Supporting the Massage Therapy Foundation

Collette Wilson in TeamMTF tech shirtIn 2016, I had the pleasure of not only financially supporting the funding of Community Service and Research Grants awarded by the Massage Therapy Foundation, but I also ran in the 120th Boston Marathon with the MTF’s and the John Hancock Non-Profit Marathon Bib Program‘s support – what an AwEsOmE adventure!

This year, I am proud to support my colleague and friend Collette Wilson in achieving the same goals for awareness, FUNdraising, and completing – through her vigilant training – the 121st Boston Marathon.

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Time Left…until Wave 4’s Start of the 121st Boston Marathon!

Her goal of raising $15,500 for the Massage Therapy Foundation is only matched by her inspiring story that accompanies her rigorous training schedule – Why she’s making her first marathon the Boston Marathon.

In just a couple of weeks, I, too, will be in Boston again – supporting my friend who has successfully worked long, hard hours, dedicated massive amounts of energy preparing for and achieving the experience of a lifetime.

Won’t you please join us in moving the massage therapy profession forward by assuring the Massage Therapy Foundation is able to award Grants to professionals that help people’s quality of life by providing the information that changes lives?

Thank you!

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all donations are mediated by Crowdrise,
to benefit the Massage Therapy Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Look for (and use!) these hashtags on social media:

  • #RunningforResearch
  • #BeBoston
  • #TeamMTF
  • #TeamCollette
  • @theMTFoundation
  • @amtamassage

Visit Team Collette’s Facebook Page…and join her on her adventure!

Depression: How Massage Therapy Can Assist

 

Massage Therapy does not cure woman watching a train pass by Depression, but there is strong evidence that massage therapy can be effective for reducing the negative impact on a person’s health that symptoms of depression can proliferate.

Depression defined

On their website, the Mayo Clinic defines Depression as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest” and goes on to say that this disorder “can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems”. Anyone who has experienced Depression or has seen it at work can attest to the accuracy of this generalized description. It is always recommended that, as a clinical diagnosis, a potential patient of Major Depressive Disorder be seen, evaluated, and diagnosed by an appropriate medical professional before adopting any treatment – with proper treatment, Depression is both preventable and recoverable.

How the AMTA says massage therapy helps

As of 2011, the American Massage Therapy Association (of which I am a 15-year member) states that “massage therapy can be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression” – a position and an opinion that many medical organizations, like the Mayo Clinic, the American Medical Association, and the National Institute of Health have been cited as supporting.

How other sources support that massage therapy helps

There are also some massage-therapy-professional and public-massage-advocate resources that feature and illustrate how massage therapy assists in alleviating the effects of some specific types of Depression. This is a very small sampling of the many online publications that address massage therapy for:

Postpartum Depression – MASSAGE Magazine

Depressed People (meta-analysis) – Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Breast Cancer – Prevention Magazine

Situational Depression – Massage Today

How I have seen that massage therapy helps

Any anecdotal information presented by individual practitioners and clients having experienced clinical Depression and that tout positive results are just the start of the body of common sense that supports massage therapy’s positive effects on the human body.

I have seen and worked with clients who have appeared depressed – if not recognized, it can go untreated, unaddressed, and eventually get worse. A person, as an organic being, without touch can wither like a flower without water. Massage Therapy can be the sunshine or the water for that person who needs fortifying, the very basics of emotional maturity and spiritual growth that have been proven, over and over again and when present, to make humans stronger, healthier, and happier…a better Quality of Life. I feel like the massage therapy I provide from time to time has helped people have more energy, increase self-value, sleep better, better posture through natural muscle-lengthening…and the list goes on.

Why “Massage Therapy for Depression”?

It’s Clean – It is a different method for the body to deal with stress: non-pharmaceutical methods of ‘treatment’ have become a preferred way – for patients and doctors, alike – to deal with life’s curve balls – drugs are becoming, more and more, a last resort for those in pain, so massage therapy is a good choice as a first attempt or clean attempt at addressing serious emotional and spiritual issues that can be resolved in a session or two of a touch therapy, like massage therapy. Even long-term use of massage therapy has been demonstrated to be good maintenance for sufferers of chronic depressive states. There are also considerably lower chances of becoming addicted to massage therapy as opposed to a pharmaceutical/biological interaction and chance of subsequent dependency on that drug for the body – I’m not saying it’s impossible to be addicted to massage therapy, but massage therapy’s effects on the body are of a shorter lifespan than those of drugs that may have after-treatment effects lasting for years.

