East Bay Massage: Massage and the Immune System

Happy Holidays! 

To keep healthy during this cold and flu season, be sure to take some time out of the hustle and bustle for massage. In addition to relaxation and relief from muscle fatigue, bodywork helps keep the body healthy by increasing the germ-killing cells in the immune system. This is the body’s way of protecting us against this season’s inevitable exposure to bacteria and viruses. Additionally, massage improves circulation overall within the body, making it more effective in delivering those killer cells to areas of the body under siege from germs that would otherwise send us to bed with a box of tissue. Aromatherapy oils can be added to your session to enhance your body’s natural defense against sickness– eucalyptus can help to clear the sinuses, peppermint cools the body and calms digestion, and lavender helps to maximize the body’s natural relax response to soothing touch. Massage is infinitely more enjoyable that a flu shot– why not bolster your immune system the natural way? Shot or not, your body will benefit from massage by relaxing into fighting off infection.

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!


East Bay Massage: Pregnancy and Massage

Being pregnant changes things forever. At the end of these nine months, you’ll have a precious little baby to fall in love with, to learn about, and to whom you will devote untold amounts of energy, attention, and love. Being a parent changes life, starting literally from the inside out.

When you are pregnant, you can reasonably expect to feel fatigued, especially in the first trimester. Growing that little bean takes a lot of energy! Be kind to yourself– take naps, eat well, and drink plenty of water. You may experience nausea, either sequestered to only one part of the day, or, more commonly, periodically and across the day. If this is the case, I feel for you! Be sure to get rest and fluids, and don’t lose hope that you will once again remember what it was like to not feel perpetually hung-over.

Many women find that by the second trimester, their energy levels have increased and their nausea has decreased. This is a great time to start receiving massage! You can continue to receive regular bodywork up to and including labor.

As you well know, ligaments are stretching and becoming more flexible in order to accommodate the birthing process. You may experience lower back aches as the sacro-uterine ligament is taxed by the growing baby in your uterus. This also changes a woman’s center of gravity, so be mindful about how you use your body. As breasts grow ready to produce milk, you may experience upper back/shoulder tension. Receiving massage during this time can help to relieve tension at the shoulders and around the shoulder blades.

Receiving massage while laying on your side gives your body the chance to be supported. Taking the load off your lower back in and of itself often brings delightful relaxation. From this side-lying position, work can be done around the shoulder girdle and scapula. 

Women commonly experience leg and foot cramping during pregnancy, especially if they are on their feet all day at work. The extra weight and increased fluid volume in the body can tax the lower extremities. Rexflexology for the feet is effective in relieving tension and can be done while side-lying.

Be sure to tell your massage therapist if you have vericose veins, high blood pressure, or gestational diabetes. While these conditions do not necessarily rule you and baby out for massage, your therapist needs to know in order to tailor the session to your unique needs.

If you’re expecting, do yourself and baby a favor and get some good bodywork! Relaxation is therapeutic, especially when you’re growing a person!

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!


East Bay Massage: Fibroids

Up to as much as 80% of all fertile women will at some point develop leiomyomas, or fibroid tumors. These benign growths most commonly appear in the smooth muscle walls or connective tissues of the uterus, but the good news is that they are most often asymptomatic– meaning that they do not generate any symptoms that would send you to your OB. If symptoms are presenting, they usually manifest in heavy or watery periods. If you are experiencing lower back pain whose origin is hard to pinpoint, or if it seems to be exacerbated by your period, large fibroid tumors could be the root cause.

How does massage fit in to this picture? The sacro-uterine ligament, baby! This ligament attaches from the neck of the uterus to the sacrum, which what most think of as their tail-bone. Imagine a big heavy tumor growing inside the uterus– as it grows, it taxes the ligament more and more, which in turn pulls on the sacrum. Before you know it, ouchie! Lower back pain.

Massage can help with easing the torque on the lower back from the sacro-uterine ligament. Oftentimes, when one structure is overtaxed, neighboring tissues take up the slack. This is one reason why entire regions of the body become tender, sore, or inflamed. Because massage is also calming to the nervous system, it helps the client in managing her symptoms. Of course, if large fibroids are known to be present, abdominal work should be avoided.

There you have it! Another reason why massage is awesome!

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!

East Bay Massage: Pilates

Straddle Rolling LIke A Ball

Those of you who know me know that I have the zeal of a new convert when it comes to Pilates. If you are a client of mine you may have even been entertained by my fitness stylings after a massage. I have a tendency to move the table out of the way to show clients ‘cool stretches’ that might help with certain range of motion or flexibility issues. It is the *only* kind of work out that seems to have worked for me. By worked, I don’t mean that I have six pack abs (I do like six packs, though, on other people, and to drink), rather that it’s a practice that is sustainable for me.

