What’s the best sunscreen to use?

Beach umbrella and blue sky with words 5 Fast Tips about Sunscreens.

Protect yourself for fun in the sun!

Summer weather is here — are you ready to head outside and enjoy the beach, the mountains, or your own backyard? Before you step out into the sunshine, don’t forget to protect your body’s largest organ — your skin!

When you shop for sun care nowadays, you’re faced with a dizzying number of options. How do you sort through them and find the best sunscreens?

  • What’s the difference between Brand A & Brand Z?
  • Do you need SPF 15, SPF 30, or SPF 100?
  • And what about the ingredients: are they safe for kids?

Read on for 5 fast fun tips that will help you pick the best sunscreen.

Tip 1: Make sure you’re getting Broad Spectrum coverage.

You may have heard of UVA and UVB sun rays. An easy way to remember the difference is “UVA aging, UVB burning.” Broad-spectrum sunscreens are designed to protect your skin from both wavelengths.

Dark brown sunglasses sitting on a table under a shady tree.

Although you may not see or feel a burn after a day outdoors, your skin has still been exposed to UVA rays. Glass blocks some UVB rays, but UVA rays pass through – so protect yourself when you’re riding in a vehicle or sitting by a window too!

Remember — UV exposure is cumulative over our lifetime, is a major cause of premature aging & skin damage, and can lead to skin cancer.

Tip 2: Consider using the newer Mineral sunscreens vs. Chemical sunscreens.

Many modern sunscreen formulas are mineral-based. That means they act as a reflective barrier that forms a layer on top of your skin, rather than being absorbed. Most mineral sunscreens are based on titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Bearded man wearing sunglasses and shielding his eyes with left hand.

Chemical sunscreens (e.g., Coppertone) were formerly our only options in the stores. These are absorbed into your skin and may be less effective at blocking UVA rays than their mineral counterparts.

Tip 3: Here’s how to find safer & healthier sunscreen ingredients!

Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization, publishes an annual list of safer sunscreens. They rate their choices for children’s sunscreens, the best sport sunscreens, and more. Here’s a link to their 2022 guide!

Best sunscreen. Mother puts sunscreen on her little girl's chin at the beach. Headline EWG's Guide to Sunscreens.

As we learn more, we can opt for safer products. For example, many studies suggest that oxybenzone may be harmful and cause hormone disruption. Check your sunscreen’s label to see if it is oxybenzone-free.

Although stores stock a lot of spray sunscreens, they’re not recommended because of the possibility of inhaling their particles and the likelihood of inadequate coverage. Spraying the product into your hand, and then applying it with your fingers, can give you more control over where it goes.

Tip 4: Remember to reapply!

OK, you’ve found your favorite sunscreen and you’re heading out for the day. If you’re using a mineral sunscreen, it’s effective as soon as you apply it. With chemical sunscreens, allow yourself 10 minutes between applying it and exposing yourself to the sun. That gives the product time to absorb into your skin.

blue and white clock face with shadow going off to the left.

And remember to reapply your sunscreen every 2 hours! Or more often, if you’re swimming, exercising, or sweating. Water-resistant formulas will wear off, also.

Although SPF 100 products are available, many dermatologists say that it’s best to use an SPF 30 and frequently reapply it.

Higher SPFs may not actually live up to their hype, and they may be misleading. The American Academy of Dermatology says, “A high-number SPF does not allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication.”

Tip 5: And the best sunscreen is,

When all is said & done, the best sunscreen is – the one you and your family consistently remember to use every day… all year-’round!

As the Skin Cancer Foundation says, “The happier you are with your sunscreen, the more consistently you’ll use it.” 🙂

1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. Five people with varied skin tones and headline Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

I hope you get to enjoy some time outdoors this summer, whether you’re taking a vacation or a staycation! Because I work with many clients who have been affected by cancer, and because of my own history with melanoma, I want to help spread awareness about skin cancer prevention.

Here’s an excellent resource on skin cancer, if you’d like to learn more.

And just for fun, here’s a little haiku that I composed in honor of Skin Cancer Prevention Awareness:

Slip! Slap! Slop! Sunscreen!
Even when it is cloudy.
Love your skin; be safe!

4 Ideas to Help Insomnia

Man yawning, read for ideas to help insomnia

Got insomnia?

Did you know that March is National Sleep Awareness Month? And this month is fun for several reasons. You have your choice of picking your March Madness basketball bracket, celebrating the luck o’ the Irish with green-tinted beer, or walking around wearily from a confused circadian rhythm… wait, that’s not fun! We need some healthy ideas to help insomnia.

