Ergonomics: Fixes for Neck and Wrists

Over the last year, the pandemic forced many people to switch from working in well laid-out and equipped offices to working from home. Some of you may even still be working from your kitchen tables. As massage therapists, we are frequently asked about how to avoid the recurring pain that creeps up as a result of less than ideal physical work environments.

I am not an ergonomics specialist, by any means, but I can offer clients some tips that may help reduce repetitive stress injuries. While creating a space that keeps our body in the most neutral position possible can be helpful, if you stay in any position long enough, it’s going to create problems. Try to incorporate frequent movement into your work routine. Even just a mild stretch or movement through our full range-of-motion can flush out metabolic waste and bring fresh blood to our tissue so it can continue to meet demand without fatiguing. Here are a few of my favorites.

Look over each shoulder
Tilt head side to side
Head circles each direction
Wrist circles both directions
Flex wrist with closed hand
Extend wrist with open hand
Shoulder circles forward and back

This little list of movements can be done once or twice an hour to really help support our muscles and structure when we are relying on them so much. I’ve included a link (below) to a video with a great condensed list of tips to try out at your workstation – wherever it might be. But remember, no matter how well thought-out your physical work environment is, our muscles require movement, so multiple mini breaks and regular exercise are always your best bets to keep your muscles happy.

Stay well,
All of us at Loosen Up Bodywork

How Massage Helps Anxiety

Many of us are familiar with the calming effects of massage therapy. Massage treatments, though, can be many different things. One approach and technique may be great for one person and torture for another. So as I attempt to offer insight into how massage can help alleviate the effects of anxiety, I will address several approaches and how they affect different symptoms associated with anxiety.

The standard circulatory or Swedish massage is amazing for increasing circulation and encouraging the release of endorphins. The effects are very similar to those you experience after exercise, with these hormones giving the body an exhilarating sense of well-being.

Sometimes, if we’ve been stuck in a state of anxiety for long periods, it can begin to affect our posture. Our shoulders hike up and round forward, our head becomes forward, and general tension builds up other places, as well. A fast or vigorous massage may be over-stimulating and won’t correct the long-standing posture issue. Instead, focusing on muscles that hold us in that posture with a slow sustained manner can allow our body to move toward a more neutral posture without being over-stimulating or agitating.

The last modality I’ll cover here, even though there are many others that have positive impacts on anxiety symptoms, is Lymphatic Drainage. This technique is my personal favorite for those who are really locked in that state of overwhelm and worry. Lymphatic drainage for the head, neck and face, in particular, put even the most high-strung person right to sleep. Pressure is light and rhythmic and because of that, the progression of movement can be easily anticipated by the client so the need for the body to guard itself absolves completely.

All of our therapists are trained to be able to meet our clients where they’re at when they land on our tables. While not all of our therapists are trained in every technique, each technique is adaptable to be able to meet clients needs. We love to hear from our clients and help them decide what will work best. And if our front desk can’t answer your specific question, we can have a therapist call you back.

Be well and we hope to see you soon.
Yours in health, Gina Tibbs

Exercise and Anxiety

Most of us have experienced anxiety at some point in our life. Stress from work or school; worries about finances, personal relationships and all the other stressors life offers is a normal part of living and when well-managed, can motivate us to do our best. But when stress is out of balance and becomes overwhelming we can suffer physically and mentally. Anxiety may present as nervousness, increased heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing, and may even result in panic attacks.

We experience anxiety when our endocrine system is being overly stimulated. This can be caused by life events, specific thought patterns, or even by food and drinks we consume like caffeine and sugar. Our body over-produces a hormone called cortisol and it can perpetuate and build the longer we remain in this state of mind.

When you feel those symptoms of anxiousness start to develop, one way to help control them is to divert your train of thought by participating in activities. Staying busy helps us move our focus off of what we are stressing about.

Once we’re out of the acute stage of anxiety, exercise can benefit both our physical and mental health. Staying active helps our endocrine system to produce more endorphins, which are “feel good” chemicals produced by the pituitary gland. Going on a walk, run, hike, bike ride, or any other activity you enjoy helps encourage this internal response.

Massage therapy has also been proven to help reduce anxiety. Even just having a quiet room to yourself and being able to relax in a controlled atmosphere helps to reduce stress hormones and puts the body in a state of relaxation. It helps a person feel calmer and more able to cope with everyday stresses.

We all aspire for good habits that support our bodies in staying healthy and calm. But life has a way of throwing all of us off our “A game” from time to time. Though we agree with Ben Franklin that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, if you need a reset to get you back on track — we’ve got you.

Stay well, stay healthy, stay moving, and we hope to see you soon.
All of us at Loosen Up!

Updated Hours–March 2021

We are now offering services at both our Walnut Creek and Danville locations! We are limited to Monday through Thursday appointments in Danville while we continue our search for additional talented staff for that location, but are open 7 days a week in Walnut Creek.

You can visit our Book an Appointment page to schedule and learn more about our current protocols. You can also call us at (925)289-9750 and we are happy to answer any questions you may have and assist you with scheduling your next appointment.

