I feel stronger and healthier than 30 years ago

‘My friends did not recognize me. I really had to say, yes it is me, I don’t have a younger looking twin,’ laughs the 56-year-old Shaun Spencer. ‘I was like slouching, forward shoulders. I was always tired, constantly tired from my job. Now, I feel stronger, healthier than I felt 30 years ago.’

Shaun talks very relaxedly in a Zen-like way. His eyes twinkle, he smiles a lot. You can clearly see he is enjoying life. He looks fit, just had been working out in the gym, he says.

I am surprised to see how much he has changed. I remember meeting Shaun, who is originally from South Africa, living for several years in Amsterdam now, in one of our massage lessons a year ago. Back then, he looked very tired. Much older actually. I ask him to reveal his secret and Shaun enthusiastically tells me the whole story:

 

Lower back pain

‘I have spent the last 8 years behind the desk and computer. In that time I developed lower back pain. So I went to a couple of massage places and they gave me temporary relief. But it was temporally. Then I found a lady and she was very good, she helped me a lot. Actually, for the whole week, I had no back pain.

 

Work for me

And the second time I was with her, she said: ‘You don’t look so very happy’, so I said: ‘Well, I am not.’ She said: ‘What is it?’ I said: ‘Well, my job. I don’t like my job. But yeah I need money.’ And she said: ‘Why don’t you come work for me?’

 

Carpal tunnel syndrome

So I said: ‘Well I have carpal tunnel syndrome. I have been operated on, but my hands are still, you know, I use them in a different way than normal.’ She replied: ‘I too have carpal tunnel syndrome.  Yet I have not been operated on and I massage six to eight people a day.’

So I thought ‘Ah’.  And the second time she asked me to come work for her, I said: ‘Okay, let me try.’ So I did one course with her, I liked it. I did the second course with her, I liked it again, it was basic holistic massage, intuitive massage. I learned a lot. But for me, it was not enough.

 

Massage model

So then I googled and found ITM Thai Hand Amsterdam, I emailed and asked if I could be a model ‘victim’ in one of the lessons to see if this was something for me. I really enjoyed it.

At the same time, I had learned that my position in my company was to be terminated within the next three years, so I decided I have to do something and I think I found something I like more.

Meanwhile, I had developed tennis elbow. I don’t really know the reason why I had tennis elbow, it just was. So I had done acupuncture and also physiotherapy for 9 months – twice a month-, and it still did not help. But then when I’d come here to the massage school the second time Manel had done a form of acupressure to my elbow and my forearm. The next day I woke up and I did not have the same pain. I thought ‘Damn, this works.’

 

Motivation

So I enrolled in the month acupressure massage therapy program. I did foot reflexology, which at that time was my favourite and still is. Thai table massage, deep tissue and sports massage and Thai chair massage. And after that being in the school and the motivation I got being here, also from you and Manel, enticed me to even wanted to learn more. So I signed myself up for another two courses. Completed one of them, still busy with Wat Po. I really like Wat Po. I found a new direction.

I have not been at the sitting job since November last year. I was just telling somebody today at the gym that I feel stronger, healthier than I did 30 years ago.

 

No healthy life

Thirty years ago, I was 26. When you are in your mid-twenties you think that life is forever, and I wasn’t particularly leading a very healthy life or anything. I just was living. Enjoying the day and the time and doing what jobs I could. Just to earn money. And if I look at myself today…

 

I wasn’t very strong

I have never joined a gym. At the beginning of this year, I joined a gym. I needed to build up some strength, after sitting in a chair for 8 years, I wasn’t very strong. If I needed to use my hands, then, of course, I have to do something to build up some form of muscle and stamina to be able to give a lot of massages. Within three months of going to the gym, I have built up more muscle, power, strength and stamina than I had actually in my whole life.

 

I look younger

Some people don’t recognize me, I look younger now, I heard that from lots of different people, my wife included. She does recognize me of course, but she didn’t recognize my body, as in the old body, she likes the new body hehehe.

 

It works

My wife is very happy, that I found something that I really like. And she profits as well. Because she had a hip replacement and she broke her ankle, all on the same side, and I have been giving her massages, Thai therapy, and she says, she has been to physios, she has been to doctors, she has tried everything and the only thing that helps her, that after she had a session with me for an hour. The next day she wakes up and says ‘wow I did not wake up last night from my hip’. So this only confirms it for me. Because I know it works, it worked on me. I was my own guinea pig first and I see it on her so she is very happy.

 

Very happy

I am a lot more stable mentally now, more at ease, more at peace with myself and I get a lot of energy from giving massages. Also receiving them. I go now once a week at least for a massage. And it helps me in many ways. I walk straight. I feel healthy and I am a lot more positive. I haven’t been this positive in 8 years. So for me, it is a real big change. I am a musician by trade and in the last 4 years I never even picked up my guitar that is the effect that that job had on me. And now I am playing again and I feel very happy.

 

Massage studio

On the other hand, before I worked in the other company for 8 years, I had a recording studio, and I have been there actually for 18 years. I had a private recording studio for musicians, and unfortunately, I cannot use that space to give massages because my best friend with whom I share the space; he is a wood and metal designer with big saws and dust and all. I could have musicians come in with that, but I can’t have massage clients. So in May this year will be my last month that I am with him and then I am moving to another studio.

 

Full circle

I am going to share the space with a lady, she is 65, and she has been giving massage for the last 40 years. So she has a lot of experience. They put the rent up for her so she was looking for somebody. She treated me with my back pain. One of the good places I went in the beginning. So for me, it feels like I actually have done a full circle. I started down from a painful point of view, all the way down to a healthy point of view.

 

Imagine

The fact that I know that massage actually works made me want to become healthier. That was for me the trigger point. Because I know this is something, if it works for me, and I wasn’t so healthy then, can you imagine what I can do to people who in general are not so healthy?

