What is Self-Care?

You’ve heard me talk about the importance of self-care countless times. By now you probably have a good understanding of why self-care is such a big deal. But do you know what I really mean when I talk about self-care?

At its core, self-care is about taking care of yourself. Most of us, but women in particular, tend to put the needs of others before our own. This means that by the time we finally have a few moments to ourselves, we’re too exhausted to do anything for ourselves. Self-care means recognizing yourself as a priority.

An entire industry has popped up around the idea of self-care. Those companies promote their products – aromatherapy, essential oils, fitness apps and videos, diet plans, and more – as being the key to self-care.

But self-care isn’t about how much stuff you buy or money you spend. Quite the opposite. Self-care is about making time to take care of yourself – physically and emotionally. It means eating well, getting exercise, consulting a medical professional when needed. It means setting aside time each day to do something that is just for you, whether it be reading a book, taking a walk or chatting with a friend.

As we head into the busiest, most stressful time of year, it is crucial that you make self-care a priority. Block off some time in your calendar if you have to. What matters is that you take care of yourself.

Don’t forget about yourself while you’re baking cookies, hopping from one holiday party to another and planning a large family dinner. Go for a walk while the cookies cool. Take a yoga class. Get your hair done.

For the ultimate in self-care, schedule a massage with me. Not only will you have an hour that is all about you, I can give you some additional self-care strategies to help you manage your stress during the holidays. And throughout December, my 60-minute massage sessions are only $60. Give the gift of wellness to a friend or family member, treat yourself right away, or pre-pay several sessions for yourself. You can purchase sessions at the holiday rate here .

Remember, self-care doesn’t have to involve spending lots of money on the latest wellness trends. Stick to the basics of what makes your body and mind feel good.

Forward Head Posture: A Modern Ailment

Forward Head Posture
You’ve been chastised your entire life to sit up straight and stop slouching. You know that keeping your spine straight and tall reduces back pain. You’ve probably also heard that good posture makes you look younger and thinner. Did you know that posture – particularly how you hold your head – can negatively impact your health in many ways?

Sitting and standing with your neck extended so that your head is sticking out beyond your chest is referred to as a “forward head posture.” General slouching can cause this posture. Other causes are sitting hunched in front of a computer or bending your head down to stare at a phone or tablet for long periods of time. Try it out: pick up your phone and scroll through Facebook or start a text. Are you sitting up straight with your head in line with your spine and your chin up? Chances are, your shoulders are hunched and your head is leaning forward and down.

The most obvious result of forward head posture is back pain. Your spine is meant to be straight. When your posture is out of alignment, your muscles have to work harder, which causes pain. For example, if you constantly stand with your weight on your left foot, your lower spine will be pulled to one side. This pulls your hips off balance and forces the muscles in your lower back to compensate for the weight imbalance. This extra effort results in sore, stiff muscles.

But it’s not only a sore back you should worry about. Recent studies have found a link between temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and a head-forward posture. More than three million Americans suffer from TMJ, a painful condition resulting in clicking, pain and locking in the jaw joint. The forward head posture puts additional pressure on your facial joints, including your jaw. This added pressure can lead to TMJ.

The extra tension in your facial and neck muscles caused by a forward head posture often causes headaches. Tension headaches caused by poor posture can last for long periods of time and become chronic.

Considering the human head weighs about 10 pounds, it’s not surprising that a head forward posture can cause so many problems for your body. Fortunately, many of those issues are relatively simple to correct.

The first, and most obvious, fix is also the most difficult. You have to consciously remind yourself to correct your posture. Sit and stand with your spine erect and your chin up. This can be tricky if you sit in front of a computer all day for work, and it may require you adjusting or even replacing your desk chair.

Improving your posture, however, may not be enough to eradicate the pain from years of forward head posture. A massage therapist can apply the body work techniques that will reverse the damage and reduce your pain. A good therapist will also analyze your posture and provide you with self-care skills to maintain proper posture and keep your body in good shape between appointments.

Call me if you’re suffering from hip, shoulder and back pain, tension headaches and pain and clicking in your jaw. I can work with you to alleviate your pain and help you regain a correct natural posture.

