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By Heidi Aschenbrenner,BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA

Our bodies are wonderfully complicated entities, which makes the field of bodywork so exciting.  Any kind of bodywork that delves into the fascia prompts change in those tissues, on a level that can’t be accessed with other methods of healing.  (Fascia is a blanket term for all connective tissue in the body.)  Our soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin – all the softer fascia of the body) can be stretched, strengthened, injured, or torn.  Thankfully, our bodies adapt and compensate for an immense variety of potential mishaps that we encounter as we go about our lives with both our work and our play.  Also thankfully, our bodies do heal, and they can also be retrained out of any bad habits we’ve had – all we need to do is prompt our muscles to do different things to learn new behaviors.  What a wonderful fascial system we have!

Many of us have had some type of injury.  We may have gone through physical therapy, we may have just put some ice on it and taken anti-inflammatories until our acute pain went away, or we may have ignored the pain until we no longer noticed it anymore, pushing through the daily “have to’s.”  The fascia does eventually heal, sometimes in spite of ourselves.  But… if there was any emotional trauma connected to that injury, the emotional aspect of the injury does not simply go away as we ignore it.  Ah, the complication now arises. 

therapeutic-massage-bodyworkOur fascia retains those emotional memories.  If this is a new concept to you, then pause and think on that for a moment:  our fascia retains those emotional memories until we release them.  Unless you have experienced this phenomenon, it may be difficult to grasp.  I had grasped the concept mentally years ago, yet I still was not fully prepared for the first time I experienced this type of healing.  Many of us have learned to push down our emotions, pressing on and not stopping to feel or to grieve.  There may be fear, sadness, or anger associated with any traumatic event that results in physical injury.  How often do you think we allow ourselves the time and space to process those feelings at the time they occur? 

Many of our chronic pain issues are simply our bodies crying out, begging us to pay attention to what still needs healing, and it may need to be on an emotional level.  Our bodies can wait a very, very long time for this, but eventually push comes to shove and then someone’s back goes out simply from picking up some laundry.  Chronic pain plagues so many of us, and so often the medical community doesn’t understand exactly what is causing that pain.  Pain is the body’s method of communicating to us that we need to stop what we are doing and change something.  Discovering what needs to change is not always a simple task.

How do we experience this healing?  It requires trust in your therapist.  It requires slowing down and allowing your mind, body and spirit to express what needs expressing.  It requires not forcing your fascia to do what you think it “should” but rather just letting go.  It requires not having an agenda for your bodywork session, which comes back to trusting your therapist.  Letting go with your mind is imperative so that your fascia can then let go of whatever it still needs to; you need to be in a parasympathetic state for this type of healing to occur, and for any real changes in your fascia to occur.  If you are one who likes to chat during massage, you will never get to this level of healing.

Not everyone needs this deep emotional release during bodywork, but many of us certainly do.  If you ever feel the need to weep during a bodywork session, please remember that it is good and healthy to let that happen.  Don’t stifle the healing process with any “should’s.”  You are safe with your therapist, and all licensed therapists receive training on this very topic.  I recommend that you talk to your therapist if you’d like to know more. 

massage therapist certified cupping therapist

Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork. Heidi’s team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies.

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By Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA

We’ve all heard the term “aromatherapy,” which utilizes essential oils during massage, sauna use, or as an addition to a bath or lotion, but many of us aren’t exactly certain what those terms actually mean.  What exactly are essential oils?  How are they helpful?  Essential oils are extracted from a given plant (using all of its parts from root to flower).  The extraction is generally done using a steam distillation process to release the oils, and then the oil is extracted from the steam as the mixture cools.  With distillation, any pesticides or other chemicals that may have been in the plant should be removed.  Cold pressing may also be utilized for certain citrus oils. The health benefits from the original plant are then concentrated in the oil extraction.  Essential oils can be used to remedy a wide range of ailments, just as plants have been used to heal for centuries. 