And I was also not so positive before. Massage is not just a physical thing, I think it is a mental thing as well. In the last three years that I have been busy with massage, I am receiving it a lot because I took advice from my previous teacher and Manel as well: ‘get as many massages as you can’ so I did. And I found some bad ones I never went back, but I found a couple of good ones and I kept them. So every now and then I go to see them and I get a good massage out of it. But I learned also to focus on my breathing. When I get a massage, I have mastered the art of shallow breathing. I wait for them to push before I breathe out and for the rest, I can actually control my breath a lot more, and that in turn makes my body relax.

 

Make us all healthy

Look I am 56 now, so I have to work for another 12 years and this will enable me to still support myself and my family and at the same time make us all healthy.’

 

Thanks, Shaun for sharing your story!

To everyone… Create a healthy and happy day!

Nicole (& of course Manel)

PS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier and happier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

PSPS: Do you know others who you like to inspire? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

Did you know vaccination and massage are both trainings for your immune system?

How?

We explain that later.

Why?

Well, this week is World Immunization Week, something we personally are very aware of. Our small kids have all the vaccinations provided by the national health care program, and so have we.

Thankful

And we are very happy and thankful that vaccinations are available for us and our kids.

Not everyone is so lucky!

Kathy Madekerti for example. Her story touched me a lot, personally. I met Kathy in Bali, Indonesia when I travelled through South-East Asia to write books about development work, back in 2008. I still remember talking to many people, but Kathy in particular.

She was exactly my age.

Not so lucky

But our lives couldn’t have been more different.

Because I was lucky to get my first polio vaccination only a few weeks old. Like other children in the Netherlands.

Kathy didn’t.

She was born in a very remote area and by then the vaccination had not arrived at her place yet. She got polio when she was 3 months old. The vaccination reached her town too late. Just one month after she got polio the vaccine became available in her village.

Polio

Due to her polio, Kathy was never able to walk. Her legs were paralyzed. She didn’t get the aids she needed.

She crawled…

Being a child, she wanted to go to school and tried to crawl many times to the school bus. However, the bus drivers always closed the doors for her. They felt ashamed to take her on board of the bus.

Shame

Kathy’s story is one of many people with disabilities living in Bali. I quoted the director of the first organization in Bali for people with a disability. ‘In Bali, many people hide their kids with a handicap, because they are ashamed,’ says I Nengah Latra, the director of Yakkum. ‘They believe that someone with a disability has bad karma; he has done something bad in his past life and needs to pay for it.’

The director decided to personally go to villages to ask if people knew someone with a handicap. At first, no-one reacted but as soon he showed them pictures of smiling people with a disability and told his own story, doors opened. ‘They often sat in a back room, locked up and some even chained and had never seen daylight,’ remembers I Nengah. ‘Now years later, a lot has been improved. Many do even have a job now.’

So does Kathy. She finally received crutches at the age of 24 years old from this organization and just started a job making embroidery for designer scarfs sold for export.

How could her life have been different if she only got the vaccination?

Vaccination

Going back to that…. What is vaccination?

Vaccines contain a microorganism in a weakened or killed state or proteins or toxins from the organism. In stimulating the body’s adaptive immunity, they help prevent sickness from an infectious disease.

A photo

So if you get a vaccination you are training your immune system towards viruses and bacteria’s that can attack you. Because your body classifies this information and recognizes the immune cell for the next time when the virus or bacteria attacks. It is like your body has a photo of the microorganism, so it can recognize this when it comes to the body the next time. Therefore you can see getting a vaccination as a training to the immune system.

Massage

There is also another training for the immune system and that is massage. Because by massage you improve your blood circulation and your movement of lymph. And therefore you improve the capacity of your immune system.

Training the immune system

So, one training to improve your immune system is to recognize the type of virus and bacteria as with vaccinations. And another training is the one where you get a massage, to make your immune system stronger and more effective.

So… get your vaccinations and massage treatments to create a healthy day!

Nicole & Manel

PS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier and happier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

PSPS: Do you know others who like to know this story? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

If you know me, you know that I am super clumsy… well this story shows it all! Motivational speaker, trainer and writer Janke Verhagen wrote a blog about me for her online magazine about living again after a terrible experience. ‘Get out of your pinky world’ is the title.

You can read the whole story here …

Click here to read in Dutch

We translated the story for you so you can read it in English here:

Interview:

Nicole van Zurk (43, married, 2 children)

“I just live with that fat head!” Nicole smiles and continues. “I have always been positive in one way or another. I always trust that everything will be fine! ”

It typifies the way Nicole deals with the setbacks in her life. It seems as if she has a subscription for forceful falls where she constantly, literally, bumps her head.

 

Roller skates accident

“When I was about seven years old, I wanted to race down the mountain on roller skates. I had hung 2 garbage bags on either side of a handle. If only I could go fast enough, I could fly!”

Unfortunately, the flight failed and Nicole came to a hard stop against a wall. There was blood everywhere and Nicole had a serious concussion. She had to be in a dark room for 6 weeks, that was the treatment method at the time.

 

Fainting in the sauna

“That was nothing compared to when I fainted in the sauna.” She laughs again. “I had been unconscious for a moment and then I woke up totally naked surrounded by people. Pretty embarrassing.”

