Swedish Massage

Who else feels lost when there’s a list of different massages?  This article explains one of the classic massages: the Swedish Massage.

What is Swedish Massage Therapy?

Swedish Massage Therapy
Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.

Swedish Massage Techniques

Additional Swedish massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during your Swedish massage session, communication is encouraged with your professional massage therapist so that your massage is customized to your specific needs.

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Laser Hair Removal: What’s True?

We all want laser hair removal but question if it will actually work.  It sounds too good to be true!  Read this article to learn how laser hair removal works and what the outcomes are.

Shining a Light on the Pros and Cons of Laser Hair Removal

Maureen Salamon   |   December 22, 2010 05:24am ET
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In a culture where hair on the head is the only kind that’s prized, laser hair removal has joined a bevy of other cosmetic procedures in popularity. Despite its growing use, however, the treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution for getting rid of unwanted hair.

Available since the 1970s and generally considered safelaser hair removal aims intense, pulsating light beams at hair follicles, damaging them and deterring future hair growth.

“Our culture is beauty-centric, and this is a non-surgical, relatively inexpensive thing to do,” said Dr. David Goldberg, a dermatologist practicing in New York, Florida and Massachusetts who has written a textbook on laser hair removal. In the last five years, laser hair removal has become “extraordinarily popular,” Goldberg said.

How it works

Hair follicles can be destroyed when pigment molecules within them absorb the energy in the laser beam.

However, this means the treatment works best on those with light skin (which contains little pigment) and dark hair (which contains much pigment).

Until recently, laser hair removal didn’t work on people with darker skin because the pigment in their skin would absorb the laser’s energy and heat up along with the hair follicles, causing the skin to burn. Newer equipment now makes treating darker-skinned people possible, but burning remains a considerable challenge, according to physicians.

Similarly, because blonde, gray and white hairs have little pigment, laser removal is not as effective on them. In these cases, a better alternative is electrolysis, which kills hair follicles by zapping them with a needle that delivers mild electric current, said Dr. Russell Kridel, a Houston plastic surgeon and laser expert.

Laser treatments and electrolysis each have their pros and cons. Lasers can damage large areas of follicles at once, such as on the legs and back and in the bikini area, while electrolysis destroys follicles one at a time. Electrolysis eradicates hair permanently, while laser hairremoval may need regular maintenance treatments to keep hair away, and in stubborn cases may not achieve this.

Normal hair growth and dormancy cycles make it necessary to receive six to eight laser treatments, spaced six to 10 weeks apart, because only hair in a growth phase is susceptible to the treatment, Kridel said.

“Some people only have a few facial hairs they want to get rid of,” Kridel said, “so for them, it makes more sense to use electrolysis.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, several types of lasers are used for hair reduction, including:

  • Ruby laser: Best for use on fine and light hair, the Ruby laser is the oldest type. Darker-skinned or tanned patients are not candidates for this treatment due to a high risk of burns.
  • Alexandrite laser: Safe for light and olive complexions, the Alexandrite laser can quickly treat large body areas and is one of the most widely used.
  • Diode laser: This is most effective for darker skin, but does not work as well for finer, lighter hair. It also can rapidly treat large areas.
  • Nd: YAG laser: Safe for all skin types, this laser may cause more discomfort than other lasers.
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Devices: IPLs are not lasers per se, but work on the same principle. They are typically found in spas offering hair removal, Kridel said, and may not be as safe or effective because poorly trained and less-experienced technicians often administer the treatments.

Does it work?

Not everyone who undergoes laser hair removal is satisfied with the long-term results. Ken Howard, 45, underwent laser hair removal and said those who treated him implied that the hair treated on his back and shoulders would be gone forever, which is far from the case.

“I have more hair there than ever before,” said the West Hollywood, Calif., resident, who had about 10 sessions between 2002 and 2006, and paid about $200 per session. “I was told there was permanent destruction of the hair follicles. I feel kind of ripped off by it.”

Goldberg and Kridel, however, say their patients are always told their hair may grow back, depending on factors such as type and texture of their hair and their hormone levels.

“We’re very careful to educate patients on the front end,” Kridel said, “and while there’s almost always a reduction in hair, there’s not a permanent loss in all cases.”

