New Year, New Treatment Approach!

A great word came out of my continuing education class a few weeks ago. YUMMY. Have you experienced an absolutely “yummy” massage? Have you experienced a massage where your whole body melted away into the table and you lost track of everything? Have you experienced the feeling of complete and total wholeness of body? Or an overwhelming sense of beauty in yourself and your body during a massage? I have, and it was the first time I received a Full Body massage that included chest/breast work. 

Full Chest/Breast massage is not a new idea in massage therapy. In fact, if you ever visit Europe and even Mexico or the Caribbean and receive a massage, it is likely that your full chest/breast area will be massaged. 

Why not provide our chest and breasts with the same benefits that we give the rest of the body? Massage of the full chest supports easy breathing by relieving chest tightness and reducing tension in the ribcage, neck and throat. Easy breathing leads to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stress relief. Massage of the chest is also useful in treating shoulder and neck injuries. Massage of the breast tissue itself can help relieve congestion and discomfort related to menstrual periods, fibrocystic conditions, and lactation. After open wounds have healed, massage also helps relieve restrictions and scar tissues post surgery, including open heart surgery mastectomy, breast reconstruction, breast reductions and breast augmentations. 

I have long had a desire to incorporate this work into my practice. I have had many clients on my table who I know would benefit from having the work done on their chest wall and I am very happy to now be able to incorporate that work into my treatments. But this work isn’t just for a specific condition, or diagnosis. The experience of receiving a massage that includes the chest/breast area is very holistic. I am very excited to now be offering this amazing, yummy, work to all my clients, beginning in January. Every client will have the opportunity to receive massage without a chest drape as well as the opportunity to receive full chest/breast work during their sessions.

Does breast massage prevent, treat or cure breast cancer?

Breast massage does not cure cancer, and it does not diagnose cancer. It can, however, relieve swelling and support circulation of both blood and lymph in breast tissues which is useful in keeping our breasts healthy. Wearing brassieres applies pressure to breast tissue and restricts lymph flow. Free flowing lymph is important for our immune system, and a healthy immune system helps prevent and fight cancer. Massage of breast tissue helps keep the lymph freely flowing. Soothing touch to traumatized areas of the chest provides emotional support for people living with breast cancer and for breast cancer survivors and thrivers.

What you can expect

By Specific Request Only:

I will ask you on my intake form if you want any part of your chest included in your massage. If you decide yes, I will make sure that we are both very clear on what parts of your chest you want included and what kind of massage you want in this area. Written and verbal consent is required prior to each massage session regarding the work as well as draping.

Not Always About the Breasts:

That is why I refer to this work as full chest massage because by being able to work freely in this area primarily allows me to do some amazing work on the upper thorax, pectoral muscles, ribs and shoulders.

Non-Erotic:

I work with the full chest and breasts in a way that normalizes this area as another wonderful, but normal, part of your body. I want the work on your chest/breast area to feel like an integrated part of your entire massage. I do not offer this work to eroticize or sexualize you, your body or your massage experience.

As Modest Or As Free You Want:

You can wear any clothing that you want or nothing at all. You can have your chest undraped or I can work on your chest over over the sheet or towel. My personal preference is to work directly on the skin like the rest of the massage but only if my client is very comfortable with me doing so. However, I do not need to undrape the chest to work directly on your skin. I can work under a sheet or towel and still effectively integrate my massage between the stomach, chest, shoulders and neck.

What will happen:

The chest/breast massage is done toward the end of the session. Immediately before working in this area I will ask, “Would you like full chest massage today, or do you prefer I work through the drape?” 

How do you do draped chest/breast massage?

I will apply gentle compressive strokes along the edge of the sternum, aka the breast bone, and also on the lower ribcage. I will massage the upper chest between the neck and the upper edge of the sheet directly on the skin and body. I will not touch the main part of the breasts which remain under the drape at all times 

How do you do full, undraped chest/breast massage?

After you have told me you would like full chest and breast massage, I will undrape your chest. I massage directly on the full chest and breast, with my focus primarily being to access the ribcage deep to the soft breast tissue. I gently yet firmly press through the fatty tissue, sometimes sliding the softer breast tissue to the side. While I never specifically target the nipples and areola, I also don’t avoid them. My flat palms and forearms pass over the full chest and breast.