 

Rickshaw accident

And there was that blow to her head during a ride in the Filipino rickshaw (tricycle). The steel housing was incredibly low for a tall Dutch person. The driver raced over a bump, causing Nicole to hit her head against the steel casing. “When they wanted to make a scan at the hospital, I turned out to be allergic to the contrast fluid. I almost died of that. So I was lying there in a Filipino IC with 2 of those irons above my head! And yet I knew: it will be alright! “

 

Gymnastic accident

And then there were some examples where Nicole literally bumped her head. It doesn’t do her body any good. A quite serious gymnastic accident as a child also makes a contribution. Nicole falls and does not want to show that she is in a lot of pain. “No, it’s okay!” A while later when she is on a study trip with classmates in Rome, she suddenly can’t walk anymore. “So I am forever known as the girl who was carried by Rome!” She laughs again.
 

 

Twisted vertebra

After countless investigations, a vertebra appears to be twisted in the back of Nicole. She starts with an orthomanual therapist. “Do you know about fluid retention in your ankles and that they swell completely? So that’s what happened to my head. For example after a yoga class, a handstand or if I had slept without a pillow. Because my back was so tight, fluid could flow to my head, but not back.” That is why at some point she just decided to live with her fat head.

 

 

Chronic headaches

Because of all the falls in which she suffered multiple concussions and whiplashes and her twisted vertebra, Nicole suffered from chronic headaches. She tries everything to get rid of it, even a neck traction. Her neck is stretched through a machine so that more space is created between her vertebrae. This should reduce the pain significantly, but that did not happen.

 

Massage

Through her work in the Philippines, she gets introduced to massages. In this culture, massage is not a luxury service, but something that is seen as necessary for health. She tries different types of massages, and it appears that the Thai massage works great for her pain complaints. Her masseur does not think this is strange: “He explained it to me as if there is a spider web in my back of tight muscles from all those accidents, which blocks fluids. By treating that spider web, circulation improves.” It works for Nicole. For the first time in a long time, she is pain-free.

 

Husband

Because she likes this Thai massage so much, she decides to study in Thailand to become a teacher for these specific massages. When she starts her education, she meets her current husband in the class: Manel. “He was such a stressed Spanish marketing manager.” Manel had a tough job and often complained about his work before their meeting. Until he meets a masseur. “You have a much better job, Manel told him, I want that too, I want to come home that happy.” Manel also planned the seed. He also enrols into the training and on the first day he and Nicole met, the rest is history.

 

Normal job

Back in the Netherlands, Nicole decided that she wanted to do massage 1 day a week and 4 days to do her normal job. “It’s kind of what society expects from you, and I followed that flow without thinking. Without wondering if this was what I really wanted. “

 

Suitcase accident

Nicole has to fly for a business trip. The plane does end up not leaving. During taxiing, a suitcase falls out of the luggage rack on Nicole’s head. Nicole wakes up at the VU hospital. The recovery is hard and Nicole is on sick leave for almost a year. She and Manel also want to start a family. Nicole becomes pregnant, which nobody knows at that moment, except she and Manel.

 

Neurologist advice

“The day before I was exactly 1 year on sick leave, I had a conversation with the neurologist I attended.” The conversation comes about the positive effect of Thai massages. Nicole shares her feeling that she would really like to do this full time. “Then why don’t you go for it?” The neurologists questioned Nicole. In her head, all kinds of objections arise, with the argument at the top: you do not give up your job when you are just pregnant. But the neurologist ultimately puts forward the strong argument: “What do you think about your health? I’m going to retire soon, I’ve seen everything. I know that these massages do a lot to your health. So why wouldn’t you just do this? For your health?”

 

Quit the job

Nicole doesn’t need much time to think about it. Immediately after the conversation with the neurologist, she goes to her employer to quit her job. “It was such a strong feeling. I had to do it. “Nicole is clear about it:” By giving and receiving massages your serotonin (the happiness hormone) goes up and your cortisol (the stress hormone) goes down. In addition, it stimulates blood circulation, so that I get more blood and oxygen to my head and my headache diminished. And even stayed away! I don’t need more science.”

 

Beautiful workplace

Her workplace changes from a busy office to a beautiful space with soothing music and it smells wonderful. “Every day I make people happy with massages, and I also teach people how to massage others. You know how much energy that gives.” Nicole is getting physically stronger and her headache stays away. Together with Manel she opens their own massage school in Amsterdam. A franchise from the ITM Chiang Mai school where they were both taught themselves. “I recently realized that we have already taught more than 10,000 people about Thai massage, how cool is that?”

 

Pinky world

When asked if Nicole really is always positive, and never has a bad day, she is very clear. “Manel regularly says to me Get out of your pinky world!” She laughs loud. “That’s just right. I have firm faith in the future. Without positivism you cannot get there, then everything would be very black and heavy.

I am positive and I will always stay that way.”

The end…

So, that was the whole By Janke Verhagen. Thank you Janke.

And to everyone… Create a healthy and happy day!

Nicole (& Manel)

PS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier and happier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

PSPS: Do you know others who you like to inspire? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

‘I feel brilliant now’ – From truck driver to masseur

‘I was 101 kilos, had lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and was emotionally down,’ says Emmet Khan. ‘When you are tired from work, had very little sleep, the last thing you want to do is exercise. So then what happens? You get fat. You eat bad food, you don’t meal-prep, and you don’t drink enough water. All the toxins stay in your body and then you get bigger and bigger.’

This is the story that Emmet Khan shared after following a weekend massage course, as part of the weekend program called Acupressure Therapy Massage Level 1. As it inspired me, I decided to write it down to inspire others.

Truck driving

‘I am driving since I am 18 years old. First vans, then trucks. I am mostly 8 hours a day driving and pulling pallets because I drive big trucks with freights. Look, this is how I got out of the truck after a working day,’ Emmet says while walking like an old man, slowly, bending forward with a hand on his lower back to hold the pain. ‘I am now 36 years old and know that this is not what I want. So, I decided to get out of the driver’s seat and I quit my job.’

