An unapologetic athlete

I have a heart rhythm condition; it is now mostly controlled with a pacemaker. I also enjoy, thrive off of and am committed to Crossfiting. Participation in Crossfit makes me a better parent, therapist, and person. I am nearly impossible to live with --or be around when I do not go.  This should make a lot of sense given the insane amount of evidence that exercise is good for us.  I certainly feel better when I am in the box regularly.  No seriously type "exercise beneficial for " into google scholar and go ahead and absorb the crazy amount of information there is on the topic. People get degrees in this shit--although beyond doing more research I am unsure what they do with them. 

 People regularly question whether this is a safe choice for me. Doctors tell me to stop--although not my Docter. Coaches have scaled my workouts far below my ability out of fear or refused to let me practice some skills, and some boxes are flat out unwilling to allow me to workout with them. I find it odd that in a sport that idealizes adaptive athletics I would face these obstacles, but there is a disconnect between sharing a video applauding an athlete who has overcome medical odds to participate in their sport and having one in your gym.  I also realize there is a human visceral panic watching another human pass out cold, although as the person passing out thus the person most affected I have a hard time being sensitive to the feelings of those standing by. 

 

Almost two years ago, I was frustrated not finding a place to workout in I sent the following email a Crossfit Box. 

"Dear Crossfit--blank,

While doing a quick google search of Crossfit boxes near me, I came across your box that said "Crossfit for all!" And I thought, "hey, I'm part of 'all'!" You're website also says "is Crossfit right for you? The answer is a resounding YES!" I agree. Crossfit is right for me.

On subsequent searches for Crossfit for adaptive athletes and disabled athletes, your gym also came up as a top hit. I'm assuming that's a sign.

 I once drank the Crossfit Kool-Aid, and I am interested in giving you money to consume this Kool-Aid once again. See, I have a problem with minor bouts of unconsciousness, or as I like to think of it, taking a one-minute vacation into the future, and I am hoping to be accepted into your facility despite this minor abnormality. I have been cleared by a doctor to return to Crossfit.

Will you let me pay to join your cult?

Sincerely and seriously,

Grace Burnham" 

I am still in that box. Some things have changed since then, for one the aforementioned pacemaker which has significantly reduced the number of fainting episodes I have, although a pacemaker has a unique set of risks.  I have had more run ins with coaches who were uncomfortable working with me or who wanted clearance from a doctor to train with them; I no longer work with said coaches.  I have hired the owner of the box as a strength coach and have competitive ambitions I have not had before. I have found a home in this box. 

The biggest change is I have become unapologetic; I am not going to beg to spend hundreds of dollars each month to participate in, well anything.  I will not provide a doctor's note or otherwise release my medical information to make someone comfortable.  I am not asking for permission to live my life nor do I require it. 

To some that may some like I have become brazen or reckless, which is not true. I understand that life has risks and I accept them. I take risks specific to my condition and move on with my life. It also does not mean I don't take feedback; I heavily rely on feedback to work toward my goals. The difference is I will not be part of a power dynamic where I am asking for permission. I recognized my strength. As a result of this attitude, I get very little pushback in my athletic endeavors. 

If you have read this far, you may be asking what does this have to do with bodywork?  To start recognizing my strength better allows me to acknowledge the strength in my clients. Additionally, while it has always been difficult to phase me, I have a new recognition of others autonomy and an increased ability to let go and support people in their choices where they are.  The largest thing this has done for me in pointed out a need for coaches and trainers that can work with adaptive athletes or athletes with medical issues.  


Moreso this has affected my goals for the future. Has an AT or in a less medical capacity as a Crossfit coach  I want to be able to empower the athletes I work with. I want to encourage people to look at the risks and benefits of whatever they want to do and then make their choice based on facts and not fear. I want to help athletes understand that even if their condition brings limitations that it usually does not mean giving everything up. I want to bring to awareness the adverse effect of the restrictions trainers and gyms place on athletes for lack of understanding, poor information or concerns about liability.   I would also like to work the medical community to help doctors use real fucking evidence-based information to give advice or place restrictions on exercise for their patients. Finally, I would like to help more athletes become unapologetic. 

Relax that floor! The pelvic floor that is.