Back to School, Back to You


Summer has ended. Many parents are sighing with relief that their kids are back in school. And everyone is getting back to regular work schedules with fewer vacations, impromptu days off and weekend getaways.

How many times have you heard someone mention that September is a busy time of year? How many times have you made that claim? We may not be jetting off on vacations, hosting a barbecue every weekend or dashing from party to party, but there is more than enough to keep us all running in three directions at once.

It’s important for your physical and mental health to make time for yourself in between endless work meetings, helping with homework, running kids to and from sports and other activities and yardwork. When we are constantly on the go, our bodies show signs of fatigue like a stiff neck, tight shoulders and headaches. We can also have trouble sleeping, moodiness and forgetfulness.

Taking time for yourself to recharge doesn’t require a quiet weekend at a yoga retreat. Even a few minutes a day that are just for you can make a difference. Find something that makes you happy and relaxed that fits into your already taxed schedule.

Is there a skill you’ve been wanting to learn? An activity you’ve been wanting to try? A nonprofit you’ve been considering volunteering for?

If your schedule is too full for something with a big time commitment, can you carve out 15 minutes at the beginning or end of your day? Take a few moments to fully stretch every part of your body to keep your fascia smooth and fluid. Savor your morning coffee while reading the paper or curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.

For the ultimate in relaxation and you-time, schedule a therapeutic massage. Massage is proven to have immediate and long-lasting effects, such as relieving stress, reducing muscle tension, lowering blood pressure and helping you to sleep better. Plus, it just feels good.

However you choose to spend it, make sure you schedule some time just for yourself. Your mind and body will thank you.

No Pain, No Gain – Fact or Fiction?


We’ve all heard the phrase “no pain, no gain.” But should pain really be our goal? And what are the best methods for dealing with pain if you’ve pushed yourself too far?

The idea of pain being beneficial is based in truth. If you want to increase your fitness, you do need to move outside of your comfort zone. And that means muscle soreness and fatigue.

But how much is too much? There is a fine line between the pain that means you’re building your fitness and the pain that signifies injury.

When you’re trying to increase the weight you can lift, you want to feel slightly sore and tired by the end of your repetitions. Pushing your muscles to their limits helps them to become stronger. But if you can hardly move your arms the next day or are still sore after a few days, you upped your weight too quickly. If you’re trying to increase the distance you walk, you may find yourself breathing harder as you finish your walk. However, if you’re breathing so hard you can’t talk or your legs ache badly for a days afterward, you’ve overdone it.

Pain can be a strong indicator of injury, not only in extreme cases like breaks and sprains, but also in less severe injuries that can happen with overuse or doing too much too quickly. Therefore, it’s important to listen to your body. If you think you may have gone too far, you probably have.

What should you do if the pain you’re experiencing is signaling overuse or injury? Most of us would likely reflexively reach for a painkiller. But there are other option for dealing with pain that may be more beneficial, particularly in the long term.

Massage therapy has long been recognized for its effectiveness in treating pain. In fact, the American College of Physicians recommended in February that patients with lower back pain be treated with massage therapy before resorting to medication.

One of the types of body work I offer in my practice is especially good for those suffering from painful injuries. Some people shy away from massage therapy when they’re injured because they fear the body work will lead to more pain. CranioSacral Therapy, however, uses light touch to relieve your pain. Using pressure equivalent to approximately the weight of a nickel, I can manipulate your spinal cord and skull to alleviate painful tension from injury and overuse.

They say the best medicine is prevention. But when that fails and you find yourself in pain, call me.

Healthy Travel


Are you taking a vacation this summer? With a little planning, you can stick to your health goals, whether you’re taking a quick weekend getaway or a 10-day cruise. Here are three things you can do to stay on track while traveling.

  1. Daily Stretching
  2. You should start each day with a full-body stretch to keep your fascia smooth and supple. But when traveling, simple stretching isn’t always enough. An uncomfortable bed or being cramped in a car or airplane for several hours can throw your body’s alignment out of whack and cause muscles and joint to stiffen. Make sure to take stretch breaks when possible while traveling, focusing on the areas that feel tight.

