Sunday, March 15, 2020

I Need Serenity, So I'm Temporarily Closed


Yep, you probably already know what this is about.

I've been turning myself inside out all week, trying to stay calm and be proactive while fielding information from local school departments and the greater massage community. I summed up my internal conflict as such: Does the potential/perceived benefit of performing massage therapy outweigh the potential risk to my own health, my clients' health, and the general public's health?

It's important to note that this virus is contagious even as the carrier is asymptomatic. Symptoms may not appear until 1-14 days after infection. It is spread through "respiratory droplets," and so can be present on clothes and fabric materials as well as other surfaces. There is no way of knowing, right now, if we have potentially come into contact with others carrying this virus. This week my massage mentor, Allissa Haines, said, "No matter how good we are with cleaning, being in a small room together, breathing the same air, is not consistent with the need for social distancing to slow this pandemic."

Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. As someone who has watched a loved one succumb to complications from such chronic medical conditions, I cannot -- in good conscience -- risk putting my clients and other loved ones at risk.

I Knead Serenity will be closed from March 16 through March 30, 2020, at which time the situation will be reevaluated. On-line scheduling and gift certificate purchases will also be unavailable. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but I hope to see you in good health on the other side of this pandemic.

Take care, stay safe, and I hope to see you, soon.

Bethany A. Ingraham
Licensed Massage Therapist
bethany.ingraham@gmail.com
www.ikneadserenity.com
(207) 370-4222

Monday, November 5, 2018

What Do We Really Know About Pain?

Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash

Pain is one of those “you know it when you feel it” kind of sensations. But it’s also a strange phenomenon, when you think about it. A snowball is cold, and so it feels cold when you touch it. A block of concrete is rough, so it feels rough when you touch it. But a knife isn’t painful on its own. Neither is a pot of boiling water or the leg of a table. We handle these things safely all the time, and experience their mass and temperature and texture. But pain exists only in the body, and even more specifically (as people who’ve experienced anesthesia know firsthand) in our minds. But that doesn’t make it less real! So what exactly is happening when we feel pain, and how do we stop it from negatively impacting our lives?

How does pain work?

There are three primary types of pain, and each of them works a slightly different way.

Nociceptive pain (tissue pain)


There are many different kinds of sense receptors in the body. Some are sensitive to heat or cold, some to touch or pressure. Others, called free nerve endings, aren’t specialized for any one type of stimulus. When a significant stimulus triggers these nerve endings, they send a message through the spinal cord and up to the brain indicating that something potentially dangerous has happened. The brain then decides (without consulting the part involved in conscious thought, alas) whether this is something to ignore or brush off or if it seems likely that damage has occurred. A message is sent back down to the affected part of the body.

If the message is, “No big deal -- ‘tis but a scratch,” then you’ll most likely shake yourself off and forget the incident even happened. If it’s, “WHOA, THIS SEEMS LIKE A PROBLEM,” then you experience this as pain.

This is useful! Just ask someone with CIPA, or congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, a disease that leaves people insensitive to pain. Imagine not noticing a bit of grit in your eye until it damages your cornea, developing stress fractures in your feet because nothing is telling you it’s time to sit down, or ending up with burns in your mouth and throat because you don’t realize your coffee is scalding hot. Pain stops us from trying to walk on a sprained ankle or to go for a run when we have a fever. Tissue damage, high temperatures, low pH, and capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot peppers) are all common triggers for this process.

But brains aren’t always correct when it comes to assessing danger. Lorimer Moseley gives a brilliant example of this in his TEDx talk. What’s the difference between the pain from a scratch on the leg and the pain from a nearly-fatal snake bite? Spoiler: it’s whatever your brain is expecting. That’s why you might feel little pain after a bicycle accident, but be in agony when getting the wound stitched up two hours later. Pain is weird.

Neuropathic pain (nerve pain)


This is pain that results from an issue with the nervous system itself, rather than surrounding tissues. If you’ve ever banged your funny bone, you know this feeling well. Common forms of neuropathic pain include:

  • Sciatica: pain in the sciatic nerve running through the hip and down into the leg and foot.
  • Diabetic neuropathy: nerve damage resulting from fluctuating blood sugar levels.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: pain resulting from the compression of the nerves that run through the wrist into the hand.

Less common forms include phantom limb pain (pain that feels like it originates in an amputated limb) and postherpetic neuralgia, which occurs as a result of getting shingles.

Neuropathic pain can be especially frustrating because the normal things we do to reduce pain are often useless when it comes to pain originating in the nervous system. Moving or not moving our muscles, applying heat or ice -- these can have a relatively small impact on nerve pain.

What’s more, nerves don’t heal as well as muscles and skin do, which makes nerve pain more likely to become chronic pain.

Other pain (A terrible, fake category name)


Pain is messy, and a lot of it doesn’t fall into either of the two categories above. Fibromyalgia is a great example of this. Is it pain resulting from tissue damage? Nope. What about nerve damage? Not as far as we can tell. It’s caused by the nervous system malfunctioning, sometimes in horrible ways, but doesn't result from actual nerve damage. The world of medicine is still trying to figure out why.

So, how do we alleviate pain?

There are several different options.