This article was originally published in the Crossfit Tempe Newsletter

 

The pelvic floor is the base of the core and has the job of supporting all our internal organs, assisting with engagement of the core muscles, as well as controlling urination. The pelvic floor is busy and under-appreciated—like most of us. Pelvic floor muscles that are overactive can cause pain, incontinence, and also have a negative impact on overall core strength. Hint: if you are unable to effectively engage your core or experience urine leakage during your workouts you likely have an overactive pelvic floor, so keep reading.

 

So tight – not like that.

 

When dealing with muscles that won’t engage properly the first instinct is to work on training the muscles involved. In the case of the pelvic floor, most people think of Kegels. But the reality is, it’s impossible for one to properly engage a muscle group that one is unable to fully relax, thus those with pelvic floor issues tend to not be Kegeling effectively. These chronically tight muscles become depleted and are no longer able to activate. This is almost always the case with stress incontinence. Imagine completing all those bicep curls we do at Crossfit, if your arm was so tight you could not straighten it—not possible right?  Now add in a muscle that most of us are disconnected from and do not think about when engaging. This is why the first step in re-training these muscles is learning to feel and relax them. Things like carrying around extra weight, low core-muscle tone, poor posture, and pregnancy can all lead to overactive pelvic floor muscles.

 

Self care – get Zen and become one with your pelvic floor.

 

Self care is important when learning to connect with one’s pelvic floor. There are a variety of relaxation techniques and stretches you can do to learn to relax your pelvic floor.

1.     Touch yourself. No really. Place your hands on your perineum and notice any tension under your fingers, breathe into that spot. Imagine the basket of pelvic floor muscles loosening under your fingers. Do this daily until you are able to relax your pelvic floor on demand.

2.     Following this same principal, bring your fingers inside your inner thigh feel out the muscles connecting into your pelvis. Pick one and while holding your breath, work to actively relax the tissue under your fingers.

3.     Use two tennis balls inside a sock and place one on each side of your sacrum between your ilium. Lay down and let the balls dig into your low back; this should not be painful, it should “hurt so good “or just feel nice.

4.     Visualize your pelvic floor when you are wod-ing. How does it feel? Check in with your pelvic floor the same way you do your back and core. Check the alignment of your pelvis when you squat.

5.     Roll out your gluteus. While the gluteal muscles are not the muscles and ligaments that primarily effect pelvic floor dysfunction, many of the smaller muscles located in the same region play an important roll in pelvic floor health. Rolling out your butt can help relax all of these muscles. Spend some time slowly and carefully moving the foam roller over each side of your butt on a regular basis.

 

 

 

Referrals and more information.

 

Pelvic floor issues are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. While issues such as stress incontinence are not normal, they are common and highly treatable.  Some massage therapists like myself who work with these issues can assist with relaxing the pelvic floor. There are also PTs who work with these issues and can prescribe therapies and teach exercises in order to retrain the pelvic floor; there are even acupuncturists or chiropractors who work with these issues. Because pelvic floor dysfunction treatments are a specialty not all therapists work with, it is important to ask around for a good referral.

Breastfeeding & Bodywork Overcoming Nursing Challenges Through Infant Massage

 

This article was originally published in the January/February 2016 issue of Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Those of us familiar with infant massage may be surprised by the powerful impact this gentle therapy may also have for infants with breastfeeding challenges. By addressing an infant’s soft-tissue restrictions that may negatively impact breastfeeding, bodyworkers are in a unique position to work through the underlying causes of a difficult nursing relationship, and thus potentially improve the quality of life for these tiniest clients. 

