Friday, August 31, 2018


If you're unlucky enough to have ever gotten a migraine headache, you know how painful and debilitating they can be. Unfortunately, most people who suffer from migraines don't experience them just once- they tend to come and go as they please. Migraines can cause you to miss out on a lot: work, school and family time. They're frustrating to deal with and a huge interruption in the daily life of many. As a new migraine sufferer myself, I know just how hard they are to deal with and the physical toll it places on the body. I had a few questions after learning what I was suffering from: what exactly is a migraine? What causes it? What are ways to help treat, or even prevent them? These are a few answers we at Massage La Mesa are hoping to answer for you! 

What is a Migraine?

According to Mayo Clinic, migraines are when a severe throbbing pain or pulsing sensation are felt on one or both sides of the head. This is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. They can cause pain for anywhere between 4-72 hours (that's 3 days!) and be completely disabling. While migraines are still not fully understood, studies have shown that when a migraine attack is prominent there is an imbalance in chemicals in the brain: seratonin levels will decrease, causing the trigeminal nerve to release a substance known as neuropeptides into the outer covering of the brain (meninges). This is what causes the pain felt in the head. Genetics and environmental factors also seem to play a role. Most migraines can be treated with over-the-counter pain medicine such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen (NSAIDs), which decreases the total amount of pain felt and help the person suffering become active or engaged. There are 4 stages to a migraine:

Prodrome: warning signs of an approaching migraine constipation, changes in mood, cravings, neck stiffness, increase in thirst and urination, frequent yawning
Aura: right before or during a migraine; not always experienced
this involves symptoms of the nervous system. They include visual phenomena, vision loss, pins and needles sensation in arms or legs, difficulty speaking, hearing things, uncontrollable movements. It's also possible to experience touching sensations or become extremely sensitive to touch, taste and smell. 
Attack: lasts 4-72 hours, frequency varies
pain on one or both sides of head, throbbing or pulsing sensation, sensitivity to light, sounds, smell and touch; nausea and vomiting; blurred vision and lightheadedness. 
Postdrome: experienced after a migraine attack
person may feel drained, physically and emotionally; confusion, moodiness, dizziness, weakness and sensitivity to light and sound. A person can sometimes feel depressed or even elated during postdrome.

Migraines are caused by triggers that can vary from person to
person. The most common are hormonal changes in women, foods or fasting, food additives, drinks such as wine or strong coffee, stress, changes in sleep, changes in the person's environment (humidity, temperature, elevation) and sensory stimuli. It can be difficult to figure out exactly what your triggers are, which is why many doctors will suggest you create a journal with symptoms, foods you eat, your daily routine, and when you get your migraines. 
There are also a few risk factors that could cause you to be more likely to suffer from migraines. We now know that there is a genetic factor in migraine sufferers, meaning if other people in your family get them, you're far more likely to get them as well. Age also plays a role- while you can start getting migraines at any time, it's more likely to happen any time between adolescence to early adulthood. Women are 3 times more likely to suffer from migraines due to hormonal changes their bodies go through every month. Decreases in estrogen can cause women to experience worsening headaches, although it's not really known why. 

Can Migraines be Cured?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for migraines. However, as mentioned above, they can be treated using over-the-counter pain medication and even massage. The American Massage Therapy Association reported a few studies that all had positive results involving massage therapy for migraine sufferers (read about them here). In these varying studies, they had control groups who didn't receive massages while other groups did or received other treatments. Those in the massage groups reported having a higher pain threshold, lower anxiety levels, lower salivary cortisol levels, a decrease in migraine frequency and even the intensity of migraine attacks! 

So How Does Massage Help with Migraines?

The Migraine Relief Center has an excellent article about that! In this article they talk about how certain massages can help treat migraines and decrease the overall intensity of pain felt during a migraine attack. We already know now that massage can help to release tension in the body, increase certain hormones (oxytocin, talked about here) and improve circulation. It can also even help to regulate hormones! Studies have shown that frequent massage, done therapeutically, can decrease cortisol (the stress hormone), increase endorphins (the feel good hormone) and stimulate the parasymphathetic nervous system which is responsible for conserving energy, among other things. Frequent neck and shoulder work can relax muscles and surrounding tissue, allowing the suboccipital muscles (the muscles connecting the base of the head to the neck) to release tension and ease pain that may reside in the area. This can help decrease the overall frequency of migraine attacks, since most are caused by stress and tension in the body along with a hormone imbalance. 

