Recurring Pain Doesn’t Need To Be Unmanageable

Recurring pain can be managed through massage and many people seek massage for help dealing with consistent problem areas.  Repeating an action over and over stresses the muscle and leads to tension. Continuing the same repetitive motion disallows the muscle to heal properly.  Over time, the body reacts by tightening everything up in that area in an attempt to give it needed support. Which often leads to recurring, and sometimes chronic, pain and tension– sometimes referred to as a repetitive stress or repetitive motion injury.

In many cases, the recurring pain is work-related; and while we’d all love to take a month off to rest our bodies, reality usually forbids it.  Thus we must create a management program to help reduce symptoms and manage pain. Massage, stretching, exercise, mindfulness, acupuncture, and lifestyle adjustment are all ways to help get on top of problem areas.

Check this list of “warning signs” that indicate repetitive stress injuries from (Massage Magazine’s website).

  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty using body part
  • Waking up with pain
  • Tingling, numbness and burning
  • Recurring pain
  • Lack of endurance
  • Feeling of heaviness in body part

Feeling these sensations consistently in an area tells you that you need to start taking steps to care for that area. Your massage therapist can help you jump start your program to take control of your pain cycle. By applying directed techniques, targeted therapeutic massage can disrupt the pain cycle and relax the tension in the muscles and surrounding tissues. It can also help relieve any stress component that may be contributing to muscle tension.

If a problem is relatively new or low-intensity, often a couple of sessions can make a big difference. For longer-term problems it may take a series of sessions for optimal results. For those who are not in a position to make lifestyle changes to stop perpetuating the problem, a regular routine can help you manage and mitigate flare-ups for better over all daily living.
So whether you have tech neck from sitting on a computer, shoulder pain from working with your arms out in front of you, or achy feet from standing all day, massage can help you feel  better and get back to what you do.

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Trauma Survivors Can Be Aided By Massage.

The team at Nimbus Massage recently hired Hannah Bohn, MSW, a local mental wellness professional, to teach the staff a clinically-oriented class on PTSD and Trauma. By expanding our knowledge base, we can better attune our sessions to our clients who have experienced either of these. The root of helping people with their massage goals comes from understanding what people experience. We believe that massage can help survivors of trauma and people who live with Post Traumatic Stress.

The power of positive caring touch with the intention of healing can help people. Massage can help people find calm and centering. It can brighten someone’s mood. It can help people feel more attuned to and connected with themselves and their bodies. It can aid better sleep. It can ease tension and uneasiness. And can relieve pain. All things that can help people dealing with PTSD or trauma.

Those who have undergone dangerous, violent, scary, and stressful events may need a little extra care or have specific goals related to their experience. Our staff is willing and able to make accommodations in order to provide a safe space for healing to occur. Some examples may include:

  • Only having very specific areas of the body touched- or starting with one or two and gradually introducing more areas of the body (or not).
  • Focusing on calming techniques.
  • Having specific pressure or pacing requests.
  • Avoiding or adding techniques based on comfort.
  • Starting with touch only and “working up” to massage.
  • Having a lot of communication before, during, and after a session.
  • Needing non-traditional positioning.
  • Remaining fully clothed.
  • Changing the music or having no music.
  • Incorporating grounding techniques if necessary.

Our goal is to make each session comfortable, welcoming, and effective.  The client is in control of what happens during their massage.

Some of the things our team will not do as part of a massage include:

  • Actively try to elicit a specific emotional response.
  • Try to recreate a traumatic event.
  • Engage in counseling.
  • Keep working without getting permission if the person on the table is showing signs of distress or strong emotion.
  • Tell a client to try to tough it out through something uncomfortable.


Kassia and Claire, in particular, are working toward specializing in massage for PTSD and trauma. They will build upon their prior experience providing massage for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Chronic Pain.

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Therapeutic Hot Stone MassageClick To TweetTherapeutic Hot Stone Massage; so much more than a lady with an orchid.

by Kassia Arbabi

When you hear the words “therapeutic hot stone massage”, what images and thoughts come to your mind? Wait, don’t tell me. I’ve got this. A beautiful, pale woman stretches out on a luxuriously plush looking massage table. A pristine white towel is pulled back to hip level, and there’s an orchid gently shimmering in her hair. Sleek, black stones are perched down the length of her spine, and a delighted, dreamy smile plays at the edges of her mouth.

That orchid-bedecked woman has somehow wormed its way into all of our brains as a stand-in for therapeutic hot stone massage. I’m here to tell you a different story about the stones. Yes, they are a luxurious indulgence. Yes, they can put you into a deeply relaxed, rejuvenated state. Yes, the stones are sometimes placed along your body. But there is SO MUCH more possible with hot stone; so much more than rocks on a back and an orchid in your hair.