MusculoSkeletal Causes of Difficult Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding requires complex muscle movements of an infant’s jaw, mouth, neck, and upper torso, where the muscles of the throat and esophagus have to engage to facilitate swallowing. These movements all need to happen in a tiny person whose body is just getting accustomed to breathing air. Fortunately, most breastfeeding duos—mother and infant—get along just fine and are able to nurse without assistance.  
Still, even although the movements involved in breastfeeding are instinctual, some infants struggle to breastfeed because of musculoskeletal issues. Injuries sustained during birth or shortly after, and other developmental or health issues, can lead to difficulty breastfeeding.  
Infants must be able to lift and rotate their heads in order to successfully maneuver to the breast, adjust the head into a comfortable position, and achieve a proper latch onto the nipple. Infants with neck injuries or torticollis—a condition involving inflammation and an inability to move the neck—often develop a preference for one side or nursing position. When this happens, it can prevent the breast from draining effectively, causing discomfort, inflammation, and sometimes infection for the mother. While positioning the infant in his preferred position during feeding can help, this is an imperfect solution. Eventually, an infant’s difficulty turning his head will cause difficulty in other areas and make breastfeeding more complicated than necessary.
An infant also needs to be able to open his small mouth wide enough to surround the nipple and then use his tongue to move milk from the breast while massaging the it with his lower jaw. This requires movement and coordination of the mouth, temporomandibular joint, and muscles of the tongue. Without this necessary skill, an infant may not be able to latch on appropriately and breastfeed efficiently enough for his needs. When an infant is unable to remove the needed amount of milk from the breast, the breast will reduce the amount of milk it produces over time, lowering the supply or ending production altogether if the mother does not take an alternative approach to stimulating the breast, such as pumping or hand expression. This drop in production and its effects on an infant can be difficult for a parent struggling to maintain a feeding relationship without the use of alternative feeding products or equipment—most commonly, breast pumps, bottles, and supplements formula.
An infant may also be able to move enough milk from the breast to meet his needs, but may latch on in a way that injures the nipple, discouraging the mother from continuing the breastfeeding relationship. 

Massage Therapy may Improve Breastfeeding
In the absence of other health complications, soft-tissue restrictions due to injury or unknown causes should be considered as primary contributing factors when an infant has difficulty breastfeeding. Massage and physical therapists primarily trained in soft-tissue treatments should be on the front line in correcting these issues. 
Breast milk and maintaining a breastfeeding relationship are beneficial to the health of the breastfeeding mother and infant, so if issues with feeding can be corrected by a soft-tissue therapist, these therapies should be presented to parents as an option. A therapist should, of course, have an informed consent conversation with the parents, including risks and benefits of treatment and explanation of the therapist’s experience with this condition, before applying a preferred modality to an infant presenting for the services. 
For example, “Joan’s” 3-month-old infant was born with the assistance of forceps and was unable to turn his head to the right. He was also unable to extend his head. The family pediatrician suggested encouraging him to turn to his nonpreferred side during breastfeeding, suggested a watch-and-wait approach, and recommended muscle-release surgery if there was no improvement. Joan was also experiencing difficulty breastfeeding because her infant chose to face the left side with his chin tucked in, creating breast preference and a shallow latch. Joan had discomfort when nursing and had multiple cases of plugged ducts and mastitis. 
Joan saw a lactation consultant who, after evaluation, recommended bodywork for the infant. The massage therapist assessed the infant and discovered a reduced range of motion when rotating the head to the right and when extending the neck, consistent with the diagnosis of torticollis. The therapist also discovered trigger points on the sternocleidomastoid and capitis muscles, also known as the suboccipital muscle group. The therapist proceeded to use trigger point therapy to treat the infant, gently releasing and stretching each restriction, resulting in an increased range of motion and an improved breastfeeding relationship.
The skills to assess and treat a breastfeeding infant stem from a solid understanding of muscle anatomy that every therapist should have, along with an understanding of the movements involved in breastfeeding. The therapist also needs an understanding of behaviors and physiology specific to infants. Just as therapists do not need to know the rules of the sport to treat a professional athlete as long as they understand the movements and their effect on the player’s body, a therapist can successfully treat the effects of the movements involved in breastfeeding even if the therapist never learns the more complicated physiology of breastfeeding and breast milk production. 

Conclusion
By learning the movements necessary for successful breastfeeding, massage therapists can closely translate the therapies they perform on adults to infants with breastfeeding challenges. Soft-tissue therapy can dramatically improve a difficult breastfeeding relationship for even the smallest infants. While gentle therapies such as craniosacral and Bowenwork are often promoted for infants, with skill and experience any soft-tissue therapy performed on adults can be modified for infants, who, after all, have the same soft-tissue systems as adults. Myofascial release and trigger point therapy, for example, can safely and successfully be used to treat infants as young as 3 months old. Because professional bodyworkers are in a unique position to treat the underlying causes of a difficult nursing relationship, parents and health-care providers alike should recognize the value of soft-tissue therapy for breastfeeding. 

Passion found.

 

My work feels meditative and invigorating. I never feel drained by it.  I frequently am asked if my hands hurt after massage or how many I can do in a day or how tiring and hard on my body this work is. My answer to this question is that I can easily do 8-9 hours of massage in a day and I do not hurt after. I move my body with awareness in a way that I feel  better after giving a massage as if I just did an easy yoga session. 