    Need a deeper, more targeted stretch? Use therapy balls to roll out the sore spots. If you don’t have a set of therapy balls, you can order them here https://www.tuneupfitness.com/shop/self-massage-therapy-balls (or buy them from me). You can also use firm, pink rubber balls sold at the Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target and other mass retailers. The Yoga Tune-Up website (https://www.tuneupfitness.com/) has a large library of videos demonstrating how to use the balls. If you want a routine tailored to your specific needs, call me.

  3. Keep Moving
  4. The dream vacation for many people involves lying on a beach or escaping to a cabin in the woods. The entire point of vacation is to relax, right? Fortunately, the recommended daily 30 minutes of physical activity is easy to achieve, even when you’re on a mission to unwind.

    When planning your vacation stay, think about where you can go for a brisk walk or run. Can you manage a stroll on the beach before the heat and crowds hit? Is there a hiking trail nearby? Does your hotel have a gym or suggested walking route?

  5. Eat Smarter
  6. Trying out the local cuisine is a big part of the fun of traveling. But that doesn’t mean you should forget all notions of healthy eating. Bring some snacks or even some cereal and sandwich ingredients so you don’t have to dine out for every meal.

What are the must-have local dishes where you’re going? Are there a couple foods you absolutely must try? Plan your meals around a few local delicacies, and keep your other meals simple.

Your summer vacation doesn’t have to destroy your health and wellness goals. All it takes is a little thinking ahead. For more tips on staying healthy this summer, follow me on Facebook.

Summer: A Different Kind of Stress Needs a Different Kind of Treatment


Summer is here. And with it comes a whirlwind of activities: graduations, kids transitioning out of the routine of the school year, barbecues, weddings, vacations and so much more. After a seemingly endless winter, summer is a welcome change. We herald its arrival with a collective cheer.

And yet somewhere amid the hectic dash between events and packing for a long-awaited trip, do you ever feel a little overwhelmed? The holidays have the reputation as the most stressful time of year; however, summer can also cause its own type of stress. The sheer volume of commitments throughout the summer can make you feel overwhelmed and overstimulated. While this can show itself as physical discomfort, such as tense shoulders and headaches, it can also take an emotional toll. I see this often with clients who have such packed schedules that they can’t seem to turn off their minds.

Helping a client mentally relax is one of my toughest tasks because it requires a conscious effort on the client’s part. If your back feels tight, I can use a variety of techniques to relax muscles, working through the layers one by one until all of the knots are gone. But the mind is a muscle I can’t physically touch.

Many of my clients have to juggle busy schedules to make time for a massage therapy appointment. I can see the weight of their stress when they walk in. And they aren’t always able to turn off their brains when I start their massage. As I focus on eliminating their physical tension, they slowly allow themselves to forget about the tasks they have to tackle after their appointment. When they leave, they move freer and lighter because a physical and emotional weight has been lifted, even if only temporarily.

Sometimes, however, a client simply cannot stop thinking – mentally running through her calendar, calculating the time left in the week versus the commitments she has made, making to-do lists and recalling deadlines. Instead of allowing herself an hour to think of mental quietude, she torments herself with responsibilities. I may be able to greatly alleviate her physical tension, but there is still an emotional heaviness.

Just as you must allow your body to relax in response to the techniques I use during massage therapy, you also must make an effort to turn off your brain during the session. This doesn’t mean you can’t think about anything at all, but rather that you should give yourself permission to let your mind wander.

For those with high-stress or tightly scheduled lives, letting your mind rest can be difficult. It takes practice. Here are a few ways to let your mind rest.

  1. Focused Breathing
    Lie down or sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Slowly inhale for three counts, then slowly exhale for three counts. Focus on your breathing. You should fill your belly with air when you inhale, your chest and belly falling as you exhale. Continue until your mind feels relaxed.
  2. Daily Ritual
    Do you have daily ritual that is so simple you don’t have to think about it? Perhaps it’s making a pot of coffee each morning or brushing your teeth. As you perform this task, think through the steps. Whenever an unrelated thought starts to creep into your mind, dismiss it and turn back to your task. Engage all of your senses to fully experience this task. What does it sound like? What does it smell like? How does it feel? By focusing solely on this task, you are allowing your mind the space to (briefly) forget everything except what is directly in front of you.
  3. Get a Massage
    Massage therapy is proven to reduce both physical and psychological stress. Before the session begins, tell yourself it’s time to give your brain a break. During the massage, focus on the muscles being worked by the massage therapist. Think about how you feel. Can you feel the knots and twists in your fascia unwinding? Or are you tensing your muscles in response? Are your limbs starting to feel looser? Is there any spot on your body that feels like it needs more attention?

