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Chicago Touch is proud to announce that it has received over 100 reviews on, and has averaged over 4.5 start for each one. We take pride in the fact that we have a loyal customer base that understands how seriously we take stress reduction and relief. If you have not yet joined the many people who have visited us, there’s no better time!

Prone vs. Supine Massage (You’re the Boss!)

The typical massage on a massage table combines both up (supine) and and face down (prone) time. Sometimes it’s a 50:50 mix, and other times more of one vs. the other. As therapists we develop guidelines for how to help you achieve your objective, and budget your time accordingly.

For example, a popular request is to have most of the time devoted to back, neck and shoulders. Within that, there are two variations. One request could be referring to the goal of maximum stress reduction or pain relief of the focus areas, or perhaps the more direct interpretation of working on the target areas as a way the primary way to address them. That is the purpose of that conversation at the beginning of your session. To achieve mutual clarity about your intentions. Sometimes there is an expectation that we will be spending the bulk of the session doing techniques directly on the pain place. In that case, probably what’s most important is for us to start your session at your target area and after a few minutes you will be ready for us to branch out, and find related areas which also need attention. Too much time on one area, and you eventually find diminishing returns or those muscles could put up more defense.

Suppose you have neck pain, and the assumption is that most of the time will be working directly on neck muscles and fascia. The first thing to realize is this will be a mostly supine massage. The alternative would be side-lying. Lying prone gives minimal access to the neck, and it is also the least comfortable way to have someone work on your neck as you would be feeling your face against the face cradle. It’s simply an unpleasant experience. Conversely, when you are supine, your neck can be put into a variety of positions, by turning the head one way and the other. Most people enjoy getting some traction at the neck, and this can be done most effectively facing up.

Shoulders get an equal opportunity, up and down. When shoulders are the priority, it makes sense to work them in both positions. Your six rotator cuff muscles can get more techniques
supine since there are more ways to position and stretch the arm in relation to the scapula. Moving the arm also will move the scapula several inches and expose muscles that would otherwise be hidden and inaccessible. If you have shoulder issues, it’s wonderful to receive work on the pectoral muscles which connect the sternum with the front of the scapula and the top of the arm. That’s supine. If you have back issues, in addition to working directly on the back muscles, including time for the front torso has the potential to help the back also.

For arms and hands, we have equal access up or down. The difference is your comfort, and reducing the face down time will reduce the time that your face is in the cradle. Also for some
people, facing up is a bit easier on the neck. Clearing the stress out of your arms will do more than just make your arms feel better. All of the nerves in the arm come out of the neck, and go through the shoulders. Some of the stress in your neck will exit your body through the arms when those channels open up.

Clearing the upper extremities will pay off at the top of the spine. Doing a good job on the lower extremities is going to support the bottom of the spine. With deep tissue sessions, we are also usually thinking about getting some green lights in the extremities prior to addressing the core.

The summary point with all of this is looking at the budgeting of your time on the massage table. With relaxation massage it is common to spend 60-80% of the session prone. Once you have had that type of massage several times a year for several years, and you’re interested in more of a result-oriented stronger therapy, you might enjoy starting at least half of your sessions up, and allowing at least half the time for supine work.

The prone work is analogous to coasting downhill… less challenge, more enjoyment. The supine work can have more challenge, and more noticeable benefits. Based on that, an excellent compromise is to request a session that starts supine and finish prone. By starting supine, there’s more likely that half the time will be supine, and you will have more time on some of the muscles that have been neglected in massages that started prone and only left 10-15 minutes at the end to cover all of the great work that can happen facing up.

Energy Healing

When people explore massage and bodywork, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Touch modalities have been around forever, all over the world. One consideration is pressure levels: strong, medium, light – and there’s a fourth category: no pressure, which could also be called sustained contact. Sustained contact with no pressure, or feather light touch, is obviously more subtle than massage or bodywork. Feather-light touch has more effect on the central nervous system, especially the brain, which functions in a medium of electro-magnetic pulsations.

The energy flow of the hands touching the head has an effect on brain-wave and neuro-logical activity. Feather-light touch anywhere on the body will effect the brain more directly than regular pressure levels of massage. Some energy modalites involve touching two different meridians at the same time. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) works extensively with theories based on principles of life force energy. TCM also has a lot of off-chutes techniques discovered by various healers. Here’s a summary of Jin Shin Jyutsu:

The hands are used as “jumper cables,” contacting 26 safety energy locks to redirect, or unblock the flow of energy along it’s pathways.

Energy Healing is mostly directed toward the human energy field, also known as the auric field. This also bridges into the concept of subtle bodies and also chakras. Fortunately, the techniques can be practiced without adhering to any belief systems. You do a process and observe the result. Some people notice striking benefits and some people do not notice benefits. Some of the techniques could be compared to meditation. In every case, it comes down to the cultivation of awareness within stillness.

Four million people have been instructed in Reiki over a period since 1970. It’s a classic technique of energy healing. It uses visualization of symbols and the idea that hands can transmit universal life force. Reiki can be combined with any activity. Prior to Reiki becoming known in the 70’s, an earlier example of energy healing in the west, was was Polarity Therapy, develop by ostopath Randolf Stone. This is a synthesis of eastern philosophy and alternative medicine. Keep in mind, there was no acupuncture school in the western hemisphere until 1970, in London, England. Modern medicine was relatively new, and ancient wisdom was largely suppressed. Most of these alternative healing arts are timeless, or go back more than 4,000 years. In recent decades, we’re seeing the scientific community more willing to validate the effectiveness of modalities which involves conceptual frameworks which cannot be proven or dis-proven.