Spring “officially” begins this month, so everyone is feeling happy to shake off our winter doldrums and see the light at the end of the tunnel. The good news: Hampton Roads is reveling in the brilliance of yellow daffodils (and we’ve had a few days that you could leave your coat behind!)

But then, the arrival of Daylight Savings Time has robbed us of a precious hour of rest, and our sleep cycles may be all out-of-whack at the moment.

And not only that, but sleep issues aren’t just a seasonal problem. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that over 70 million Americans suffer from short-term (a few days) or long-term (more than a month) patterns of insomnia. 

Why can’t I get to sleep?

Most cases of chronic insomnia are secondary, which means they are resulting from some other problem, such as:

  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Not to mention all the ways that the COVID pandemic has interfered with our sleep habits. The National Sleep Foundation has learned from their recent studies that “On one hand, Americans have been able to achieve longer sleep time, perhaps reflecting pandemic-related changes in schedule and lifestyle. On the other, sleep quality has worsened in what for many has been a challenging health, social, and economic environment.”

So, what can I do to help my insomnia?

You may be familiar with some common sleep hygiene tips: avoiding caffeine, using room-darkening shades, and going to bed at the same time every night. Here are a few other ideas to help your insomnia that aren’t as well known.

Nap properly.

Taking a nap during the day can be great for productivity, give you some needed energy and help improve your mood, but you’ve got to plan naps carefully!

Here’s some napping advice from the folks at the Sleep Foundation: Aim for a power nap of 20 to 25 minutes. With that short timeframe, you will wake back up without entering into the deep, slow-wave sleep stage.

Otherwise, you might feel groggy (sleep inertia), and you risk not being able to fall asleep when it’s bedtime.

Be mindful of the temperature.

Try this: take a warm (not hot) shower or bath about an hour before bedtime, and keep your room cool at night. The Sleep Foundation recommends 60 to 67 degrees as the best sleeping environment. The drop in body temperature, from a warm bath to a cool room, is believed to be sleep-inducing.

Turn off the electronics.

OK, this is a challenging suggestion! But more and more, the sleep experts are recommending that we “unplug” before we retire for the night. Even with blue-light filters on our screens, our devices are interfering with our circadian rhythms.

Retro black alarm clock, good for ideas to help insomnia.

Try this: get an old-fashioned alarm clock so you don’t need to use your phone. Turn off your phone, iPad, or Kindle, and put the devices in another room. Yes, a whole other room. (We may think that a phone on silent, hanging out on the nightstand, won’t disturb our rest, but it will. It’s far too tempting to reach over and just check a few emails if you wake up in the middle of the night.)

Get a massage.

Yeppers! Massage can help you if you’re having trouble sleeping. The American Massage Therapy Association has shared several studies that support the sleep-related benefits of massage. And health experts often cite massage therapy on their list of ideas to help insomnia.

Massage therapy can especially aid in a better night’s sleep if you’re dealing with issues like these:

  • Anxiety
  • Pregnancy

Massage appointments available to help you get more sleep!

Contact me today to schedule your next massage! Together we’ll make a plan that could help to mitigate your insomnia!

Should I use heat or ice?

should i use heat or ice? Gnome skiing and wearing warm hat.

“Is it better for me to use heat or ice for this muscle?” I hear this question frequently from massage therapy clients, and I wish it was easy to answer.

For years the loose guidance has been “ice for immediate injury, heat for achiness and improved mobility.” You’ve probably heard of the RICE acronym (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).

So… ice, ice, baby?

In 1978 Dr. Gabe Mirkin created the acronym and included ‘RICE’ in his sports medicine book as a treatment for soft tissue injuries. The idea was to reduce inflammation that can increase pain and slow down healing. It was logical — and it seemed to work — so the sports world adopted this practice, and medicine soon followed suit. I remember being taught about RICE in massage school, also.

Since then, Dr. Mirkin has reversed his support for the RICE method, based on a large number of studies that have shown mediocre results (or no particular benefits of RICE at all). And we now know that swelling & inflammation are not the same, and they don’t necessarily correlate to healing time.

Hmm… if the RICE protocol is out the window, should I use heat or ice?

First and foremost, do what is comfortable for you. If you hate being chilly, ice is a terrible idea. If you are always warm & uncomfortable, a giant heating pad is probably not appealing to you.

Next, consider what ice or heat does overall. For many people ice (or just cold) can kick up the nervous system and make the body feel like it’s in danger. Whereas heat, especially in the form of a weighted heating pad, can be really calming and relaxing to the whole body.

With all that in mind, here is my general view on Heat versus Ice:

If you have seen a physician, physical therapist, or any kind of medical provider for your symptoms, follow their advice. If their recommendation feels uncomfortable or if you feel like it makes your symptoms worse, reach out to them for more guidance.