 

They say when you have found your passion time stands still, it feels effortless, and you find yourself able to serve endlessly. I can say I have found that in bodywork. The joy I receive from my work is an incredible gift. I know not everyone is lucky enough to find a job where they are skilled, happy and receive positive feedback on a regular basis. 

 

Finding your passion makes showing up for work easier, and makes life and family better.  Have you found yours? If not, how are you making steps to do so?

Three observations of a causal observer at a Birth Center

I rent the bodywork room at The Birth Haven Birth Center on Wednesdays. I have been there for over a year now and have seen a lot of changes at the Birth Center. One of the cool things about being in the space is getting to see how the birth center operates, and the benefits of this type of care. I don’t work for the center and I don’t see the clinical care at the center— I don’t always even know who is a client unless the bump gives it away, but I am familiar with the midwifery model of care, so I have an idea of what that looks like as well.

 

Below are my casual observations:

 

 

1. One of my friends had her most recent child at the birth center, and lives in the middle of nowhere. As a result, the birth center is usually on her way into town or back home from what is a very long drive with an infant. She regularly swings into the birth center to feed, change, and just give her kid a break from the car. The midwives are always happy to see her, and welcome her into the space. I know most doctor offices would be thrown off by this type of visit, and most home birth midwives do not have the kind of consistent in-office presence to be able to offer this to their clients. I regularly see older babies pop in to say hi! I see the ability to visit, and the open door model as something cool and unique to birth centers.

 

 

2. Playroom— nuuf said. The birth center has a playroom, but also a general atmosphere of accepting children and the noise, mess, and space they take up. Before I was offered the space at the Birth Haven, I talked to several offices that were unwilling to rent or sublease a space to me when I told them I worked on kids. At the birth center, everyone smiles when I chase a toddler down the hall, massaging them. Accepting kids as kids, not things to be turned off, shut up, and put up with is something I really respect about the space. I am sure this makes prenatal visits less stressful. I know it is helpful for my clients who bring older children in when they bring their infants in to see me.

 

 

3. They reached out to an awesome massage therapist, and offered her a killer deal with rent their space— kidding, kind of. I think the fact that body work, like massage and chiropractic care are recommended and offered in-house is a huge perk. I mean, there are so many evidence based reasons to access bodywork during pregnancy, yet many providers don’t even mention it— these guys sought out to have it in house and get a discount for their clients. It is more proof to me that these guys care about their clients and their ability to access evidenced based care.

 

There are all the things people talk about when they hear birth center, like evidence based care, out of hospital, longer prenatal visits, VBAC, and the midwifery model. But as a casual observer, I can see that that is not all of it.

Goals for the fall

Goals. Everyone has them. With summer winding down and things speeding up around the valley I have decided to revisit mine.  Planning goals is something that I used to do with a great deal of enthusiasm at first and then it would dwindle out. In order to prevent this I try and apply the SMART system to my goals. Each goal is specific, measurable, attainable and reasonable and time bound. I also consider each goal a commitment to myself--- like YODA says there is no try. Just  do it. -- pro tip this is also how I regularly get all my dishes and laundry done. That doesn't mean I have failed if I don't meet these goals, it just means that instead of forgetting to follow through or slacking off, I need to revisit them and make an active choice to do something else or change the plan.

An example of this is my current running goal, which is to get my one mile run under 8 minutes and run a 5k without stoping by early Nov. This goal should be possible thanks to the fancy new pacemaker in my chest. I will achieve this by running 3 days a week when I wake up. Starting with 1.5 miles and adding distance as I am able to complete each route without stoping. I will run Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. I will test my 1 mile run on the 1st of every month and expect to see 8 minutes by Oct 1st. I signed up for a 5k Nov. 12th-- in 68 days  which I plan to run unbroken.

Other goals include following a family meal plan and eating dinner together 5 out of 7 days a week, getting at least one massage a month, sharing essential oils with at last 5 new people each month, publishing another article and home schooling my 6 year old without going crazy. Ok that last one maybe not so measurable. 

I also created some reminders for myself. I am using the Oola oils. Field, Fitness, and Family as reminders of goals in these areas.  I won some charms at a networking event and chose 3 that represent my fall goals. I plan on wearing them daily. I also have people with whom I check in regularly for each of these goals. 

Charms. representing school for myself and my kid,. My job and writing.