Massage oil and hot stones for therapeutic massageQuality does matter – it does seem to be true that you get what you pay for with essential oils.  It usually takes thousands of a particular plant to produce just a few milliliters of essential oil!  The term “therapeutic grade” is used by several companies, and though that term is not a regulated one, it is generally the industry standard that signifies that the oils are pure and contain no fillers or artificial ingredients.  But as with any unregulated term, ask questions!  Find out what the extraction process is – there should never be oily feel to a pure essential oil (which you can test on a sheet of white paper).  Some sources of good quality oils include doTERRA, Young Living, Swiss Aromatics, and Native American Nutritionals.

There are several essential oils I can’t live without anymore:  lavender, peppermint, lemon, and frankincense.  Lavender is simply the most versatile oil out there; it can be used to relax muscles, to soothe irritated skin (and is disinfecting), and is very calming and great for a bath or a massage.  It can spruce up a stagnant closet, freshen up a room, linens, really anything!  It can help keep winter dryness away when added to your moisturizer (fractionated coconut oil is best to mix it with). 

lavender-massage-oilPeppermint is wonderful for both digestive troubles and also for any sinus congestion or headaches.  It helps relax muscles too, so it’s a great blend with lavender if you’ve got a knot in your back.  Peppermint has soothed my tummy many a time after eating something that didn’t agree with me. You can double bag your peppermint tea or add a few drops of the essential oil to receive its soothing effects on your digestive system or to eliminate headaches without taking a pill.  Rubbing it directly on your belly works for digestive troubles too.  When diffused in a room, not only do you get its great benefits for your sinuses, you’ll also be encouraging your 6 and 8 legged uninvited guests to vacate the premises – insects and arachnids don’t like peppermint, an added bonus!

Lemon is such a wonderful immune-boosting oil.  Just a few drops to your favorite herbal tea will help detoxify your liver and give you an energy boost.  Mixing lemon and peppermint in your morning glass of water will give you a refreshing, energy boosting treat.  Lemon can also get the stink out of forgotten wet laundry and help with hard water deposits when cleaning. 

Ah, frankincense… My new favorite oil.  It’s calming to both your physical and emotional states.  Just taking a few deep breathes of frankincense can change your whole perspective and turn your day around.  It’s also good for skin conditions and is a diuretic, and it works very well with peppermint to relieve headaches.  Frankincense boosts your immune system and supports your body’s healthy production of white blood cells, and it makes you feel great while it’s doing all that. 

Who can benefit from essential oils?  Everyone!  They are particularly great for pregnant women who want more natural remedies for headaches, nausea, morning sickness, congestion, swollen ankles, or low-back pain.  Essential oils are a wonderful complement to any massage, and can be a great addition to any home. 

Heidi Board Certified Licensed Massage Bodywork Therapist and Certified Cupping TherapistBio:

Heidi Aschenbrenner, BCTMB CCT, LMBT and Member AOBTA, is the owner of Renu Massage, Energy & Bodywork. Heidi and her team of therapists all strive to achieve balance in each session through the use of energy work incorporated into their bodywork therapies. 

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That’s right – seven to ten days! How? Some pretty intense cupping therapy with Jeff at Renu. Intrigued? Here’s the story:

It was one of those things after getting back to life after flu + pneumonia… I tweaked my shoulder, the one which likes

kangzhu-cupping-therapy-vacuum-close-up-renu-madison

Darker colors may appear from cupping therapy

to pop out of its socket anyway, and it felt weird for awhile. Then the pain started.  The pain seemed to be on my deltoid and triceps, and even in my lower arm, so I began cupping myself in those areas that evening and went to bed. I was awakened by intense pain long before my alarm was set to go off — the very same pain I experienced when I had injured the rotator cuff in the same arm 20ish years ago. That pain when the force of gravity pulls your shoulder as you’re lying down and creates agony when you desperately want sleep… those who have injured their rotator cuffs know exactly what I’m talking about… ugh.