Chicago Touch offers Energy Healing as one of its many types of massage. Call (312) 929-3083 for more details or to book a session.

Low-back pain: Our new blog

The purpose of this blog is to share some awareness of how bodywork addresses low back pain.  Each therapist at Chicago will be interviewed on the topic.
Q:   If I have low-back pain, how would I select between different types of practitioners: MD, Chiro, Naprapath, Osteopath, Acupuncture, and then within massage we have another menu: Swedish, deep-tissue, Shiatzu, etc.?
A: Only a doctor can provide a medical diagnosis, and usually that requires x-rays or scans.  Chiropractors specialize in the back, they are qualified to diagnose, and they can treat with manual medicine, and refer to MDs when needed.  Acupuncturists can also offer detailed assessment, and probably offer fast relief, with or without needles.  The alternatives to needles include cupping, moxabustion, acupressure and micro-current.
Massage therapy will help you clear stress patterns out of the muscles that are associated with the pain syndrome.  There are at least 20 pairs of muscles between the mid-torso and the knees which could factor into the injury that is causing pain.   Remember that the stress has probably built up for a long time prior to erupting into a symptom.  Muscles that attach to the lower lumbar vertebra have a close relationship with the large intestine.  Organs store energy and emotions.  Awareness of these connections lays the foundation my entire approach to healing arts.  Compression and stretches around the thighs and hips, especially the illio-tibial band will help your body transform stress in various lower-torso organs.  I look for the most sensitive reflexes on the legs, and for major blockages, utilizing light energy techniques speeds up the clearing process.
My view is that the pain is natures way of asking for us to redirect our attention inwardly, to get more complete with the past, and maybe consider appropriate lifestyle adjustments.
On a purely physical level, there is the consideration of the effect of gravity compressing the lower spinal area, and the stress on all the joints of the pelvis and lower torso.  The goal of massage is to speed up the recovery time for whatever the injury is, and also prevent additional injury.
If the low-back pain is not too severe, then starting with massage will be a chance to get some assessment; you find out if massage is helping a lot or a little or not at all.  If it’s not sufficiently helpful, then you need to see a physician who can diagnose the situation.
Regarding the types of massage and bodywork, most of us are going to blend the various modalities we are trained in based on your objective.   Every tradition has effective remedies.  I like them all, and my tendency is to blend everything I know.
Q:  What’s a typical emotional theme with the lower back?
A:  In the most general terms, peace with the past.  The stress could be a forgotten conflict, a pattern of being conflicted, or old grief.  It’s the inability to let go of judgments, especially self-judgement.  You could also summarize it as old grief.
Q:  Conflict implies relationship.  What if my stress is intertwined with the people in my life?
A:  I correlate the theme of bonding (and bonding stress) with muscles that attach to the sacrum.  This would include piriformis and gluteus medius.  Peace with the past includes the people of your past.  The pelvis also includes the theme of identity, which is largely influenced by relationships, especially parents.
Q: How did you come up with this stuff?
A:  Very gradually, through my studies and observations.  I do meet a lot people with physical problems and I often learn something about their background.  As a therapist, I’m just looking for the best methods.  My early training in the 80’s had a consistent theme: including an awareness of the emotional factor will allow the correction to go in deeper and last longer.  They showed us how to get assessments and I gradually created my own system, which I call ontological bodywork.
Q:  When people are coming to see you for low-back pain, how often can you help them get an immediate drop in the pain by at least 50%?
A:  More than 50% of the time.  And 90% relief would only be around 10% of the time.  Immediate relief could occur from a variety of reasons.   We don’t adjust the spine, yet we help your body get into a state where it can adjust itself.  The techniques we utilize near the spine help to engage the para-sympathetic nervous system.  That is the restorative aspect of your nervous system that helps your body recover from stress.   Sometimes just getting the nervous system to switch gears from sympathetic to parasympathetic is enough to get a substantial pain reduction.
Q: How can I utilize massage for the purpose of preventing back pain?
A: At least a few times per year, allow your therapist to take however much time is needed to be comprehensive in clearing the trigger points of the legs, especially the thighs.  These are dense, thick muscles which function as shock absorbers for the torso.  If most of your massage time is on the back, neck and shoulders, then that small amount of time on the legs won’t be sufficiently thorough.  The need for this is much less if you’re doing a regular stretching routine.
I would again like to mention the correlation between low-back and the large intestine.  Colon cleansing fiber supplements are inexpensive and effective.  I think it’s probable that lack of colon maintenance could result in some type of low back symptom.
Q: With pregnant women, you hear about the both the low back, and the lower GI.  Do you have a different approach for them?
A: My pregnant clients get maximum emphasis on the reflex points of the legs which clear the energy of the large intestine.  Anyone who has new stuff coming into their life, we will do a session that helps with letting go of old patterns.  A new home, a new career, a new relationship, even a new car, we need to create space for these things.  A new baby is the prime example, and without any massage, mom is getting compression therapy from the expanding uterus and growing fetus.  The new father is also going through an activation process.  Latent aspects of his being are coming to the forefront.  There is a push from nature.  It shows up in different ways.   There are a lot of positive emotions.  Sometimes that’s enough, and sometimes the power of the positive emotions can trigger a healing crisis, which means symptoms, and massage is highly indicated at that point.


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