If hair grows back, it sometimes is thinner and wispier, he added.

Both doctors also advised that patients be aware of the stinging involved in laser hair removal — a pain akin to having a rubber band snapped against the skin. Howard described it as “endurable but painful.”

The doctors also cautioned that the procedure is not risk-free.

“In the worst cases, it has been darker-skinned people being burned in spas that used the wrong machines,” said Goldberg, who, like Kridel, strongly recommends consumers seek only physicians and their staff to receive laser treatment, which is currently  unregulated.

“That’s not the fault of the machine,” Goldberg said. “That’s the fault of the person doing it.”

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Reduce Stress With Different Types of Massage

Who doesn’t love a massage!?  There are several different types of stress and different types of massages.  This great article concisely explains a couple of different massages and what they can do for your body.

REDUCE STRESS WITH MASSAGE THERAPY

Oakville massage therapistMassage therapy has been around for thousands of years and is still used to this day to improve a person’s physical and emotional health. Massage therapy directly improves the muscular, circulatory, nervous and immune systems. Repeated massage therapy will help with any medical conditions, reduce stress, and better your quality of life.

Choosing a type of massage may seem difficult when you have never had a massage before. Here are the top 5 massages in the U.S. and Canada– and they are all a good starting point:

  • A very popular massage is the aromatherapy massage. This one uses an essential oil and is suited for someone with a lot of built up stress and emotion.
  • If you are someone with muscle tension, a hot stone massage is a great choice as it loosens the muscles.
  • The Shiatsu massage is also very popular, drawing similarities to acupuncture by using finger pressure.
  • If you are recovering from an injury, your best bet is the deep tissue massage, working the connective tissue and muscle.
  • One additional massage, which is also the most common type of massage, is the Swedish massage. This is a great choice if you have never had a massage as it uses long strokes and is gentle and relaxing.

Massage therapy has many health benefits and aims to do several things. It improves physical function, relieves and prevents pain, improves circulation, relaxes muscle tension and most importantly reduces stress. Stress is dangerous to one’s health, increasing your chances for certain medical conditions such as heart disease. With repeated massage therapy, people have stated that they have seen an improvement in their sleep patterns, and that they feel happier and relaxed. Massage therapy will also help with various medical conditions such as: insomnia, Parkinson’s, cancers, carpal tunnel, asthma, headaches, tendinitis, and the list goes on. Consult an Oakville massage therapist from your local spa and discuss the results you are hoping massage therapy will achieve.

Now is a great time to consider massage therapy. Start reducing your stress and improving your quality of life. It’s not too late to make a healthy new you!

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Pros & Cons of Laser Hair Removal

Is laser hair removal worth it?  It’s a question that most of us lady’s think about.  This article will show some pros and cons to laser hair removal and show some insights on what to expect.

Laser Hair Removal: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Jodi Morse

Jodi MorseYahoo Contributor Network
Aug 3, 2007 “Share your voice on Yahoo websites. Start Here
Laser hair removal has become a very hot topic lately. People are constantly talking about all of the things that they love about laser hair removal, while others are advising that you should pass up this trend. So, what’s the truth about laser hair removal? Is it really worth getting? Or should you really just continue using other hair removal methods to avoid getting laser hair removal? Here, we will take a much closer look at some of the main pros and cons of laser hair removal, in order to help you better determine whether or not you may want to go through with the procedure.The Laser Hair Removal ProsAfter you have finished your laser hair removal treatments, you might not need to worry about removing hair again. While laser hair removal is not always permanent, you will be likely to see some very good results from it. It will typically reduce the thickness of hair on a long-term basis, which is always beneficial if you do not want to worry about removing your hair in the future.When laser hair removal procedures are done the proper way, they can be a very painless way of removing hair. Of course, this is not to say that you won’t feel anything during your laser hair removal sessions. While most people report feeling something or even a little bit of pain, many also report that it is nothing intolerable – unless it is done wrong.

There are a few health insurance companies that will actually cover at least part of the cost of laser hair removal. You don’t see them picking up the cost of shaving creams and razors or other hair removal products, though!

