Because Massage & Bodywork is becoming more and more popular, many of us have a pretty good idea of why people do it. (hint: IT MAKES PEOPLE FEEL BETTER!)
But to be more specific, I'd like to articulate some of the reasons I'm seeing my clients regularly. I've put together the 10 main reasons people are currently coming to my practice, in no particular order.
This is a big huge obvious one! Stress lingers in our muscles and our minds....and bodywork is a great effective way to release and lessen this tension. Someone might come in after a stressful day, week, month or year and leave feeling calm, collected and renewed. Amazing!
2) DESK JOB
We all know sitting at a desk or in front of a computer all day isn't healthy. Bodywork can help to unwind some of this damage, by addressing the regions of the body most affected by this type of work. What are these regions? Well, most commonly: Neck, shoulders, back, forearms and hands.
I love working with pregnancy! The rapid changes of pregnancy are lovingly supported with bodywork, as we work to support the environment that the little one is growing in. Certain points and regions are avoided for safety and the utmost care is taken to keep the mother comfortable. What's good for mom is good for baby, so bodywork provides wonderful care for both bodies!
4) CAR ACCIDENT INJURY
In Minnesota car insurance will pay for Massage Therapy in order to treat injuries sustained in a car accident. I have worked with many clients through their rehabilitation process and work in conjunction with their primary care physician or chiropractor. I take care of the billing so that all a person has to do is focus on getting better!
Whether depression or anxiety is chronic or newly revealed due to a life change or event, bodywork can provide support. Shiatsu is especially well suited to treating emotional conditions, because it treats the body and mind as one and works on an energetic level. While bodywork might not provide a 'cure' for depression or anxiety, it can play an active partner in someone's holistic treatment plan and can offer relief.
6) SUPPORT FOR AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Many people who ride a bicycle, exercise regularly or play sports use bodywork as partner in their regular upkeep and maintenance. Whether the goal is to soften muscles that have been working hard or to help repair an injury sustained during activity, Massage & Bodywork has a lot to offer in this arena.
7) FEELING UNWELL
Perhaps someone doesn't feel good. Or maybe they haven't felt good in a really long time. This may manifest in a combination of complaints, from muscle pain to digestive trouble to not sleeping well. Perhaps there is an official diagnosis and perhaps there isn't. Either way, the main point is that the person feels unwell and wants to feel better. In these cases I work to find out if we can discover a connection between the various symptoms, in order to find out how best to use bodywork for the person. And because I treat the whole body with careful attention paid to the mind and emotions too, the sessions can be a very effective tool of support and care.
8) PREVENTATIVE WELLNESS
Although this is less common, I would like to applaud those who seek out bodywork as care BEFORE they have an urgent need! Prevention is about a thousand times easier and more effective than remedial treatments. People who come in on a regular basis, even when they are feeling good, will get great results from their sessions. They will relax, reset their nervous systems, prevent illness, grow their self awareness and more.
When conducting an assessment at the beginning of a session, I always ask about energy levels. And I would have to say that about half of all my clients report fatigue. Often this is in conjunction with pain or some reason listed above. Despite the many different reasons that someone might be feeling fatigued, I can report that bodywork almost always helps to re-energize the body!
This is such a big one. And as a person who had a history of headaches myself I have so so much compassion for those who suffer this type of pain. A headache is miserable. And chronic headaches and migraines are marathons of pain. Bodywork has a lot to offer people who have headaches. Most of the time a headache is gone by the end of a session. And with time and regular visits, the frequency of headaches can be reduced with the ultimate goal of preventing them all together. Also, if there is an underlying imbalance that may be contributing to headaches, I am able to advise some simple lifestyle practices that may help to further treat the problem. If you are someone who 'lives' with regular headaches...I urge you to please begin a regular bodywork regimen today!!!
Do you relate? What does bodywork do for you?
In peace and health,
Susie Carlson, Dipl. ABT
Certified Shiatsu & Massage Therapist, Minneapolis MN
As we near the holiday season, I've been thinking a lot about the concept of balance. Like, what is it ....REALLY?! And how do we actually get there? CAN we actually get there?
I don't think anyone will ever reach a final state called balance. It's not possible. Instead I see balance as a practice to follow. Think of the practice as following a road. One side of the road represents too much and the other side of the road represents too little. Wherever we are on the road, balance is heading back towards the middle.
All of life operates on a spectrum of opposites. Balance is about seeking the middle ground. When you are going really fast, then it may be time to slow down. When you haven't moved your body for awhile, then it may be time to get things shaking.
When I see clients for bodywork it is very common for people to declare that they are looking to feel balanced. The good news is, the very fact that they are in the room about to receive an hour of bodywork IS the act of balance at work! What could be a better remedy for a busy work-filled life than an hour of deep profound relaxation!
But what if you CAN'T SLOW DOWN?
Sometimes we just don't have the option of choosing the middle of the road. In these times it is still important to keep balance in mind. When you have the chance, practice it! It is usually a challenge, but that is when we need it most!