  • If the pain is caused by some kind of physical injury or stimulus, you can work on fixing that. If your hand is being burned on a lightbulb, you can remove your hand, which will make most of that pain go away. If you’re experiencing a muscle cramp in your foot, you can flex the foot (manually, if necessary). If you’re experiencing pain from sitting in the same position for too long, you can move around and shake out your legs. If the cause of the pain is inflammation, anti-inflammatories and ice can reduce that. This is perhaps the ideal form of pain relief, although it’s not always in the realm of the possible.
  • You can block the messages that tell your brain you’re in pain. This is how many painkillers work. Ice can also numb nerve endings.
  • You can convince your brain that you’re not in any real danger. This is a tough one, because the brain doesn’t just listen when you tell it things. But it’s well documented that fear, stress, and anxiety lead to increased pain perception. And of course, pain leads to stress, which leads to pain … General relaxation techniques—from meditation, to light exercise, to getting a massage—can all be helpful in turning the brain’s pain-alarms down a notch. Physical therapy (practicing certain motions in a way that isn’t painful) and talk therapy can also be useful here.

How can massage help with pain?

Sometimes the issue is one that massage can help manage on a physical level. More often, massage gives the brain a chance to let down its guard and experience something non-painful and even pleasant in the body. While there’s no silver bullet for pain, it can mean a lot for people whose pain has defied more straightforward treatments and whose injuries or illnesses are already healed.

Feeling the hurt yourself? There’s a massage with your name on it. Book your next one today.



Saturday, June 9, 2018

Summertime! And the Living is Easy!


It's here! The warm weather is finally here!

The sun is shining, birds are singing, flowers are blooming -- on days like these, kids like mine are clamoring for summer vacation. Good thing for them, the Bonny Eagle school district's last day is June 18.

Beginning Tuesday, June 19, 2018, I will be offering extended summer hours for weeknights and Saturdays:
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 4:00pm-8:00pm
  • Saturdays 10:00am-4:00pm

Other days and times will be subject to availability. This schedule will be in effect until August 18, 2018.

Speaking of scheduling, have you checked out my new on-line scheduling service? I quietly made the move a month or so ago; there may still be a few bugs that need to be worked out. Explore it for yourself and contact me with any questions!


Sunday, May 20, 2018

"Do You Accept Same-Day Appointment Requests?"

One night, at 10:00pm, I received a text message from an unknown number about a potential client looking for deep tissue massage. I turned them down, saying, "I'm not the best massage therapist for what you're looking for." Turns out, it was from Brad Pitt. I was crushed that had I missed out on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

(Did you know my keyboard has a sarcasm key?)

I do not accept same-day appointment requests. 

... with caveats.

You are welcome to contact me about last-minute openings, if:
  • You are a current client or a friend/relative of a current client.
  • You have been referred to me by a local chiropractor, osteopath, or other medical professional.

Generally speaking, my practice might be a good fit for you, if:
  • You are a real person and not masquerading under a celebrity's name.
  • You are looking for a legitimate massage and understand that draping is a requirement.
  • You are a woman between the ages of 30-70 living with chronic pain.
  • You are looking for a reduction of stress and anxiety symptoms.
  • You prefer your massage pressure on the Light-to-Medium side.

I recently changed my online booking platform to a new system. To book your appointment, you can simply use: http://book.ikneadserenity.com/

Select your desired appointment length, then select a calendar day in bold to view available times. For a single appointment, click "Continue," or to set up a continuing schedule, click "Recurring." You will have the option to prepay for your appointment through Square; to skip, select "Pay Later." You must agree to the listed policies and procedures prior to booking.


Cheers to you, Brad Pitts of the world. And to the rest of you normal folks out there, I hope you can appreciate my humor.



Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Should I Cancel My Massage If I'm Sick?"


Short answer: Yes, please.

Long Answer: Yes, please.

Massage is great -- you know this -- but it’s not always a great idea.

As the cold and flu season roars through again, it’s important that you know when it may be necessary to cancel your appointment.

Why?


-- When you are sick, your body needs rest. It’s strange to think about it this way, but receiving massage is an active task: it is not entirely rest. Massage causes change in the body, and your body has to work to maintain stability. Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from infection-fighting. That’s no good.

-- You’re not going to be cozy on the massage table. Sure, it sounds like a warm squishy massage table would be great, but the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways. Gravity and pressure are not your friend here. Even if I do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.

-- You could get me sick. Since most of the common winter viruses are contagious even before symptoms show up, I could pass the cooties along to more clients (and my family) before I even know it’s happening.

Further, when I get sick, I have to cancel clients and take a few days off work. I work for myself, with no paid sick days to compensate for lost wages. As a responsible business owner, I have a fund for these situations, but I would rather use that fund for a summer vacation or a fancy new oil holster.

So it’s a deal: you’ll cancel so as not to infect me and my massage room, and I’ll do the same for you. We’ll keep each other safe.

When to Cancel?


-- If you have had nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the past 24 hours, or are still feeling gross from a recent bout of such things.

-- If you’ve had a fever in the past 24 hours, or fever-related symptoms. This includes chills, aches, and fatigue. Even if you’re keeping the fever down with medicine, you’re still sick. The fever counts.

-- If you are itchy, runny, and/or sneezy, and you’re not 100% certain it’s seasonal allergies. Even then, allergies may leave you so miserable that the hour on my table would be wasted time and money for you.

-- If you are coughing constantly, or just a lot.

-- If someone in your household is ill and you are feeling at all funky, please cancel.

There is often some gray area here, especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection. If you’re unsure about your situation, please call me at (207) 370-4222 before your appointment and we can make a decision together.