.

My husband was supportive when I told him I wanted to get my Masters' Degree. But in what? After some pondering, I thought marriage counseling would be a good idea. But he tactfully suggested that it probably wasn't the best course of action for me.

It so happened that around that time, he had given me two gift certificates for massage. I was hooked. I asked the LMT where she went to school, what was involved, etc. Next was the research at the library. My husband was suprised that I thought that maybe I could touch people for a living. Holding my breath, I asked my parents what they thought. I really thought that they would think it was weird. They're all for advanced education--Mom has a PhD, and my pop is "ABD" (All But Dissertation). They thought it was a great idea though, so it was all systems go!

I went to SHI (Self Health Incorporated) in Lebanon, OH. It's a little north of Kings' Island, the huge Cincinnati amusement park. Great school, wonderful instructors, cadaver studies included. I graduated in October 1998 and passed my State of Ohio Medical Boards shortly thereafter. I LOVED massage! I still love massage! I hung on to my restaurant job one day a week for a few months but finally went solely into massage in 1999.

Four pregnancies and five babies later, I still love massage. I did hand-on massage for the first two of those pregancies until about a week before my due dates. Ashiatsu saved my career when I was expecting my twins. All my kids (yes, there are seven of them, for those who are trying to count them all) have a wonderful touch and would make great massage therapists. Well, except the youngest, who destroys everything he comes across.  My older children can't wait for me to teach them Ashiatsu.

In July, I came home after an out of town teaching expedition. After having spent hours in airports, on planes and in cars, my back was killing me. My seven year old asked me if I wanted a massage. "YES!" So she told me to lie on the floor, over there by the wall. And she proceeded to walk on my back. Now, that's love!



Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 01:10 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 16 2007

This is the final portion of Massaging with Sole.

Ruthie Hardee and her team of dedicated instructors currently teach four classes in barefoot massage. I teach on a regular basis in Cincinnati, OH and am currently in Denver, CO, having just taught the introductory course followed by Anterior. I taught in Davenport, IA a couple of weeks ago to some wonderful therapists eager to learn this barefoot massage.

Barefoot Basics are one footed strokes suited for the posterior side of the client's body. Any therapist with grace and coordination can learn these strokes, and she or he learn to shift body weight according to the client's needs. In Anterior/Side-Lying, the massage therapist learns both clinical side lying work as well as a luxurious spa approach to the anterior side of the client's body. The client's eyes are comfortably covered during this anterior massage, and all neck and pectoral work is done with the LMT seated on a stool. Arms and legs are included in the anterior protocol as well.

The advanced class of Deepfeet 2 teaches the massage therapist to use his or her entire body weight in two footed posterior strokes which are well suited for larger clients who really need or enjoy deep tissue massage. Therapists need good upper arm and core strength to give this wonderful two footed massage. And finally, the Fusion-Blend is considered to be the final mastery of all the posterior strokes, and it may be taken after Deepfeet 2.

As author Toby Osborne says, "Of course, whether you try Ashiatsu because you want to recharge your chi or relax your body, barefoot massage has an illustrious past that's worth celebrating."

If you're interested in trying Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy (otherwise known as AOBT),  Hardee's website  has a therapist locator service for all the states with certified Ashiatsu therapists. Not all AOBT therapists choose to list on the site, but you can always contact Ruthie at if you can't find a certified Ashiatsu therapist in your area.

Have a group of therapists in your area needing to learn Ashiatsu? Please contact me at


Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 10:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, September 15 2007

Please read the previous days' blogs for parts one and two of Massaging with Sole!

"What I like about barefoot massage," says fan Scot Voss of Cincinnati, "is that it's so much softer than regular massage. I don't have to worry about pointy elbows and fingers. It's really deep and relaxing all at the same time."

In fact, many spas throughout the country list Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy on their menu. Canyon Ranch health spas offer this style of barefoot massage in their locations in Tuscon, AZ, Lenox, MA, onboard the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship and at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Ashiatsu can also be found at prestigious massage spas such as Urban Oasis in Chicago.  The Insider's Guide "Best of the Rockies"  lists Ashiatsu massage at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek as one of the "Most Memorable."

