Monthly Archives: September 2009

Can You Get a Massage If You Have Cancer?

50933_FullThere are so many ways someone with cancer can benefit from massage. Massage is incredibly nurturing. This is much needed by a person living with cancer. They often feel isolated, depressed and positive touch deprived. Many times their loved ones can not support them due to living far away or sometimes they are afraid of the stigmas attached to the disease.  Loved ones also might feel afraid that they might hurt the cancer patient if they touch them. Massage provides relief from stress and restlessness, sleep improvement and pain relief. Fortunately, there are many hospice and cancer support organizations that have massage practitioners who donate their time.

Old school beliefs were based on the opinion that massage increases circulation and can promote the spread of cancer. We now have seen many studies that state that massage does not promote the spread of cancer, though some types of massage are inadvisable for certain types of cancer. For example, we need to be especially gentle when touching people with bone cancer, so deep tissue massage is a very bad idea. Another example might be someone undergoing cancer treatment might have nausea and jostling their body or aggressive movement of their limbs could agitate their symptoms. So, as always, talk to your oncologist about whether or not massage is a good idea for you. If your oncologist gives you the green light, make sure you find out what parameters the therapist should work within. I also suggest you see someone who is trained in how to address the special needs of someone dealing with this disease.

If you know someone with cancer, suggest to them to get a massage. They especially deserve some enjoyment from life. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP.


Balance Your Body With A Simple Energy Exercise by Fred Krazeise

Fred is one of my favorite bloggers. I thought I would share one of his posts with you. You can read more of his work at his Empowered & Fit site or follow him on Twitter @empoweredandfit. Enjoy! PJ Harris LMP

Balance Your Body With A Simple Energy Exercise by Fred Krazeise

FredinUKYour body is naturally hard-wired to react to threats in a way that is meant to protect you (think of encountering lions, tigers and bears, oh my!). But your body and your mind may pay the price if your “fight-or-flight” reaction – a natural protective mechanism – is constantly “on.”

Stress today comes from different sources than that of our ancient ancestors. It may come from fighting traffic during the daily rush hour, the rush of getting yourself, your family off to work and school everyday, from pressures related to job and career and managing your workload, and from worry about making ends meet in this difficult economy. And while these daily stresses may not be immediately life-threatening, if left unchecked and uncontrolled, if you allow your body’s natural stress mechanism to be left continuously in the “on” position, you will begin to pay a price over the long haul.

When your body perceives a threat, and is under stress, it releases a combination of nerve and hormonal signals that prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys to release a surge in hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, here’s what happens when these hormones are released:

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies.

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

Fortunately, your body’s stress response is usually self-regulating. As the perceived threat goes away, blood pressure returns to normal, adrenal glands stop producing cortisol and adrenaline and your body returns to normal functions.

The problem occurs when levels of stress are constantly present in our lives, even at low levels. When this happens, the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and the other stress hormones begins to create health problems. Such problems include:

o Hypertension
o Heart disease
o Sleep problems
o Over eating, which can lead to weight gain
o Skin problems, rashes, eczema etc.
o Short-term memory loss

So, how do we cope with the stress that is a part of our daily lives? As the woman and primary care-giver in most families, you have to put yourself first. As I am fond of telling my clients, “If you are going to constantly write checks off of your wellness account, we have to put some deposits into the bank from time-to-time!”

It’s all about achieving balance in your life, finding the time you need to maintain your optimum health, while at the same time caring for your loved ones. Some of the things you can do include:

Exercise – finding 30-minutes a day, at least 3-4 times a week doing an activity you enjoy. Walking is a great form of exercise. Remember, exercise isn’t punishment! As human beings, we are meant to move, to walk, to run, to stretch, to jump, to throw. Incorporate simple, joyful activity into your life

Get plenty of sleep – this is one lifestyle factor that you can directly control, not just for yourself, but for your family. Turn off that TV early, and set a goal to get 7-8 hours of rest every night. Your body needs this time to recharge and re-energize

Find time to meditate or use other relaxation techniques – I lead a very busy life, but I’ve mastered the art of the “5-minute meditation!” Ideally, I will find more time each day, but I have also found that taking short, little meditation breaks, as short as 3-5 minutes, really help me become calmer, more grounded, balanced, and focused. Just find a quiet spot, turn off outside distractions like the TV or radio, focus on your breathing, and let your mind find that calm, quiet space it needs

Surround yourself with friends – there are few greater joys in life than good friends. Surround yourself with them and they will help you find comfort

Counseling – Talk therapy really works. If you find that you cannot manage the pressures of your life on your own, please do not be afraid to go out and find a professional that can help you. Start with your doctor and get a referral. If she can’t help, here is a good resource for you.