Reconnection – If one is withdrawn as a side-effect of depression, a non-judgmental, compassionate touch – even once, during a massage therapy session of any length – can be a person’s reintroduction to the world; massage therapy can change perspectives of doubt and low self-esteem into confidence and higher self-worth and re-establish a unique sense of trust – to begin [again] with: between client and practitioner.

Reaffirmation of Goals – One may think that massage therapy is a luxury as opposed to being a necessity. When other options for one’s getting back on the horse [i.e. recovering from Depression] have been exhausted or deemed a last resort, massage therapy becomes a way to re-establish the value of one’s goals. Physically changing one’s outlook on life can be as simple as changing one’s posture – or using the assistive nature of massage therapy to help with that. Self-care is not a luxury in this case: I believe if one doesn’t take care of one’s self, one can’t help others, SO: getting a massage to make one’s self emotionally feel better is not a far stretch when one considers all the ways massage therapy can assist one in also physically ‘feeling better’ in order to get back to achieving goals one has in life.

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If a life event, news, or illness is leaving you unusually, deeply, irreconcilably, or incorrigibly depressed, leaving you absent, disabled, or unproductive, then you may be experiencing Clinical Depression – talk with your doctor about how massage therapy may be able to assist in keeping the symptoms of Depression fewer and/or less intense – many doctors know about how massage therapy can assist in reducing the effects of Depression and will be able to refer you to a massage therapist.

And, if they don’t: get them started by sharing this article with them. Mental health, like physical health, can be addressed and resolved with human touch modalities, like massage therapy.

 

Resources:

D avid J Otto, LMT BCTMB operates Hands In Motion in Las Vegas, Nevada, since 2003, assisting his clients achieve their wellness goals using massage therapy. He also volunteers with the AMTA’s Nevada Chapter and is the Director of Operations at Anatriptic Arts in Las Vegas. When he’s not working with his clients, you can find David running on the city streets, training for his next big race.

Can Massage Therapy Help Prevent Colds?

Research studies do suggest that massage therapy can positively impact and manage inflammatory and auto-immune conditions in the human body.

What does this mean…exactly?

A published study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalmic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals (Sep 2010) suggests that 53 adult subjects receiving a 45-minute massage therapy session showed measurable and significant increases in the volume of lymphocytes in their systems.  Who can’t use some more dis-ease sentinels in their circulatory system?

250px-SEM_LymphocyteThe more T-Cells and B-Cells that are keeping watch in our bodies and effectively eliminating viruses that would otherwise keep us from our jobs/passions and normal lives, the better.

Especially in the winter months, when cold and flu season is at its peak because viruses survive longer in colder, drier open air during transmission from host to host, it is good to know that there are studies out there that record the positive effects that a massage therapy treatment can have on a human body.  In my opinion, repeated exposure to massage therapy can have the cumulative effect of the results of this single study, although more research needs to be done to prove it empirically.

Let’s not give those viruses a place to cozy into for, at best, a few days or even a week or more…being out of the loop in a cold/flu state is No Fun.  If you have to have a cold, your immune system and its ability to respond are your first, best line of defense and correction – Be Well: get a massage!

You can subscribe to the National Institute of Health’s PubMed Central (PMC) for free and read thousands of published research articles, just like this one, at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/

Music: Streaming Solitude…and permission to do so

I recently came across an FAQ that strikes a chord with me as an independent massage therapist, traveling from temporary residences, to permanent residences, to office spaces, to convention spaces…and I thought this might interest you all, too.

ASCAP is, basically, the music industry’s licensing agent – if someone wants to play publicly someone else’s music for money or in public places where business is being conducted, these are the guys to go to for permission (and usually a fee) to get a license to do so.

But, in my travels, I happened upon an FAQ page of a internet radio station that was pleasantly surprising. Although I may be a little late to get the memo, Radio Paradise quotes ASCAP’s “newly”-developed regulation, basically not requiring a license to stream publicly-broadcast music in certain places, spaces, and under more liberal conditions.

Check out this link for Radio Paradise’s explanation (ASCAP references and all): http://www.radioparadise.com/rp2-content.php?name=FAQ#180

It seems to me that (whenever I think of it) I don’t have to worry about streaming music anymore while I am doing an outcall massage – I now have to worry about signal strength & battery life!

Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Increase your vitality and reduce recovery time with massage therapy

How many times have you said “I wish I had time for a massage”?  I’ll bet about as many times as you’ve said “I wish I ate healthier” or “I wish I got more than 6 hours of sleep (or less!)”.  These statements all recognize that you “wish” you could add even just one element of healthy habit to your life that would make relieving physical and mental stress so much simpler.