The Laser Hair Removal Cons

The overall cost of laser hair removal is very high. The amount of money that you end up spending will, of course, depend on the place that you go to get it done. It is often recommended that you only go to an experienced, reputable dermatologist. Keep in mind that the more experienced that the dermatologist is, the more likely you will be to spend a lot of money. On average, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 for each laser hair removal session – if not more, depending on your location. You can expect to pay more in larger cities.

You will typically need a few laser hair removal sessions. Generally, everyone needs between two and three sessions. The amount that you will need depends on several factors. Some of these include the overall thickness of your hair and the location where you want hair removed from.

Chances are that you may find the results that you get from laser hair removal a bit disappointing. Many people who go in are expecting to be completely hairless after they go for their laser hair removal treatments. However, many only experience long-term hair removal or a reduction in thickness.

When the laser hair removal procedure is done wrong, it can lead to some very common problems. Some of these factors include permanent scarring, burns, and infections. This is the main reason that is so essential for you to make sure that you find the perfect reputable and experienced dermatologist before you decide to go through a laser hair removal procedure. Removing hair is not worth the types of scars that many women face after laser hair removal treatments that go bad.

You may not be a candidate for laser hair removal. Those who have light skin and dark thick or coarse hair are often considered to be the ideal candidates for the laser hair removal procedure. People who tan frequently are often not recommended to go through with the laser hair removal process. Find out from your dermatologist before you decide to go through with the procedure.

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Pregnancy Massages

Carrying a little baby around in the tummy can be taxing on the body.  Your body is screaming for some attention but a lot of people don’t know what they’re allowed and not allowed to do.  Pregnancy massages can be like a gift from above.

Massage and Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage

Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Massage and pregnancy has often received ambivalent responses from the health community regarding the safety and purpose of massage during pregnancy. Modern investigation and research is proving that prenatal massage therapy can be a very instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration.Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. The APA does work with some massage therapists who are trained to work with pregnant women, but it is still important to ask about qualifications.Find a Massage Therapist in Your Area

Massage and Pregnancy: Benefits of prenatal massage

Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health.

Massage therapy addresses different needs through varying techniques, one of which is called Swedish Massage, which aims to relax muscle tension and improve lymphatic and blood circulation through mild pressure applied to the muscle groups of the body. Swedish Massage is the recommended prenatal massage method during pregnancy because it addresses many common discomforts associated with the skeletal and circulatory changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.

Hormone regulation

Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered, leading to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health, when massage therapy was introduced to women’s prenatal care. In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (“stress hormones”) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression). These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence points strongly to maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.

Reduction of swelling

Edema, or swelling of the joints during pregnancy, is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure on the major blood vessels by the heavy uterus. Massage helps to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in swollen joints, which also improves the removal of tissue waste, carried by the body’s lymph system.

Improvement of nerve pain

Sciatic nerve pain is experienced by many women in late pregnancy as the uterus rests on muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back. The pressure of the uterus spreads tension to the muscles of the upper and lower leg, causing them to swell and put pressure on nearby nerves. Massage therapy addresses the inflamed nerves by helping to release the tension on nearby muscles. Many women have experienced significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy through regular massage.

Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:

  • Reduced back pain
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced edema
  • Reduced muscle tension and headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
  • Better sleep

Massage and Pregnancy: Precautions for prenatal massage?

As with any therapeutic approach to pregnancy wellness, women should discuss massage with their prenatal care provider. The best way to address the risks of prenatal massage is to be informed and to work together with knowledgeable professionals.

Body position during prenatal massage

Many professionals consider the best position for a pregnant woman during massage is side-lying. Tables that provide a hole in which the uterus can fit may not be reliable and can still apply pressure to the abdomen, or allow the abdomen to dangle, causing uncomfortable stretching of the uterine ligaments. Consult your massage therapist before your first appointment to verify what position they place their clients in during the massage.

Seek an appropriate massage therapist

It is important to seek care from a certified prenatal massage therapist. Certified therapists have received training beyond the national standards for massage therapists and know how to address specific pregnancy and massage needs and sensitive areas of the body.