Sports enthusiasts who require deep work are typically harder for massage therapists to work on because of their muscle density. But by using gravity assisted effleurage, trained therapists can save some energy, reduce fatigue and save their wrists by performing this style of barefoot effleurage. In fact, the September/October 2007 issue of Luxury Spa Finder list Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy as their "ultimate skier's massage."

Part 4, the last portion about our wonderful barefoot massage, is coming tomorrow! (Why is called "gamma"? It's the last letter in the Greek alphabet).

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 01:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 14 2007

Please see yesterday's blog for the first part of this article.

While other forms of ashiatsu take into consideration breathing patterns, chi, and other energetic work, AOBT focuses on muscle and bone. Many orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors and physicians are fans of Hardee's style of barefoot massage. As Dr. Eric Dieffenbaugher, owner of Progressive Chiropractic Health and Wellness in Fairfield, OH says, "Ashiatsu is a wonderful adjunct to chiropratic car, in particular in regards to patients with lumbar disc problems because of it's deep compression and ability to traction out the spine."

This Western style of barefoot massage can be very deep but can also be modified for those who don't like as much pressure. While contraindicated for such clients as those who have uncontrolled blood pressure, women who are pregnant or are trying to conceive, and those on heavy blood thinners, this massage treatment can be very helpful for those clients with chronic low back pain. It's known to help improve posture, relieve pain and yet do it in a gentle but deep fashion.

Part 3 (aka "gamma") is coming tomorrow!

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 09:37 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 13 2007


Affectionately  coined as "the deepest most luxurious massage on the planet," Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy allows the massage therapist to use gravity instead of sheer muscle strength. Using cleaned, sanitized and soft feet, she or he is able by using body weight to press, sweep and swirl along muscles to give broad, fluid movements.

Ruthie Hardee, founder of Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy (AOBT), had seen various types of barefoot massage as a child while traveling with her missionary parents. She witnessed different styles of barefoot massage in Manila, Africa and the Indies.

Although many of the roots of Ashiatsu are Eastern ("ashi" means "foot, while "atsu" translates as "pressure"), therapists in the United States use a distinctly different style of barefoot massage. Traditional barefoot shiatsu is done through clothing on a mat. With Chavutti Thirummal, performed in Indiafor over 1000 years, the therapist typically uses a rope tied end to end and glides along the completely undraped client. Other forms of barefoot massage massage require props for balance such as chairs, poles a single bar, bamboo rods and even chains.

Hardee, however, wanted her style of massage to be luxurious and comfortable for both the client as well as the therapist. Hence, the system of parallel wooden bars placed over the massage table. The therapist is able to use the bars overhead for balance while she or he glides gracefully over the client's lubricated skin.

More tomorrow!

I studied Latin and Greek in high school. As my children are learning both in their grade, middle and high schools, I thought I'd bone up on my Greek alphabet. Hence, the "alpha, beta, gamma, omega". No, omega's not the 4th letter, it's the last. I thought it would be fitting for the last section of the article. Much more interesting than just parts 1-4, methinks!

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 01:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, September 12 2007

Barefoot massage-my story

Back in the summer of 2002, I had read an article about barefoot massage. I was intrigued and very interested in taking her massage class. I had already began to suffer from high volume work in a day spa and knew that I couldn't continue to keep working like that. As fate would have it, I met a chiropractor, Dr. Eric Dieffenbaugher (call him Dr. Eric!) just a couple of weeks later. He had an AOBT therapist working for him, and it was proving so popular that he wanted another massage therapist to do it there also. Heck yes! I was definitely going to take the class.

My husband and I decided that I should take the next class available, which happened to be in Denver. My brother had just moved there, so it was perfect. Alas, the class had no space available. So I ended up taking the class in Houston, and it was money well spent!

After practicing a bit, giving the massage treatment to Dr. Eric, I was good to go. I loved Ashiatsu the first minute I put my foot on my training partner's back, and I couldn't wait to work on "real" clients!

