Like most mothers, I want Mother’s Day to be about family, appreciation, tranquility, a clean house and some pampering. Not necessarily in that order. I can count on my husband to get the kids to sign cards and know a lovely arrangement of flowers will be presented. I love that. What I really want though is pampering, from my stressed head to my commuting toes. In case my husband or someone else’s husband is reading this, here are details on pampering that would make a woman feel loved, acknowledged and soothed Mother’s Day or any day you want to present a lovely gift.
I recently spoke with Jean Macer, licensed and certified massage therapist who operates out of Spectrum Wellness in Old Tappan, about massage being a necessary part of our lives. Jean believes that being touched regularly is essential for well-being and that massage is an integral part of our emotional and physical health. Her gentle prices ($60 for an hour long massage, $40 if you are a patient in Spectrum’s physical therapy programs and $30 if you are a senior 62+) make regular massage treatments more enticing. Macer is running a Mother’s Day special on all massages purchased through the end of May and used within six months for $40 for an hour.
“A weekly massage is not just for pampering,” said Macer. “Weekly massage is about letting go, experiencing deep relaxation and helping the body remove stress that accumulates in muscles and joints during the week. Massage does a body and mind good.” Macer’s technique emphasizes initial breathing and visualization. “Breathing helps bring oxygen to muscles to help them relax and receive the full benefits of the treatment. Visualization helps people use their mind to relax by imagining parts of the body softening. If your mind cannot relax and visualize muscles easing and releasing tightness, muscles can’t relax. My goal is to bring the body and mind into a place of deep relaxation to allow the full benefits of massage to take place.”
Let’s start with the neck. This is the place where so many of us store tension. That tension builds and creeps into other parts of the body, impacting our gait as we walk and can lead to stiffness and pain up and down the back along with strain during the head. Macer begins massages with neck work, loosening up stubborn knots from the base of the head to the top of the spine in gentle kneading motions. During my treatment with Macer, she encouraged me to let my head become heavy in her hands as she cradled it with one hand and worked her magic on the back of my neck with the other. Breathing deeply and exhaling slowly allows Macer’s treatment to evolve at a pace and intensity that mimics the recipient’s relaxation. This was certainly my experience as I found Macer’s voice soothing and my mind’s eye clearly focused on the muscle groups she was working on, imagining the tissue and knots expanding, loosening and growing soft. The more I relaxed, the more pliable my muscles became. By 15 minutes into the treatment, the weight of my body was at once heavy on the table and floating. This dreamlike state is my favorite part of bodywork treatments and what I find so restorative about them.
“Most therapists start massage clients on their backs and begin work on this large area, but I find that the neck is where the majority of stress is held,” Macer explained. “I start with the neck and feel the muscles relax through the back and into the limbs, creating a flowing relaxation that allows me to really provide therapeutic massage.” Macer’s gentle demeanor and intuitive sense of how a client is embracing the treatment helps her guide the process smoothly. “It’s easier for some people to relax than others. And if the massage therapist isn’t comfortable, the recipient won’t be either,” she explained. “I am a 16-year instructor of neuro-muscular therapy and bio-mechanics at Healing Hands Institute. Knowing how to move during massage and keep my own body properly positioned makes me a happier massage therapist and gives my clients better quality treatment.”
To optimize the benefits of a massage, Macer suggests:
1. Don’t feel obligated to chat with your therapist during treatment. Let them know what is ailing you, provide feedback on pressure and relax, There’s no need to praise or banter. This is your time to completely unwind. Good therapists can tell when a client is fully relaxed and that (along with a gratuity) let’s them know their efforts are appreciated.
2. Drink at least 8 ounces of water immediately after the treatment and more in the hours to follow. Toxins are released during massage and water helps remove them from the system.
3. Go home and take a bath with Epsom salts. A long, warm soak with Epsom salts will also pull toxins from your body out through the pores.
4. Create the ideal environment to invite deep, restorative sleep. Avoid technology and things that make the mind busy. Allow yourself to ease into slumber. As you sleep, the longer effects of massage can be enjoyed by your body.
Macer’s practice is limited to women only. Massage gift certificates and bookings are available by calling 201-768-2000.
Spectrum Wellness Center
184 Central Avenue
Old Tappan, NJ