Tag Archives: Relaxation

Is it Time for a Hot Stone Massage?

As the winter is drawing nearer, what would be better than a Hot Stone Massage. This amazing experience is even better than it sounds. It is no wonder Hot Stone Massages are a top seller in most spas, especially ones in cold places like ski resorts.

What should you expect from a Hot Stone Massage?

First, your massage practitioner will apply massage oil allowing the stones to smoothly glide over your skin. Then the therapist will take hot water heated stones and place them on your skin. They will check the temperature with their hands to make sure the stones are not too hot. You must be quite clear about communicating your heat preferences. This is for muscle relaxation not skin burning.

As the stones sit on your skin the heat will sink into your muscles down to your very bones. The massage therapist may even take one of the stones and work your muscles with light or deep tissue massage depending on your preference. The stones will liquify your muscles allowing the therapist to go deeper to work out all of those stubborn knots that have been bothering you for a long time. Stones might even be placed in your hands or on the soles of your feet if you wish. Some massage therapists place stones on points that are thought to be energy centers of the body to rebalance the body and mind.

 What kind of stones and equipment are used?

The hot stones used in this form of massage are usually river rocks that are smooth for gliding nicely and made of basalt so that they retain heat. The stones are placed in water that is heated by an electic device kind of like a big crock pot. The stone warmer is preheated to just the right temperature before you even walk in the room.

~~If any of this sounds tempting to you, I suggest you book an appointment to receive a Hot Stone Massage immediately. I provide them in the Seattle area. If you do a Google search in your area, I am sure you find someone who can give you an amazing Hot Stone Massage. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/


What Can You Do for Restless Leg Syndrome?

awake 5Before we launch into how to relieve Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), it is important to know you don’t have another condition. There are no test to find out if you have RLS, but there are tests your doctor can give you to rule out some other things. That could be important information because the treatment for those other conditions would be very different.

Some of the symptoms of RLS include:

~A creeping, crawling, jittery, tingling, burning, aching in legs at night or during inactivity

~Irresistible urge to move the legs

~Persistent leg movements during sleep hours

~Sleeping difficulty

~Not usually a muscle cramp or numbness

~Symptoms will have temporary relief with movement

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for RLS and they are not sure what causes it. There are a few treatments that have  provided some folks with RLS relief. If your physician suspects you have RLS check with them to see if you could try these treatments.

~Make sure you are eating a healthy diet.

~Avoid caffeine.

~Exercise has been known to help. Make sure you don’t overdo or excercise too late in the evening.

~Massage can help you relax.

~Try other relaxation techniques like yoga, a warm bath or meditation.

~Make sure you have a regular sleep cycle and are getting enough rest.

~Alternating heat and cold packs or just one or the other can lessen the sensations.

~Have your iron levels checked.

~Cut back on alcohol and tobacco and see if that helps.

Hopefully these ideas can provide you with some relief. The RLS Foundation is also a font of information. Thanks for reading PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/

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 http://www.pjharris.com/

Can Massage Decrease Anxiety?

Many of my clients have such busy lives. They show up at my office and the anxiety is written all over their face. I hear about how bad trafficanxiety was on their way here or that they almost had to cancel because their calendar is too full. At the end of their massage, they are relaxed, their breathing is slowed and their face is calm. Do I think that massage can decrease anxiety? Most definitely! Although, I have not done an official study including a control group regarding this fact, there are those who have.

I have read many studies that show a decrease in anxiety for people receiving massages. There are even studies that show that people who give massage can decrease their anxiety too. Looks like I picked the right career.

One place that specializes in studies about touch and it’s effects on people is the Touch Research Institute. TRI did a study showing that massage therapy decreased diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) levels in adults with hypertension. Another study showed twenty-six adults were given a chair massage and 24 control group adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes, two times per week for five weeks. The group receiving massage exhibited a decrease in anxiety.

 So, there are studies and my opinion, but what is most important is what do you think about how massage can help us become more calm? My guess is that most of you will agree and even believe that your life could benefit from receiving more massage. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris LMP. http://www.pjharris.com/


Massage therapy decreased diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and cortisol (stress hormone) levels in adults with hypertension.
Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., Theakston, H., Hossain, Z., & Burman, I. (2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31-38. http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/TRIResearch/massageres.htm

Twenty-six adults were given a chair massage and 24 control group adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes, two times per week for five weeks. On the first and last days of the study they were monitored for EEG before, during and after the sessions. The massage group exhibited: 1) increased frontal delta power (suggesting relaxation); 2) decreased frontal alpha and beta power (suggesting enhanced alertness); 3) increased speed and accuracy on math computations ; 4) lower anxiety levels; 5) lower salivary cortisol levels; and 6) lower depression scores at the end of the 5 week period.
Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Gonclaves, A., Burman, I., Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/TRIResearch/massageres.htm

Insomnia: 15 Tips to Help You Sleep

Many times my massage practice clients speak of their sleep2experience with insomnia. Sometimes they even come seeking massage to help them with this issue. This is a great idea and there are also other things you can do that might help.