Massage v Stretching: What does what?

Massage and stretching are both really helpful ways to keep your muscles relaxed, reduce tension and help recovery after an injury. Stretching helps to get the blood flowing to your muscles, which is great if you’ve injured yourself or if your muscled are stiff because they’ve contracted due to inactivity. Giving your muscles a really good stretch can stop your muscles from going into painful spasms or cramps, as well as stop the knots forming in them that take so much work to get rid of.

Regular massage boosts the impact of stretching by improving your flexibility and range of motion, therefore keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone in the first place.

What are the differences between massage and stretches – and how do they work together to promote muscle and joint health?

Massage

Stripped down, massage is simply a word that’s used to describe the manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Of course there are lots of different types of massage, and techniques that are suitable for different things, but when you go for a massage, this is what your therapist will be doing.

What’s massage good for?

We love a massage for general wellbeing, but medically massage is recognized for more than just making you feel good.

Massage can:

  • Help strained muscles to heal faster
  • Reduce swelling and scar tissue in injured muscles
  • Relieve stiffness and tension in your muscles
  • Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue

Stretching

Stretching does have a lot of similarities to massage, but its main benefit is to relieve the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you’ve used (and over-used) them.

Having a really good, effective stretch can increase the blood flow to your muscles, and this leads to a better range of motion that helps your joints to stay in alignment

What’s stretching good for?

Stretching properly can:

  • Improve your circulation
  • Boost your nerve health – a contracted muscle around a nerve can create pressure that can constrict the blood supply to the nerve.
  • Make movement easier
  • Improve flexibility

How can massage and a stretching routine work together?

Daily stretching – to a point where you can just feel it pulling on your muscles – can really help to increase your flexibility, and you can feel the effects in a matter of a few weeks.

Enjoying a regular massage helps to keep your body relaxed and flexible. Massage can release trigger points and muscles in spasm, making your stretching routine even more effective.

You could even opt for a Thai massage which uses stretches and massage all in one session to give your muscles and tendons a really thorough workout. You can also ask your massage therapist for advice if you have any injuries or are experiencing stiffness in your muscles.

Let’s Not Forget Who Went Back to School 😜

This week, my kids started back at school. Jack is about to become (pinch me, it can’t be real!!) a teenager! I can hardly believe how fast life has flown by since he was born. Desiree and Lucille are third graders, each on their own unique path but also delightfully on those paths together. My little ones are three, but that didn’t stop them from demanding I pack them a cold lunch and take their back-to-school pictures! Whew! It’s hard to believe summer is over and I’m about to tackle head-on scouting, religion classes, school concerts, American Heritage Girls, community choir, childcare needs, and so much more! God, grant me patience and lots of time for sleep!

As adults, we feel the back-to-school pressures with new schedules, instilling routines, hustling kids to activities, making sure everyone is eating a balanced diet, keeping up on homework responsibilities, and… well, you get it! But, how often do we stop and consider how are kids are dealing with all of these new things? As a mom, I know that I get caught up in making sure everything on our schedule is happening that I often forget who exactly it is happening to! This is where a great resource can help us out.

When we take time for ourselves to wind down and provide our bodies with beneficial stress relief, we feel so much more able to meet the demands of our everyday life. This is something we can offer our kids, too!

This great book, A Modern Day Guide to Massage for Children, is a wonderfully illustrated guide to offering our kids productive, healthy touch. Using this guide, you can integrate massage into your home life with pockets of time for you and your kids to bond through relaxation.

Parenting is nothing short of a marathon in daily life and long-term. Even though I want to be the mom who never raises my voice and whose kids eat carrots and hummus while delightfully reading books of poetry, instead we often find ourselves couch lounging with frozen pizza. But! I really love and savor the moments when I entice them with massage, connecting with them one-on-one while also giving them loving touch that benefits their whole being. I hope that I can offer you, my clients, pockets of relaxation this school year and that in turn, we can all reach into our families with that same healing intention. Let’s welcome fall with joy and a good foot rub!