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Tapestry Life Resources & Body Balance II Newsletter

Resources for Body,
Heart, Mind, & Spriit

March 2012

All articles written by Suzanne H. Eller unless otherwise indicated.                                                            Suzanne H. Eller, 2012

in this issue
:: Rotator Cuff Problems
:: Recommended Reading
:: When Massage Won't Help
:: Essential Oil of the Month...Thyme
spring forward Greetings!
I heard the weatherperson the other day say that although it is not astronomical spring, it is meteorological spring. Can you believe a day in the 80s already in March, and we've had lows in the 20s. That's not counting thunderstorms and tornados. It is truly weird weather, and our talk of it has grown beyond simple small talk.
If the warm weather has taken you outdoors like it has me, you may be feeling back pain from bending over the flower beds and garden or arm pain from digging and mulching. My neighbors are mowing, and I will as soon as I get the mower blade sharpened. That will mean other aches and pains.
Daylight Savings Time begins March 11, so don't forget to set your clocks ahead before you go to bed on the 10th. The extra hour of light in the evening will mean more time for exercise and outdoor work. If you find yourself sore and stiff, think about getting a massage to soothe your pain. You should call us on our cell phones for the fastest appointments. All of us have been thankfully busy, and our books get filled pretty quickly.
This month our newsletter discusses rotator cuff problems, contraindications for massage, thyme essential oil, and recommended reading. We hope you enjoy it.
Although we officially have three more weeks of winter, we want to wish you a (meteorologically) happy spring.
We hope to see you soon.

Rotator Cuff Problems 

Massage can help


The rotator cuff is a group of four shoulder muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint and assist in every movement of the arm. Pain in the rotator cuff is one of the most common reasons clients seek massage.
  1. "These muscles are inadequately strengthened by most fitness and sports exercise regimens, thus they are not properly conditioned."
  2. "Most of us lack coordination in the joints of our shoulder, neck and upper back region as a result of poor posture and repetitive motions. This results in a continual friction and abrasion to the rotator cuff muscles and tendons."
  3. "Previous shoulder injuries treated only with rest and medication were not properly rehabilitated and are prone to re-injury until properly conditioned by corrective exercise and deep massage."
  4. "The blood supply to the rotator cuff muscles starts to atrophy somewhat in people over the age of 40."
rotator cuff problems

The rotator cuff muscles are attached to the scapula, or shoulder blade, and the humerus or upper arm bone.The acronym for remembering the rotator cuff muscles is SITS. These letters stand for:

  • Supraspinatus, which lies across the top of the scapula and attaches at the top of greater tuberosity of the humerus. Its function is to abduct the arm.
  • Infraspinatus, which covers the bottom of the scapula and also attaches to the greater tuberosity of the humerus below the supraspinatus and the deltoid attachments. Its function is to externally rotate the arm.
  • Teres minor, which originates at the middle half of the lateral border of the scapula and inserts at the greater tuberosity of the humerus just below the infraspinatus. Its function is to externally rotate the arm.
  • Subscapularis, which covers the underneath portion of the scapula next to the ribcage and inserts in the lesser tuberosity of the humerus, opposite to the greater tuberosity. Its function is to internally rotate the arm.
These four muscles are attached to the bones by tendons. When the tendons are torn, it injury is often called a rotator cuff tear, and the result is pain and restricted movement of the arm.

While massage is helpful to relax the tight muscles that are pulling on the tendons and to decrease healing time because of improved circulation and lymph flow, you need to be aware that tendons heal more slowly than muscles and that sometimes muscles "splint" or become taut to restrict movement so that you won't exacerbate the injury.

In other words, your tight muscles may be stabilizing and protecting your tendons even though you feel like the pain would ease up if they relaxed. Massage may make you feel better in the short-term if your injury is acute, but your symptoms and tight muscles will probably return. Furthermore, if the tendon is completely torn from the bone, surgery will likely be required to reattach the tendon.