What are your goals?  What systems, reminders and methods of accountability do you have? Feel free to share your goals with me in person or in the comments below. I am genuinely interested in them and am happy to be someone you "check in" with for your goals--another benefit of regular massage. 

Annual Out of Hospital Birth Scholarship

Birth is something that I have been passionate about for some time. I trained as a doula before I had children of my own and have attended many births as both a doula and massage therapist. Both my children were born at home and I want anyone who desires to birth out of hospital to have that opportunity.

Grace after the home birth of her second son

Grace after the home birth of her second son



Birth advocacy has been an ongoing project of mine as well. At this time I am doing this work as the founder and current president of Arizonans for Birth Options

Protest for Arizona birth rights 

Protest for Arizona birth rights 

The Arizona out of hospital community has been of incredible assistance in growing my business. My office is currently located inside The Birth Haven Birth Center in Gilbert and a large number of my referrals come from home birth midwives in Arizona. I am incredibly grateful to have the trust of many providers in the out of hospital birth community.


Because of this I am happy to announce the 1st Annual AZ Family Massage Out of Hospital Birth Scholarship. This scholarship of $300 will assist one Phoenix metro area family in paying for their home or birth center birth. 


In order to apply please complete the following:

•Write a 200-1000 word essay answer to the question “How does childbearing change your relationship with your body and how is self care part of your childbearing year?"


•Or a video of no more than 5 minutes on the same topic. Creativity, honesty and comedy are welcome in all submissions.

•Sign a release to allow AZ Family Massage PLLC to use your writing or video in whole or in part in advertising, website and social media. 

 


Applications are due by September 1, 2016 and a winner will be announced no later than September 30, 2016. 

To apply fill out this form here
*Payments will be made directly to the winner's care provider.

Ethical sales

Anyone who knows me well is aware of how picky I am about the products I buy, and how I feel our choices impact the world around us. Thus, many of my peers ask me for my recommendations for products, stores and providers on a regular basis.

 

 

I can give you ten reasons not to shop at Target off the top of my head, and I can give you all the ways Costco is a mixed bag of great employment practices and crappy lobbying choices, and I am happy to do it. I spend a great deal of time researching companies before I buy, and I am more then happy to save someone else time or let them know something they didn't previously about a company. I want my friends to make informed choices because even if they don't make the same choices I would, I know the world will be a better place because of these informed choices.

 

 I also sell a few things.

 

 When I recommend a product or service that I would benefit from financially, the response is not as enthusiastic and never as friendly. Because it is human nature to be more invested in something when you have the potential to personally benefit from it, because we all have been in more then one situation where someone has tried to sell us a product that we don't need or want, or even a product we want using a dishonest sales tactic. 

 

 I am not going to do that. 

 

 Part one of being an ethical salesman is being a ethical consumer. I am not going to recommend a product to a friend that doesn't align with my own morals and values and I am not going to recommended a service that someone doesn't need or a visit frequency that is more than, in my professional opinion, I think someone needs to get the result they want. Even when I could financially benefit from someone coming in more often. I will not recommend someone comes again if after an initial assessment I feel they will not get the result THEY want from me. As a massage therapist I understand some people just want to be touched and relax and I will not turn anyone away wanted that service but I will not give them a false impression that I can treat a condition I can not thus my clients make informed choices.

 

  I recently started selling a product that as been under some controversy lately. I am not so loyal to this company that I will not jump ship if I discover they are not operating ethically. After a lot of research, I deduced that this company was the best in terms of sustainability and ethical practices. I buy the product for my own family and use it daily. I would recommend it to anyone. In fact, I have recommended it even knowing the person I was talking to would not be buying from me. I pledge to sell this product ethically. I won't recommended it when you don't need it, and I won't sell it to you under false pretenses.

 

  I understand people’s hesitancy because I encounter situations where I am so turned off by a product I otherwise really enjoy I want to chuck in into the ally, light it on fire and run away screaming because, when I post a question in an online forum I shouldn't be bombarded with 50 responses promoting this product along with questionable claims.

 

 When online or in person interactions feel akin to having a product held two inches in front of my face while being lectured to by my least favorite professor.

 

  When I see posts promoting this product that has helped me mitigate symptoms but has not cured any illness I have experienced, with claims that it will protect your family from ebola or whatever the illness dujour is I get knots in my stomach. Fear based sales tactics for a product that may or may not solve a problem in the unlikely event it should arise are not cool.