Being able to turn off your mind lets you mentally reset, which helps to ease your stress. Massage therapy is one way to relax physically and mentally. I work with my clients to help them relax during their appointments, and I can teach them self-care methods to practice relaxing their minds between appointments. If you’re feeling overwhelmed this summer, schedule a massage therapy appointment.

Health & Wellness for the Women in Your Life

When is the last time you did something just for you, something that made you feel good? As women, we tend to put our needs last. Women – particularly mothers – are often the caregivers for their families. Yet it is easy to forget that we need to focus on ourselves, too.

Practicing self care makes people happier and more productive and gives them more energy.

Self care can take many forms. It can be physical activity, such as taking a walk or attending a fitness class. It could be something that relaxes you, like getting a massage or gardening. Or it could be engaging in a favorite hobby, like reading or cooking. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you’re doing something you enjoy.

For some people, taking time for themselves can feel like a luxury. If you share that sentiment, why not ask for a gift certificate for an activity that relaxes you? I have several clients who say they would never have booked their first massage if they hadn’t received a gift certificate. Now they realize that self care is a necessity, not a luxury. And they not only continue to book massages, but they also purchase gift certificates so their friends and family can also experience the benefits of massage therapy.

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, now is the perfect time to introduce the mom in your life to the benefits of self care. It doesn’t get much easier than a gift certificate for a massage. It’s a one-size-fits-all gift that won’t end up in a landfill or rot in the fridge. And it’s the perfect gift for the woman who devoted so much of her life caring for you.

Take care of the moms in your life with a gift certificate for massage therapy. You can order them on my website or drop a hint with your husband or kids. Or simply treat yourself. You deserve it.

Spring: A Fresh Start for Nature and You

Spring has finally arrived in Rochester. The robins have returned, tulips are stretching their green leaves through the soil, hibernating animals are waking. Do you feel a renewed sense of energy? You’re not imaging it. Although Americans celebrate January 1 as the beginning of the new year, nature recognizes spring as the true start to a new year.

Are you ready to make some healthy changes? Now is the time, especially if your plans include getting more exercise. We’ve spent the winter hunkered down, conserving bodily energy and finding comfort in warm clothing and heavy foods – a sort of hibernation for the modern human. When spring arrives, there’s almost a feeling of seeing the world anew. Overnight the grays and whites of winter are replaced with the verdant green of fresh grass, a dazzling blue sky, the pinks, reds, blue and purples of the season’s first flowers. It is only natural that humans, too, suddenly feel urged to spend as much time as possible outside after an interminable winter. So get outside and stretch those muscles!

How do you start a springtime wellness journey? First, start slow. After weeks of snow and freezing rain and frigid temps, a sunny day in the 50s might inspire you to play 18 holes on the golf course or run a few miles. However, if you haven’t been exercising all winter, you run the risk of injury. Take a long walk or limit your run to a mile or two. Try nine holes before you tackle an entire course. See how your body feels after a trial run before you resume the levels of physical activity you were at at the end of the summer.

If you’re starting a new healthy habit, set your starting goal low – walking around the block twice a week, for example. Once you’ve reached your first goal, set a higher goal. Sound familiar? That’s because research shows that setting incremental goals is more effective than setting one large goal. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment more often, and it will be easier to pick up where you left off if you miss the mark.

Don’t forget to stretch! No matter what you have planned for the day, make sure to find a few minutes to stretch your limbs and muscles. Your fascia and your body will thank you.

Finally, make sure to stay in tune with your body. Do your joints feel extra creaky after the winter? Did your back feel stiff after spending an hour working on your garden? Does your knee feel sore after a long hike? If you’re feeling aches and pains after enjoying the fresh air – or if you want to prevent those – schedule a massage therapy appointment with me. I can help you get ready for new physical activity and show you some moves to do at home.