Be aware of sensitive pressure points

Trained prenatal massage therapists are aware of pressure points on the ankles and wrists that can gently stimulate pelvic muscles, including the uterus. Certified prenatal massage therapists are trained to avoid very specific and intentional pressure to these areas during pregnancy. Any woman who has experienced pre-term contractions or consistent Braxton-Hicks contractions should alert her therapist to that fact so that pressure points can be avoided completely.

Women with the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving a massage:

Pregnancy and Massage: Is prenatal massage safe throughout the entire pregnancy?

Women can begin massage therapy at any point in their pregnancy – during the first, second, or third trimester. Many facilities will refuse to offer massage to a woman who is still in her first trimester because of the increased statistics for miscarriage associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy and Massage: Prenatal Massage as part of Prenatal Care

The benefits of massage can improve overall prenatal health for many pregnant women. Along with the guidance and advice of a prenatal care provider, massage therapy can be incorporated into routine prenatal care as an emotional and physical health supplement proven to improve pregnancy outcome, and maternal health. Consult with your midwife or obstetrician before beginning any new therapeutic practice.

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What Foods Are Best For Your Skin?

Combine these 30 foods with clean air and you’ll be as good as gold!

Top 30 Skin Clearing Foods

Think spots are something just teenagers get? Think again. Around 20 per cent of women suffer from acne well into their 20s and 30s, which can be caused by anything from stress to hormone fluctuations and more. All is not lost, however – aside from topical over-the-counter treatments and antibiotics, there are a number of foods long-heralded for their skin clearing properties that, added to your diet over time, may help to significantly improve the quality of your skin. Try combining our top 30 foods with fresh air, plenty of exercise, and a good skin care regime and see if they make a difference.

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Massage Therapy Strengthens Immune System

Massage therapy strengthens my immune system!!?  I was always trying to convince my husband that I needed the spa but didn’t have any proof.  This is all we need ladies!

Massage Therapy Strengthens the Immune System

Regular therapeutic massage sessions provide significant benefits beyond the immediate relaxation we enjoy. People who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our immune system’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection is greatly reduced. So the question is: What are the benefits of massage on immune system?

Clinical studies have indicated that regular massage not only helps alleviate stress, but can naturally increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall. In one study by Gail Ironson, M.D., HIV positive men were given 45 minute massages five days a week, for a month. They showed an increase in serotonin and an increase in cells that are viewed as the first line of defense in the immune system.

Benefits of Strengthening the Immune System

  • Increases the body’s natural killer cells
  • Aids in the fight against bacteria and infection
  • Naturally enhances the body’s ability to get nourishment to important areas

Helpful Wellness Tip: Massage therapy may be a great addition to your exercise program. Just like regular exercise can keep your muscles strong, regular massage can help keep your immune system performing at its peak.

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Laser VS Wax

The sound of laser hair removal sounds so good… except for the cost.  Should I continue to wax or go with the legendary laser?

Bikini wax vs. laser hair removal


Let’s face it with summer and beach season fast approaching, swimsuit season is sneaking up on us, and there is one thing that may need some attention, your bikini line! The big debate is bikini wax vs. laser hair removal. I’m here to give you the skinny with pros and cons to both, and most important in your decision-making process, the pain level.

I consider myself late in the game when it comes to managing the bikini line, ya know, since I am donning a bikini so often these days (my twin delivery has destroyed that dream, they are lucky they are so cute!). I was not afraid to shave daily until two years ago when I was at Charlotte Mag’s B.O.B. Awards. I noticed a B.O.B. winner of “Best Brazilian” who was donating to the silent auction. After a few glasses of wine for courage, I decided that I needed that woman in my life and camped out to win that auction item.

With bikini waxing, it’s all relative with regard to pain. It seems that fair-skinned and fair-hair colored women can have more sensitive skin – that would be moi. So I went to my waxing appointment terrified of what was to come, especially since I selected a Brazilian wax on my virgin voyage. Why not go for the full monty, that’s just how I roll! When I got on the table, the hot lamps and nerves immediately made me start sweating profusely and after the first rip of wax, I nearly dove off the table. The woman coaxed me back on and I tolerated the torture chamber for what felt like an eternity. At one point, I told her that I could take no more, I was good with whatever level of completion we were at. It was time to go. She said she could not leave me looking like that, only halfway done. I said, you know what, my husband won’t mind, really, this rodeo is over. Somehow, and I’m not really sure how, I was coerced back on and muscled through the rest of the appointment.