However, much rotator cuff pain is caused by nerve impingement, and massage is the best treatment for this type of shoulder problem and may be better than drugs or surgery and giving lasting relief. Impingement occurs when the shoulder joint structures get pinched as the arm is raised. These structures may include the bursa or tendons. Massage can increase the flexibility of the joint capsule, free the SITS muscles of adhesions and trigger points so they are stronger, and release and strengthen the surrounding muscles that stabilize the scapula. Massage is one of the best ways to prevent reinjury of the rotator cuff after tears have healed.
Recommended Reading
Books for the season

woman readingReading a good book is one of the pleasures of life. I like to read a variety of books from non-fiction to fiction. Recently, I've read several books that have captured my imagination. This month I have chosen two fiction books, one a historical novel and the other a mystery and hope that one may appeal to you.
The Heretic's Daughter
by Kathleen Kent by Back Bay Books
List Price: $13.99
Our Price: $5.50
Buy Now

I used to teach Arthur Miller's play about the Salem Witch Trials, The Crucible, and this novel about Martha Carrier, one of the women hanged for refusing to confess to being a witch, was intriguing to me as I had read other historical material about the victims in my research for teaching. The author, Kathleen Kent, is actually a descendant of Martha Carrier, so the story includes family history passed down through the generations but not historically verified otherwise. Told from the point of view of Carrier's daughter, Sarah, it is a tale of generational conflict, discrimination based on fear and revenge, and finally of love between husband and wife and between mother and daughter. If you like it, read the prequel about Thomas Carrier, who may actually have been the executioner of English King Charles I during the Puritan Rebellion after he escaped to the colonies. That title is The Traitor's Wife and is narrated by Martha Carrier.
The Mephisto Club
by Tess Gerritsen Mass Market Paperback
List Price: $7.99
Our Price: $3.38
Buy Now
I bought this book at a Hickory Library book sale. I didn't know the author, but after I started reading, I realized the protagonists were Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles on whom the TNT show is based. I have to admit, I like the book better than the TV show. Although it is a little dark with a serial killer and gruesome murders, Jane and Maura are more real and likeable in the print versions with real-life problems and emotions. Gerritsen is a physician, so the medical descriptions were particularly descriptive. I'll probably read more of this series of mysteries.
When Massage Won't Help
Contraindications for massage

woman holding shouldr in painMassage therapy improves many health conditions, including stress, circulation, and immunity. It speeds up healing time and is a great aid for minimizing injuries in sports and exercise regimens.
However, there are certain conditions that massage will not help and that may even contraindicate massage. That is why the massage therapist takes a complete medical history (she's not trying to be nosey), and why she may refer you to a doctor or other health professional if massage is not working.
If you have fever, active infection, or a cold or the flu, the massage therapist will tell you she cannot give you a massage, even if the muscle aches are driving you nuts. Naturally, she doesn't want your communicable disease, and she doesn't want to pass it on to her other clients. However, she doesn't want to make you sicker either, and that is why your therapist will refuse to give you the massage so that your infection spread to other parts of your system. Just as massage speeds up healing in some conditions by improving circulation and lymph flow, the same improvement can transport active viruses and bacteria to new sites in the body. If you are sick or if you have a fever, stay at home.
Diseases of the organs can sometimes mimic muscle pain. Gall bladder or kidney malfunction can cause back aches, and one of the symptoms of a heart attack in women is neck and shoulder pain. If you get a massage that does not improve your condition or makes it worse, you need to see a doctor pronto. It could be a sign of a more serious condition that should not be ignored.
Acute injuries are also best seen by a doctor before massage. Your therapist will refuse to massage injuries that are bruised, swollen, or hot to the touch. This is because the therapist will not want to aggravate and/or worsen the injury. The best treatment for acute injury is the old RICE recipe- rest, ice, compression, elevation- and to see your doctor or physiotherapist sooner rather than later. After these acute injury symptoms disappear, massage is indicated and can help.
There are other conditions that contraindicate massage in the affected body area although massage can be used on other areas of the body. For example, massage directly over varicose veins can make the problem worse although light massage above the vein and in the direction of the heart can be beneficial. Massage on areas where there are no varicose veins is not a problem.
Similarly, your therapist will avoid massage on mending bones after a break but may massage the surrounding areas to speed up healing. Rashes, wounds, bruises, boils, blisters and burns contraindicate direct massage, but massage may be fine on other areas of the body.
Some medical conditions contraindicate massage. For example, your therapist will refuse to give you a massage if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, and she will ask you for your doctor's approval if you have cancer or autoimmune disease.
Some medications contraindicate certain kinds of massage. Blood thinners can cause bruising, so deep sustained pressure is contraindicated if you are taking them. If you are diabetic, be aware that massage may make your insulin levels drop a bit and adjust your insulin (and food intake) to prepare for that drop and bring a snack in case you need it after the massage. Read the drug information sheets you get at the pharmacy so you will be informed of any possible contraindications to massage and tell your therapist about the side effects. Obviously, do not expect to get a massage if you are high on drugs or alcohol.
Massage therapists are trained to recognize conditions that have contraindications. It is up to you to be honest with her so that you receive the best and most responsible care. If you are a new client, be honest on the intake form. If you are a regular client, be sure you tell your therapist of any new conditions and new medications since your last visit. Most importantly, if you are worse after your massage, call the therapist and/or your physician so that you can rule out more serious conditions.
Essential Oil of the Month
Thyme Essential Oil