If you’re opting for a DIY route to care for a minor injury, I suggest applying ice as soon as you get the chance. If you were doing something strenuous and can feel a tender spot, and the area looks a little puffy, go for the cold. Use ice for 20 minutes once an hour or so, and see if your symptoms improve or change.

And be sure to use a towel or some other protective barrier between your skin and the ice or cold pack. That’s because you can accidentally develop frostbite if a cold pack is left directly on your skin for a long time! I observed that with someone who was using ice at home several years ago. Less is more.

(A personal hydrotherapy anecdote: my friends used to live in a huge home in P-town. One night, I gracefully slipped on some backyard pavers, slid into their lily pond, and broke a toe. They were having a birthday party and had run out of ice, so I sat on the edge of the swimming pool and soaked my foot in the water. The moral of the story: If you don’t have an ice pack, a package of frozen peas or corn can substitute. If there are no veggies to be found in the freezer, any old port in a storm – like my swimming pool improvisation.)

I’ve also found applying a cold washcloth on the head or face to be beneficial if you have a headache. If you’re experiencing sinus pain, that may also help. If you frequently get these headaches, remind me the next time you come into the office for an appointment, and I can show you some sinus acupressure points that you can self-massage.

The heat is on

For tense muscles, general or deep achiness, or feeling straight-up “tight,” I like to use heat. Possibly heat with some weight behind it. I’ve found it to be calming to the whole body and demonstrably helpful in encouraging everything to ‘unclench’.

In this article from the Cleveland Clinic, they advise against using heat for acute injuries, gout, or tendinitis. If you have areas with reduced sensation (such as neuropathy in your feet or hands), they recommend caution.

Tension headaches are often relieved with heat to the shoulders and neck. But for migraine sufferers, use whatever option – hot or cold — feels best for you.

When you come into my office for your massages, we have a couple of options for using heat. My table has a cozy fleece warming pad on it, which we can employ during your entire session, or just a portion of the time. And I have a special towel-warmer, too. Many clients love having a warm towel applied to their back or feet.

Let’s make a plan

Just as your “best massage” is the massage that’s most helpful for you, customized for your goals and your health situation – “Should I use heat or ice?” — ultimately the choice is, what feels best to you!

So, let me know if you have questions about massage therapy and how it can support your health and well-being. Together, we can plan your session so that massage is an enjoyable solution for you. Check my schedule online here and you can book your next massage!

“New year — new you”?

new year - new you? track with 2022 fading into horizon

Got resolutions?

Welcome to 2022! Time to make resolutions and goals for a new year — new you?

Is there any season more obsessed with pressuring us to make radical health resolves, than the dawning of the new calendar page? Even the “beach body” ads that fill Facebook in April or May don’t reach the same level of hype as New Year’s Resolutions.

Every time you turn the corner (or every time your streaming movie is interrupted by a commercial break), somebody is trying to get you to buy a class, a supplement, a shake, a piece of equipment, a diet, a lifestyle! It can be exhausting just trying to figure out what’s bonafide and what’s bogus.

It’s perfectly normal to feel motivated by a fresh start in January (or to ditch the resolutions this year!) But here’s a little guidance on whether you’ll decide to plunk down your hard-earned cash in response to the call to sign up for that shiny New Year’s health habit.

Do they claim you’ll get quick fixes?

If whatever you’re thinking of trying swears you’ll get the desired result in no time at all, you can be pretty sure you’re entering into scam territory. (This FDA site has some interesting examples.)

After all, the human body is based on homeostasis. (That term comes from the Greek words for “same” and “steady,” and we’re talking about stability and equilibrium in your physiological processes.) Our bodies surely can change, and they certainly do, but most of those changes occur over time.

Most events that create fast changes in the body (like surgery) require a physician to administer them; products and regimes can be dangerous for your body if not used carefully. If you’ve been out of shape for five years, don’t expect to get back in shape in five weeks. That’s just not how our bodies work, unfortunately.

Are they promising a panacea or cure-all?

There are diets that can help you lose weight. There are exercise routines that can help you gain muscle and strength. There are massages that can help you relax and manage your stress levels. 🙂

But if someone is selling One Amazing New Thing that will evaporate extra pounds, increase your happiness, straighten your posture, whiten your teeth, cure your condition, and improve your social life? Sadly enough, magic bullets still don’t exist.

No, that essential oil will not prevent a pandemic infection, but it does smell nice and could help improve your mood if you enjoy using it in your home. Don’t fall prey to the internet’s exaggerated claims.

Does the advertiser push conspiracy theories for marketing?