I quit my job

He pauses, smiles and continues. ‘It took me a long time to really take the step. My girlfriend told me to find something else. I first went to the gym. But I got tired and then I started to smoke again, start to eat a lot and my emotions went down. I tried physiotherapy for a long time, but it helped only for a little bit. I got stretches to do at home, but every time the pain got back.

Finally, I went to a sports therapist. I felt really good. He really worked in my tissues, improving blood circulation in my body and worked on my hip, because that is also a big problem. He inspired me. I thought I want to do what he does!’ states Emmet in his brisk Irish accent.

Inspired

‘This therapist told me he studied traditional Thai massage in ITM Chiang Mai, Thailand, but I wanted to be a bit closer. I live in Dublin and he told me you can also study closer, so he told me to check ITM Thai Hand Amsterdam. I started to read the website and the stories really inspired me.

Then I tried one massage at the school together with my girlfriend and after a lot of reading stories, I then registered for the weekend Acupressure Massage Therapy program level 1. And I fly one weekend a month from Dublin here to Amsterdam to follow the lessons. It is okay, it is just 5 weekends, so I don’t need to take off from work.

Feeling brilliant

You know, after a weekend like this, learning massage for 5 hours a day, I feel brilliant. I come home on a high. I travel back today and in a few hours I come home on a high, I tell the girlfriend everything I learned and I want to practice the massage on her and on the plane the way home I will already get another good idea.

Not thinking about problems

When I massage I am using my body, I am active. Not only is it good for the client to get a massage, but it is also good for me because I am stretching myself because I am moving myself as well while I am giving you the massage. And yes I also got the massage from the other students during the class. It makes you feel good. Because you are releasing endorphins in the body, isn’t it.

And here inside the school, during the class, I am not thinking about any of my problems. It is like I go to the gym I am concentrating whether it is running, is it lifting weights, is it class exercises, whatever… my mind is free. When I come here my mind is free, I don’t think about my problems for five hours that I study here a day. And it is good. I come out and I am fresh again. That is good for my emotions. And that is good for my mentality and I can think for bigger things then because my brain is fresh.’

Not always like this

This has not always been like that Emmet admits. ‘Emotionally I can get down and it stops you from everything, if you let it take control of yourself you will not come out of it for a couple of months. That is me personally, from my experience.’

Positive thinking

I tell him I admire his honesty and how easily he talks about difficult moments in his life. He answers happily: ‘Well then it changed. When I got this massage of this sports therapist, it was great. My pains were gone. And I started to train with this personal trainer in the gym. And he got me down to 90 kilos and now I am 84 kilos. I still need to lose a bit. I eat healthier, quit the cigarettes.

Now I know I stay like this. Because now, I am focused. I stopped everything and focus on positive thinking. And when I read your stories, or stories like yours or others like my sports therapist who put stories up as well, when I read other people’s paragraphs it influences me to think positive I think.

Prevent anybody from feeling like the way I felt

Now, I will quit my job in a couple of weeks and get out of the driving seat, because that is my biggest problem, I need to stand more, do exercise. Well, I do now exercise, I train. I need to have time to do what I want to do, which is proceeding in the massage career that I learned now with you.

And by doing that I am going into small personal trainer’s gym, which I have been going into myself for two years and I am going to offer people the massage that I learned of you two. I want to not only do massage and stretching, but I really want to prevent anybody from feeling like the way I felt from driving all day.

No clue about massage

And other people I know work in offices, they have the same problem, they sit in the chair all day. But they have no clue about massage. All they know is let’s go to a hotel. Let’s pay ninety euros and go to the Jacuzzi and sauna and have this person laying me down on a bed with a towel and put hot stones on. That is very soft.

You need to get into the tissue, loosen the whole tissue up. Stretch the tissue. This is what I learned now here in the school. Stretch the tissue and the ligaments, the tendons and go deep and get the blood circulation throughout the body. That is what I want to do for myself that is what I need.

Massage number 1 

But I see that other people need this as well. Not a lot of people have the information in Ireland about the benefits of massage. But it is getting there I believe, people nowadays are taking more care of themselves, they want to stop go and party and want to look after the body. I think massage will be the number 1 preventer of injuries.

And when I get massage I feel enjoyment, I feel relaxed, I want the customer to feel the same I feel. So I am excited to go back to Dublin and start to work as a masseur’, he finishes his story while walking out of the school to get the tram to the airport and fly back to Dublin, with his Thai Foot Reflexology Certificate in the pocket. Just before sharing his story he passed the exam.

Thanks Emmet for sharing your story!

To everyone… Create a healthy and happy day!

Nicole & Manel

PS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier and happier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

PSPS: Do you know others who you like to inspire? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

Is massage positive for autism?

According to our knowledge, we would say yes. We heard results of our massage students that had very positive impacts when they massaged their children with autism.

First, a bit more background.

What is autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

There are so many different types of autism that it is difficult to speak about massage benefits for autism.

Often autism is accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, muscle tone problems as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.

Amazing results

There has not been much research with massage and autism, but we must say that some of our students had amazing results massaging their kids who have autism. After giving regularly massage for some minutes every day at the same time, they told us they had a better bond with the kids. The parents felt they were finally able to touch their kids and caress them. Moreover, the kids were easier to soothe and more relaxed in general.

Touch

Some of our massage students told us that is was difficult for them as a parent that they were not able to touch their kids. Because of course touch is important, it starts already as a baby. Touch helps us to calm down when we are upset.

Most people with autism have a sense of touch that is disordered. It sends mixed signals to the brain which results in unexpected behavior. A touch, petting on the head or something simple as putting on a jacket can be very upsetting for people with autism. Moreover, the reactions of kids with autism can be at the same time very upsetting for parents, not able to soothe your child.

Research

A research in the United States from Pacific Crest Childrens shows that children with autism who receive massage for 5 months have a reduction in symptoms by better than 30%.  Moreover, parent stress levels go down by more than 40% in that same time.