I developed therapeutic hot stone massage as a natural progression in my work doing massage for pain relief. I started running into people with long-standing pain issues. Issues that hadn’t resolved after years of attempts to get rid of the pain through massage, yoga, stretching, heat, ice, rest, etc…. They came in asking for deep tissue massage. Or relaxation massage. Or any kind of massage that would provide some kind of relief. And I began trying out the hot stones as a therapeutic tool to efficiently, effectively, and non-invasively cut through bound-up muscles, tight muscles, scar tissue, trigger points, and more. The weight of the stone combined with the therapeutic benefits of moist heat work together to melt muscles far faster than fingers alone. And they give you real results, quickly and effectively, resolving chronic issues like SI Joint dysfunction, shoulder issues, and low back pain.

The benefits of Therapeutic Hot Stone Massage are numerous.  There are the basic health benefits: improved local circulation, stress reduction, calming the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, stimulating lymph flow (bolstering immunity).  As well, the stones put your body into a deeply relaxed state that serves as a reset button for your nervous system, recharging all of your body’s own self-care systems.  That alone can be enough to relieve physical pain resulting from stress, tight, sore muscles, or an injury.

The stones are also a powerful and effective tool for specifically addressing areas of chronic pain or tension, freeing up areas bound by scar tissue, or assisting an injured body part return to its full functionality.  And it’s a great companion therapy for physical therapy and other injury recovery therapies.  The heat from the stones allows the therapist to penetrate muscles more deeply than using hands alone, while causing less pain and discomfort.  The benefits of hot stone are deeply therapeutic, while the experience is gentle, non-invasive, and rejuvenating.  Who knew—so many benefits, no orchid required!

Kassia Arbabi is a Licensed Massage Therapist and team member at Nimbus Massage. She has training in Connective Tissue Massage, Myofascial Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy, Ortho-Bionomy, Stretching, Hot Stone Massage, and Polarity Therapy.



Living with fibromyalgia can be disheartening, depressing, and, while in the depths of the worst days, downright bleak. No one wants to lose the ability to conduct a normal, pain-free, easy-functioning life. To worry whether they will have enough energy each day to get dressed and go downstairs. To have to routinely say “no” to a lot of life’s little pleasures (and routines!). Although not an easy process, most people, with physician-guided trial and error, can find a set of management strategies that help them minimize the chronic widespread pain, fatigue, and other symptoms that go along this syndrome.

While not a magic bullet, to be sure, routine massage has emerged as one management tool that seems to really help people who suffer from fibromyalgia get back to fuller, more pain-free living. Partnered with the right diet, pharmaceutical, and exercise program- a well-tailored massage program can aid people in reclaiming some of what is lost to fibro. However, no two people are alike, so part of finding the right massage for fibromyalgia is creating a partnership with a massage therapist who understands fibro and working together to discover what works best for your body.

Generally speaking, myofascial techniques, stretching, and the feather-light lymph massage have gotten some good press for helping alleviate the tight muscle feeling and fatigue associated with fibro. Massage also appears to improve pain, depression, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and overall quality of life. One review, interestingly, found that the only style of massage (that has been studied, many haven’t) that appeared to have little clinical effect on fibromyalgia was the most common, Swedish. One study found that longer-term programs seemed to optimize the effects of massage. Unfortunately, the study of massage for fibromyalgia is still in its infancy. The gist of the data is that massage can help, but how or to what extent and in which exact applications is still unclear.

Since over-stimulation can cause flare-ups, people who receive massage for fibromyalgia often have to start “easy” and habituate to the work. If you have never had massage for fibromyalgia before, or had one that caused a flare-up, a 30 minute lighter pressure massage is a good place to start. Most find that they become less sensitized to massage over time and that the pressure and style of massage that works for them becomes slightly more aggressive. Some even ultimately do well with very deep pressure trigger point work. Keep in mind that sometimes you need to go back to a lighter pressure if you have a set back or if you begin reacting differently to deeper pressure work.

Some key things you may encounter during a massage for fibromyalgia include:

  1. Lighter pressure (at least to begin with).
  2. Slow work, often with long holds on areas of taut tissue, that gently work into the layers of muscle.
  3. Gentle stretching with long(er) holds that wait for the muscles to relax.
  4. Some focused work on tender points and knots as you become used to massage, or if you already know that deeper pressure works well for you. (Slow often still works better.)

Make sure you have in in-depth intake conversation with your therapist discussing how you experience fibro and your goals. Let your therapist know if you have sensitivity to heat or cold, skin reactions, fibro fog, insomnia, IBS, etc… Also discuss your general wellness, other health concerns, and past history with massage. Once you get into the session, expect to give some feedback so that the therapist can adjust to what you feel. Finally, pay attention to how your body responds to the work in the days following the session. Did you flare up? How much? What type(s) of relief did you notice? How long did the relief last?  Give that feedback to the therapist who will use it to tailor your next session.