Finally, here is a simple energy medicine techniques that I think you will find helpful.

Connecting the Central and Governing Meridians

This is a technique that strengthens the Central Median, which will help you stabilize your body’s energy systems, and will help you to center and ground yourself.

1) Stand with your arms loose at your sides, feet comfortably apart
2) Breathe in through your nose, and then out through the mouth several times until you begin to feel a sense of calm taking over your body
3) Place the middle finger of one hand between your eyebrows and the bridge of your nose (this is the point of your third-eye chakra)
4) Place the middle finger of your other hand in your navel
5) Gently press each finger into your skin, pull it gently upward and hold for about 20-30 seconds while continuing to breathe deeply through your nose and out through your mouth.

You can repeat this technique 2-3 times or until you feel a sense of balance and grounding.

6 Tips for Strong Ankles

anklesThe importance of strong ankles is far reaching. It greatly affects the fluidity in your walking stride. A disjointed stride can cause knee, hip, low back, mid back or even neck pain. Many of the people who come to me for knee pain can trace the cause to their ankles. In order to have strong ankles you must also have flexible ankles. Flexible and strong ankles are especially important if you run, play basketball, soccer, football, ride bicycles… or just want to stay active for many years to come.

 Here are a few exercises to retain or regain ankle strength and flexibility:

1. The first exercise is called calf raises. Here are a few examples on how you can do these at home:

2. This video includes the exercises of ankle circles and alphabet ankles:

 3. Another great ankle strengthening exercise is balancing on one foot:

 4. This exercise involves sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. With you heels firmly planted on the floor, slowly raise your toes up and down.

seated toe raise




5. Here is a great stretch for the front of the lower leg and ankle:

6. Keeping your calves flexible are also important to ankle health. You can do this stretch with the back leg straight and then do it again with the back leg bent.

calf stretch





 Always check with your doctor before you begin a new exercise routine. If you find your ankles or lower legs are pretty tight and stiff, call your injury treatment massage therapist to help you find relief. Thank you for reading, PJ Harris, LMP.

Free Massage Drawing

Welcome to my free massage drawing!raffle

While I am away at a continuing education conference, you will be creating and posting personal accounts of your positive experiences with massage. I have been writing about massage in this blog for almost a year. Now I want to hear your stories and so will my readers. If you want to include the names of your practitioners to give them credit, please feel free.

Here are the eligibility details: 

1. Post a short comment (one or two paragraphs) in this blog comment section about the positive affects of massage for you personally.

2. You must come to my office to receive the free massage.

3. Only one entry per person.

4. Entry must be posted by midnight September 15th.

5. Posts in FaceBook or Twitter will not count. They must be in this blog comment section.

I will put all of your names in a hat and have my lovely assistant, Sky, pull the winner. Bribing Sky wont help. I know where he sleeps. Check back on September 16th to see if you won. I will post the winner’s name by updating the end of this article. I will not personally contact the winner. You must check back to see if you won.

What is Swedish Massage?

massage3While doing research on the history of Swedish massage, I came across many discrepancies. So as a result, I will not be relating information regarding it’s history. What I will explain is the main techniques incorporated in what massage practitioners practice while giving a Swedish massage currently in America.

The main goals of Swedish massage is to provide relaxation and improve circulation. The direction of massage strokes are what helps facilitate blood flow improvement. The focus of using strokes that are long and flowing help to promote relaxation.

Swedish massage consists of mainly five basic strokes:

1. Effleurage: Gliding strokes
2. Petrissage: Kneading movements
3. Friction: Deeper pressure
4. Tapottement: Brisk tapping
5. Gymnastic: Bending and stretching

Some of the other benefits of Swedish massage are:

1. Increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles
2. It stretches the muscles, ligaments and tendons keeping them supple and pliable
3. Reduces muscle spasms
4. Stimulates the skin and nervous system and soothes the nerves themselves at the same time
5. Reduces stress
6. Promotes well-being
7. Satisfies needs for caring nurturing touch

As you see, Swedish massage is beneficial in many ways and adds to the overall quality of life for the recipient. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP