Showing posts with label Amy Grutzmacher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amy Grutzmacher. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Why Do Massage Therapists Always Tell Me to Drink Water?

By Amy Grutzmacher, LMT
Licensed Massage Therapist

As a rule of thumb, it’s good to remember that drinking water in general encourages proper hydration which will help the kidneys and other organs process the various substances that move through the human body regularly.

Drinking water before a massage is recommended because a hydrated, soft muscle is easier to manipulate then a dehydrated, rigid one. Picture one of your muscles as a sponge. A dried up sponge is hard and rigid but once it’s submerged in water, it becomes supple. Our muscles also soak up water like a sponge and become more pliable with hydration.

It’s beneficial to drink water after your massage because as the massage therapist manipulates your muscles, substances are released. Drinking water post massage helps the body flush out any accumulated materials that were released during the massage. This is especially pertinent in deep tissue and therapeutic massage as massage stimulates circulation in the body while expressing water, salt and other minerals from the muscles. Circulation is designed to carry away waste materials. You can help sweep away these waste materials by drinking water.

Massage can be dehydrating. The manipulation of muscles can deplete them of water. By drinking water, you can rehydrate your muscles for the same reason you’d drink water after exercise and other forms of exertion because when the muscles are worked, they can lose water and electrolytes.

So, it is true you should drink water before and after massage because your body is using water at a faster rate, but the key is to be drinking enough water every day. Water is vital for every function that occurs in the body and necessary to maintain healthy, hydrated muscle tissue.

Visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or call 732-263-7999 to learn more about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine and our Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Five Ways Your Daily Routine Could Be Causing Your Lower Back Pain

By Amy Grutzmacher
Licensed Massage Therapist

Ah, low back pain. It’s so common. About 31 million Americans suffer from pain in their lower backs at any given time.

We know the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to prevent pain. But what if you’re a healthy, active adult and that backache still won’t go away?

Though your lower back pain may feel permanent, there’s a good chance your pain is likely a symptom of something else going on in your body. If you can find the underlying cause of the pain, you might be able to stop it for good.

Examine your daily routine to see if one of these five habits is contributing to your back pain and learn how you can fix it.

1. You Work From Home. 
Working from home can definitely be great! The problems arise when working from home really means working from the couch or worse yet, from bed. Both provide little support for your neck and back. It can be tempting to work on the sofa or lying in bed but this could be doing damage to your back muscles. By making a few simple improvements to your work station, you’ll be able to embrace the benefits of flexible working without the risk of back and neck problems.

Fix it: The key is to sit at a table, on a chair. Take regular breaks, walk around while on the phone and use your home to your advantage by adding in stretches whenever you can. Set the alarm on your cell phone and every hour, get up and do some quick shoulder rolls. Roll your shoulders back to counteract the forward shoulder position from sitting and looking at the computer.

2. You Sit Too Much. 
Our bodies are not meant to be continually hunched over and in a seated position. For any muscle to work effectively, it needs to contract and expand. Sitting too much leaves us in one forward motion, resulting in our back muscles arched forward. That’s where the lower back pain comes in.

Fix it: Counteract the motion of sitting by lying with your back on an exercise ball with your arms stretched out wide or stretch over a pile of pillows. Do this on your lunch break or at home after a long day. You can also try using an exercise ball as your desk chair. There are special frames for purchase that turn your ball into a chair. This can improve the strength of your core and in turn, improve your posture.

3. You’re Using the Wrong Pillow or No Pillow At All. 
To prevent back pain, you want your head and neck to relax. The ideal pillow position is when your head is lower than your neck. A 2016 study found that pillow height elevation significantly increased pressure on the head and neck and influenced the contracture of back muscles leading to pain and poor sleep.

Fix it: If you typically sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees to help recreate the normal curvature of your back. Side sleepers, draw your legs up toward your chest and place a pillow between your knees to level out the hips. Avoid sleeping on your stomach if possible. By sleeping on your stomach, you’re increasing the arch to your lower back and the strain on this region.

4. You’re Skipping Exercise. 
You don’t have to engage in high-intensity training to help your back. A simple brisk walk can do great things! Exercise may reduce your risk of prolonged back pain. Studies have found that exercise can reduce back pain intensity by 10 to 50%.

Fix it: Go for a walk. Also try incorporating back and core strengthening exercises into your routine. A strong core assists the low back with the work of supporting the body. Start with crunches, planks, and side planks starting with 10 reps of each three times a week.

5. You’re Stressed Out. 
Stress is one of the top contenders that could contribute to back pain. Many studies have looked at the effect emotions have on pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can effectively improve back pain symptoms.

Fix it: Evaluate your stress level and start incorporating relaxation into your daily life. One way to do so this is through gentle yoga which can increase relaxation and decrease tension through meditation and gentle stretching.

To learn more about optimizing your health & well-being, visit our website at HackensackMeridianHealth.org/IntegrativeMedicine or give us a call to schedule a massage or appointment with one of our other practitioners at 732-994-7855.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Winter Is Coming!

By Amy Grutzmacher
Licensed Massage Therapist

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan or beach enthusiast like me, then there’s a chance the phrase, “Winter Is Coming!” sparks some feelings of apprehension and unease. As autumn fades and we settle into December, it’s not uncommon for our energy levels to decrease, we tend to eat more and exercise less, our joints stiffen and our skin dries out. No wonder why many of us dread the winter! 