If a product’s main selling point is that “doctors hate it” or “___ doesn’t want you to know about this,” or if their main message comes from dubious testimonials touting miraculous results – we can tell already that it’s probably not trustworthy.

After all, you and your physician (also your dentist, your massage therapist, your counselor, your personal trainer, your yogi, your wellness coach, your nutritionist. . .) are part of your health and wellness team. If any one of them refuses to be a team player and disparages the value of your other wellness team members, they’re not doing what’s best for you.

It’s not true that your health care providers are keeping some secrets under wraps – they want to help you make progress toward your health goals with options that actually work, not fads or schemes.

Does the product or program fit your life, your budget, and your goals? Does it offer you realistic expectations?

If yes, then this investment may be something worth looking into, whether it’s a gym membership, a cookbook of heart-healthy meals, or a habit-tracking app.

Ultimately, we try things out and see how they work for us over the long haul. Not everything will be a perfect fit, but at least we can weed out some of the resolutionist marketing malarkey and move forward with our best efforts into the new year.

I’d love to help you lower your stress, anxiety, and muscle tension as a member of your wellness team in 2022! Please contact me for your appointment. You can book a massage online right here.

25 Local Gift Ideas (no container-ship-surfing required!)

wrapped gift in box with ribbon

Have you seen the Facebook memes with desperate shoppers jet-skiing out to a container ship, looking for their holiday gifts?

Never mind that… here are 25+ local suggestions for your holiday gift-giving. They’re all found right here in Hampton Roads, and you won’t have to worry about any shipping delays!

Adventures & Sports

The Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium – climb & zip-line through the trees!

iFLY Virginia Beach – give the gift of indoor skydiving! It’s safe & fun for all ages.

Norfolk Tides – root for the home team in the summer of 2022! Season tickets or multi-game packages now available.

Escape Room – gather your friends and work together to solve a fun puzzle in one of their themed rooms!

Crafts & Creativity

Perry Glass Studio at the Chrysler Museum – try your hand at a glassblowing workshop!

All Hands Pottery Studio – when you’ve always wanted to try a potter’s wheel! Owned by a Navy veteran, they offer classes & studio time.

Fabric Hut – “where friends and fabric meet.” For anyone who enjoys sewing, or would like to learn! They offer classes and sell gift cards. Amazing selection. This is where I got the batik fabric for my folding screen 🙂

Sarah’s Thimble – lovely quilting supplies, and popular classes!

Cottage LunaSea – they frequently offer classes! Stop by Jennifer’s shop & find beautiful, inspiring local art.

The Muse Writers Center – fun writing classes for young & old, all levels of experience! Check out the variety of programs offered by the folks at this Norfolk nonprofit.

Tours & Getaways

Norfolk Botanical Garden – acres of beautiful gardens, kids’ activities, and educational programs for all ages. Open year ‘round.

Rudee Tours – go dolphin watching, whale watching, & more!

Virginia State Parks – get outside with a gift certificate or an annual pass!

Ride the ROX – your group can charter a private coach, choose your destination, and travel in style!

Spirit of Norfolk – enjoy fine food & entertainment onboard a yacht!

Colonial Williamsburg – they have many options for tickets & passes! History comes alive.

Amtrak – all aboard! Purchase gift cards for train travel here. Escape along the east coast, or cross-country.

All the Animals

Catnip Cat Cafe – hang out with adoptable kitties; you may find the purrfect furever friend!

The Virginia Aquarium – individual or family memberships offered. Lots of hands-on exhibits!

Pawsnickety Pets – grab an e-gift card for this pawsome local shop, filled with all-natural pet foods, treats & supplies!

The Virginia Living Museum – memberships available! “The more they use [this gift], the better it gets!”

Virginia Zoo – memberships are a great gift; enjoy visiting your favorite animals all year long!

Everything Else

Concerts at the Sandler Center – check out the upcoming events. Beautiful venue for concerts, plays, and all genres of music.

Mambo Room – Holiday specials on gift certificates for dance instruction, event rentals, & more!

The Royal Chocolate – amazing local chocolatier in Virginia Beach Town Center. Wonderful gifts… for others and yourself!

Concrete Creations – not only do they have everything for your garden, but they also have a fun gift shop!

Family Fun Xperience — check out the live, interactive, family-friendly shows & games at this Oceanfront theatre. Open year ’round!

And, of course, Massage Gift Certificates are a great idea!

Quiet Strength Massage Therapy gift certificates are always available online, right here. If you have any questions, just let me know and I’m glad to help you.

Buy Gift Certificates

Helping My Clients Cope with Anxiety & Stress from Cancer

woman wearing hat. she may have anxiety & stress from cancer treatment.