thyme bundle
Photo Compliments Wikimedia Commons
Thyme is one of the seven oils used in Raindrop Therapy. It has been used medicinally since ancient times when the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians found it effective as an antiinfectious agent. Indeed, its antibacterial and antiviral properties make it a highly effective oil today, even when it is diffused. In Raindrop Therapy, thyme is used to balance the physical body.
Thymol is one of the active components of thyme essential oil that makes it so effective as an antiseptic. In fact, thymol is considered toxic in a pure state, but it is used diluted as a potent antiseptic. Historically it has been used against such virulent organisms as salmonella, tuberculosis, typhoid and anthrax. It is found in Listerine and other mouth washes because of its effectiveness in gingivitis and plaque.
Thyme comes in three strengths depending on the plant. Thymus vulgaris is the Latin name for Red Thyme (it is red in color) and also for Thyme Linalol (it is dark red or brown), which is the mildest of the three. Thymus serpyllum is the Latin name for Wild Thyme (it is light yellow), which is the strongest and which should not be used neat. I use Red Thyme mostly, and I dilute it with a carrier oil like jojoba or olive oil either before I apply it or just after. It should never be used on sensitive skin such as a child's or the elderly's without diluting. The benefits are the same, and I see no reason to take a chance on sensitivity. Thyme Linalol, also called Sweet Thyme, may be mild enough to use neat, but it is hard to find.
Diffusing thyme is a great way to clear the respiratory tract. As with other member of the mint family, it eases congestion of the bronchial tubes and relieves coughs. Its antiviral properties also fight infection at the source. Blend one drop with a drop of eucalyptus and four drops of lemon oil to use in a diffuser or steam inhalation. However, it can burn your eyes, so don't put your face directly into the steam.
Cautions: Do not use thyme if you have high blood pressure. Do not use during pregnancy. May irritate mucus membranes, cause skin irritation and skin sensitization.
The following recipe makes a great cleaner and disinfectant. The oils are strong, so don't inhale them directly.
Add 2 drops Thyme, 4 drops Clove, 4 drops Cinnamon, 4 drops Rosemary, 8 drops Orange, and 8 drops Lemon to 2 cups distilled water and place in a spray bottle. Shake before each use.
To order Thyme from our storefront at Ancient Wisdom Essential Oils, please click here. Then, click "Shopping" on the navigation bar,sign in as a New Customer, and follow the prompts.
Gift Certificates Available

gift box 
The Gift of Massage makes a wonderful present any time of the year, and it needn't break the bank. Whether you drop by the office to pick up your gift certificates or buy them securely online, a 30-minute massage is just $35.
You can stop by the office to purchase a gift certificate from Suzanne Eller, Laura Queen, or Susan Smith. We'll even take a phone order and mail them to you. Just let us know how many you need. Be sure to call first if you're stopping by, as we work by appointment only.
Online gift certificates are available from Suzanne Eller and Susan Smith. These can be ordered from a secure safe site where your credit card information is safe. Let online gift certificates take the hassle out of gift-giving. You can even choose the background for your gift certificate and personalize it with a special message. Print it on card stock or photo paper to make it look extra nice.
To order online gift certificates from Suzanne Eller, click here.
To order online gift certificates from Susan Smith, click here.
Price for Most Gift Certificates:
  • 30 Minutes: $35
  • 60 Minutes: $60
  • 90 Minutes: $90 
Massage packages also available.

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of Warp & Weft. We look forward to seeing you at Body Balance II soon.
daffodils in field
Photo by Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Suzanne Eller, LMBT # 7619
828-315-9900 or 310-0161

Susan Smith, LMBT #6579

Laura Queen, LMBT #3224

 Body Balance II
318 2nd Ave NW
Hickory, NC 28601