It's a daily lifelong practice. Balance is a friend. It's an approach to life that seeks peace.
I wish you peace, balance and happiness through the holiday season!
-Susie Carlson, dipl. ABT
Certified Shiatsu & Massage Therapist at Red Cricket Healing Center in Minneapolis
This month I find myself reflecting on this past year and compelled to write a small personal reflection. It has been almost one year since I had a baby! This last year has been filled to the brim with change and a new kind of adventure. Last year at the end of August I closed down my practice for a few months to become a mother, the largest transformation I've yet done in this life. This parallels the energy present in the late summer which is the energy of harvesting that which we sow. The birth of a child is a very obvious manifestation of this concept, but in life we are constantly planting seeds for other things, such as ideas, events, personal growth goals and more.
Then in November I moved my practice to a new location: Red Cricket Healing Center. This was another long awaited 'harvest' because I waited for about a year for all of the elements to fall into place for the move. It's an exciting new space. In addition to my shiatsu & massage practice we have acupuncture, community acupuncture, yoga classes, tui na and holistic physical therapy all in one building.
Since re-opening my practice I've been working to find that ever elusive work/life balance. And one thing I've learned from Chinese Medicine is that seeking balance is a constant practice in which you add and take away as needed. As I look forward to the coming year I see a slow and steady approach being what's needed. I am putting the bulk of my energy as always into offering high quality, mindful bodywork to you...and realizing that many of the other details of running my practice will fall into place as needed.
Again I am so grateful for all of you. My work is fulfilling and I love doing it. But enough about me, let's reflect on seasonal health and talk a little bit about how Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at wellness this time of year.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE & THE EARTH ELEMENT
In Minnesota we are entering Late Summer, the time of year where balance and abundance prevail. We often begin to slow down from the busy pace of early in the season and relax into the lazy days of summer. This time of year is associated in Traditional Chinese Medicine with the Earth Element.
Chinese Medicine is all about function. It gives us context for our experiences and offers a tangible path towards balance. If someone is having trouble concentrating, reaping the metaphorical harvests in their life or feeling a lack of appetite for food or for life in general then Chinese Medicine offers a simple path of daily practices and treatments to help support that. Eating certain foods, receiving Shiatsu and Acupuncture, and meditating and/or exercising can really help.
There are Five Elements in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Water, Wood, Fire, Earth & Metal. The Earth Element represents Late Summer as described below:
"The Earth energy of late summer is the phase and the feeling celebrated in the song 'Summertime, and the living is easy…' It's color is yellow, the color of the sun and earth, and in human anatomy it is associated with the stomach, spleen and pancreas, which lie at the center of the body and nourish the entire system. If Earth energy is deficient, digestion is impaired and the entire organism is thrown off balance owing to insufficient nourishment and vitality." -Daniel Reid, The Complete Book of Chinese Health and Healing
This quote generalizes the essence of the Earth Element. Physically, it brings our attention to digestion and energy levels. Mentally and emotionally it reminds us to look at how we concentrate and think to manifest things in our lives. Nourishment is needed on both physical and emotional levels for us to thrive.
"Viewing the human condition as an extension of nature, Earth energy is needed to bring forth a harvest in our lives. The ability to reach completion is governed by this element, and those who chronically fail to reap what they have sown may have an imbalance here." -Gary Dolowich, M.D., B.Ac., Dipl. Ac, Archetypal Acupuncture
Are you feeling as if you are able to complete what you set out to do? Or are you always starting projects you can't finish? Asking these questions might bring self-awareness to patterns that may be holding you back. By becoming aware you are then empowered to make changes and support better physical, emotional and mental balance.
To sum, there are a number of symptoms that can signify an Earth Element out of balance. These can include: fatigue, lethargy, fogginess, insecurity, worry, feeling ungrounded.
-Susie Carlson, dipl. ABT
Certified Shiatsu & Massage Therapist
Last month I was featured in Red Cricket Healing Center's Newsletter, with a short interview about my practice. I'll include the interview below. I love working at Red Cricket! Check our their website for more information on the space and other practitioners. www.RedCricket.com
Shiatsu and Massage Therapist
For the past decade, Susie Carlson has dedicated herself to studying the body. Various paths have led her through dance, butoh, alexander technique, yoga and qi gong practices. This eventually led her to receive her Shiatsu and Massage certification from CenterPoint School in Minneapolis. In Spring of 2010, she opened her own practice, Sea of Qi Bodywork. Currently, Susie has partnered up with Red Cricket to offer her services in our new location. She was kind enough to take some time from her busy schedule as a new mom to discuss her practice.
Whats the difference between Shiatsu Massage and other types of Massage?