After leaving, I have to say, I really liked the outcome, but I was pretty sure I could never do that again. EVER. IN. MY. ENTIRE. LIFE. Enter my friends at Charlotte Skin & Laser, God love ‘em!

It took me another full year to get the guts to make an appointment for laser hair removal. For some reason, all of my friends who have had laser bikini treatments said it hurt like no other, even more than bikini waxing. Let me tell ya, these gals have never had a Brazilian wax. This laser thing was a breeze.

I was prepared for the worst, but left my laser appointment literally 12 minutes later and asked “Is that it???” Aside from a tiny bit of stinging, definitely uncomfortable but NOTHING like a zillion strips of hot wax torn off your hoo-ha, I’d give it a pain level of 5 at most. Trust me ladies, we’ve all given birth, this is cake! I cannot say the same for bikini-waxing. I’d rather give birth to my twins ten times over before enduring that hot mess again!

So let’s talk cost comparison. Waxing typically costs anywhere from $50 for a regular bikini wax to up to $100 with tip for Brazilian. Laser hair removal packages may appear to be a ton more up front, ranging from $800-$1,200 for a full treatment package. But if you plan to stick with a waxing regimen monthly over the summer and maybe a few other maintenance trips a year, you’ll find laser hair removal much less expensive.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Still Go to the Spa

Everybody loves the spa, most people see it as a luxury.  Here is an article explaining why it’s important to go to the spa even if it does seem expensive.5 Reasons Why You Should Still Go to the Spa (even in tough times!) Print E-mail
A while ago, as I was getting a facial treatment at my favourite local spa, my aesthetician told me that spas across the city were experiencing a slump in business.   Apparently, when things get “tough”, people see something like going to the spa as an extra, inessential splurge.  Than, the other day, on the show The Daily, I was asked to provide on-air “ammunition” for wives who want to convince their husbands that they still need to go to the spa.What I discovered surprised me – in addition to helping you convince your significant other, this should convince you that taking care of yourself in this way is truly essential to your health and success!Five health benefits of going to the spa (in this case, for a massage):1) It reduces stress hormone levels

Several studies have shown that massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which among many other benefits helps slow your heart rate, and brings your blood pressure down.

2) It boosts your immunity

By reducing stress and stress hormones, massage boosts the levels of “natural killer cells” in your body, which are your first defense against invaders.  Massage has been shown to even boost immunity in people with severely decreased immune systems, such as patients with breast cancer.

3) It’s a great pain reliever

Whether you’ve got muscular pain, chronic headaches or a migraine, or even labor pains (!), massage has been shown to significantly decrease and relieve pain. I woke up with a headache three days in a row last week, a sign that I was trying to do too much in too little time.  A one hour massage (and three hour visit to the spa, with a lot of that time spent relaxing in the whirlpool), cured the headaches completely!

4) It boosts your mood

As if a wonderful, healing, relaxing visit to a spa wasn’t enough (I already feel better, just walking in the door), treatments such as massage increase your brain’s level of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.

5) It relieves PMS symptoms!

A small study of a group of women with severe PMS found that massage reduced a variety of symptoms such as pain, water retention, and mood swings.  Now there’s some ammunition that might  seriously convince your husband or partner of the necessity of your spa visit – maybe you can even get them to pay for it!  Imagine how much happier a place this world would be, if all women were treated to a spa visit a minimum of once a month?

Now, I know I’ve been talking mostly about the benefits of massage, but just think about it – a pedicure usually comes with an brief massage, as does a facial, and even some manicures come with mini hand and arm massages.  In fact, when they’re doing the massage part of your pedicure, you could say: “you know, I’m feeling like I might be coming down with something, and need to boost my natural killer cells – could you do that a little bit longer?”  Who would say no?

Dr. Susan Biali, MD is an internationally recognized wellness expert, life coach, speaker and writer, dedicated to helping people live their dreams and create better balance, health and satisfaction in their lives. Dr. Biali speaks internationally, and her opinions and advice on health and life appear regularly in print, radio, and television media across North America.

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