I couldn’t believe this was happening. Again. After what seemed a very minor tweaking. I was very worried about how it would affect my ability to work my various jobs of Cupping Therapist, Fitness Instructor, and Accounting Instructor.

glass-cups-fire-cupping-therapy-renu-madisonI could barely move my arm that day; the slightest rotation or abduction was excruciating. I did some Googling and found that common areas of referral pain for three of the four rotator cuff muscles were exactly where I was experiencing pain down my arm. Even though I had already figured out it was my rotator cuff as the pain progressed… confirmation is always nice. I knew my shoulder needed some good bodywork – massage is great, but cupping is much, much more effective as it promotes healing in ways that just aren’t possible with compression. Cupping is great for reducing inflammation and swelling, drawing up the non-circulating stagnant blood and sticky proteins found in edema, bringing them up to the surface so that healthy circulation of blood and lymph can be restored to the injured area.

I was so very pleased that the one cupping client I’d had scheduled for that day had cancelled, and there was a bonus! Jeffsilicone-cupping-therapy-renu-madison had an opening so I could get some proper cupping and massage on all those rotator cuff muscles plus some great myofascial release work. It was intense. It felt different than the regular discomfort of really deep work; it felt like there were injured tissues. But we improved range of motion during that session on my first day of pain. The next day I visited my chiropractor and found that my clavicle, humerus, and scapula were all misaligned as well, and those all got fixed right up. Having the cupping done before the chiropractic adjustment was helpful to allow the muscles and tendons to move more easily during adjustment and accept the corrected state more readily. I began to use a scarf as a sling to keep my arm both pain-free and to minimize the possibility of further misalignment. Then the magic began to happen.

cupping-marks-renu-madison

Cupping therapy – Chinese traditional medical method often leaves marks on the skin

After two to three days, I had noticeably improved range of motion. That was encouraging! By day five, I was probably 70% back to full range of motion. After one week, I was 95% there. I had one more cupping session one week after the first – it was much less painful, and resulted in much less discoloration. And that was all I needed – I was back to 100% in the next couple days.

It felt like magic – not quite as instantaneous as its usage in the 2010 version of The Karate Kid… but I was amazed! I had seen cupping therapy work this quickly on clients of mine, but I thought with the intensity of the pain, it would have taken longer. My chiropractor said recovery time is usually around six weeks for this type of injury. Six weeks! Seven to ten days is so much better than that. From just two cupping therapy sessions at Renu. 

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Sounds crazy, right?  First I thought getting the flu in the middle of summer was weird.  Then… pneumonia? Wildly outrageous.  But there I was, not moving much more than from bed to couch and back again for nearly three weeks in August.  I had hoped to take a little time off before my part-time teaching job resumed, but this was really not what I had in mind!  But the complete break from pretty much all of my activities did have its benefits, not the least of which was avoiding the newspaper and all the disconcerting things contained therein.

couples massage package with towels and hot stonesAs my cough got worse, I began to slather on the essential oils that are soothing and promote healing:  tea tree oil (sometimes sold as melaleuca, its Latin name), peppermint, and eucalyptus were the main three.  Eucalyptus was great in the bath, so soothing.  Side note:  I don’t recommend putting peppermint oil in your bath – that was by far the weirdest bath experience I have had to date!  The water is warm yet I was cold from the peppermint so I had to keep adding more hot water. In August. So odd!

And two to three times per day – I’d mix those oils up with some jojoba oil and rub it all over my chest and neck, and put a little under my nose to inhale into my lungs. 

As I started to feel better and climb out of illness, I noticed something: the age spots on my chest that I’d been bemoaning looked visibly lighter.  I had noticed earlier this year that they seemed to have taken a turn for the worse, and I was not at all happy about that.  And there was no doubt about it – my chest looked much, much better.  How had I not heard of this particular benefit of essential oils? 

Massage oil and hot stones

I began to Google.  And sure enough – there are several oils that have this wonderful benefit, and among them… tea tree oil!  I had stumbled upon this quite accidentally and was thrilled.

I found LOTS of recipes using lots of different oils, but I don’t believe you need a magic combination or proportion.  It’s always best to mix essential oils with a carrier oil like jojoba, and I discovered that fractionated coconut oil also helps with age spots.  I already had some of this for the facial rejuvenation cupping service that I do at Renu…  So now I’m using that at home as well.