When you are going through a course of cancer treatment, many people find that their stress and anxiety levels can go up exponentially.

You may be experiencing some or all of these things:

  • Physical symptoms such as back pain, tight shoulders, or headaches that feel connected to your stress
  • Emotional symptoms such as depression, feeling on edge, or worrying about what comes next
  • A feeling that doctor’s appointments, treatments, & cancer have taken over your calendar

Anxiety can cause tension in your body when you’re going through cancer treatment

Whether you have received massage therapy in the past, or you’re new to massage, I would love to help you. Therapeutic massage can be one way to ease your anxiety, stress, and tense emotions that manifest in your body as side effects of going through cancer.

When you come in for a session, some clients have said that it feels like a respite, a “vacation from cancer.” You can look forward to a calm, peaceful environment where you can rest, relax with music, and get some help with whatever muscle tension you have.

Massage therapy and cancer

Frequently people will ask, “What’s the difference between regular massage and oncology massage?” And one of the main differences is this: we will talk about your cancer treatment, and how it is specifically affecting you. I can make adjustments to ensure that you feel better after your massage session, and not worse.

Even if you’ve finished active treatment, it’s a good idea to let your massage therapist know about your diagnosis. We’ll talk about ways to modify your massage so that it’s the best it can be for you. For example, if you’ve had any lymph nodes removed or treated with radiation, that is important to tell me.

Where can you find the best massage for cancer patients?

As a member of the Society for Oncology Massage, I’ve taken some great continuing-education classes about how to provide a safe massage for someone who is experiencing cancer treatment (or who has a history of cancer).

What is the best massage for cancer patients? Linda Boyer is a Preferred Practitioner with the Society for Oncology Massage.

20 years ago, when I was in massage school, we were taught that you couldn’t work with cancer patients at all. Some thought that massage would spread the cancer. But — thankfully — we are learning more & more that this belief was not justified by scientific evidence.

There’s a growing body of research that supports massage and other complementary therapies as a way to help ease anxiety and stress – including the anxiety that’s frequently experienced by someone with cancer!

Just Added: Cancer Support Resources

Here’s a list of more than 90 resources about cancer, related health topics, different treatments, emotional support, and financial information. They could also be helpful to you, your family, or your caregivers. Some of them are local in Hampton Roads, and some of them are national organizations.

What you can expect from your massage

Some of the ways that I will tailor your massage to reassure you if you’re going through stress and feeling anxious:

  • You can ask any questions that you have; before, during, or after your appointment. I’ve worked with many clients over the years who had not had a massage before. No need to be embarrassed if you don’t know what to expect! I’m glad to help you feel welcome.
  • I want you to feel heard, understood, and empathized with. This massage session is about you and what your needs are, but I can relate to some of your experience on a personal level. I have gone through cancer treatment too, and you can ask me about that if it would help you at all.
  • When a client comes in, I do my best to provide a calm, peaceful therapeutic atmosphere and a supportive presence. I’m not chatty by nature – if talking helps you to settle in and relax, you certainly can do so – but you don’t have to worry about keeping up a conversation during your massage.
  • Again, please feel welcome at all times to ask any questions you have about massage for cancer patients and the ways that your treatment is affecting you. And please let me know in the moment if changing something would help you feel better and more relaxed.
  • The speed of your massage, the pressure, what areas of your body we focus on, the direction of massage strokes, accommodations for any medical devices you have – these are all examples of some of the factors I’ll take into consideration to help you the most.

Massage and cancer

Be assured that even while going through a cancer diagnosis, you can still get a massage and feel benefits from it. You’ll be best served by a therapist who has taken oncology training, so that they’re prepared to know what adjustments are appropriate for you.

By all means, I want you to have a positive experience when you come to my office. I certainly don’t know everything, but I want my clients to feel confident about working together. It’s a privilege to assist you in reducing your anxiety & stress from cancer.

Quiet Strength is a supportive environment for you

If you have any questions about oncology massage, or would like to book an appointment, please contact me today!

Will Massage Help Me with My Pain?

Massage for cancer patients working with client's leg

Helping people to feel better, to move more easily, and to lower their stress & anxiety is what Quiet Strength Massage Therapy is all about. And some of my clients say that they’ve been experiencing tension and soreness for years. So, is massage therapy a helpful option for mitigating your muscle & joint pain?

When a client gets up from the massage table and tells me that their headache is gone, or their shoulders are loosened up, or their back feels so much better than when they walked in – that’s the best news of the day!

What do we really know about pain?

Pain is one of those “you know it when you feel it” sensations. But it’s also a curious phenomenon, when you think about it.