So this is good news!

Fact of massage

Let’s look a bit deeper in how massage works. As said before people who have ASD, autism spectrum disorder might have the following challenges: problems with sensory sensitivities,  medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, muscle tone problems as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.

Massage benefits for autism

When looking at the benefits of massage it is a fact that massage fights depression. Massage makes you happier amongst others reducing cortisol (the so-called stress hormone) and by increasing endorphins, the so-called happy hormones. Moreover massage fights insomnia. Massage makes you relaxed, diminishes anxiety. Massage improves intestines. And massage improves muscle tone. So just by naming some of the benefits of massage for everyone, we can clearly see that those benefits are as well the benefits that could help people with autism spectrum disorder.

So yes, we would say: massage helps with autism.

The challenge

However, there is a challenge when we talk about massage and autism. And that is ‘the approach’. As we spoke about autism, we know that most people who have autism spectrum disorder have a problem with touching. So since massage is all about touching, there is the question… how to do it.

The approach

As always when you massage someone, you need to apply the pressure according to your client’s needs. When we talk about people who have autism it is very important to know about how to approach the person with autism. Therefore the massage therapist needs to have knowledge about autism and the approach for the specific client since everyone with autism can be different, which means also needs another approach.

Learn massage

That is why we recommend parents to learn to massage. So when you have a child who has autism, you know your child best. So it will be nice if you learn how to give massage to your child yourself. You then can approach your child the way it is best. In example every day at the same time during the same ritual applying super soft pressure and increasing every time if possible. The first times you will of course not be able to work on muscle tone – since this is a deeper massage – but working only on touch, on soothing, on experiencing massage, on bonding. And little by little you might be able to increase the time and pressure of the massage.

Take it slow

Remember, the most important is the approach, you want the one who you massage benefit the most. It might take a lot of time to get there and you might need to take it really slow. Even a couple of minutes a day of massage can make a lot of difference as we have seen during the years.

Hope it is clear…

Do you have stories about massage and autism? Let us know, we love to hear them!

Create a healthy and happy day!

Nicole & Manel

PSPS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier and happier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

PSPS: Do you know others who like to know about massage and autism? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

Back pain?

This is what most people do… they take a painkiller and try not to move because they are afraid the back pain increases. However, if you suffer from common lower back pain, this is the worst you can do. In this article, we explain why you need to move when you have back pain. And why back pain is increasing.

 

The facts

First some facts…

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It affects about 540 million people at the time. Many people stay home sick from work, which impacts the economy. Back pain is one of the most common complaints for which people go to see a doctor. Actually, about 80 percent of people worldwide will suffer back pain at least once in their lives. And yes, we were among those too. However, since we now understand the cause, the prevention, and the cure better, we are lucky to be back pain-free. We wish you this too, so here are the causes…

 

Causes of back pain

There are many types of back pain, also called lumbar area pain. In some rare cases, back pain can be caused by cancer. But the most common back pain is lower back pain that is caused by strain, tension or injury. The pain can be coming from strained muscles or ligaments, a muscle spasm, muscle tension, damaged disks, injuries or fractures.

 

Back pain increases

Back pain and especially low back pain is increasing worldwide. Due to the fact that we are sitting too much. We spend an increasing amount of time sitting still using devices like a mobile phone, computer, laptop etc are more used than before. Therefore we move less. In the past we would have gone out shopping, or meet friends, nowadays we shop online and chat more online. By the increase of technology, we move less. If you are sitting more than 6 hours a day, you become stiff. Your whole body has a lack of movement. And movement is important. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

 

If you don’t use it, you lose it

This means if you don’t move, you will lose muscle tone and bone mass. For the reason that you are not moving enough, you are not using your muscles and bones. When bone mass decreases you are more prone to develop osteoporosis which increases the risk of fractures. Moreover, besides losing muscle tone by not using the muscles, your muscles also become stiff when you don’t utilize them.

 

Why you feel pain

One of the most common ailments of sitting too much is lower back pain. So, therefore, the muscle in or around your back is more likely to become stiff, have spasm or tension. For example, when you sit a lot, you will have tight hamstrings, the muscles down the back of your thigh. This can be a cause of low back pain because a tight muscle can be dense, hard. This density in the muscle may pinch the nerve and therefore you feel pain. Maybe you can sense these hard little knots in your hamstring or lower back yourself. When you press on it, it feels like a little ball, it is harder than the other parts of the muscle.

 

The importance of flexibility

Density in the tissue of the muscle causes less blood circulation. So if we are talking about density in the hamstrings, adherent parts of the hamstrings in our body, like the lower back, don’t receive enough blood and therefore insufficient oxygen and nutrients that are carried by the blood.

This is the same for density around the muscles of the spine. Therefore it is important to not only have flexibility in your hamstrings but also in the muscles next to the spine. So if you sit a lot, in example working in front of the computer, you tend to bend over a bit, which is a bad posture, getting tighter muscles of the back – without even mentioning the reformation of the spine – compressing the lumbar vertebrates.

 

Stress

Besides lack of movement, stress can also be a trigger for lower back pain. Being stressed or anxious leads to muscle tension by causing blood vessels to narrow. So again, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the body’s tissues. This leads to a build-up of waste products, which cause the muscles to spasm or contract. Being under constant stress causes the muscles to tighten and shorten, triggering pain, often in the neck and back.

 

High cortisol level

This is because when you are stressed, the level of cortisol increases to make you more alert. However, this requires energy, glucose, from your body. The body uses proteins from the muscles to make more glucose. Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles, so when glucose is produced, this is at the expense of your muscle mass. So a little bit of stress is okay when it is needed to be more alert, but for a longer period, a high level of cortisol can harm your muscles. Also, a high cortisol level triggers inflammation in the muscles.

