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Monday, May 30, 2022

Which Type of Massage is Right for You?

Are you feeling stressed, tense or burnt out? Do you have nagging pain or discomfort, perhaps from an injury years ago? For these problems, and others, massage therapy may be the answer. While it’s commonly considered a luxury, a massage is more than just something you’d expect from a trip to the spa—it’s an important treatment that’s been shown to play an important role in reducing stress and improving overall wellbeing. The benefits of massage therapy include:

  • Lowering stress
  • Improving immune function
  • Managing chronic pain
  • Improving emotional health and wellness
  • And more

At Sun Health Wellness, our massage services are offered by licensed and trained massage therapists, who specialize in working with you to ensure your needs are met. Whether you’re looking for total relaxation or targeted pain relief, there’s a massage that’s right for you. We specialize in the following forms of massage therapy.



Best for: Full body-relaxation

Swedish massage therapy is the most common, and most popular, form of massage. In fact, outside of English and Dutch speaking counties, Swedish massage is referred to as “classic massage.” The primary goal of Swedish massage is to relax the entire body. Soft, long kneading strokes and light, rhythmic tapping strokes are applied to the topmost layer of muscles. These techniques, along with movement of the joints, help to relieve muscle tension. A Swedish massage can also help increase the flow of oxygen in the blood. This helps flush lactic and uric acids, as well as other metabolic wastes, out of the body tissue, helping your body recover from stress and injury.

If you’ve never had a massage before, Swedish massage is a great place to start. It’s gentle enough for beginners, while also being an effective way to achieve stress relief and full-body relaxation.


Deep Tissue

Best for: Targeted tension and problem areas deep in muscle tissue

While Swedish massage focuses on the topmost layer of muscles, deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers in order to address underlying pain and tension. Common techniques include stripping and friction. Stripping involves applying deep pressure across the length of muscle fibers, while friction involves applying pressure perpendicularly to the direction of the muscle fibers. Both work to release tension deep in muscles and connective tissue.

It’s not uncommon to experience some discomfort during a deep tissue massage, since the strokes are firm and focus on working deep into the muscle tissue. However, you shouldn’t experience pain. If you’re in pain, your body will tense up, and the massage therapist will be unable to access the muscle tissue they’re trying to reach. Therefore, it’s always important to communicate with your massage therapist about any pain you feel during your deep tissue massage. In most cases, simply changing the technique or shifting position is all it takes to relieve pain or discomfort.



Best for: Encouraging the movement of lymph fluids and treating lymphedema

Lymphatic massage, also called lymphatic drainage massage, helps to restore lymphatic functioning and assist in the reduction of localized swelling.  The lymphatic system functions as a sort of cleaning service for the body—it consists of a network of tiny vessels, larger tubes and nodes that remove cell waste, proteins, fluid, viruses and bacteria from the space between cells. This is accomplished with the help of a clear, colorless fluid called lymph, which contains white blood cells that help rid the body of toxins.

70 percent of lymph vessels are located just under the skin. Gentle pressure from a massage therapist can stimulate these vessels to work more efficiently and move more lymph fluid to the heart. The message therapist will also use rhythmic, circular motions to stimulate the lymphatic system.


Lymphatic massage for lymphedema

Lymphedema is a condition characterized by swelling in the arms and legs. When blockages occur in the lymphatic system, lymph fluid is then unable to drain, causing swelling. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by damage to the lymph nodes or removal of the lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment. Along with exercise, wrapping the affected limb and using compression sleeves or garments, lymphatic massage is recommended as a treatment for lymphedema.


Trigger Point Therapy

Best for: Relieving chronic tension

Trigger point therapy massage involves deep and sustained pressure to areas of muscle tightness, pain or discomfort known as trigger points. Trigger points are tiny contractions, or knots, that arise in the body’s tissue and muscles due to an injury, overexertion or other trauma. Common causes of trigger points include inflammation, car accidents, falls, muscle strain and anxiety. Trigger points can form anywhere in the body, but are usually found in the lower back, neck, jaw, hip and shoulder. Trigger points can also cause pain in areas of the body other than where they’re located. For example, a trigger point in your back can cause pain in your neck.

During a trigger point therapy massage, you’ll actively participate through deep breathing and identifying the location and intensity of the discomfort you’re feeling. The massage therapist will use your verbal feedback to isolate and address specific trigger points accurately.

The deep pressure of trigger point therapy massage induces a process called soft tissue release. This increases blood flow, reduces muscle spasm and helps to break up scar tissue. If you work with a licensed and experienced massage therapist, you can expect a significant decrease in pain after just one trigger point therapy massage session.


Sports Massage

Best for: Preventing injuries and enhancing recovery

Sports massage focuses on the muscles that are used in sports and physical activity. Sports massage can be used before or after an athletic event, as well as for training or rehabilitation. By manipulating soft tissue using a variety of techniques, including Swedish-style massage, kneading, compression, friction, stroking and percussion, sports massage decreases the risk of pain or injury by ensuring that the body is in peak physical condition.

Despite the name, you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage. If you do any sort of physical activity, even as simple as walking your dog or occasionally attending a fitness class, your muscles can probably benefit from a little TLC. Sports massage can be used to relieve soreness from a workout or other physical activity, enhance flexibility and improve range of motion, as well as to promote general relaxation.