Other oils great for reducing age spots include frankincense, myrrh, and rose.  Frankincense is quite expensive but wonderful on so many levels, so I already had some of that.  But the best low cost trial would be just tea tree oil mixed with your carrier oil of choice.  Therapeutic grade oils are best for any medicinal purpose such as this.

Now I use the oils twice daily – morning and night.  I’ll keep going with this and am excited to see the results over time!

Here’s a site with a great list of oils:  http://essentialoilbenefits.com/21-best-essential-oils-for-age-spots-on-face-and-hands/

 

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Olga licensed massage cupping therapistExcellent and Affordable Massage and Bodywork

 

There are lots of massage and bodywork choices in Madison.  Why choose Renu?  I’d love to tell you all of the reasons that I think each massage and bodywork therapist at Renu is excellent, but I will let other clients do the talking:

  1. A recent client wrote on Google that the Couples Massage Package is an “absolutely wonderful experience!” We regularly get lots of positive feedback from couples about this package, such a treat and hard to find at other places. Three years ago, another Google user wrote that the Couples Massage Package “was truly amazing! So relaxing, and the massage therapists were exceptional. Would definitely recommend!” Keeping clients happy year after year is what we love to do.
  2. Affordable, consistent massagebodywork “the costs and knowledge of different techniques are what keeps me coming back,” Jeff licensed massage therapistsaid another satisfied client, who prefers Renu under its current ownership and management which has been in place since 2011. Renu strives to provide excellent, affordable massage bodywork.
  3. Pain Relief – a recurring theme is how many people are shocked that there is a path to healing from all kinds of conditions and previous injuries, and that this path was unknown by the medical community:
    • “After 4 years of daily pain, including sciatica, which resulted from a leg injury — not from my back, as I was told by medical professionals — she is helping me heal.”
    • “Great place! Highly recommend the cupping therapy if you have never tried it! I had a knee injury and Heidi got me back and moving pain-free very quickly.”
    • “I first visited Renu after dealing with some upper back pain for several weeks. Heidi suggested cupping therapy, which was exactly what I needed. My pain was completely gone after ONE session! It just doesn’t get much better than that, folks.”
    • “I’ve been working with Heidi, the owner, who does incredible work and has helped me cope when my doctors Magdalena neck massagecouldn’t.”
    • “I found the massage so helpful that I am going again this weekend to help with some of the pain I have left over in my left arm. I will continue to go in the future just for other future health benefits and to relax.”
    • “I have had chronic back pain and very stiff muscles since high school (more than 10 years ago) and I have heard about the cupping therapy. It is very different, but does it make a difference!

Each member of our team has excellent therapeutic skills and is a joy to work with. We invite you to find out who’s your favorite!

Katie licensed massage therapist facial massage

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What is a salt glow treatment?spa salts

At Renu, Mediterranean sea salts are blended with jojoba oil and your essential oil of choice. It’s specially mixed just for you and your appointment; there are no additives or anything artificial. This mixture is applied by hand to your arms, legs and back, with special care on any rough areas to thoroughly cleanse the skin of its dead cells.  The therapist will rub the salt mixture on your skin to break up the top surface and remove the outer layer of skin that is ready to go. The salt scrub is removed with warm wet towels, leaving your skin feeling soft and refreshed after shedding its dead layer.

Sea salts have many health benefits and work well with the skin in ways that table salts cannot. Exfoliation with sea salts helps to remove dead skin particles, tones up the skin tissues, encourages peripheral blood circulation, and helps in skin renewal. Sea salts have an anti-inflammatory effect and also aids in detoxification, while at the same time improving blood circulation during the salt glow treatment. Sea salt works especially well at revealing your soft and smooth skin. 

mineral salts bamboo massageJust like getting a facial periodically is so good for your skin, doing a full body salt glow treatment is wonderfully healthy for your skin and your body – you’d be amazed how much dead skin accumulates over winter! Plus it feels so good and leaves you with beautifully soft and rejuvenated skin. Combine it with a massage in any of our salt glow packages, and you will feel like a new you. This is healthful indulgence – you feel like you are splurging, but you are in fact taking care of both your outside as well as your inside self.

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