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.
Each February our schedules fill with couples wanting a massage together. Whether celebrating Valentine’s Day, or another occasion during the year, read on to learn more about Couple’s Massage.
The basic premise of a Couple’s Massage is that two people receive massage at the same time, in the same room. Each person has their own massage therapist and their own, individualized massage.
Upon arrival, expect your therapist to do an intake process with you so you can tell them your goals for the massage. You will also discuss your overall health and your preferences for a massage session. Your partner’s therapist will do the same with them. Then you will all go to the treatment room and receive a brief orientation to the room and how to get on the table. The massage therapists will leave to let you undress and start relaxing on the table.
When the massage therapists return, they will begin your and your partner’s massages as you discussed in the intake. Since you probably have slightly different needs than your partner, the massages will be slightly different, and tailored to each person individually. The therapist will ask about your comfort, but will otherwise maintain peaceful quiet. Unlike some spas and franchises, we do not do a standard choreographed massage “routine.”
Why Choose Couple’s Massage
You may choose Couple’s Massage for a variety of reasons. Perhaps to celebrate a special occasion. Or one person is a massage veteran who is bringing the other for the first time; it can feel more comfortable to come with someone you know. Sometimes, it just makes more sense time-wise if both of you can receive a massage at the same time. Or you may simply find it a lovely way to spend time together.
We offer 30, 60, 90, and 120 minute sessions. Book online or give us a call to reserve. We can accommodate twosomes in the same or separate rooms.
During the month of February only, we offer a special Valentine’s Day Couple’s Massage Package. This special package includes your couples massage plus a take home gift. Due to the high demand for this service, we do require a pre-payment to reserve a Valentine’s Day Package.
We look forward to seeing you and your someone special soon.
I love a good massage, don’t you? I think we can all agree that a luxurious massage from a caring therapist skilled in healing touch is a real gift to ourselves. During a massage, it is wonderful to feel that we can just let go of all our “survival tasks” and just be. From a neurobiological perspective (the study of the nervous system, physiology, and innate drives) we feel so relaxed because kind safe touch activates in the old “survival-based part of our brains the nonverbal message that all is OK; we are safe. The part of our brain (the amygdala) that stays at the ready to sound the “fire alarm” in case of danger can quiet down. With our defenses lowered, we can take in our environment, and open up to the pleasant experience and sensations. We feel a sense of calm, and perhaps even better, a sense of relaxed joyfulness.
This principle of safety and relaxation is so important to understand in the context of our closest relationships. When we humans (and animals) feel safe we will feel the same sense of relaxed joyfulness. We will then seek to: make love, nurture our young, rest, play and work creatively in flow. However, if a sign of danger arrives (ex. shot fired in the forest), all those connecting and joyful activities are instantly stopped. Instead the imperative becomes: stay alive! And we will move into one of five forms of reactivity: fight, flee, hide, submit or freeze. It is important to realize that in a situation of danger, we cannot connect and love, while we are trying to stay alive.
From a neurobiological perspective, we are hard wired to connect, and hard wired to strive for safety. Sometimes these drives can work together and sometimes they conflict. On the attachment side, we know that a secure bond with a love partner buttresses us against the slings and arrows of life, and strengthens our immune system. Indeed Susan Johnson, the founder of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, and author of “Hold Me Tight” states “attachment is the most compelling survival mechanism that nature knows.” And we know it is true that most of us, no matter how different we each may be in any other way, each long to connect AND feel safe with a significant other, to have one special person to comfort and love us. Indeed research has shown that isolation is toxic to our immune system, just as a strong secure bond strengthens it. Also toxic to our health are relationships filled with no safety, but instead filled with threat, rancor, and disconnection.
So how do we ensure to keep our love bonds strong once we find love? Of course that is a very large topic, and the focus of my daily work as a Couple’s Therapist. But some lessons from interpersonal neurobiology are very helpful. Couples Therapists are so excited to now know some principles that can really help. In years before our understanding of the science of attachment and how brains and our sense of safety are affected in relationship interactions, we had less effective methods of intervention. Now we know much more.
So a couple of things to keep in mind. And for more on this topic, please see “Wired For Love” by Stan Tatkin, the founder of PACT (The Psychological Approach to Couples Therapy) This is a very helpful book for those wanting a more secure relationship. I call these items below “relational dance lessons”.