About a month after taking the class, I got pregnant. Yikes! I already had four children, and I had barely lost the baby weight. About 5 months into the pregnancy, I had serious trouble doing any hands on massage. I just couldn't breathe-my stomach compressed my diaphragm too much. With my midwives' permission, I could continue to do Ashiatsu though! I promised I would quit if I ever felt like I was going to lose my balance. What a fabulous modality! It enabled me to work when I couldn't otherwise, and I got in great shape. I was even reprimanded by my midwives for doing abdominal exercises (she noticed muscle definition), but I wasn't-it was strictly barefoot massage!

Well, it turns out that I was expecting twins, which is why I couldn't breathe when I bent over. The clients loved my extra weight, and I was able to work until 32+ weeks. I actually could have worked longer, but I was convinced the babies would arrive at 36 weeks. That's another story (they were 38.5 weeks).

I took about 6 months off after they were born, because I didn't know how it was going to be to take care of new twins. Plus, my 4th child was only 15 months old when they were born, and he couldn't walk yet. Oy vey!

At any rate, I went back to Ashi right away when I got back into the swing of things. I was able to work until a couple of days before my due date with baby #7 (yes, the twins were #s 5 and 6). I actually taught Barefoot Basics (see my website for class descriptions) when I was 36 weeks pregnant. I'm sure that was a pretty sight!

I even taught again when #7 was 8 weeks old, the beginner's barefoot massage training followed 2 weeks later by Advanced, Anterior/Side-lying and the a one day expert level barefoot massage course.. After that, off to Denver for another Basics class and straight to Urban Oasis in Chicago for advanced classes.

Looking back at it, I'm not really sure how I managed, but I can tell you my husband is fabulous.
Anyway, I love, love, love to teach. I'm off to Denver tomorrow to teach Barefoot Basics and Barefoot Anterior/ Side-Lying and to visit with by brother, wife and their brand new baby.

So that's my story. Hope to see you in class someday!

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 01:29 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, September 11 2007

The following comments have been provided by Dr. Eric Dieffenbaugher, a chiropractor and owner of Progressive Chiropractic Health and Wellness in Fairfield, OH.

I've been treating patients for eight years and have seen thousands of patients with all types of conditions. The chronic, deep tissue conditions are the hardest ones to get resolved. Since we started using Barefoot masage in our office, we have had some breakthroughs with some of our chronic pain patients that no other type of massage have been able to accomplish.

I currently have five licensed massage therapists at my office who utilize many different types of massage in their treatment of patients, but the Barefoot Massage is the most requested type of massage.

I receive regular massages from all of my therapists, but I choose the barefoot massage when I am experiencing the deep, chronic types of aches and pains.

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 09:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 09 2007

Traditional Eastern massages include the treatment of the human body, mind and spirit, which also includes the energy field, and brings the body to a more aware "life" by pressure or manipulation. Based on traditional oriental medicine principles, the therapist assesses the energetic system. Oriental bodywork balances the energetic system for the purpose of treating the human body, emotions, mind, energy field and spirit for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health. Below is just a very small sampling of these types of therapies and massage.

Shiatsu is Japanese for "finger pressure," but it's much more than acupressure. It is a combination of different techniques including pressing, hooking, sweeping, shaking, rotating, grasping, vibration, patting, plucking, lifting, pinching, rolling, brushing and walking on the client's back, legs and feet. Shiatsu strengthens the immune system, and if practiced consistently, becomes preventive health care. Unlike FasciAshi barefoot massage, where the client lies on a massage table, is undressed (and draped), and the therapist uses lotion, the shiatsu client typically lies on a mat. The therapist uses finger and barefeet or stockinged feet through the client's clothes.

Shiatsu is a Japanese healing art deeply rooted in the philosophy and practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Incorporating the therapeutic massage of Japan, shiatsu is a balance, a dance, between the practitioner and client, in which the healing power of both build upon each other to clear and balance the vital life force known as Qi.

Macrobiotic Shiatsu

Founded by Shizuko Yamamoto, Microbiotic Shiatsu supports a natural lifestyle and heightened instincts for improving health. Assessments are through visual, verbal and touch techniques including pulses and the Five Transformations. Treatment involves non invasive touch and pressure using hand and barefoot techniques along with stretches. This helps to facilitate the flow of Qi and to strengthen the body and mind. Dietary guidance, medicinal plant food, breathing and postural rebalancing are included.