Certain types of massage, such as reflexology and neuromuscular, can also improve migraines. Reflexology focuses on different points in the feet, applying pressure to those points and seeing the effects elsewhere in the body. Neuromuscular therapy is similar, but it requires working directly on the affected area, helping to release it and decrease the "referred pain" felt elsewhere in the body (you can read more about it here). It can often be painful, but the results are usually seen right after or even during the massage session! 

Craniosacral massage is also known to help with headache pain and 
migraines. This involves work on, you guessed it, the cranium (along with other parts of the body)! It focuses on the central nervous system and how it connects to the entire body and has been shown to help with chronic headaches, migraines and fatigue. 

What Should I Do if I Think I Have a Migraine?

First off, you should check with your doctor to rule out any other causes for your head pain, which could be a symptom of an underlying condition. If you are diagnosed with migraines, your doctor will most likely prescribe medications for you to take and changes to your lifestyle to help with the pain and manage the frequency of the attacks. Since there's no one simple answer or cure-all for migraine attacks, this can take time and a lot of dialogue between you and your doctor.

If you're suffering from migraines, massage can help but should be done when you're in the "prodrome" or "postdrome" phases of the migraine cycle. Getting a massage during the "attack" phase may worsen symptoms and leave you feeling worse, as it can cause hypersensitivity to touch and smell. 

If you're suffering from chronic migraines, massage is a great way to help ease symptoms and decrease the frequency of the attacks. Just ask anyone who's tried it for themselves! At Massage La Mesa, we offer Neuromuscular and Deep Tissue Therapy, both of which are excellent for chronic migraine sufferers. If you'd like to learn more, get in touch with us by phone or email so we can give you resources and chat with you! 

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Contact us at: 619-917-4675 OR 
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Friday, August 24, 2018


It's that time of year again: you know what we're talking about! The malls are crowded with last-minute shoppers, looking for the best deals on pencils, backpacks, and other school essentials; first-year college students are picking out their "bed-in-a-bags" and inexpensive storage solutions to fit as much as possible in their tiny temporary homes; school uniforms are on display and you're left wondering what sizes to get for your growing children so their clothes will last all year. 

As a parent, back to school shopping is typically one of the most stressful times of the year because there's always so much that needs to be done in an impossibly short amount of time. If this is your first time sending your child off to school, that's made even worse because you're new to it all! Every year it seems the required list of essentials changes, and if you're sending your kid off to college and the "dorm life" you now have to worry about them living with a stranger, making sure they have everything they need and helping them budget to make sure they will be okay on their own. Schools nowadays seem to have a never-ending list of required items as the class budgets shrink, leaving more work for you in finding everything they need. 

In a recent study, 70% of parents and their kids feel back-to-school shopping is stressful because of increased expenses, pressure to buy the latest fashion trends and ongoing expenses that occur throughout the school year, according to This level of stress this induces is similar to the stress you can feel while shopping for Christmas presents, as the expenses are about the same and you're dealing with roughly the same amount of people out in public (if not more). This is NOT good for you! 

According to WebMD, ongoing, chronic stress can lead to a variety of issues, mentally, physically and emotionally. Some examples include: depression, anxiety, easily agitated or feeling overwhelmed, abdominal pain/upset stomach, headaches, insomnia, cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure or heart attacks, skin problems, menstrual problems and nervous habits. This is just a small list of the varying symptoms and different ways chronic stress can affect you. While small amounts of stress are okay, and even good for you since it engages your "fight-or-flight" instinct, putting yourself through constant stress can negatively impact your health.

