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Technique of the month:

Massaging the scalp

A female friend my age (51) recently remarked that she can’t imagine having her hair done once a week and then not touching or washing her hair the rest of the week, as many women of her mother’s generation did.

The scalp needs to be touched and stimulated as much as the skin on the rest of the body, and a massage can address that need quite well.

With the client lying face up on the massage table, the therapist sits on a chair or kneels behind the head of the client. The therapist lightly places his hands on the sides of the client’s scalp and rests them for a few seconds before beginning light circular motions with his fingertips. The circular motions of the fingertips are extended to the top of the scalp as well before the therapist gently turns the client’s head to one side.

The therapist cradles the head with one hand while using the other hand to do circular motions of the fingertips from the base of the skull to the side of the skull above the ear. If the client has sufficient hair, the therapist tugs at the hair gently before turning the client’s head to do the same massage and hair tugs on the other side of the head. If the client has gelled or moussed hair, the therapist cleans his hands with hand sanitizer before continuing on to a massage of the face.

Stretch of the month:

Self-massage of the scalp

While you’re showering, wash your hair, and then, while the hair is still wet, grasp at clumps of your hair and gently tug at them, making sure to tug at various clumps of hair until the whole scalp has enjoyed this awakening technique.

If you are bald or balding, use your fingertips to knead the scalp, or use your knuckles to do a circular motion over the whole scalp, making sure to do the base of the skull as well.

After a shower, rub the bristles of a hairbrush all over the hair and scalp before straightening the hair as you usually do.

Growing popularity of massage

(from the November-December 2007 issue of Hands On)

More Americans than ever had a massage in the past year – 24 percent of the adult population, according to the 11th annual Massage Therapy Consumer Survey undertaken by the American Massage Therapy Association.

Since 2002, massage use has averaged almost 21 percent of the U.S. adult population in the survey from each year.

Massage is also becoming more widely used across the country, Since 1996, surveys by the AMTA have shown very little difference in adult use of massage from one region to another.

Such results bode well for bringing into effect the AMTA vision that the public view professional massage as an important part of wellness and receive massage regularly.

Among the results of the survey:

  • Women reported the highest use of massage – 30 percent. In the past five years, 43 percent of women had at least one massage, vs. 34 percent of the overall population.
  • More people get massage for medical reasons – 30 percent – than for relaxation – 22 percent. People ages 45-60 are more likely than younger adults to seek massage for medical reasons, such as injury recovery, pain relief and management, or headache control.
  • Almost one-third of Americans who have had a massage say they’ve gotten it at least once for pain relief – not too far from the percentage who have turned to chiropractic (38 percent) and physical therapy (44 percent).
  • People with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 had massage more often than people making less than $50,000. Those with higher incomes were also more likely to have massage for medical reasons.

Hike of the month:

Coursen Road, Stokes State Forest, Sandyston, N.J.

For those of us who seek the solitude of a winter hike without the wet boots incurred by a snow-covered trail excursion, traversing the plowed roads of a state park can be just the ticket.

Coursen Road in Stokes State Forest in Sussex County can be accessed by turning off Route 206 in Sandyston, N.J., at the sign for the Stokes main office. Park at the office and follow the road that goes around it.

On the overcast 25-degree Sunday afternoon in December when I did the hike, I encountered very few cars and walked mainly in the middle of the road. The evergreens and the bare brown limbs of the other trees enveloped me on the up-and-down road, and I felt sweetly isolated as my fast pace warmed me under my multilayered garb.

In 20 minutes or so I came to a fork in the road and turned right toward Stony Lake. In the summer, it invites swim-seeking campers and other visitors with its beach, lodge, playground and ample parking lot. In winter, only the footprints in the snow on one of several trails in the area broke the illusion that I had the icy lake scape to myself.

Retracing my steps to the intersection, I continued downhill past a roaring stream and picnic area to a group campsite and, surprisingly for a state park, a private residence. My curiosity sated, I hustled upward and made the right turn onto Coursen Road where, many cold breaths and heated arm swings later, I found my way back to my car at the park office, 90 minutes and perhaps five miles in a solitarily welcome Sunday jaunt.

Recipe of the month:

Veggie cornbread

1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 medium sweet potato
1 large carrot
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
1 medium red onion
1 large sweet red pepper
1 large leaf kale

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a square glassware baking dish with Pam cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large, deep mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, millet flour, arrowroot powder, baking soda and sea salt.

In a food processor, grind together the sweet potato, carrot, oil and water. Add to the dry ingredients.

Chop up the onion, sweet red pepper and kale and add to the dry ingredients.

Mix all ingredients, adding additional water if needed to make a moist batter. Pour or spoon into glassware baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the cornbread comes out clean.

Serves 4 (four large squares) or 8 (eight smaller slices).

Until next time … stay in Heartful Touch.

Dennis Sprick
The Heartful Touch
Massage and CranioSacral Therapy