As a new mom, I thought a lot about ‘losing the baby weight,’ but could never seem to make any headway. I tried walking around the marina, restricting what I ate, and did actually try a Pilates DVD at home. That DVD totally infuriated me! I’d lay on the floor and attempt what the perky Pilates instructor on TV was doing so effortlessly. But what looked like second nature to her bore no resemblance to what I was managing. What IS this side-plank thing? People are not meant to do that! The physics of it are implausible!

Fast forward several years to my first Pilates class through my community center. What worked for me was actually having a real person present to make corrections to my form. The class was filled, but filled with people at all varying levels of practice. The teacher showed us options to make the exercises either easier or more difficult based on our level and our courage. Over time, I gained strength and courage. Guess who side-planks now?

THEN I took a cadaver anatomy class at the chiropractic college here in the East Bay. I keyed in to a concept that I hadn’t thought much about before. External pressure. Core strength (including the front abs and also the muscles of the back and sides) is central to healthy function in the body. A balance between the front and back is essential for holding the spine in alignment. Good posture takes pressure off of our respiratory diaphram and allows for better breathing and oxygenation of blood. Our diaphram and pubis cap off the middle area of our bodies– if we provide this cylinder with strong walls, the spine is supported in the position that affords us the most stability. The benefits of this are immeasurable– reduced risk of injury, reduced risk of muscle soreness, reduced risk of vertebral or other joint misalignment, reduced risk of headaches, neck pain, etc., etc., etc.

The “Roll Down” (pictured above) engages the muscles of that cylinder of support provided by our abdominals and back (eh, not to mention the glutes, inner thighs, quads and yes, even arms).

Pilates stretches the body as it strengthens it. Stretching those areas that are in contraction has tremendous benefit to our overall health and can yield surprising progress in chronically painful spots. Using a Theraband can help a lot when addressing tight muscles and is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways. Below is pictured one way of using the Theraband– extending the legs while supporting the stretch with an arm pull activates the muscles in the shoulder girdle as it elongates the hamstrings (my personal nemesis).

Leg stretch with Band

Pilates is an awesome way to stretch those muscles in contraction and strengthen those that have been stretched beyond healthy function. Perhaps what I like the most about Pilates is its whole-body approach. Instead of working just one isolated muscle, Pilates addresses the body as a whole, integrated system. Pilates includes the power of our imaginations, too– visual imaging engages the mind as we work the body. Picturing your bellybutton pulled in to your spine goes a long way in hollowing out the abs. To that end, if you’re thinking about a new approach to fitness, try signing up for a class with a teacher who can physically and mentally guide you into better shape.

Try looking at your local community center to see if Pilates is offered there– city classes are often affordable and offered at lots of different times. Give it a try and see if you don’t love it! After you are certain about your form, try getting a book like The Pilates Body by Brooke Siler to use at home. I like this book because it does provide mental imagery to use, has lots of pictures, and stays true to the original method pioneered by Joseph Pilates.

Happy planking!

Thanks for visiting East Bay Massage, too!

East Bay Massage: Remember! Relaxation is Therapeutic!

I’m going to admit something:

The other day, sitting in my hybrid car (parked in front of my house), I was talking on my cell phone. I pulled it away from my face to check something on googlemaps, but continued my conversation (gotta love the Androids), and also responded to a text. Still ensconced in my conversation, I started rooting through my purse, and then frantically scanning the floor of the passenger side seat, and then the back seat. “Aw, crap! WHERE did I put my cell phone?” I said. Into the cell phone.

No sooner had the words crossed my lips that I realized what buffoon I was being. Really? Could I be any more connected to technology and any less connected to myself? Or to the person I was supposedly “talking” to? Where is my PHONE? Oh, it’s on my face. Right.

I am a person, just like anyone else, who does stupid stuff like wonder where my phone is while I’m talking on it, or try to open the front door with my key fob. Yep. Did that, too.

BUT, I count myself lucky to be a Massage and Craniosacral Therapist. My profession saves me from devolving into a complete idiot. And whereas I can say with absolute certitude that massage is therapeutic for those who receive it, I can also say that it is therapeutic for those who give it.