Shiatsu is a Japanese style of therapeutic massage. It uses the same assessment, theories and meridians as acupuncture with the goal of stimulating Qi. This focus on the vital energy of the body allows Shiatsu to be used for more than the soft tissue pain relief, although it is very good for that. Shiatsu can address menstrual pain, PMS, fatigue, digestive discomfort and disorders and perhaps most importantly emotional stagnation. When Qi is moving freely in abundance, bodies can harmonize and thrive.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
The relationships! It is a true honor to be asked to help people through bodywork. It is a sacred space, where people are truly listened to and respected. I am so lucky to go to a job that I love, that is healing for me as well.
What drew you to working at Red Cricket Healing Center?
When I met Joi, I was really impressed. She is very passionate about what she does and when she mentioned she was opening a healing center, I knew that I was interested. I really wanted to be a part of something larger and more collaborative. I’m happy to have found Red Cricket!
What makes your work different from others in the area?
I often hear that my style of bodywork feels very therapeutic and healing, that actually “does something”. I think what people mean is that my work is more medical than the massage you find at a spa. Also though, it contains the rhythm and relaxation that I believe is very important as a part of the healing session. So I hope that people can come in and feel as confident in the atmosphere and calming presence as they can in the technical expertise they are receiving.
As a bodywork therapist, I use both Shiatsu & Massage as part of my practice. They are separate distinct therapies, each with their own set of techniques and theories of treatment. Although they are different, these two types of therapy are extremely complementary. The following short article will help to differentiate each one.
SHIATSU (a japanese style of therapeutic massage)
Shiatsu-Anma, like Acupuncture, is based in part on the theory of Qi. Qi may seem like an abstract or made up concept, but it is something we can feel and experience quite easily during these types of treatments.
Qi theory sounds something like this: Our bodies contain an energy that circulates through the body in predictable and functional patterns and without it we would not be alive. This Vital Energy in our bodies, or Qi, can be moved and affected in many ways. It is an unseen force that is in charge of animating our bodies, moving our emotions, keeping our muscles, limbs and joints mobile and the underlying force beneath every physiological function. We can eat foods, do exercises and meditate to move our Qi. We can get acupuncture or massage. Much like swedish or deep tissue massage manipulates soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) Shiatsu manipulates Qi.
Shiatsu uses Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and it's own set of massage techniques to restore balance to the body. It directly affects Qi and also activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps our body into healing mode. This means it can relieve pain AND treat numerous internal imbalances of the body such as chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, insomnia, menstrual disorders and more. Shiatsu can also treat soft tissue and structural imbalances, a benefit that is emphasized when the therapist has Massage Therapy training. Perhaps most importantly, Shiatsu emphasizes preventative care. Regular treatments stop imbalances before they start.
Because Shiatsu focuses on Qi and pressure can be adjusted to be deep or very light, it is very safe for all people, even those with serious health conditions who may not be able to receive Massage or those with fear of needles who may not be open to trying Acupuncture.
More on Shiatsu here.
MASSAGE (western relaxation and therapeutic massage)
Massage applies an in-depth knowledge of Anatomy along with it's own set of techniques to restore balance to the soft tissue and physical structure of the body. It's ability to get very specific with the location of injuries, muscle adhesions and palpation techniques makes it an excellent choice for treating tendonitis, muscle pain & tension, headaches, trigger points and sprains/strains. It's goal of improving circulation make it well suited for promoting overall health and relaxation. Massage can also treat Qi and energetic imbalances when treatments are performed by a therapist with Shiatsu or TCM training.
Most of us are already pretty familiar with the language of Western Biomedicine which is used in Massage. We know about muscles, tendons, ligaments and the circulatory system, at least by name. Massage moves blood and lymph through the body and into injured regions, speeding up the healing process.
It is good to know that there are certain health conditions that are not safe for massage and a Massage Therapist will screen for these conditions during your initial meeting.
WHY USE BOTH?
Sometimes when we have muscle pain, tendonitis, trigger points or sprains (all of the conditions Massage is so well suited to treat) there is also an underlying energetic imbalance that causes us to be more susceptible to those things. That is where Shiatsu or a knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine comes in. By combining Massage techniques (to more quickly resolve the soft tissue problem) with Shiatsu techniques (to treat the underlying imbalance and kick the parasympathetic nervous system into gear for healing) then we can have the best of both worlds and a very powerful combination. This is the advantage of a session that includes both.
When a therapist is trained in both Shiatsu and Massage, they focus on both Qi and soft tissue at the same time, regardless of whether they are using Shiatsu or Massage techniques. It should be noted that Shiatsu therapists are trained in Anatomy and still treat the physical structure of the body, but use different techniques than Massage Therapists.
Some people respond better or simply prefer one style over the other. Some people like sessions that integrate both styles of Bodywork and others like to alternate between the two. Trying them both is a great way to increase awareness of the body and empower yourself to treat your body in the way that works best for you.
~Susie Carlson, dipl. ABT, Certified Shiatsu & Massage Therapist
about the wisdom of Chinese Medicine as applied to Shiatsu & Massage, healthy living, the benefits of Bodywork and simple healthy lifestyle practices.