Massage for Back Pain


Did you know that approximately 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives? If you’ve ever had an achy back, you know just how terrible back pain can be. This condition can be as mild as a little stiffness in your lower back to being unable to straighten your spine. Back pain can be a minor inconvenience at best or it can interfere with daily life and negatively impact your quality of life at worst.

The medical field is catching on to what holistic health practitioners and many people with chronic back pain have known for a long time. There are more effective ways to treat back pain than with drugs. The American College of Physicians recently released new guidelines advising against drugs as the first step in treating back pain.

Back pain has traditionally been treated with over-the-counter or prescription painkillers, depending on the severity. In cases of severe or chronic back pain, doctors sometimes also recommend physical therapy. The American College of Physicians now recommends massage therapy, acupuncture, heat and spinal manipulation. Yoga, stretching and exercise are also effective in managing and reducing back pain.

There are several ways that massage therapy can ease back pain. One is by relaxing the muscles and ligaments that have tightened up to protect the site of injury. Easing those muscles allows the client to regain some range of motion, which in turn allows him to perform stretches and exercises to assist in healing his back. Furthermore, massage therapy targets not only the muscles directly at the pain site, but also other muscles that are connected to but not immediately surrounding that area of pain.

Remember the fascia? Knots and kinks in your fascia near your back can cause extreme discomfort. Massage therapy smoothes the wrinkles layer by layer, until your back is again free of pain.

Finally, massage therapy is relaxing. Sometimes simply managing to let go of physical and psychological tension can have a huge effect on lessening your pain.

Knowing how to treat pain once it occurs is important. However, it is also essential to know how to prevent that pain from happening in the first place. The same methods recommended for pain treatment can also help to prevent back pain for many sufferers. Even people who suffer from chronic back pain conditions can benefit from massage therapy and other non-drug treatments. These methods may not only reduce the frequency of pain, but may also reduce the severity.

Whether you suffer from chronic back pain or the occasional sore lower back, proper back care is essential. That includes taking steps to prevent pain as well as knowing hot to manage the pain when it does occur. Massage therapy can play a role in keeping your back healthy.

Take Care of Your Heart

February: the time of year when it seems everyone is focused on finding and keeping love. Fancy dinner reservations, wine and chocolate abound in a world awash with pink and red hearts. But it’s also a time to focus on your physical heart.

Your spiritual and emotional well-being is connected to your heart health. According to the American Psychological Association, your mental and emotional health can impact your physical health in two ways. First, stress can lead to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. Secondly, emotional distress can prevent you from making and sustaining the healthy choices necessary for cardiovascular health.

How do you ensure your spiritual and emotional well-being? A nice glass of wine and some good chocolate always make my heart swell. So does practicing kindness, particularly making time to care for others. Find some time this month to do something nice for someone – check in on an elderly neighbor, drop off some soup or cookies to a friend (store-bought is just fine), or finally grab coffee with that friend you keep saying you’ll get together with.

Did you know massage therapy is also good for the heart? Massage therapy can lower many of the risk factors associated with heart disease. Recent studies have shown that massage therapy can lower your blood pressure, and the effects can last for at least several days. Massage has also been demonstrated to reduce hypertension and heart failure.

Although stress is not a direct cause of heart disease, it can contribute to some of the risk factors of heart disease. And we all know how effective massage therapy is in managing stress.

Have you had cardiac surgery? Research shows that massage is beneficial both before and after surgery. Massage therapy can help a patient with the pain, anxiety and tension typically associated with surgery.

No matter how you choose to recognize American Heart Month, make sure you take care of your own.

Holiday Special

$15 OFF!


60 minute massages are only $60 for the entire month of December! Treat yourself this holiday season, buy as a gift for family or friends, or pre-purchase to save through 2018.

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Carol Kennedy, LMT

Home office

4572 St. Paul Blvd., Irondequoit, NY

Bella Zen Spa

1 Grove St, Suite 117

Pittsford, NY 14534

Carol@CarolKennedyLMT.com

585-317-8179

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Before your first appointment, be sure to review Carol's welcome letter and cancellation policy. Please print and complete the intake form and bring it with you to your appointment.