Of course, winter isn’t all bad. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge a few things that I enjoy about the cooler months: delicious warm and spicy drinks, twinkling snow covered lights, cozy slippers, hearty stews, thick comforters, toasty fires, my beloved winter boots and the quiet calm after a snow fall. You see? Winter isn’t all bad.

But despite the enjoyable parts of winter, as we transition to shorter days and colder temperatures the winter blues and additional body aches are common for many of us. Massage therapy may be an effective method for easing these common seasonal challenges. Some studies have shown that massage therapy increases levels of serotonin and dopamine (the hormones that make us feel good and help us sleep), while decreasing cortisol (the hormone that makes us feel stressed).

Massage therapy is known to boost our immune systems and increase lymphocytes, the white blood cells that play a large role in defending our bodies from disease. This can help our bodies fight off the many communicable diseases that are common during the winter months. Massage is proven to stabilize the collagen in our skin and it also helps to maintain our skin’s elasticity. This, coupled with moisturizing massage lotion or oil can improve our overall skin health-especially during winter.

Cooler months can bring on stiff joints, our muscles and fascia tighten, and aches and pains can increase. Massage therapy increases circulation while warming the body, hands and feet. Massage, when coupled with warming elements such as a heated pad, can help bring new and healthy blood to tight areas and help muscles perform more efficiently and with greater ease.

Skiing is another joy of winter for many. But skiing and shoveling snow are two of the top activities that cause injuries during the winter. Massage can help ease sore muscles and speed the healing process. Speaking of shoveling, remember to protect your back by using good posture--bend at the knees and use a wide stance! 

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that self-care is important no matter the season. Even though winter can be a busy and challenging time, continue the habits that help you stay healthy and happy.  

And even though winter can seem like it lasts forever, we’ll be back on the beach, soaking in the warmth (and precious vitamin D) of summer before you know it!

Schedule your winter massages with Amy by calling 732.994.7855.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Massage is a Necessity, Not a Luxury

By Amy Grutzmacher
Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)

When I think about massage, I can’t help but be reminded of the Tinman from The Wizard of Oz – specifically the scene where Dorothy finds him rusted and stiff in the forest. I really identify with the relief he expresses when Dorothy oils his shoulder and arm and he’s finally able to drop the ax he’s been holding up for a year. While we don’t sit in the same position for a year without interruption, the stagnant repetitive lifestyle of desk work or unhealthy sleeping patterns can make us feel stiff and tight - just like the beloved Tinman’s rusty body.

“Oil my arms please. Oil my elbows. My neck. Oil my neck.”

Throughout the movie, the Tinman requires regular doses of oil so he can move properly. Our bodies benefit from regular massage in the same way. I like to picture myself as Dorothy with the oil can.

Massage Therapy is commonly associated with a relaxing treat or a luxurious add-on to vacation plans. It has been framed as an “extra” instead of a “necessary” part of the healthcare system. I’d like to try to change this perspective by letting people know how beneficial and valuable regular massage therapy really is for your mind and body.

It’s easy to see why massage is commonly described as a luxury - it makes you feel amazing! I love a good massage too! The feel-good emotion that we love is due to the release of endorphins that give us a feeling of well-being. Stress-causing hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are reduced. Massage is not a long-term or sole treatment for depression, anxiety, or stress but this therapy can help to temporarily alleviate some symptoms leaving you feeling full of wonderful endorphins.

Pain is one of the most common reasons people book a massage. Many careers require you to sit or stand for long periods of time. A repetitive routine with minimal movement means our muscles don’t get the nourishing effects of good blood flow. Our bodies are not designed to sit for long periods of time and this can result in stiff, sore and achy bodies. Regular massage increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps them feel better. Think of a dried up sponge. Once water is added, the sponge becomes supple and pliable. This is what blood does for our tight muscles. Massage brings the blood to the tight muscles while delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients.

In addition to increasing blood flow, simple massage can help alleviate neck, shoulder and back pain. Improving the flow of the circulatory, lymphatic and digestive systems allows the body to deliver oxygen and nutrients to other areas of the body while removing toxins and access fluid more efficiently. This can make our bodies feel cleansed.

Here are a few personal experiences from our very own Integrative Health & Medicine team:

“I’ve actually only had a few massages in my life and they were pretty life changing. Besides feeling extremely relaxed afterwards, I also felt fatigued and my body felt achy a day or two after. After doing some research I learned that this is the body’s way of releasing toxins to promote healing in the body. It’s amazing to think that a simple relaxing massage can also help improve my energy, digestion, and mental health! A massage used to be a treat but now I combine regular massage with the cleanse that I do at the start of every new season.” - Nikki Cerillo, RN, LDN, CHNP

"I thought I hated massage until Amy told me massage therapists appreciate honesty and said that it’s ok to ask for more or less pressure. I thought that by asking this I was hurting the therapist’s feelings and not getting the best benefit from the massage. Amy was truly concerned with my massage experience and checked in with me but was not obtrusive.” - Emma Stafford, RN, APN-C, ACHPN, APHN

“This was my first massage ever. Since seeing Amy, my body awareness is much more on point. I didn’t realize how often I was clenching my jaw. I also learned that I’m not stretching enough after working out. I’m much more in tune with what my body needs now more than ever!” - Casey Gothelf, Medical Assistant


While massage is a really great way to treat yourself, I’d like for you to consider incorporating massage therapy into your monthly health regimen. A single massage can do so much for you but getting a massage regularly can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork: the more you do it, the greater improvements you’ll see in your body and wellness. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember, just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it’s any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan and lets work together to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs. Call our clinic in Jackson at 732-994-7855 to schedule your appointment today.