 

 

 I originally bought this product because a friend shared her experience with it. She shared how the product aligned with her values and has been able to back every claim she made with a source or a personal experience not a friend of a cousin who once met someone’s experience. I hope to do the same.

 

 

 Friends, please share your experiences with products with me. Please share with me why and how you use your product. Please share with me how to came to your choice. Please share your business with me. Please show me what your making. I want to know. I want to support my friends but please do it in a way that is ethical. In the end it will be better for all of us. 

What do farms, the FDA, Club Red, 22,000 people, tequila and fun have in common?

That’s right folks. I am in Salt Lake City. I am currently at Young Living International Grand Convention. This annual event is where Young Living announces their new products, has workshops, lectures and samplings. It is also a great time to get to know other people who regularly use Young Living products, such as their oils, cleaning products and supplements.  I have been using essential oils for 8 years and Young Living for 2 so I am happy to hang out with other folks who incorporate oils into their daily life. 

 

Some highlights 

 

Farms 

 

Walking around the farm, we ran into a booth displaying the Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood farms. The exiting thing about this booth was the family there who were the actual owners of the farm who grow and harvest the trees. They were very friendly; invited my friend who is visiting the big island in Dec to come visit and while we were there recognized someone who has recently toured the farm. I am ecstatic to know where one more of the oils comes from as well as to learn that in growing this oil this family is also taking part of a sustainable reforestation project, I had not smelled Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood before this but after meeting this family I am looking forward to a bottle of my own. 

 

 

At the farm I was able to see the process of planting the yarrow as well as where they grow some of the lavender, clary sage and juniper as well as the distillery where they make the oils. 

 

At the product expo we met the manager for the farm in Idaho who invited my friend who lives an hour a way for a tour anytime. I really appreciate the transparency this company has with their farming and distillation processes. 

 

 

The FDA 

 

When sharing about a supplement anyone must not make claims that it treats, cures or prevents a disease, well this is still true for products young living sells as supplements, the big announcement  at this convention was that there are two new products that are  a drug not a supplement thus meet FDA guidelines for claims they treat pain, sore throat and cough. They are able to make these claims as these products are a over the counter medication for  these conditions. The big news for the supplements and oils is that Young living is working with a team of scientists all over the world to research the products and oils for efficiency and to allow supplement claims within FDA guidelines. 

 

FDA aside I am super psyched about the scientific research being done with essential oils and I appreciated that they had workshops geared towards my very left brained type A personality. I need to be able to see and understand something in order to comfortably share it with others and Young Living has met my high standards. 

 

Club Red 

 

Well, Club Red sounds like something out of 50 Shades of Grey. At the convention this " bar "  serves up all the oily drinks one could want. Ningxia Red shots, slushies and other drinks but also a social space where one can grab a drink before walking around the product expo where they display many of the oil and new products, allow you to smell all the oils and have folks around explaining products in more detail. 

 

22,000 people 

 

This convention is huge, with over 20,000 attendes which I thought would be overwhelming but as it turns out it is awesome and having the opportunity to meet so many people has been marvelous. I have enjoyed just sitting and just people watching. Plus I don’t think you have ever sat in a arena full of 20,000 + people that smelled this good. Walking around the hallways and the elevators a couple times, I had to ask “what blend are you wearing?”.  

 

Tequila 

 

As everyone knows Salt Lake is known for it’s tequila but that’s not the reason I mention this. I bring it up to tell you that if you get a bunch of folks who use oils together in a hotel room and make them a really good margatria they are going to start telling stories about how they use the oils, ways they have used these products for themselves and there families, how they use the oils to make themselves happyer and healthier and they ways these oils have improved there life. Tequila is not necessary for this, it’s just what happens when you bring so many people who share a common interest is something together and create a space for them to share. I have really enjoyed the sharing at the convention. 

 

Fun 

 

This week brought a much needed vacation after a stressful last minute trip to WA as well as some complex health stuff, one of the things I like best about this company and this part of my business is that I am not in it alone, I love massage, it is my primary income and something that I take very seriously but being a single business owner is at times very isolating, one of the cool things about my Young living business is that it is a team effort and I have folks cheering me on every step of the way. 

 

 

I am happy to share more about Young Living, and how I use Young Living products, please feel free to contact me anytime, call text or email or visit my oil site here http://azfamilymassage.myoilsite.com for more info about the products. 