 

The importance of movement

Now that we understand the density of tissue pinching nerves, the importance of flexibility in our muscles, good blood circulation in our body and the importance of a healthy cortisol level, we can now explain why moving is a good idea when you have back pain. What most people do when they have a lower back pain caused by muscle stiffness, strain or spasm, is taking a painkiller and stay still. However, we believe that this is not good.

The best is to move. Try to go for a walk, do yoga or take a massage treatment. Your body needs to work on breaking the density of the tissue so it will not pinch the nerve anymore. This can be done by better blood circulation and heating, the effects you can create by massage. Moreover, the best is to work on the flexibility of the muscles, good blood circulation, and a healthy cortisol level. With mild exercise, your body is doing all that by itself.

 

Painkillers versus massage

Then painkillers. Well, sometimes it is impossible to avoid the use of sedatives, but most people take them too fast. Painkillers do have a lot of secondary effects. A massage in example works the same as ibuprofen, without the side effects. Massage affects the activity of certain genes, immediately reducing inflammation in muscles — the same result you’d get by taking aspirin or ibuprofen. By massage, the cortisol in your body decreases and the endorphins in your body increase, making massage a natural pain killer.

 

When not to get a massage?

However, in this article, we are talking about lower back pain caused by strains, muscle spasms or muscle stiffness. If you have a hesitation that your back pain is caused by something else, please visit a doctor first, to check if a massage treatment is recommendable in your situation.

 

How to avoid back pain?

The best, of course, is to prevent back pain rather than curing it. So we recommend you to not sit more than 6 hours a day on a chair. If you do have to do this, because maybe you work with the computer, be aware of your sitting habits. Maybe you can move more before and after work.

Plus, if you want to watch tv or reading a book in your spare time, be sure to not sit, but maybe lay on your belly or back, to give your back a bit of rest. Moreover, try to avoid stress, be aware of your posture and be sure to do regular exercise or take massages treatments to avoid dense tissue, to create a good blood circulation, using muscles and bones and maintain a healthy cortisol level.

Create a healthy day!

Nicole & Manel

PS: We have an announcement: We have created an Online Course: Therapy Massage for Back Pain. If you are interested, there is an introduction price at the moment. You can read here more

PSPS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

 

PSPSPS: Do you know others who like to know how massage reduces back pain? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

We wish we could tell you that massage is the cure for cancer. Unfortunately, that is not the case! Actually, it is even contra-indicatory to give a massage to someone who is diagnosed with cancer. In this article, we will explain you the pros and cons of massage and cancer. And we explain the relation between massaging the abdomen and preventing colon cancer.

 

Facts

But first some facts…

Although there is ongoing research to medical cures for cancer, still almost 10 million people are dying every year because of cancer. Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases characterized by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries. And that can then invade neighboring parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.

 

Cancer, tumor, neoplasm

Other words for cancer are malignant tumors and neoplasms. Cancer is difficult to treat because it can affect almost any part of the body. Also, it has many anatomic and molecular subtypes that each require specific management strategies.

 

Men and Women

In women, the most common types of cancer are breast, colorectal (colon cancer), lung, cervix, and thyroid. While lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men.

 

30%-50% could be prevented

According to the World Health Organization, 30 to 50 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. Of course, you can just have bad luck. However, the chances of cancer are significantly lower if you modify or avoid key risk factors, such as avoiding tobacco products, reducing alcohol consumption, maintaining healthy body weight, exercising regularly and addressing infection-related risk factors. And here is where massage comes in…

 

Massage helps homeostasis

Cancer can occur when the homeostasis is not in a perfect balance. Homeostasis from the Greek words for ‘same’ and ‘steady’ refers to the state of balance among all the body systems needed for the body to survive and function correctly. In homeostasis body levels of acid, blood pressure, blood sugar, energy, hormones, oxygen, proteins, and temperature are constantly adjusted to respond to changes inside and outside the body, to keep them at a normal level. Amazing, isn’t it? Our bodies are doing this, without we’re even noticing it.

Massage helps to have the homeostasis in a perfect balance. When you receive a massage your blood circulation improves (oxygen, hormones, and nutrition are transported everywhere in the body) and the movement of lymph improves (that works for a healthy immune system).

 

Stress

Some scientists and doctors are now relating stress and depression to certain types of cancer. We don’t say that everyone who is stressed and/or has a depression gets cancer. But we do know that there is a relation between stress, depression, and cancer. When your immune system is weaker when you are stressed or have a depression your body is more hospitable to welcoming cancer.

 

Massage prevents cancer

Massage fights against stress. It is clearly proven that massage reduces levels of stress. Because by massage you are improving circulation, so we reduce the levels of cortisol in our body. And massage improves the immune system, by lowering the blood pressure, and by movement of lymph. So, actually, massage doesn’t fight cancer. But massage can reduce the risks, the chances of getting cancer. The same as exercise, a healthy diet, and a healthy lifestyle and sports too can help to reduce the risk of getting cancer. So massage prevents cancer in the same way other matters of having a healthier lifestyle will prevent cancer.

 

Colon cancer and massage

So let’s give an example because the World Health Organization clearly states that 30 to 50% of the cancers can be avoided by having a healthier lifestyle. So one of the common cancers is colon cancer. And one of the things we do with massage is improving the health of the colon. It is not that we say that if you massage your belly that you will never have colon cancer. But the risks, the chances can be lower because of a healthier state of your colon. But how does that work with abdominal massage?

 

Abdominal massage

More than 80 % of colon cancer occurs on two places of the colon: the beginning and the end of the colon. The first place is called the starting of the ascending colon (the cecum), where the small intestines connect to the colon. The other place is called the last part of the descending colon, before the rectum, called sigmoid. This last part of the colon makes a kind of curve until it reaches the rectum. In this curvature on the side of the hip, the iliacus muscle is where feces (the solid remains of the food that could not be digested) get stuck.