It’s not a ponderous new idea to say that technology, while it appears to connect us to the world in ways never before possible, also makes us more isolated from each other. If you’ve ever wasted your precious ‘laundry money time’ (those surprise blocks of free time that, when they surface, feel like a $20 bill discovered in a pants pocket in the wash) doing your online banking or Facebook-stalking your ex-girlfriend, you know that weird, lonely feeling that being supposedly ‘connected’ can evoke.

It is important to remember each other. And I personally like the word “remember.” If to be a “member” of something is to be part of it, and if “re-” means to do again, “remembering” people’s bodies is what I do for a living.

It’s no mistake that kids grow in their sleep, or that when we are ill, the only thing that we are capable of is sleep. Sometimes we even respond to emotional turmoil with sleep and rest. That’s because relaxation is therapeutic! Our bodies NEED a time and place to become remembered. Our bodies need a place to become integrated as opposed to isolated from each other and from our own selves. If you’ve ever had a migraine, an injury, or a heartbreak, you know that it’s possible for one part of the body to be louder than others. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome for many (in my humble opinion) is that disconnection.

Bodywork puts us in our place. Which is in our bodies. Human touch has got to be the most incredible means of communication to that end. The first massage I ever received left me feeling like a baby, in absolute comfort and ease in my body. I didn’t know that massage therapist from Adam, but the fact that she reminded my ankle that it belonged to the community of my foot, knee, an hip was so important to me that the experience propelled me into the same field.

All of the overwhelm of the day (it was one day before my wedding– yikes!) seemed so much smaller and manageable afterwards. Neurologically speaking, she accessed my parasympathetic nervous system and calmed the fight or flight response. But at that time, all I knew was that I felt relaxed. And that felt good. AND, it served a purpose. It helped me feel better.

How many times have you vowed to get ‘healthy?’ How many inspired conversations have you had with friends about improving your diet, starting yoga, or hitting the gym more often? How many of us look at our bodies in the mirror with a critical eye? How many of us actually conceive of massage as part of being healthy?

Here’s the thing: Massage feels good. And it’s good for you. If you think about it, how many things both feel good and are good for you? I don’t want to poison the well of health by singling any one thing out, but we all have a list of those things that we know we should be doing but don’t. Because they suck.

Massage’s benefits are so voluminous that I will devote a separate post to them entirely. Suffice it to say that getting in touch with your body is great for your nervous system, and even the way that you view yourself. It’s an activity that is therapeutic because of all of those physical benefits (lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, loosening tight muscles, etc.), but also because it is done in community. With another person present to support you as you become healthier.

I love being that person. I consider myself So. Lucky. to work in a mellow, cozy room, with calming music playing, helping people feel better. It also reminds me of my own humanity. When therapeutic relaxation occurs within community, every body benefits. When we are truly in our bodies, we are less likely to be lonely, isolated, or overwhelmed by stress. That kind of communication, not the kind where tear apart your car looking for the phone that is on your face, benefits us all.

I’m pretty sure that if everyone engaged in bodywork, there would be no war.

Remember! Relaxation is Therapeutic!

Thank you so much for visiting East Bay Massage!

East Bay Massage: Welcome


I am a Certified Massage Therapist through the state of California and am certified to practice Esalen massage through the Esalen Institute. I also practice Craniosacral therapy and draw on these modalities to tailor each session to the client’s needs. Other modalities I practice include pregnancy and infant massage, deep tissue, hot stone, and Reiki.

I work primarily as a massage therapy vendor for the employees of SAP-Dublin. My office here is open Monday-Friday, and I book appointments beginning at 11 am. If you are an employee of SAP-Dublin, you can schedule your appointment by clicking the “online scheduling” button and selecting the service you are interested in. You can also email me at Amanda.Flasck@sap.com, or ring x 8116. Discounted packages of three are available for any service!

For the public, I have an office in the lovely Montclair neighborhood of Oakland, CA. You can find me at the Montclair Wellness Center located at 5737 Thornhill Dr., Suite 203. I am currently taking appointments for Sundays here. You can book a session by clicking the “online scheduling” button and selecting the service you are interested in. Be sure to select “Amanda Flasck–Montclair” as the provider. You can also email me at amandaflasck@massagetherapy.com, or call (510) 282-6248.

The source of my interest in the healing arts has always been my curiosity in the connection between the mind and the body. We truly embody our thoughts, beliefs, trauma, and stress in the expression of muscle tension, chronic injuries, and protective posturing. Bodywork, through the practice of therapeutic touch, can serve to ease dysfunction and pain while encouraging the body to find natural balance– its unique expression of health.

I look forward to working with you in the pursuit of greater health.

Be well,

Amanda Flasck, CMT