I have been talking to people and reading articles on insomnia. As a result I composed a list of all of the suggestions I have been privy too. I hope this helps.

1) Regular sleep schedule – Get up at the same time and go to bed at the same time everyday. This includes the weekends.

2) Take a little walk – The gentle exercise and fresh air can help clear the day and bring about a more relaxed state.

3) Short or no naps– Taking naps decreases your likelihood of being sleepy come bedtime.

4) A little snack – Some people can’t sleep because they are actually hungry. Some foods are more conducive to bringing about sleep than others.

5) Decrease stress – This could create a whole new list. Good thing to explore.

6) Warm bath – What a lovely way to end the day. I feel relaxed just thinking about it.

7) Massage – My favorite relaxation tool. How about you?

8) Exercise – Many people can’t sleep because they don’t get enough exercise. Exercise promotes improved sleep quality by allowing smoother and more regular transition between the cycles and phases of sleep.

9) Avoid caffeine or alcohol – Both can get in the way of your sleep. Yes, even alcohol.

10) Chamomile tea – Chamomile is a lovely relaxing herb. Ask your Doctor or Naturapath about some other natural sleep aides.

11) Read something boring – Remember when you were in school and how hard it was to stay awake while studying?

12) Medium firm to firm bed – My chiropractor recommends this and I concur.

13) Relaxing musicHere is a list of my favorites.

14) Sleep Apnea – If someone has told you or you suspect that you temporarily stop breathing intermittently while you sleep, you could have Sleep Apnea. I suggest you consult your primary care person. There could be help for it.

15) Bedtime transitional routine – This could include some of the tips above or ones you have found on your own.

Now what I am wondering about is what has worked for some of you? What do you do to fall asleep when it seems that might be difficult?  Let us know by leaving your tips in the comment section. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/

Benefits of Infant Massage

babyWhen we come into this world we are a blank slate, Tabula Rasa. So why not start out in life with the very best care? It is a wonderful way to model great habits to your baby. Infant Massage is so very nurturing and also has good health benefits too. Here are some of them:


~Helps increase blood circulation
~Improves digestion and helps relieve gas and constipation
~Aids in development of the Nervous System
~Increases alertness and a heightened awareness
~Helps with immune function
~Releases Oxytocin, the Nurturing Hormone
~Greater relaxation and aids sleeping
~Helps create greater parental bonding
~Promotes communication between parent and baby
~Can increase weight gain

When you are giving your baby a massage, make sure the temperature in the room is nice and warm and the lighting is low. Some believe it is best to pick the same time of day to massage your baby. It is a good idea to make sure that you use massage oil that will be gentle on baby’s skin. There is massage oil out there made especially for babies.

There are also classes and books out there to show you how to start this wonderful practice for you and baby. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading and be well, PJ Harris, LMP. http://www.pjharris.com/

Melt Away Your Worries

Last weeks post about relaxation has inspired me to continue in the same vein. Especially during the cold winter months, a nice soak at my local spa is one of my favorite ways to unwind and thaw. In the Greater Seattle area I have a few personal spa favorites I’d like to share with you. These spas all have something in common that I especially appreciate: Hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms. Here are my top three (two are women only, one is co-ed):


Hot House Women’s Spa
This little gem is located on Captitol Hill. As the name states, it is a women only spa. Hot House offers great amenities like steam room, sauna, cold plunge, showers, relaxation area, heated floors, and filtered water. The current price is hard to beat at just $12 for use of the whole facility. If you have extra cash, you can even book yourself a massage.

Olympus Spa
If you ever speak to a woman who has been to this spa, you will hear comments like: “You have to go there,'”It is so amazing” and “I love that place.” This spa is a traditional Korean spa. They have  therapeutic whirlpools, radiant energy rooms, a mugwort steam sauna and herbal dry sauna. The restaurant has great Korean food. Not included in the entrance fee is their legendary skin scrubs. I highly recommend you have one of these!  There are 2 locations: Lynnwood and Tacoma.

Banya 5 
Sorry dudes, this is the only co-ed spa on my list. This is a Russian spa with amenities that will knock your socks off. Actually it will knock everything off but a bathing suit. Banya 5 is the only spa on the list that requires you wear a suit. They have a banya (200-220 degree sauna), hot tub, warm pool, cold plunge pool and a steam room. My husband and I love to go here on date night. Located in downtown Seattle.

Now you have heard some of my favorite spa spots. Write a comment and let’s here what you think of these places, if you have been there, or better yet lets here about some places not listed. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/