A snowball is cold, and so it feels cold when you touch it. A block of concrete is rough, so it feels rough when you touch it. But a knife isn’t painful on its own. Neither is a pot of boiling water or the leg of a table. We handle these things safely all the time, and experience their mass and temperature and texture.

But pain is a sensation in the body – specifically, in our minds. So what is happening when we feel pain?

How does pain work?

There are three primary types of pain, and each of them works a slightly different way.

Nociceptive pain (tissue pain)

There are many different kinds of sense receptors in the body. Some are sensitive to heat or cold… some, to touch or pressure. Others, called free nerve endings, aren’t specialized for any one type of stimulus. When a significant stimulus triggers these nerve endings, they send a message through the spinal cord and up to the brain. The brain then decides (without conscious thought) whether this is something to ignore, or if damage has occurred. Then your brain returns a message to the affected part of your body.

If the message is “No biggie, ‘tis but a scratch,” then you’ll most likely shake yourself off and forget the incident even happened. If it’s “Whoa! This feels like a problem,” then you experience this as pain.

This can be useful! Pain can alert us to a small problem before it progresses to a major disruption. Pain stops us from trying to walk on a sprained ankle, holding our marshmallow fork too close to a campfire, or going for a run when we have a fever.

Neuropathic pain (nerve pain)

This is pain that results from an issue with the nervous system itself, rather than surrounding tissues. If you’ve ever bumped your funny bone into a doorframe, you know all about that. Common forms of neuropathic pain include:

Some less common forms of neuropathic pain include phantom limb pain (which feels like it originates in an amputated limb) and postherpetic neuralgia (which can be a result of a shingles infection).

Neuropathic pain can be a frustrating experience. That’s because the normal things we do to reduce soreness are frequently ineffective at mitigating pain which originates in the nervous system. Rest/movement, or applying ice/heat, may have little impact on nerve pain.

What’s more, nerves may not heal as well as muscles and skin do, which can cause nerve pain to become chronic.

Other pain. (Yeah, we need a better name for that category)

Pain is messy, and a lot of it doesn’t fit either of the two categories above. Fibromyalgia is a common example.

Is fibromyalgia pain resulting from tissue damage? Nope. What about nerve damage? Not as far as we can tell. It’s caused by the nervous system malfunctioning, and can be debilitating, but may not present with nerve damage. And the world of medicine is still trying to figure out why.

So how do we alleviate pain?

There are several different options.

  • If the painful sensation is caused by some kind of physical injury or stimulus, you can respond.
    If your hand is being burned on a lightbulb, you’ll instinctively let go. If you’re experiencing a muscle cramp in your foot, you can flex the foot (manually, if necessary).

    If you’re experiencing tension from sitting in the same position for too long, you can move around and shake it out. If the cause of your discomfort is inflammation, anti-inflammatories and ice may be helpful.
  • You can block the messages that tell your brain you’re in pain. This is how many medications work. Ice can also numb nerve endings.
  • You can convince your brain that you’re not in any real danger. This is a tough one, because the brain doesn’t just listen when you tell it things. But it’s well documented that fear, stress, or anxiety can lead to increased pain perception. And that adds to your stress, which in turn can give you muscle tension.

    General relaxation techniques (such as meditation/mindfulness, exercise, or getting a massage) can help to shift your nervous system’s pain alarms down a notch. Physical therapy, yoga, or mental health counseling can also be beneficial.

How will massage help me with my pain?

Sometimes chronic or acute tension is something that massage can help you to manage on a physical level. But even more often, massage gives your brain a chance to let down its guard and your muscles can feel something non-painful and even pleasant.

And while there’s no silver bullet for soreness or discomfort, my clients say that getting a massage definitely benefits them!

So, contact me today and schedule a massage that is customized to help you feel better.

To Help Keep You Safer…

Here are some of my COVID-19 Commitments & Policies & Protocols!

Are you looking for a vaccinated massage therapist?

If you’re medically vulnerable, I’m doing my best to remain vigilant and covid-conscious.

I am a solo practitioner located in Virginia Beach, and I’m delighted to be open for massage appointments again. Because our situation is ever-evolving, I’m doing my best to keep up with the latest info.

Based on advice from medical professionals and lots of input from some of my amazing massage therapist colleagues, here are some ways that I’m working to keep you safer when you come in for a massage.


I’m fully vaccinated, and had a booster shot in May 2022.

I’m scheduling massages with clients who are currently vaccinated.

If you are unable to receive the COVID vaccine because of medical advice from your doctor, please contact me to discuss options.

Since the vaccine is widely available: If you’re choosing not to get the shot and that decision is for a reason other than your doctor’s advice, I’m sorry but unfortunately I’m not the right massage therapist for you at this time.