How Massage Can Help with Stress: The Power of Touch

Massage is a go-to for many to help manage their stress. It's pretty cool how it works! When receiving a massage, your body releases oxytocin, the "love" hormone, all throughout your body. This is the same hormone released when holding hands with someone you love, getting a hug from a friend, or even holding your newborn for the very first time. Massage is often recommended in postpartum mothers as it can help with postpartum depression and reduce stress in the new mom. According to, oxytocin has even been found to help induce labor! The power of touch is quite amazing, so even just being around the people you love can help reduce stress! 

Massage also has the added benefit of manipulating the soft tissues, relieving pain and tension you may not have known you even had! Here's a great example: if you sit at a desk all day, you may not even notice how poor your posture can be, causing pain in your back, shoulders and neck. Over time, the feelings of pain increase and you become uncomfortable, making it harder to sit, stand, even sleep. 

Did you know it's possible for stress to present itself physically as pain in the body? It's true! As mentioned before, one of the physical symptoms of chronic stress is abdominal pain or an upset stomach. It's pretty crazy that hormones in your body can cause these kinds of symptoms! People tend to hold their stress in different areas of the body. A common area to hold onto stress is the shoulders, neck and back. This physical symptom of stress could present itself as hard, rigid muscles, poor posture, lack of mobility in the neck, or just constantly feeling ache-y. However, with massage, heat and stretching, these physical symptoms will decrease while the hormones released during your session will help ease the mental/emotional ones. 

Stress and symptoms of stress creates a vicious cycle: the more stress you have, the worse you feel, making you less motivated or unwilling to take on problems, which makes you more stressed, which causes you to feel worse...and so on and so forth. It isn't until this cycle is broken that you'll be able to get some relief! Massage is an excellent candidate for stress-relief because of its pain-relieving qualities and the hormones released through the power of touch, according to Greatist. Massage also forces you to take a moment for yourself to just sit or lay down without having to focus on anything except how to help YOU. This can help to reduce the physical symptoms of stress and make you feel more motivated to face your problems head-on. Therefore, it's important to take care of yourself so you can take care of those that depend on you the most: your kids!

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We've said it before but we'll say it again: there's always a million reasons not to get a massage. Lack of time and money are the two most common reasons people don't go, with a third reason being a "lack of evidence." Well, there's many studies out there that can prove those people wrong! We've named a couple in this article alone. If money is an issue, here at Massage La Mesa we offer packages at varying prices to fit anyone's budget. If you'd like to learn more, please give us a call at (619) 917-4675 so we can talk about how massage can help you! 

Do you have something you'd like us to discuss in an upcoming blog post? Comment below or email us at:!

Contact us at: 619-917-4675 OR 
Book now by clicking HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2018


First off, let's talk about what scoliosis is exactly: Massage & Bodywork describes scoliosis as a "lateral flexion deformity of the spine" or, in Layman's terms, a curve in the spine that can be caused by numerous reasons, but the most common is a varying structural issue that needs to be found & treated. Typically somebody can present with one of three cases: a c-curve (one curve in the spine), an s-curve (2 curves in the spine), or a double s-curve (3 curves in the spine). They can range from mild to severe & often don't cause pain or discomfort. However, over time the muscles on the inner curve can become shortened & compressed, while the muscles on the outer curve can become lengthened & strained, causing discomfort if not treated. However, with some idiopathic, or "unknown causes of the condition" cases, more investigating needs to be done before starting treatment in order to best treat the underlying cause.

How Can Massage Help with Scoliosis?

That's a good question! Since in most cases scoliosis is caused by an underlying structural issue, soft-tissue massage therapy can often help by reducing pain, relaxing the muscles surrounding the spine & loosen tight or compressed areas. According to, positioning & stretches done by a skilled therapist can help the patient by decreasing pain, lengthen shortened muscles surrounding the spine, increase awareness in their "movement habits" (the way you move your body, your posture, or even how you sleep) & allow them to change habits that may contribute to certain types of scoliosis, such as ones that are caused by poor posture or an odd gait. Since these types of scoliosis are often less severe, treatment is much easier but should still be handled by a professional & should be taken care of right away in order to reduce the possibility of the scoliosis getting worse. 