1. The most important thing I can say to help you is that if you desire a strong safe bond with your partner, where love, connection and fun can abide, you must recognize that unless your partner feels safe with you on a central nervous system level, inside their brain and body, which, by the way is largely outside of their conscious control, they will not be open to you in the way you may long for. Think of your shared relationship as a dog that has been mistreated badly that you are adopting from a kennel. How would you energetically behave towards this animal to get her to relax and become open and playful with you? You must become mindful of the energy you are putting into your relational space.
2. You can also create safety by understanding your partner better and developing an “owner’s manual” on him or her. Tatkin suggests that you become an “expert” on your partner. This means understanding his or her “tender spots” from the past, and being empathetic about them, so you do not take them personally. It also means understanding their characteristic way of reacting when they feel threatened, which is related to their attachment style. For example, does their energy get bigger (ex. complain when underneath they are feeling hurt), or does their energy constrict (ex. withdraw, or get very quiet when they feel criticized). Understanding your partner’s attachment style and how they respond to a felt sense of danger is the single most helpful thing you can do to learn to “dance well” in your relational space. When partners are in fear, they get into reactivity, and their primitive survival brains take over. When they feel safe, they can connect. So learning how to put their primitive brains at ease is a very helpful skill.
3. Create a Couple Bubble to allow each partner to feel safe and secure. This means a formal pact is made of true mutuality, which is pro relationship versus pro-self. The idea that “two is better than one.” And “we come first.” And “it has to be as good for me as it is for you,” and vice versa. “We are on one boat going down the river of life, etc….” You get the idea. This formal agreement is very powerful, similar to the way our young military men learn “you never leave your buddy on the battlefield,” and “we are in the foxhole together.” Such agreements create an ethos of security for the Couple that is extremely powerful and helpful.
4. Find a safe way to dialogue about frustrations and concerns that is always respectful, especially in tone and body language. The non-verbal messages are the ones that lead your partner’s brain and central nervous system to decide whether they are safe or in danger. So eye contact, facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture, etc…, should be attended to. Keep in mind that feeling wronged does not give you license to act aggressively. You will not get what you long for that way. Dealing with anger is a much bigger topic, but these guidelines overall are important. Remember the dog you adopted. Does this mean watch your words? Yes.
5. Amplify the Positive. Positive practices to create an atmosphere of fondness and appreciation go a long way to improve the security of a Couple’s bond. It is so important to express appreciation to your partner verbally, even on a daily basis, and to make regular declarations of commitment (ex.”I am here for you babe”, or “you got it, whatever you need”). Understanding your partner’s love language regarding what makes them feel cared for, and gifting them those caring behaviors on a regular basis whether it be verbal affirmations, tender touch, acts of service, spending quality time together or giving gifts, strengthens a feeling of love and safety in your Couple space. All these things can be done mindfully knowing it is good for your relational health. You don’t have to wait until the spirit moves you to do it. A positive intention to behave lovingly is enough. You will be glad you did.
These are just a few tips, there is much more to say, but it is a good beginning. For those wanting to read more about interpersonal neurobiology, google Daniel Siegel and Allan Schore. Also see Rick Hanson who wrote “Buddha’s Brain.” The idea of Mindfulness, and working with one’s own reactivity to become a safe partner for your love partner, where fun and passion can abide is also relevant here. However, just becoming aware of how important and vital these ideas are to a secure bond will get you off to a great start.
All the best!
Warmly, Dr. Teresa M. Hunt
Teresa M. Hunt, Ph.D. is a CERTIFIED Imago Therapist/WORKSHOP PRESENTER and Licensed Psychologist who has specialized in individual and couples psychotherapy for over 29 years. She was clinically trained in the Columbia, Harvard, and University of Michigan Medical School Systems. In addition to Imago Couples Training, she has also had training in EFT (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy). She is also a CERTIFIED, PACT Level I and Level II Clinician (Psycho-biological Approach to Couples Therapy). She has completed Levels I and II of ASCH Clinical Hypnosis Training. Her work includes Psychodynamic and Interpersonal Approaches to Individual Therapy, Imago/EFT/ PACT Relationship Therapy, ADHD Counseling, Clinical Hypnosis for Selected Problems, and therapeutic work around anxiety, depression, coping with grief and loss, and other concerns. Dr. Hunt is a clear thinker and a dynamic presenter, and thoroughly enjoys connecting in a group format. She brings transformational expertise to enliven the ways partners learn to increase passion and communication.