I’m (really, honestly, sincerely) not making any political statements, but I believe that vaccination is necessary to protect our community. I have health risk factors, and so do many of the people I spend time with.

Thank you for your consideration!

Mask policy

Masks are required while you’re in the office. Masks must be worn over your nose and mouth, and should be well-fitting. KN95, N95, or N94 masks preferred. I will be wearing a KN95 mask to protect you.

HEPA filter

There’s a True HEPA air purifier running next to my massage table, the entire time you’re here. It’s filtering the air in the office 5 times an hour, and is rated for filtering 99.97% of particles as fine as 0.3 microns.


I have this trustworthy name-brand hand sanitizer available for your use. Clients and I will also wash our hands in the nearby restrooms before the massage begins.

Contact-free payment options

You can pay for your massage session with a credit card. Like many other small business owners, I have a Square reader that accepts all sorts of credit/debit cards. You can tap the reader if your chip card has that capability.

covid safety measures | vaccinated massage therapist


Protex is a hospital-grade disinfectant that I use in my office. Between clients, the massage table, face rest, any massage products & equipment that I’ve used, furniture surfaces, and door handles get wiped down.

Although our most recent information suggests that we’re less likely to catch COVID-19 from touching a surface — it’s mainly spread through airborne aerosols — I just feel better about cleaning with a product that’s effective against the coronavirus.

Commitments and Agreements

If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have potentially been exposed to someone who has the virus within the past 10 days, please contact me to reschedule your appointment right away.

And if someone in your household is having COVID symptoms or has been exposed, please contact me to reschedule your massage.

Likewise, if I’m not feeling well or find out that I’ve been exposed, I will reschedule your massage.

I’m still limiting my in-person activities, and have decided that curbside pickup at Aldi’s and Target is pretty awesome 🙂

Before your appointment, I have a COVID information form that you’ll need to fill out online.

Even with increased sanitation protocols and preventative efforts, massage therapy involves close proximity in an enclosed space for an extended period of time. Therefore, massage therapy may include an elevated risk of infection, including COVID-19. The precautions I’m taking can reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19, though they cannot eliminate all risk. Please consider your comfort level with the risks and the benefits of receiving massage during the pandemic.

I’ve heard that many people are concerned about finding a vaccinated massage therapist, so I wanted to be transparent with you about my own vaccination.

Please let me know what questions you have about these protocols, and anything else I can do to help you feel confident about booking a massage appointment!

Q: Aren’t these policies more strict than the governor’s rules/what other therapists are doing/what the CDC said?

A: Maybe.

Q: Aren’t you just giving in to fear?

A: No.

Q: Are you looking forward to seeing your clients again?

A: Definitely!!

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Leap Day, Emotional Health, & a Bucket List

Suitcase with travel stickers and a starburst background

Disclaimer: This post isn’t actually about massage therapy, or physical health. At least not directly. I’m not a counselor and am offering general wisdom about self-care.

But emotional health certainly is part of a holistic health viewpoint. Therefore… I had some thoughts that I wanted to offer for your consideration… so, read on!

This February calendar has an unusual feature: a 29th day. What are you going to do with your bonus 24 hours (or 366th day of the year)? 

In between your regular Saturday routine activities this Leap Day, you could take some time out for some self-care. (We’ll roll that over, of course, if you’re perusing this post in March.) No deadlines, whatever self-care looks like for you.

Do you have a bucket list? Mine has frequently been forgotten, stuck in a drawer. Take your list out this weekend, and see what you might be able to check off during 2020.

Adventure is Out There!

If you’ve watched the Pixar film Up, you may recall Carl’s childhood hero and his catchphrase. “Adventure is out there!” he would proclaim. And even though Carl had shut himself off, he gradually opens his heart to new friendships and a whole new life of adventures. What a beautiful story (and pass the box of tissues!) What is your dream of adventure? Stay with me, and read on:

Keeping It Simple

Bucket lists don’t have to be, well, 20-gallon buckets. What I mean by that is, small adventures & small actions of self-care, are at least as important as checking major goals off your list. And maybe even more important in the long run!

Small actions are easier to fit into your day-to-day schedule. 

And they require less of a commitment, if you’re testing something out. That’s the beauty of accepting a trial membership at a new gym, attending a one-day craft workshop, or perusing sample chapters of a book to see if you want to read the series. 

Mini-adventures, such as day tripping to a nearby city you’ve never visited; streaming some music that’s way different from what you normally listen to; or meeting a friend at a new coffee shop, can still feel like a good break in your routine. 

No Worries

Everything on your bucket list doesn’t have to be monumental. And you don’t have to defend or apologize if you change your mind about wanting to do something. Also, there are no rules about the length of your list. 10 items? 25 of ‘em? 100? Or maybe just three.