 

Massage your colon healthy

Some theories talk about that waste causes degradation once we cannot clean that waste out of our body. And then degradation causes this type of mutation in certain cells that can cause in somehow the wrong functionality.

In abdominal massage, there is a movement in which you press in a peristaltic way, the same as your body would do when you have to go to the toilet. In this way, the massage helps the stuck feces in the colon to move towards the rectum, to cure constipation. Through this massage your blood circulation improves, your lymph circulation improves which fights against the possibility that you have feces stuck in your colon for a long period of time that can cause constipation and certain infections. So by massage, you improve the health of your colon.

 

Massage when cancer

We just talked about the prevention of massage. But what if you have cancer? Then, we advise to follow doctors’ orders and not receive massage. Massage should only be given to reduce pain when the cancer is terminal. When the cancer is terminal massage can be used as a natural painkiller. We call it to massage for compassion.

 

Risks

To understand why you should avoid getting a massage when you have cancer, we should look at how cancer can be spread. Cancer cells can break away from where they first were formed, this is called primary cancer. Those cells can travel through the blood or lymph system and form new tumors (metastatic tumors) in the parts of the body. The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. When you receive a massage your blood circulation and lymph circulation improves in your body. So, therefore, you can now understand that it is contradictory to get a massage when you have cancer, because of the risk of spreading cancer. However, massage can be used as a painkiller for the terminal state.

 

Massage after cancer

If you have combatted cancer, you are cancer-free, then it is really good to have a massage. We have many clients that had cancer and they were not able to do sports yet because they have been in bed for a long time and they were very weak after fighting against cancer. Massage treatments will help you to recover faster from all the side effects of the therapies you had for cancer and to improve and regain muscle and bone function. The same as exercise will do for you, but this might be difficult if you are still weak. So the best is to start with massage treatments and to build it up with exercise to become as strong again as you were before you got cancer.

 

In short

We hope it is clear that the best to prevent cancer is to have a healthy lifestyle and to have early detection. And be sure to use massage not as a cure for cancer, just as a natural painkiller in a terminal state. When someone is cancer-free use massage to recover faster. We wish you a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet, exercise and massage.

 

Create a healthy day!

Nicole & Manel

PS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you to become healthier through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

 

PSPS: Do you know others who like to know about cancer and massage? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

Feeling feverish or chills?

Are you coughing, having a sore throat?

Or maybe a runny or stuffy nose? What about muscle or body aches?

Headaches?

Feeling fatigued?

You might have the flu, and you are not the only one! The flu comes around every year, and for most of us, it is just a bit annoying. You feel sick. Stay in bed. Sleep a lot. And after that, you are fine again.

 

Massage if you’re ill?

Since the flu involves a lot of times muscle pain, we are asked quite often: ‘I have the flu and muscle pain. Can I get a massage?’

The answer is no!

 

Why ?

Before we tell you why, let’s explain first what is a flu. The flu that we know most is seasonal influenza.

 

Seasonal Flu

It is so called because it is there in the coldest season twice during a year. This means once in the Northern hemisphere’s winter and once in the Southern hemisphere’s winter. Plus is circulates year-round in the tropics and subtropics.

 

How to avoid flu

Influenza is a virus that unfortunately is constantly mutating to evade our immune systems. It can easily be spread between people. So the best way to avoid flu you probably know already is to wash your hands regularly. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, because germs are most likely to enter your body this way. Avoid being with people who have flu. But if you are near people who have flu disinfect surfaces in your home when someone is sick. This is clear, we all know that. But now, why don’t get a massage when you have the flu?

 

Massage your muscle pain?

As said influenza is a virus. And when you have a virus you should just take a rest, drink plenty of water and let your body fight against the virus, done by the immunity system. Massage can make your flu worse. With massage, we are improving the circulation. However, when you have a virus in your body, you want to give your body a rest and let the immunity system do its work. So even though you have muscle pain due to the flu, just rest, go to bed and sleep it out.

 

Improving the immune system

However, massage does improve our immune system. Because massage improves the movement of lymph. And part of lymph are the white blood cells that fight against bacteria and diseases. So by receiving a massage treatment based in stretches and acupressure, you move. The therapist is stimulating the movement of lymph. So your immunity system improves.

So hope it is clear… please don’t get a massage when you have flu. Just get massage treatments to prevent yourself from being sick. And when you have been ill, and you are recovered, so you don’t have a fever anymore, do get massage treatments to improve your immune system again and prevent the flu.

Have a flu-free season!

 

Create a healthy day!

Nicole & Manel

PS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you become flu-free through MASSAGE:

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

 

PSPS: Do you know others who like to know about that massage helps you to become flu-free? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.

Ever had a headache?

Well, you are not the only one.

According to the World Health Organization, almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once within the last year.

A headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world. But it does not have to be, there is another solution. And that is massage.

We explain later. First, some facts.

There are many types of headaches like most people call them a migraine, tension-type headache and cluster headache.

And according to the World Health Organization, the most common secondary headache disorder is a medication-overuse headache. This affects even up to 5% of some populations, women more than men.

However, as we learned in Thailand 80 percent of the headaches can be decreased by massage. It is actually simple. We will explain to you later on in this article. But first I like to share you my (Nicole) story.

This is my story

“Tomorrow would be my 1 year anniversary of being on sick leave. I had a heavy concussion and a whiplash – a suitcase had fallen off the overhead luggage rack while the airplane I was on moved to the airstrip, ready for departure.

My life was not as I had imagined.