Shiatsu/Anma Therapy

Shiatsu/Anma Therapy utilizes a unique blending of two of the most popular oriental bodywork forms practiced in Japan. Dr.. Keneko introduced traditional Anma massage therapy based on the energetic system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the neuromusculoskeletal system. Ampaku, abdominal massage therapy, is another foundation of Anma massage therapy in his school.

Traditional Thai Massage

Nuad Bo Rarn is the traditional Thai Medical Massage. Thai massage is based upon an integration of Indian Buddhist medicine and TCM. Thai massage utilizes hand techniques and a unique approach to passive movement. The therapist stretches the client in order to open up the energy passages and releases chronic tension in the body. Traditional Thai massage incorporates a spiritual dimension in it's gentle and focused approach to Eastern bodywork.


Another method on Chinese bodywork, Tuina utilizes soft tissue manipulation, acupressure and structural realignment methods to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal and internal organ disorders. Tuina also utilizes the use of external herbal medicines and therapeutic exercises.

Chavutti Thirummal

This information and photo are taken from Prabhat Menon's website, Panchendriya. Kerala in South India is mostly known for beautiful beaches and magnificent backwaters. But Kerala is also the home of the traditional medicine Ayurveda, the ancient martial art Kalarippayatt and the classical dance Kathakali. Chavutti Thirummal, the Keralite massage with the foot, is an inseparable part of these traditions.

This a unique whole body massage using massage using the feet instead of the hands. The therapist holds a rope and gives massage with the feet, the feet moving in several patterns all over the body. After applying healing oils, the therapist uses body weight to work on the energy lines focusing on muscle and bone alignment. This restores elasticity and flexibility. Massage is done mainly with the instep of the foot, at times using the toes and heels.

Chuvutti Thirummal is a delicate balancing act with the rope and requires tremendous  coordination, concentration and physical power. Chuvutti Thirummal is done on a firm, supportive mat on the floor. The client has to be bare bodied.

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 07:39 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 08 2007

Now offering Hot Ashi, a combination of barefoot massage and Mother Earth Pillows.

Many massage therapists use different types of heating or cooling agents to assist in their clients' pain relief. Ashiatsu therapists often use Mother Earth pillows, heating pads or heated slippers to warm their bare feet prior to giving a massage. I like to use the large style flax pillow to warm my feet, then use it throughout the massage on the client's sacrum, feet, etc.

The following article has been reprinted with permission from Mother Earth Pillows.

by Karen Kowal, RN, LMT, NCTMB

Therapeutic Value of Warmth

Warmth has comforted and soothed us for ages. But the reality of the value of heat treatment can clearly be seen if we look at the action of warmth on tissues, cells, and circulation.

    Heat dilates the blood vessels to increase the flow of blood cells rich with oxygen to reach the skin. This transports vital oxygen and nutrients to the cells of muscle tissues and nerves. Areas of soft tissue that do not receive adequate oxygenation may suffer from ischemia or lack of oxygen.
    Warmth provides relief from muscle tension as the blood vessels dilate. More nutrients reach the fatigued muscles. Lactic acid, or waste material naturally created in cellular tissues and muscles are more easily swept away as the warmth increases viscosity of the thicker waste products (heading for the lymphatic system collectors) and by increasing blood flow. Compression from the weight of the warmed flax pillows helps deliver the warmth to a greater depth than surface warming can. This forms a flushing response in soft tissue.. blood flowing to the surface. waste products being moved out of surrounding tissues.resulting in healthier tissues.
    Stretching of soft tissues, muscles, connective tissue and adhesions can be facilitated by warming the area first. This is highly recommended to decrease injury and stiffness. Increased range of motion is experienced when stretching warmed tissue. An increased level of comfort is experienced.