Just consider what encourages you and what would give you a fresh outlook, a new memory, a spring in your step. Keepin’ it simple can create new momentum, too.

As I stated, we’re not going to set a lot of rules.

But here are Three Bucket-List Guidelines:

  • Make sure you have some items on your list that are small & simple.
  • Make sure to include activities that are fun or joyful for you.
  • The items on your list should be meaningful to you and maybe others.

photo collage from road trip

Epilogue: my recent adventure

In December, I took a weekend road trip! 

  • I drove up the scenic Eastern Shore through Maryland and Delaware
  • Stayed at an AirBnb (first time doing that) which was on a horse farm
  • Went to a concert with one of my favorite singer/songwriters (Jeffrey Gaines), in a tiny performance venue which was pretty awesome
  • Checked out a historic small town with cool shops and bookstores
  • Learned about this town’s history and involvement with the Underground Railroad
  • Shopped at ACME in Delaware (although no coyotes or road runners were to be found)
  • Visited my good friend from massage school, who has moved to Maryland.

Your turn! What will you check off your bucket list & add to your self-care plans? 


FAQ: “How often should I get a massage?”

massage therapist working on male client shoulder

Many clients have wondered… how often is it OK to get a massage? While there’s no one answer to this question, we can look at it from a few different angles.

Sure, it feels great to pop in and see your massage therapist every now & then. I’m always glad to hear from clients who I haven’t seen in a while. Besides that, “no worries” if you’ve been busy or just haven’t had the chance to get on the schedule. (My goal is to help you with your stress level, not add more to it!)

Goodness knows, we all tend to put self-care on the back burner when life demands so much from us. However, have you considered the value of regular, monthly massage appointments?

Besides the emotional boost of having that “me time” reserved on your calendar, you can actually start to see some physiological effects of regular massages as well.  Here are a few short-term (& long-term) health benefits you may discover when you make that goal of getting a massage on a monthly basis.

Lowered Anxiety & Stress Levels

Even after your first massage, you will start to notice that you feel more relaxed, which can be a major plus if you suffer from stress or anxiety.

After all, when our bodies experience stress, we tend to tense up our muscles, which leaves you feeling fatigued & sore. I’ve especially noticed this with my clients who work at a computer all day! But a massage session is tailor-made to loosen your tight neck & shoulders.

Help with Cancer Treatment Side Effects

With clients who are going through chemotherapy, radiation or other treatments… Oncology massage can give you some relief from side effects such as pain, nausea, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.

To that end, I’ve taken some specialized training to learn how to adapt your massage sessions so that they will be safe & helpful.

And if you’re out of active treatment, but you’re continuing to experience side effects… a massage can address those issues that you have. It’s in your best interests to work with a massage therapist who has taken advanced classes in OMT.

Reduced Chronic Back Pain

If you are suffering from the debilitating problems associated with chronic back pain, you know how much it can cut into your daily routine and leave you feeling frustrated, in addition to the muscular pain you’re already experiencing.

A Seattle study found that after 10 weeks of regular massage, people experiencing chronic back pain felt less discomfort, and even needed fewer painkillers to manage their symptoms.

Help with Insomnia

Massages can increase your serotonin level, which aids in your ability to fall asleep & stay asleep. Unlike other sleep aids which can be harmful or addictive, you’ll experience no negative side effects from a massage!

Reduced Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Some clients have experienced benefits like these which have improved their quality of life! After receiving massage therapy consistently, some fibromyalgia patients have reported:

  • Better sleep (especially after sessions that are later in the day)
  • Improved muscle strength and function
  • Improved mental clarity (as a result of lowered stress)
  • Headache relief
  • Decreased stress and anxiety

Focus for ADHD

Studies have suggested that massage could be helpful in increasing focus and decreasing the stress and anxiety that can accompany ADHD, especially in children.

Lowered Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can leave you at risk for stroke & other major health complications, but studies support that regular massages could benefit your BP numbers. That comes from massage therapy’s potential to help you lower your stress.

(Important Note: It’s crucial that you continue to take your prescribed blood pressure medications, and consult your physician regularly with any concerns you have.)

Additional Health Benefits

Research in the use of massage therapy is steadily growing. I like to steer clear of massage myths or absolute claims, but one thing that I’ve noted over the course of my practice: a majority of clients who make that commitment to their health and self-care, tell me that they have seen benefits for their happiness and emotional well-being!

So, “How often should I get a massage?” Why not make a monthly appointment, to start, and see how you feel from there. Let me know if there’s a day of the week that works best for you! Check available appointment times here, and look forward to your next massage!