Customized Therapeutic

Best for: Targeted and customized treatment

As the name suggests, a customized therapeutic massage is 100 percent unique and designed for your specific needs. Endless possible combinations of deep tissue, Swedish, trigger point and sports massage techniques ensure that you can easily create the right massage for you. A customized therapeutic massage is a great choice if you want to try out a variety of massage techniques in a single session.


Find your perfect massage with Sun Health Wellness

Whether you’re interested in massage therapy to reduce stress, relieve pain, increase blood circulation or enhance lymph flow, our team of licensed massage therapists are here to help. Most of our services are covered by insurance plans, but if not, we offer them at a low out-of-pocket cost. We encourage you to learn more about our massage services and contact us with any questions you may have.


Friday, May 27, 2022

Getting Back Your Lost Exercise Habit


The weather in Arizona is delightful. However, the thought of fulfilling the promise to yourself of getting back to exercising in the new year may have you feeling frightful.

As Sun Health’s Wellness Specialist Alex Stark, M.S., says, the key to making sure you stay true to your New Year’s resolution of getting back to exercising is to start small.

“I like to remind clients that the most important thing is to start small. Exercise is not like riding a bike. You might remember what to do, but your muscles need a little time,” he says. “If you used to exercise for an hour, start with 15 minutes. If you used to cover 3 miles, in 1 hour, now you may only be able to do 1 mile and that’s OK.”

As Alex points out, it is not uncommon for people to take time off from exercising during the holidays; others may have stopped workout routines due to fitness center closures. Another important part of getting back to physical activity is to reestablish the routine, and that does not happen overnight.

“It takes 12 weeks to establish a habit, so the sooner you start the habit and do it more regularly, the more success you will have in the long run,” Alex says. “And the smaller amounts and working up to frequency is key as well. Once you establish the behavior again, if you get off track something will feel amiss because you get an adrenaline boost when you exercise, and when you don’t you will feel groggy and miss the feeling. It’s all about getting back to the routine.”

Another important reminder when getting back on track — remember to drink plenty of water and warm up before stepping out into the cool weather to exercise. Also, forgetting to stretch out could land you in the physician’s office.

“It is easy to think because it is cooler outside, I am not as likely to sweat or get overheated, so I do not need as much water, which is not the case. Our bodies are like engines and always need water,” Alex says. “And be sure you warm up before going outside in the cool temperatures. If you do not stretch or ease into whatever you might be doing, you can easily get a cramp, which could lead to injury. Ease into what you are doing. Don’t just step outside and start sprinting.”

Alex reminds us to take getting back to exercising day by day and to be easy on yourself as you reestablish the habit.

He cautions that although habits may take 12 weeks to form, as soon as you start to work on them, they will grow into a habit.

The key is not to overthink it, keep it simple, and before you know it, regular exercise will be part of your 2022 routine!

As Alex says, reestablishing the habit is the most important part of getting back to a physically active lifestyle. Join Alex as he presents a class called “Getting Back on Track” on Jan. 31 available in person or via Zoom. Visit SunHealthWellness.org/classes.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Sun Health Helps Those with Diabetes Defy Risk for Developing Memory Loss

When it comes to dementia, a fact most people don’t know is that those with diabetes have a 65% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to the World Journal of Diabetes.

Marty Finley, M.Ed., Sun Health’s lead Memory Care Navigator says, “It’s also true that many of those with diabetes aren’t even aware they have the condition, going undiagnosed and untreated. Given the fact that diabetes is common among adults over the age of 65, affecting one in four, these higher risk individuals might be your wife, your husband, your best friend or your neighbor.”

So how does diabetes lead to increased risk of memory loss? The reasons are simple; long-term exposure to sugar in the blood harms the body in multiple ways, ranging from inflammation that damages brain cells and blood circulation to unbalanced brain chemicals from insulin. This is why Finley wants to share information with the community about an upcoming event focused on diabetes prevention and management.

Sun Health’s annual Diabetes Expo will be held on Friday, Nov. 12th, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Colonnade and on a Zoom broadcast. This is a no-cost event that will allow you to learn more about managing diabetes and your overall health. Call (623) 207-1703 to register for this event.

Finley also remarks, “A recent Harvard Medical study from over the summer pointed out another major reason diabetes leads to memory loss. Diabetes has negative effects on the heart, and heart health is related to brain health. Heart disease and elevated blood pressure are both associated with strokes that, in turn, can lead to dementia.”

Lastly, Finley reminds us that social activities, a positive attitude, learning new things, and music can all help your brain work at its best and reduce your risk of dementia.

After all, preventing dementia isn’t just about managing brain fitness, but also those other conditions that make an impact, too. Sun Health offers a variety of wellness classes from Memory Caf├ęs to Tai Chi. To view Sun Health’s Live Well class calendar,

Already diagnosed with dementia? Sun Health’s Memory Care Navigator program can help those with memory loss and their family members and friends to identify support, services and resources that may be helpful in navigating the dementia journey. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call (623) 471-9300, or visit http://sunhealth.org/memorycare.