Massage is often used for aiding in increasing flexibility since it can help to treat areas of muscles that are rigid or stiff by bringing blood flow to the area. Think of working with Play-Doh: often, in the beginning, it can be difficult to mold or shape; but with the heat  from your palms & continued effort, the Play-Doh becomes more malleable & less rigid, making it easier to work with. The Play-Doh is an analogy to your rigid & stiff muscles, which is why massage is often recommended when treating scoliosis. It helps to not only relieve pain in the muscles surrounding the spine, but to actually loosen the shortened muscles on the inside of the curve & relax the strained muscles on the outside of the curve. Soft-tissue massage, along with heat & stretching, can help relieve pain brought on by scoliosis, bring more awareness to the patient's posture, correct the muscles surrounding the spine & aid in the treatment of scoliosis. 

What Are Other Ways of Treating Scoliosis?

There's a few other ways to treat scoliosis, depending on the severity & type someone may have. For example, if the scoliosis is caused by an abnormality elsewhere in the body (such as one leg being longer than the other), the abnormality would be treated since the spine is not the underlying cause. If the scoliosis is caused by abnormal development of the bones in the spine, surgery is usually the best treatment option as this type can often get worse. In most cases, treatment may depend on the age at which scoliosis developed. 

Back braces are an example of one common treatment a patient with scoliosis may receive since it helps to correct his or her posture. There's several types of back braces & they are chosen based on the severity of the curve in the spine. These work the same way braces on your teeth would, putting pressure on areas that aren't "aligned" in order to get them back into place while making the person wearing the brace become more aware of their movements & posture. These are worn until the spine stops growing, anywhere from 16-23 hours a day according to OrthoInfo & are checked by their doctor every 4-6 months. 

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There are many different types of scoliosis, along with different causes. Most cases are excellent candidates for physical therapy & soft-tissue massage (as long as their main physician says it's okay) since it helps to relieve pain, increase flexibility & reduce muscle strain in the spine. This, along with heat & stretching, helps aid the process of correcting the spine & reduce the risk of the scoliosis becoming worse. If you think you may be suffering from scoliosis, check with your doctor to get a professional exam & X-rays for a proper diagnosis! 

What's something you would like to learn about next? Tell us in the comments below!

Contact us at: 619-917-4675 OR 
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Friday, August 10, 2018


What Is It?

Dry needling, not to be confused with acupuncture, is a term used to describe using thin needles on trigger points in the muscle and fascia. It has been used to treat pain and musculoskeletal disorders and can even be used to help with neck pain, back pain and headaches. The reason dry needling, or "intromuscular stimulation" has become so popular among physical therapists is because it can get deeper into injured muscles to treat shortened muscle bands, help release trigger points, muscle spasms and even help induce blood flow back to the injured area, which in turn speeds up the total healing process. It can even be used in conjunction with massage to help reduce soreness and further increase blood flow! 


Dry needling is a technique originally proposed by Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons in the early 1940s. They conducted experiments, injecting saline, corticosteroids and analgesics into trigger points to produce a reaction in the muscles. This new form of needling would soon be referred to as "wet needling," as treatment involved using a needle that injected liquid into the body.

In 1979 a Czech physician, Karel Lewit, discovered that it was really the needle itself and had nothing to do with the injection of liquids that helped to stimulate the healing process. Thus, "dry needling" was born! 
Interesting Note: Dr. Janet Travell actually became John F. Kennedy's attending White House Physician!

Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture

While dry needling and acupuncture use the same tool (the needle) there's a big difference in how they are used and the affects they have on the body. Dry needling is considered a "Western technique" with no historical ties to acupuncture, and treatment plans are based solely on the physical body and muscle groups. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese technique, aims to influence energy along the body's "meridians" and consists more of energy work and manipulating "qi" (pronounced "chi") to influence how the person feels along with easing pain. While both have their place in medicine and are great ways to help with pain relief, they are quite different in terms of treatment plan and method of healing. 