 
 
 

But They Don’t Enforce That: City Level Massage Licensing in the Phoenix Metro Area

A version of this post was sent to the Tempe City Council with a underwhelming response. The fight to normalize massage regulation in AZ is a complex one that will require buy in from Therapists. 

In Arizona, Massage Therapists are regulated at the state level. In order to provide massage services one must meet minimum educational standards and pass a background check. If a therapist works outside of their scope of practice or commits a crime the State Massage Board can and does investigate these cases and may revoke or suspend a therapist’s license. If the action is criminal, such as prostitution or inappropriate sexual contact with clients, therapists can and are prosecuted through the courts. In most states this is considered enough to ensure the safety of massage consumers.

 

City permits—why massage?

 

In order to operate a massage business in any city in the Phoenix metro area, one must obtain a permit from the city in which one wishes to practice. The cost of this permit is anywhere between $200-$500 depending on the city. The city of Tempe also requires a “Special Use Permit” for massage regardless of the type of zoning. So to operate a massage office in Tempe costs an additional $1,200 in order to have even one room in a wellness center or multi-use office for massage. In most cases these fees and regulations are applied across the board whether the therapist is working solo, one or two days a week, or running a large spa.

 

These fees are per location and therapists are required to pay them again if they move offices, even within the same complex. Therapists who sublease—a common occurrence among massage therapists -- are at the mercy of the person they are subleasing from in a way most other providers are not. Subleasing from another health professional who decides to move means tough luck for the therapist will have to pay another $1,400 and wait up to 3 months for a new location; another healthcare professional can simply sign a new lease, move, and continue their business.

 

Other businesses required to secure these additional permits include escort services, pawn shops, or adult business. You may notice no other healthcare provider is on the list. Moreover, aestheticians, nail salons, stylists, and barbers are not required to obtain a city permit. Personal trainers and reflexologists are also not required to obtain any kind of special permits—and they have no state licensing board to go after them, if they commit any ethical infractions in their practice. So, while a person without a professional license can offer table stretching and a foot massage without a permit, I have to pay a hefty fee and be fingerprinted at the police station every year in order to do so.

 

Odd rules

 

Some of the odd city level massage rules include: “It shall be unlawful for any massage establishment to conduct or operate on the same premises whereon is also conducted the business of a cocktail lounge, photography studio, model studio, art studio, telephone answering service, motion picture theater or adult-oriented business.” (Tempe). A code requiring a therapist to turn over a client’s full legal name and address to the city upon request. (Chandler). A rule which at first blush seems benign makes it illegal to ask a client to touch his or her genitals or breasts (Mesa) – but that also prevents a therapist from asking a client to move his or her genitals or breasts out of the way in order to professionally massage the clients chest or inner thigh  without touching their genitals. A license groups together “Adult Business, Escort, Massage Therapy Establishment.” (Gilbert).

 

Most of these rules seem to start off at the assumption that therapists are by default prostitutes and that cites can somehow legislate this activity away line by line.  As most are aware, those committing criminal acts do not follow the law, and massage therapists would find these rules insulting and at times difficult to follow or confusing. Additionally, I can’t see a way many of these rules could be enforced without a camera in the treatment room. 

 

 

The nature of massage work.

 

Most massage therapists work no more then 25 hours a week, are women, and work in the profession for fewer than 4 years. Therapists are also largely self employed. Massage therapists are not a group likely to start and maintain a successful lobbying effort. It is not surprising, therefore, that therapists are not organized in a way they can quickly respond to onerous legislation and regulation.

 

Additionally, it is normal for therapist to work  as independent contractors in a variety of locations, one or two days in a spa, a day in a medical office, one day in a  gym etc. I personally have had to turn down one day a month gigs at a yoga studio, birth center, lactation office, Crossfit gym, midwifery office, and aesthetician's office because these would cost $100 each and require 3 months to approve. Several of these locations have moved on to invite a therapist who did not insist on going through the licensure/ zoning process.

 

 

Many therapists do massage as a part-time job, side job and are not the primary breadwinner in their family. In most cases these city regulations and fees are the same for a solo therapist working one day a week and a large spa employing ten plus therapists. Many solo therapists are not skilled in managing a business, nor do they have the income to hire someone to look into permits and regulations. Cities also make no effort to make businesses aware of these special permits. As a result there is very low compliance. Many therapists I have spoken to, even those with fairly busy practices do not have the financial capacity to go through these processes. As a result, even if they are aware of it, many therapist choose to ignore city level permits and licensure, and instead count on the low enforcement.