    Heat softens the lipids that form a barrier under the skin. Ingredients penetrate the skin layer more easily. This will affect permeation and absorption of any products (natural or chemical) placed on the skin. Moist warmth helps deliver minute quantities of the herbal blends or Pure Essential Oils deep into the skin with absorption. This provides activation and release of the minute molecules of essential oils as they are applied with carrier oil during topical application. Low levels of oil molecules released from natural herbal blends as the flax and herbal pillows are warmed will add to relaxation and comfort. Over the ages, flax has been used as a poultice, being moistened and often with medicinal herbs added. Once dried, it had to be discarded. The Herbal flax pillows offer an easy, efficient and clean way to provide the ?drawing' action of the ?poultice' application.
    Warmth promotes a relaxed state of mind. Though experts are not certain how this occurs, they do know that heat, like touch, send positive signals to the brain, thus relaxing you, states Assaad Sayal, MD, director of emergency medical services of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Dry Heat vs. Moist Heat

Dry heat approaches such as electric blankets, saunas and heating pads, pull away your body's natural moisture and leaves your skin dehydrated and prone to damage. Moist heat provides infusion of moisture to the top layer of skin and prevents moisture loss, thus maintaining improved hydration of the skin and cells. Moisture can be pulled from the surrounding air even though the product on the skin is not moist. Flax seeds and herbs in Mother Earth Pillows® provides warmth to tissues and creates a thin layer of moisture trapped on the skin. This helps deliver the warmth deep within the muscles.

Very hot products may burn or damage the tender tissue of the thinner skin such as over the chest, back, hips, tops of hands and face. Steaming towels can cause more damage than benefit due to the intense heat they deliver with the added moisture. The pillows provide excellent warmth that is prolonged and yet very even as it dissipates in a timely manner. Warmth is to be applied for therapeutic measure for approx 20-30 minutes. This is the anticipated length of intense warmth the Mother Earth Pillows ® provide. The remaining warmth lasting an additional 20-30 minutes offers comfort & nurturing and continues treating the muscle tissue due to the weight.

Cold application

When we experience an injury.a sprain, crushing blow, twisting a knee, ankle, ?pull' our back out or injure a muscle, the site is flooded with fluids from ruptured and torn blood vessels. This is a cellular response to bring fluid to an area, acting as a splint to the injured area to prevent further damage or bleeding. As the fluids accumulate, this additional pressure against nerves begins to cause pain.

Cold application, cold packs, ice and frozen bags of vegetables, placed over the area of trauma causes the blood vessels to contract. This contraction begins to reduce the amount of bleeding and diminish fluid leaking into the area. Using this approach helps prevent more extensive damage to the injured area and surrounding tissues. Hemorrhage or bleeding into the area is decreased and this reduces the size of hematomas or bruising at the site of injury.

Diminishing swelling means less pain and ice acts to anesthetize the nerve to help with the pain relief. As the ice is removed, usually after 15 - 20 minutes of application, the area slowly warms, allowing blood to flow back in the region. and gentle movement of blood returning begins the flushing action that helps carry away unwanted fluids and reduce the swelling. Allow the area to be without ice for as long as it has ice applied.

The guidelines for cold application is for at least 72 hours 3-4 times each 24 hour time frame after a new injury, strain or sprain. Then apply the hot and cold as alternating treatment to increase flushing of tissue and decreasing swelling.

Ice Therapy vs. Chilled Flax

When cold compresses are recommended, the first thought is generally applying ice. The frigid dripping ice cube mess or "ice burns" on the skin do not lead the patient to continued compliance. The object to cold application is to not only reduce pain but to reduce swelling. The importance of proper compliance is vital to accomplish either. Plastic waterproof covers, containers or plastic gel packs, still do not conform to the body to provide comprehensive area treatment. The flax pillow remains a pleasing cold and moves like silk to conform to the tender or swollen areas. The gentle weight of flax offers compression that reduces swelling.

Flax is capable of holding a cold temperature and providing compression at the same time. The tiny hard-shelled seed contain minute quantities of natural oil and this retains a cold temperature. A feature of the chilled flaxseed pillows is that the cold temperature is pleasant to the skin and reduces pain readily. There is only a sensation of softness and cold. without the ?burning and freezing' that accompanies plastic or frozen water applications over the skin.

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 07:26 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 07 2007

What is a trigger point?  The following description (which is very good!) is taken from Clair Davies' book, "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook," first edition p. 3.