Dry Needling and Massage

While both methods of pain relief used exclusively can yield fantastic results, using massage and dry needling together can help to speed up the healing process and make you feel more "rounded out" in terms of treatment. The needle in dry needling can get much deeper than massage can alone, and while deep tissue can feel great and produce the same results, it often takes longer and can make you feel sore when done for too long or too often. To put it simply, dry needling just adds some extra "oomph!" to your treatment! Massage and dry needling go very well together because the needle can help to release trigger points while massage can help increase blood flow, ease soreness, and even help you gain back flexibility to the injured area.

Controversy Surrounding Dry Needling

There is a lot of controversy surrounding dry needling even though it's been a standard practice for many years among physical therapists. Some say it's just a placebo affect, however many studies on dry needling have proven to actually be effective when done correctly even though they don't know exactly why it works, only that something dubbed "inflammatory mediators" are dissipated through the needling process. This has been the case throughout history though; way back before we had Aspirin, people used to chew on willow bark to help alleviate pain. It wasn't until many years later that they discovered that the acetylsalicylic acid found in the willow bark was what relieved pain, and were able to use that to create Aspirin. 

Even though dry needling is thought of as not being the same as traditional Chinese acupuncture, many people don't see the difference between the two despite the extensive research that has gone into both. However, there are still those who don't see how it works or the value of the process and write it off as merely a placebo effect. If you've ever had either done, you know that that's not true at all! 

Let's also consider the fact that massage was thought for a long time in "Western culture" to just be something "nice" for yourself and didn't really have any positive affect on the body other than feeling good. We now know that this isn't true and many physical therapists will recommend medical massage therapy after a traumatic accident (car crash, sports injury) to help with pain and increase blood flow to affected areas. 

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Hopefully this answered your questions on what dry needling is and the benefits of having it done. It is a fast growing practice as more people try it out for themselves to help with chronic pain and nerve dysfunction. While we do not offer it here at Massage La Mesa, we will happily refer you to someone who does! What would you like to learn about next?

Contact us at: 619-917-4675 OR 

Book now by clicking HERE.

Friday, August 3, 2018


Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) essential oil has been used for centuries in a variety of ways, according to doTerra. Some of the most common ways are to cleanse surfaces and air, clear breathing, and to promote feelings of relaxation. We use Eucalyptus here daily in our AromaTherapy to help promote those feelings of relaxation and to lessen tension in the body. As an added bonus, Eucalyptus has been found to help with inflammation of the skin and combat muscular aches and body pains caused by conditions like arthritis!

Some Background

Eucalyptus is commonly referred to in Australia as a "Gum Tree" or "Blue Gum Tree" because of the bluish-green color of its leaves. Back before it was being exported and used regularly, the Aborigines called them "Kino" and used them to dress wounds because of the astringent properties found in the leaves.

Around 1788 the tree was first introduced to Europe and referred to as "Sydney Peppermint" because of its menthol quality. It became one of the most popular choices when dealing with burns, blisters, sore throats, insect bites and even Malaria. It was even thought to keep mosquitoes carrying the Malaria disease away! Much like its cousins peppermint, lavender and rosemary, eucalyptus is steam distilled and these four are often interchangeable when it comes to being used around the home.

How to Use It

Eucalyptus essential oil can be used topically, orally or it can be diffused. Each way can have different affects on the body. For example, if you were to use eucalyptus topically in its pure form, it is excellent for insect bites, burns and blisters to help prevent infection but should be used with caution. If you were to mix it in with your body lotion or use a few drops in the bath, it can help relieve aches and pains and even help with fatigue. Taken orally it can help with sore throats and gum infections, while using it in a diffuser can help clear your airways, soothe a cough, help with asthma and promote an overall relaxing environment. You can even use it around your home to deodorize and cleanse surfaces by mixing it in a spray bottle with lemon and peppermint!

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As you can see, eucalyptus is truly an amazing essential oil with so many different uses and properties. Its camphoraceous, woody scent is instantly recognizable and a favorite among essential oil users. If you haven't tried our AromaTherapy, give it a go and experience all the wonderful benefits for yourself! 

Contact us at: 619-917-4675 OR 
Book now by clicking HERE.