Updated Hours–February 2021

As a result of the changing Covid restrictions and guidelines of the Bay Area, we have made the following changes to our hours:

Walnut Creek

  • Office hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm
  • Open for massage appointments: 7 days a week
  • Appointments outside of office hours available upon request.

Danville

  • Office hours: Monday – Friday 12pm – 6pm, by appointment only

If you have any questions, please contact our main office, or leave us a question in our comments section below. We appreciate your continued support as we navigate this pandemic and the challenges it brings. Loosen up Bodywork wishes you a safe and healthy 2021!

Updated Hours–December 2020

Today it was announced that the Bay Area will be the first to enact the more restrictive Stay at Home order to prevent the ICU Hospitalization rate from going higher than 85%. This means that we are going to be required to close our Danville offices again on Sunday night, December 6.

We will, however, continue to be able to work with clients who have a recommendation from a MD, Nurse Practitioner, or Chiropractor at our Walnut Creek facility. In addition, we are currently open on Sundays in the Walnut Creek office to accommodate your schedule.

As frustrating as it is to have to go through this back-and-forth with our operations, we want to do our part in any way we can to help curb the progression of Covid-19 in our community. The Bay Area has not been hit as hard as many parts of our country and we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep this pandemic in check and keep our community resources available for those who need them.

Please reach out to our Walnut Creek office if you have any questions at all. We are wishing all of you a healthy and safe Holiday season.

We Are Officially Open!

Last Tuesday (September 30), Contra Costa county was moved from the Purple/Widespread category to the Red/Substantial category of the state’s four-tiered color-coded reopening system.  This means that some restrictions have been eased, and we can now begin the next phase of reopening.  I can’t express how proud I am of our community for doing its part in slowing this pandemic down.  My family and our staff’s families thank you for your efforts that have gotten us to the point of being able to get back to work!  We truly are all in this together.
Our Walnut Creek team is already in full swing with our new protocols.  The list of changes we made to adapt to our new environment is long, but our team has risen to the occasion.  Having a productive, therapeutic environment requires that both the practitioner and the client feel comfortable and safe.  I am truly impressed, yet again, by our team’s commitment to adopting new procedures to maintain our facilities for us all – our patrons and our staff.  Click here to learn more about our new processes.
Our Danville offices will be reopening on October 19th.  Sadly, a few of our employees left the area during the time we have been closed, so for a time, our hours in Danville will be limited.  We want to fill a couple licensed CMT spots and one Admin spot, so if you know anyone who’s looking to work for a local business that’s dedicated to elevating the health and wellness of their community, please send them our way!  Here is a link to the job postings if you’re interested.
Last, I want to remind everyone that we are going to be raising our rates November 1st.  This increase is going to bring us closer to what other establishments are charging and will go towards raising all of our staff’s regular pay.  They deserve it with all the extra efforts they are putting in!  That makes October a good time to buy packages to lock in the lower rate a little longer for those of you who know you will be coming back regularly.
We hope you and yours are well and look forward to seeing you soon.

We’re Hiring! CMT and Reception Positions Available

With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, our entire industry has come up against probably its biggest challenge ever.  The very idea of close proximity to others has come under careful scrutiny – without even contemplating being close enough to actually touch someone!
One of the things I’ve always most admired about the massage therapy profession has been its practitioners’ dedication to seeing clients improve their wellbeing  – even after they have been discharged from their medical doctors.  Just because someone is no longer acutely ill doesn’t mean there’s not significant room for improvement in their daily experience with their own body.
At Loosen Up we have always been clinically focused.  We pride ourselves on making sure that our entire team is well-informed and up-to-date on the most current recommendations for all types of health conditions.  We have invested a great deal of time and research into preparing to meet this new COVID-19 challenge facing our profession and are eager to help other CMT’s prepare to return to their tables.  If you (or someone you know) is wanting to get back to the treatment room but are feeling unprepared, we want to hear from you.
We are also looking for front-office help. Check out our open reception position.
We hope you are well and healthy and we are looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Safety is Our Priority

During the past few months of Covid-19 closure, we have invested a great deal of time into learning how other states and counties are managing, as well as what’s been happening in our own Contra Costa county. As we prepare for this initial stage of reopening, we want to clarify and further explain to our community the rationale involved in our receiving approval for seeing clients, while other massage establishments remain closed. First – we have always maintained the highest standards in our industry and operated at a clinical level, including sanitization, as well as the training of staff in order to work with more complicated health conditions. Today our team is well-equipped to handle the complexities that COVID-19 has presented us.

Doctor Referral

Next – we’ve also had a lot of help from our friends! Dr. Peter McDuff, at McDuff Chiropractic in Pleasant Hill has helped us establish Loosen Up Bodywork as a medical facility so we can open up to clients with doctor’s referrals. He has also created an abbreviated assessment to help clients who need a referral. He’s charging only $45.00 for these assessments and if you feel that his services may be a good fit for you, you can put those fees towards one of his more comprehensive exams. I’ve worked with Peter for over 10 years, and have the highest confidence in his work, having seen many of his patients improve their overall health tremendously. Call (925)933-3000 to make your appointment for an assessment.

As always, we welcome your questions and are excited to hear from you. If you haven’t heard from us directly already, please give us a call at the Walnut Creek office.

Gina Tibbs