Travell and Simons describe a trigger point as simply a contraction knot in the muscle tissue. It often feels like a partly cooked piece of macaroni, or like a pea buried deep in the muscle. A trigger point affects a muscle by keeping it both tight and weak. At the same time, a trigger point maintains a hard contraction on the muscle fibers that are directl connected to it. In turn, these taught bands of muscle fier keep constant tension on the muscle's attachments, often producing sympotms in adjacent joints. The constant tension in hte fibers of the trigger point itself restricts circulation in its immediate area. The resulting accumulation of the by-products of metabloism, as well as deprivation of the oxygen and nutrients needed for metabolism, can perpetuate trigger points for months or even years unless some intervention occurs. It's this self-sustaining vicious cycle that needs to be broken (Travell and Simons 1999: 71-75).

They often refer pain to other areas of the body. For instance, what you may think is a sinus headache can be caused by trigger points in the scalenes. Usually, therapists will work on trigger points with their thumbs, possibly fingers or elbows. Skilled Ashiatsu therapists can even use their feet, either the heels or the big toe, to release trigger points.

For those that self-treat, a variety of tools can be used. I frequently recommend a tennis ball or super ball on clients' upper back, hips, and those often problematic QLs (Quadratus Lumborums). Other people use devices like a Theracane, BackKnobber, Knobble or T-bar. In an emergency, a well placed door knob can help reduce lower back and hip pain!

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 10:45 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 06 2007

Any massage therapist willing to improve him/herself needs to periodically take continuing education courses. How do you know what class is the best class to take? Is it the price? What about number of students in class? And is it possible to take a massage CEU class close to home?

I have taken a variety of continuing ed courses, with great variety, and I have been pleased with all the "hands on" time spent in them. The only class I've taken via homestudy was an ethics course, and I could have taken the test without reading the material.

Some hands on classes offer small class size, and others take place in an enormous room with the instructor wearing a headset. You'll find that Center for Barefoot Massage classes throughout the US are small in size, typically with one instructor for 8 students or less. We frequently have classes in Cincinnati, Durham, Albany, Palm Harbor, FL, Colorado Springs, St. Louis, Dallas, San Antonio and coming soon to Virginia and California

For more information on this style of barefoot massage continuing education courses, please check online at Instructor Mary-Claire Fredette teaches fun, small classes regularly in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Posted by: Mary-Claire AT 02:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 06 2007

The healing touch of massage therapy is cathartic! Because emotional pain can manifest itself in actual physical pain, if a skilled therapist can relieve physical manifestations, it can help cleanse the emotional self as well. Bodywork therapies arose from the belief that the body contains memories of every experience ever felt. According to Gloria Arenson, in Binge Eating-How to Stop it Forever, "Much energy and many feelings can be impirsoned in muscles habituated through years of restraint and posture control. This control is often the cause of specific body types and chronic body tensions."

By working out the knots and kinks in the body, an improvement in both the physical and emotional self can occur. The beauty of the natural body is mind boggling. By releasing tension through massage, the client can feel taller, more relaxed and "open." It can also restore homeostatis (the body's natural state of existing) to an unbalanced body. Dr. Andrew Weil reports that at the top of the list for causes of headaches is muscle tension. The best way to get rid of this common stress related disorder is to practice relaxation techniques or to get a massage.

Massage can also relieve many other kinds of physical pain as well as remove toxins and stimulate circulation of both blood and lymph flow. If the body's built in mechanisms for cleansing itself become blocked or don't function properly, toxins and waste matter build up. To maintain a healthy body, one needs to take out the "garbage" regularly!

There a many different types of massage and bodywork. One technique that I practice regularly, Barefoot Massage, is great at loosening up tissues. In fact, this type of barefoot massage has a tendency to make clients more ooey-gooey than a traditional hands-on massage. Clients report a significant increase in their state of well-being after just one session! And as one client commented, "This was really the most luxurious massage I've ever had."

Want to learn an anatomy based barefoot massage that's intuitive? Study with us at the Center for Barefoot Massage. 

Posted by: MCF AT 01:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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    Learn barefoot massage in our massage CE classes. Deep tissue ashiatsu barefoot massage training.


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