As the name implies, tech neck is the result of spending too much time engaging with technology. Have you spent the latter part of your career hunched over a screen only to get off work and go hunch over another screen? Do feel an anxious twinge every time you hear a ping that sends you lunging for your phone to furiously reply to whatever has hit your inbox/social media/text messaging? Perhaps hours of binge-watching “Stranger Things,” or Buffy (again), has you glued to your device … We have myriad fun, and less fun, device diversions these days that have us craning forward to stare deeply into the back-lit blue light. And our necks hurt.
Your momma was right, you shouldn’t slump. Unfortunately today’s tech world often lures us into a hunchy bunchy bad-for-your-posture slouch that puts a lot of strain on our necks, upper backs, and shoulders (and really the rest of us, too). Add to that the fact that a lot of people tense their neck and shoulder muscles (shoulders down!) when under stress, and we’ve got a recipe for tech neck. Chronic pain in the neck, back, and shoulders.
More people come to our massage team seeking relief for tech neck than any other pain complaint. We literally see this every day, usually multiple times per day. Repeatedly jutting the head forward, rounding the shoulders, and holding the arms out in front of us, puts a lot of strain in the back; and most of us live perpetually in this forward posture. Desk, car, couch– even doing “active” things like household chores or eating can put us into this position.
A good massage therapist can methodically work through your neck and shoulder girdle to relieve pain from tense knotted muscles. By working though each muscle group thoroughly, we can find tender points and apply techniques to work out the soreness and relax the muscle tissue. We typically ask for more feedback than we would in a relaxation massage to ensure that you get better results– especially if you have long-term or more intense aches.
To fully eradicate pain from tech neck you will likely have to do some PT and make some lifestyle changes (and rule out underlying conditions with your medical team). However, massage can make an immediate difference in your pain and tension. For stubborn, long-term problems, a series of sessions will provide more benefit than a single session. Or, if you cannot take steps to change your patterns, a routine of on-going massage can help mitigate your pain until you get to a different place in your life.
With a case of tech neck, we recommend trying a targeted approach in which we focus solely on your neck, back, and shoulders for the duration of the massage so we have more time to spend working through your taxed muscles. Spending more time addressing these areas and layering down through your muscle tissue, can make a big difference in your results. Once we get this area feeling better, we can zoom out and address other contributing factors.
Massage is definitely worth a try to ease the pain in your neck. You get to disconnect from the wired world for an hour or so and reconnect with your body. And come out feeling less tense, less in pain, and maybe even a little taller.
In 2016 the Massage Therapy Foundation & American Massage Therapy Association jointly commissioned the Samueli Institute to perform and independent review of the current research on massage for pain management. After extensive review of the literature, the researchers confirmed the practical experience of massage therapists and clients. Massage Therapy relieves pain.
Now massage consumers can have even more confidence in their choice to use therapeutic massage for muscular pain and for chronic pain. As the number one reason people go to a primary care provider, pain is a major health concern. The medical community now has stronger reasoning for recommending massage as a means to manage pain to their patients. Although massage helps people in many other ways, it now has solid scientific backing as a safe and effective method of controlling pain.
This landmark study provides the massage industry with better credibility as a treatment option for pain management. It opens the door for more medical professionals to recommend massage to their patients. This has long-term potential to lead to more massage therapists working as a part of an integrated care team. Or, for the optimistic, even some increased opportunity for insurance to cover medically recommended massage. Some people also see massage as fitting in as an option for helping reduce opioid dependence by potentially leading to less reliance on medications for pain management. Furthermore, new massage research funding could follow this positive review.
Having research independently reviewed and verified by an unaffiliated scientific organization signifies quality and integrity in the work. The Samueli Institute applies a rigorous academic approach to research in, among other things, complementary therapies. They work with the US Military, the medical community, and private businesses who have an interest in complementary and integrative approaches to wellness. For this meta-analysis, they formed a team comprised of researchers, massage therapists with a background in research, and organizational leaders with a background in research.
In order to form their conclusions, the research team began with thousands of articles and then used a systematic process to find the most relevant research. They then condensed the findings from 67 research articles on the effects of massage on pain levels and analyzed the data collectively. The research covered multiple different styles of massage, so it speaks to the efficacy of massage in general. It looked at pain management in multiple categories including chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headache, and muscle pain. It also covered quality of life. The researchers additionally looked at the effect of massage on activity, but found that there were not enough quality studies to make a determination.
Overall, based on the effectiveness and safety of massage therapy, the study recommended the use of massage as a way to manage pain.
Read the full study in the journal Pain Medicine.