If you have received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and have not yet tried massage as a complementary therapy, it is worth seeking out a qualified provider to try a few sessions. If you have tried once or twice and had a flare up, it may still be worth finding a therapist who has specific experience working successfully with people who have fibromyalgia– interest, training, and experience on the part of the therapist can make a big difference.

And remember, you can do it!




Targeted Therapeutic Massage for TMJ (TMD) can help reduce jaw pain, stiffness, and more

Nimbus Massage now offers massage for TMJ (TMD). Our program is designed to relieve the pain and stiffness associated with Temporomandibular Disorders (commonly referred to as TMJ by laypersons and TMD by medical professionals). The protocol, designed by a Massage Therapist who also worked for nearly two decades as a dental hygienist, addresses the muscles in the head, neck, and shoulders that contribute to TMJ (TMD).

Try the program to:

  • Reduce pain in the head, jaw, neck, and shoulders.
  • Be able to chew or yawn more easily.
  • Restore full opening and closing of the jaw.
  • Eliminate some types of headaches related to TMJ (TMD).
  • Relieve tinnitus (ringing in the ears) related to TMJ (TMD).


This joint in the jaw – in front of the ear where the jaw hinges – may develop a number of problems including arthritis, degeneration, trauma, postural problems, or repetitive stress. Any of these, or other, root causes may lead to muscular pain and tension in the immediate or surrounding muscles. People who grind their teeth, clench their jaw, sit with their head forward, or who have an uneven bite often develop symptoms of TMJ (TMD).

In addition to muscular pain in and around the jaw, people also commonly experience headaches; grinding, clicking, or popping in the jaw; the inability to fully open the mouth; tinnitus; dizziness; or sometimes pain and tension in the neck and shoulders.

Many people report that massage complements their medically-guided protocol to relieve pain and restore proper movement to the jaws. In fact, a recent research review concluded that conservative treatment, including massage, is an optimal treatment option for TMJ (TMD).

Your therapist will methodically work though the muscles (including inside the cheek) commonly involved in TMJ (TMD). Then she or he will apply soothing heat to relax the jaw, relieve tension, and get you back to pain-free living. Typically, this protocol requires between three and six one hour sessions with follow up visits as needed.



The Rabbit Hole-

Medical Research on Massage for TMJ (TMD)

2015 Systematic Review– Abstract.  “In conclusion, there is widely varying evidence that MT improves pain, MMO and PPT in subjects with TMD signs and symptoms, depending on the technique. Further studies should consider using standardised evaluations and better study designs to strengthen clinical relevance. ”

2014 Randomized Controlled Trial– Abstract.  “Massage therapy and the use of an occlusal splint had no significant influence on electromyographic activity of the masseter or anterior temporal muscles. However, the combination of therapies led to a reduction in the intensity of signs and symptoms among individuals with severe TMD and sleep bruxism.”

2012 Review Article– Abstract with free full text available.  “Massage is an effective method in treating temporomandibular disorders. Due to the (sic) manual therapy significant improvement may be seen in the subjective and objective health status of the patient.”

2011 Case Study– Abstract with free full text available. “Results include an increase in maximal opening from 3.1 cm to 3.8 cm, an overall increase in neck range of motion, a decrease in muscle hypertonicity using the Wendy Nickel’s Scale, a decrease in pain from 7/10 to 3/10 on a numerical pain scale, and a decline in stress… more extensive studies are needed….”




Targeted = Focused on your specific problem areas.

Therapeutic = Having a therapeutic goal.

Massage = Working with your muscles. (What we do!)

Finding a way to succinctly describe what we do in a way that people will understand posed a unique challenge for us. What sets us apart? How do we describe what we do without using boring industry terms? How do we stay away from the misnomers of Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage? Targeted Therapeutic Massage seemed to fit the bill.

We use a through intake process to learn our client’s goals for the session, factors that contribute to their condition, and what has or hasn’t worked for them in the past. We then use this information to tailor our work each time someone comes in. In this way each session geared towards each client’s Therapeutic goals.

Our therapists all have years of experience that include actively learning new skills and staying up-to-date in the field. We know a number of different styles of massage and can blend them during each session in order to achieve the best results possible. If someone feels high levels of stress and anxiety then we use calming techniques to help relieve those feelings. If someone has chronic pain then we use pain-relieving techniques to help them manage their symptoms. If someone has a recent injury we use structural techniques to focus on helping them heal that area. We use our skills to Target each person’s problem areas.

We put all of this together to specialize in target sessions. In a Targeted Massage session, we focus solely on a particular problem area and its corresponding structures for an entire massage. Our clients get relief from stubborn problem areas, manage chronic pain, and improve function after trauma.


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