I was using painkillers to suppress an enormous headache. I was in bed all day. I could not bear any sound. Nor could I handle any stress. Even grocery shopping was too much.

It was my 7th concussion and 4th whiplash. And I had done a lot of tests: X-ray examination – when I found out I was allergic to contrast agents and had a near-death experience, but that’s a different story – ultrasound, EEC, CT-scan, MRI and neurological examination. They could not find anything.

I had tried all kinds of treatments and therapy to get rid of my pain and symptoms. Physiotherapy. Shockwave therapy (sound waves). A neurologist even paralyzed a nerve for a few days. Neck-traction device at the hospital. I wore a neck brace. Tried a brand-new head pillow that had been custom-made for me. I even changed my diet.

Nothing worked

The only thing that had decreased the worst pain to some degree was treatment from an ortho-manual therapist. The only other alternative was to just lie down in a dark room with painkillers, although that was more pain suppression.

That day, my neurologist asked me if it would not be better for me to resign: quit my office job.

Quit? But then what would I do?

I gave her a hundred reasons not to quit my job. Like being pregnant – perhaps not the ideal timing to resign when I was about to have a baby and being ill as well. No job? Then what? What about my future? And what about my baby that was on the way?

As all these reasons went through my mind, my neurologist gave me one reason – an incentive really – to resign.

She told me that I would get better if I gave massage treatments. I was overwhelmed. I thought it was weird. However, I was also curious. She told that she had seen the same scenario in her practice for years: “We take too many pills, Nicole. We have stressful jobs and just keep taking pills. Not good for people, like you, with headaches.”

She was a fan of therapeutic Thai massage. It helped her relax. It also helped many of her clients who suffered from headaches. “And then you have a relaxed job!” She laughed when she left.

The seed was planted. I started doing some research. I booked massage treatments, so I could experience it myself.

Guess what? She was right!

I had a therapeutic Thai massage every three days for three weeks in a row. The treatments were specifically for headaches and whiplash pain and injuries.

My headaches disappeared.

I had dealt with my headaches and pain for so long, that I just could not remember how good, free and relaxed it felt without a headache.

I threw away my painkillers.

And more importantly, I turned my life around.

I started giving massage treatments and classes full-time. All of a sudden my workspace was no longer an office with computers and deadlines, but a nice space with soothing music and lovely essential oils.

Every day, I make people happy with my massage treatments. Do you know how much energy that gives me? I schedule my own time. I work when I want to. I even meditate during treatments. My body became stronger. My life changed completely. Without headaches.

So now you know my story.

The question is how massage reduces headache?

Well, Manel can explain that clearly: “80 percent of the headaches are caused by a stiff upper back or neck.

There are many causes.

It can be…

An accident (like a concussion, whiplash), so the muscles are overused due to the injury.

Stress – you tighten your upper back muscles too often.

Or lack of movement.

Your upper back becomes stiff because you sit long hours.

Mostly the trapezius muscle or splenius capitis (muscle in the back of the neck) is stiff. You might feel nodes in these muscles. This stiffness can cause the blocking of capillaries. So the blood circulation decreases towards the head. Blood transports oxygen, information, and nutrition to the cells.

 

Feeling down with a headache?

If you have a lack of blood flow towards the head, you can feel like you are having a bag around you and you feel that there is not enough oxygen. You might even feel down or depressed or heavy or irritated.

How does massage help?

By a massage that exists of deep acupressure and stretches among the stiff muscles of the upper back and neck, the blood circulation improves in general and also to the head. And therefore reduces a headache.

 

High blood pressure?

There are also other reasons for having a headache. Maybe your headache is caused by high blood pressure? Then massage can also help to decrease your headache. Because massage balances the blood pressure.

 

Stress?

Stress is one of the main reasons to ailments nowadays. And stress can also cause a headache because when you are stressed your blood pressure goes up and high blood pressure is a reason for headaches. When you receive massage your hormones will balance.

So when you have stress, you have too much cortisol in your body. During the massage, the cortisol, the stress hormone, will decrease. And serotonin, the happy hormone, will increase. So you feel very quickly during a massage relaxed, your high blood pressure lowers and headache diminishes.

 

So in short…

So instead of taking medicines, massage can be seen as an alternative to reduce headaches. Because massage improves circulation, massage reduces high blood pressure and massage can balance the levels of serotonin, dopamine and other types of neurotransmitters or hormones that can affect people who have headaches.

 

Please note…

However, when you suffer from headaches, please seek advice from a doctor first. The doctor needs to diagnose the cause of your headache. And can advise you if in your case a massage can be recommended.

 

This might sound funny…

We forgot to tell you another reason why you can have a headache. And that is because you think too much! This might sound funny for you. However, in Thailand monks tell us we think too much in the west, we should give our brain a bit rest. That is why meditation is recommended. You can, of course, do meditation yourself. However, when you receive a massage it feels like a meditation. And, if you give a traditional Thai massage, as a masseur you also feel that you are in a meditation state. So in that way, it works both ways.”

 

Hope it is clear now how massage reduces headaches. We wish you a headache free day, well even better a headache free life!

Create a healthy day!

Nicole & Manel

PS: We have an announcement: We have created an Online Course: Therapy Massage for Headache. If you are interested, there is an introduction price at the moment. You can read here more

 

PSPS: Whenever you are ready… here are 5 ways we can help you become headache-free through MASSAGE:

 

  1. Retreat – Click Here
  2. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 1 Foundation) – Click Here
  3. Thai Yoga Massage Therapy Program – Click Here
  4. Acupressure Massage Therapy Program (Level 2 Advanced) – Click Here
  5. Thai Yoga Massage Teacher Training Program – Click Here

 

PSPSPS: Do you know others who like to know about that Thai yoga helps you to become headache-free? Feel free to share this post by clicking on the Social Media link below.