 

The low enforcement and awareness of city level regulation creates a uneven playing field for therapists who choose to comply with these city regulations. In my experience “what?“ and "they don’t enforce that" are common responses to conversations about city massage laws.

 

  

 

What is the solution?

 

No one is more motivated to end sex workers and traffickers using massage as a cover for their criminal activities then massage therapists. Public confusion between therapeutic massage and sex work/trafficking at the very least creates awkward encounters for us, and at the worst endangers our safety. Cities should be able to work with therapists to create regulations that work towards everyone's goals.

 

 

Some ideas for this would be creating a registry of Massage Therapists without the huge burdens attached so police can keep an eye out for suspicious practices. Additionally, different regulations for solo therapists versus large spas, and exemptions for therapist working in medical settings, could promote the small business growth being suppressed by the current regulatory regime.

 

 

As a therapist, I would rather spend my time working for things such a such as expanding our scope of practice to allow some teaching of exercises and increasing relationships with other health care providers. Instead we are working to validate our profession on the simplest of terms—every therapist is not a potential criminal as these city laws imply. 

Posture Taping

 

 

Most people are aware that poor posture can contribute to headaches and back and neck pain. They are also aware that posture also affects how one feels. Standing up straight improves mood and energy levels. Improved posture can even improve athletic performance. But many individuals struggle to correct their posture because as we get busy throughout the day we forget and end up falling back into the poor patterns we have developed. This is where posture taping comes in.

 

Taping can be an excellent option for those working towards new improved posture. Posture taping is just what it sounds like -- soft tape is placed on the back and shoulders. The tape is used to improve one’s posture. This simple process assists in improving posture by laying tape along the back in a pattern that creates a pull when the taped person rolls their shoulders or hunches forward. This proprioceptive feedback acts as a gentle reminder to stand or sit up straight. Without really having to think about it, the tape tells the body to stand back into an ideal posture.

 

In order for taping to be effective, one must also be working in other areas to improve their posture. Some examples of this would be stretching, exercises, massage, ergonomic changes at work, and working with a physical therapist. Orthopedic doctors and chiropractors can also play an important role for those with clinically significant issues.

 

At AZ Family Massage, posture taping is offered as well as massage, recommendations for stretching at home, and appropriate referrals. 

Sciatic Nerve Pain During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the body changes to make room for the growing baby and prepare for delivery. Some of these changes can be more then a bit uncomfortable for some. Low back and pelvic pain are common complaints from pregnant people. Much of this discomfort comes from muscles around the low back and the pelvis working harder to stabilize a growing uterus and balance the rest of the body as weight shifts away from the center of the body.

Additionally, during pregnancy, the body releases a hormone that- in addition to other purposes- helps relax the ligaments in the pelvis, which causes the jelly hip and pregnancy swing that some pregnant people experience. Because of this increased ligament laxity, muscles have to work harder to support the joints.

“False Sciatica” Sciatic Nerve Pain

The Sciatic nerve runs from the base of the spine through the side of the buttocks and down the leg to the foot. As the muscles around the pelvis and hips work to stabilize and support the growing pelvis, the increased tension can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and cause the shooting nerve pain so common in pregnancy.

To relieve this nerve pain, the hypertonic muscles that irritate the nerve need to relax. A skilled massage therapist can work to relax the muscles in the hips and pelvis and preform stretches to assist in aligning the pelvis. When seeking massage for false sciatica or pelvic pain in pregnancy, you want a therapist who is experienced in working with the complex muscular systems of the pelvis during pregnancy.

At home, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce discomfort:

 

  1. Try placing two tennis balls in a sock, tie a knot in the sock then, laying on your back, place one ball on either side of your sacrum, allowing them to press into your back. This releases the ligaments on either side of the sacrum and provides a great deal of relief to some people during pregnancy
  2. A wrap or pelvic support brace can help to stabilize the pelvis, reducing the chances that the pain will increase
  3. Lay on your back on the floor near a wall with your knees raised and calves parallel to the floor. You want to be close enough to the wall to plant your feet firmly against the wall. Press your feet firmly into the wall you should feel a stretch into your butt. Hold it as long as it feels good, like a stretch, then, move your butt closer to the wall and repeat.
  4. Ice and heat can provide temporary relief for muscle pain, use as needed.