Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

The Power of Massage Therapy in Senior Wellness

senior_back_painI am a firm believer in massage therapy because a little over a year ago, I woke up in agonizing lower-back pain that did not allow me to move. My first thought was maybe I should go see a chiropractor. I had been to one before, but was not the biggest fan because they cracked my back and sent me on my way after charging $65. 

This time, I did my research and found a well-rounded practice that offered a full evaluation prior to the treatment to be sure they could help me and not further injure my back. Here, they first did a 30-minute session with a massage therapist, applied heat while rolling the back, and then I saw the chiropractor. In my situation, I needed the full run-through. Now that my injury is better, I can maintain the relief with strength exercises, stretching, and massage. 

So when I began working at a senior living community and found that the community had a regularly visiting massage therapist, I thought, “How very lucky we are to have a certified massage therapist!” She has her own room and setup that the resident can enjoy, or she can meet them at their apartment if that is more comfortable for them. I have found, though, that many CCRC residents do not take advantage of this resource just because they aren’t fully educated on the benefits.

How Often Should You Visit a Therapist?

Believe it or not, it can be to your greatest advantage to visit a massage therapist a two or three times a month. Often, it is thought that massage is a luxury visit to a spa once in a blue moon for some rest and relaxation. While it is great for that, massage is something that can be done in a less expensive setting and more often so that you can reap the benefits. 

What Is Massage?

What exactly is massage? Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing, and manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The combination of movements and sequence in which the therapist works is meant to alleviate pain, reduce the stress we carry in that area, and treat a wide variety of conditions. And the great thing? If it isn’t your cup of tea, you can just forget about it and try something else. 

Types of Massage

There are different variations of massage, depending on what the need is. Need relaxation? You’ll want a Swedish massage. Have a pain in the low back? You may need a deep-tissue or trigger-point massage. The great thing is, the massage therapist will know which is likely best for your situation. 

Benefits of Massage Therapy

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)

Here are some additional benefits of massage therapy.

Ask Your Doctor

One last thing, massage isn’t meant to replace regular care from your physician, and when a member complains of a pain that sounds most like a muscle or ligament pain, I suggest they ask their doctor whether seeing a massage therapist would be a good idea. 

When Massage Might Not Be a Good Idea

If one of these is something you suffer from, massage may not be right for you: 

  • Bleeding disorders or take blood-thinning medication
  • Burns, open or healing wounds
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Fractures
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Severe thrombocytopenia

Before I go, I want to encourage you to take a look at this alternative medicine and the role it can play in senior wellness. It has relatively low risk and can be very beneficial. Does your community offer this onsite? Would you like for them to? If you have a leisure services or wellness department, that might be the place to start. 

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Topics: senior wellness CCRC continuing care retirement community stress relief injury prevention massage

Power in Silence: Discover Mindful Meditation

old_man_meditatingMeditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” ― Sharon Salzberg

So you have some stress in your life. You might turn to exercise to deal with these stressors. Or maybe you had a date with your couch and Ben & Jerry or Sam Adams? Did you zone out to the latest CSI or “reality” show? Out of these three, exercise is the best choice. But what do you do when you come home from a horrible 12-hour day and you don’t have any juice left for exercise. Do you have a room, a floor, and 20 minutes? Why not try a little meditation?

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Initially, seekers and gurus used it to get in touch with a spiritual and mystical dimension. Practitioners would meditate, in silence, for days at a time in order to reach a desired state of mind. In modern times, we can’t carve out days to reach a higher spiritual dimension (try asking your boss for a little personal time off to meditate for three to four days), but we don’t have to commit hours and hours to the practice to reap the rewards. Meditation isn’t just for reaching a higher plane. There are proven emotional and physical benefits to practicing it as well.

Benefits of Meditation

According to the folks at the Mayo Clinic we can gain the following emotional benefits:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions

If you feel like you are even keeled most of the time, meditation can help to control some of these chronic conditions:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Heart disease

Famous People Who Meditate

At this point you might be considering meditation as a real prospect to achieving a healthier and happier you, but you still are on the fence. Sitting still and quieting your mind is that beneficial? Well these folks seem to think so, and they are pretty successful. A bunch of celebrities (and high-powered business folks) meditate, and I looked up a list to share with you. Check out who is getting in their daily silence:

  • Sheryl Crow
  • Paul McCartney
  • Katy Perry
  • Jennifer Aniston

Those are just a few who practice meditation. Their names might not surprise you, but these might:

  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Howard Stern
  • (and this one really shocked me) Clint Eastwood!

Getting Started with Meditation

So now that you are convinced that meditation is worth a try, what do you need to start your practice? The best news of all is that you don’t need anything. I have found some great resources online and some terrific podcasts on iTunes. Check out these websites for free guided meditation scripts, music, and mantras:

Check out these podcasts:

Even Pandora has a Meditation station with terrific music to quiet the mind, and to help you find your inner peace.

Meditation often goes hand in hand with yoga, and here's some information about yoga at work.

So go out and find your inner self, quiet the thoughts, and open your mind!

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Topics: relaxation stress relief meditation

Yoga in the Workplace for Employee Health and Productivity

workplace yogaTwenty years ago, would you have ever thought you would be checking out the break-room bulletin board and coming across a yoga class being offered in the office or onsite gym? Chances are it would have been highly unlikely, not to mention overlooked because it did not have the buzz or trendy reputation it does now.

Hopefully, most of us now know that the benefits of yoga practice in a chair, studio, or corporate fitness center go beyond meditation, headstands, flameless candles, thin sticky mats, and soothing music. I have seen yoga become an increasingly positive influence in workplaces all over the country with a melting pot of populations. You might even see children and pets taking advantage of the yoga inspiration.

The interest in increasing productivity and improving employee health has weighed heavily on corporate America. Long hours at a desk, aching back, neck pain, burnout, and emotional discontent are all repetitive stressors corporate employees face each day. Did you know that this, in turn, amounts to less productivity? What is your company doing about it?

Think about this, as an employee: What would you do with an extra 15-minute mandatory stress break built into your day?

Offering free stress-relief options such as yoga is a simple and convenient way to help employees find stress relief in the office. True, it’s up to each individual to start their practice, but I promise once you start you won’t stop. The great thing about yoga at work is that it’s a time to take a break from your desk and relieve stress. It’s convenient, and it feels good!

Chair yoga is becoming popular among executives as a boardroom break; this is a great alternative to unit meetings or exercising at your own desk. That’s the greatest benefit of yoga: it can be done anywhere and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time!

Yoga won’t cure all, nor will it be chosen by all. But it sure has shown to be a great addition to corporate wellness offerings. Many of the yogis tell me they love doing yoga at work because they can practice in a noncompetitive and nonjudgmental atmosphere and experience it with coworkers. Many of the participants enjoy the multiple benefits. After final relaxation, it helps guide them to a calmer state of being as they return to work. It also helps improve core stability and balance, and helps increase total body strength. We try to make sure all energy is left at the door. Each person is focused on their own practice of the day.

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Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work employee health stress productivity yoga stress relief