I’m here to tell you: it is possible!  Here’s how – you know:

A healthy mind and body can make your day more productive: massage therapy can bring back or maintain an optimal range of motion to that chronic shoulder or hip injury site or repetitive motion, and it may help you do more of the things you want.  Depression because of pain and symptoms that keep you from being “your best” is known to be one of the biggest obstacles in the way of a productive day…or even, life.

Help yourself!  Negotiate that depression: Help your body facilitate healing with these benefits of a massage:

  • More restful sleep
  • Increased range of motion of joints and muscles
  • Decreased pain & increased physical stamina
  • More!

…and MAKE the time, even if just a couple of times a month, to improve your physical and mental quality of life!  Meet that deadline, run ALL those errands, and take care of your loved ones more often and with more energy…and regular massage!

Hands In MOTION is just that: a mobile massage therapy service that comes to you: your home, hotel, or office, to bring the convenience of healing facilitation without the stress of travel, high spa pricing, or complicated/risky product application.  Find a time that works for you, and get ready to Relax, Revitalize, and Rejuvenate!

TIP: pick a time of day for your massage when you are typically most alert – being alert is a sign that your energy is at its peak, and so are your mental and physical functionality.  Get your massage when you are at your strongest, not your weakest or most vulnerable.

Call or email David today for a free consultation and to Book Now! (702) 339-4325 Pre-paid package rates

Or, find a massage therapist where you are:

Massage Therapy and Improving Mental Health

When you hear the term “addiction”, you might think of drugs, extreme sports participation, Fanatics of sports teams, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, egocentric disorders (narcissism, etc), or stalking behaviors.  Chemical imbalances attribute a large portion of the root of mental diseases that Western medicine defines and sometimes it is a simple pattern of choices that our brain makes that determine, over time, our inability to change or our trained capacity to be “successful” based on these repeated, and very often destructive behaviors.

A Little About Mental Health

Our overall longevity, health, and quality of life depends largely on a few factors: getting shelter, food, social interaction, and security – the last being the highest level of cognitive health…and I think, also the highest level of existence.  When humans do not experience long-lasting, healthy, and quality security, it affects their perception of the world – the other three – which ALL have a physical impact on the body.

Depression is one of the most inaccurately and inadvertently diagnosed dis-eases in modern times.  This does not assume that depression or any other form of mental distress are any less important or don’t have as much an impact on a human’s health than an acute or chronic injury, viral or bacterial infection, or sources of imbalance received into the body from an outside source.  Because of the power of the patient to manage, or rather “mismanage” as medical diagnosis seems to imply, depression is also one of the most difficult psychological disorders with physical manifestations to “cure”.  Maintenance of lower levels of depression are what many humans are challenged with and achieved on a daily basis – some examples of daily rituals that humans use to maintain good mental health might include religion, motivational reading or listening, and expression of gratitude, and all the practices & rules therein.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Who says In 1949, Congress passed a Bill recognizing May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. in a effort to raise public awareness and discourse about the existence, role, and maintenance options for mental illness in society.  Today, the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health concur: approximately 1 in 4 adults develop, at some point, degree, or length of time, a mental disorder.

What does it mean In the world of health care options, there are a rapidly growing number of methods that have been noted as successful.  As it is with “fixing” things, not every person responds the same way to a method and not every method works for everyone.  The discourse and repeated awareness is to engage the public in the current options, successes, and reasons for addressing mental health as an important part of quality life – for the person and those people surrounding them.

Why it’s important our attitude and ability to rebound from events that affect us physically and mentally are the two most important qualities to be aware of when finding non-pharmaceutical or alternative methods of healing.  A healthy ego, self-esteem, and perception of the big picture are just a few ways that people get from depression that is moderately imbalanced to depression that is at-risk of existing in a void, beyond help from outside sources.

How Massage Therapy Affects Mental Health

Massage therapy can help a person overcome or recover from physical & mental addictions or conditions that are supported by physical imbalances (hormonal, pain management, restricted range of motion, etc) and feed depression or various other psychological elements to your health.  It has been used and recommended by medical doctors to alleviate mental stress for patients and recommended by massage therapy professionals in the field by the nature of the physical effects that correlate improved physical function with improved mental faculty.

Anyone can search the internet to find articles, blogs, stories, anecdotes, and research to support the use of massage therapy to better or enhance the quality of life for those addressing their mental or psychological imbalances, but there are a few places that I recommend you search and decide for yourself.

For quantified results (before:after, test pilots, research studies):

For anecdotal results (what works for me, industry statements, experienced practitioner reports):

 

In 2002, Cathy Wong at About.com published an article called What Do Physicians Think About Alternative Medicine?  Amazing results of a 276-Colorado-Physican pool (published originally in the Archives of Internal Medicine):  48% of the 276 MDs recommend Massage Therapy to their patients AND 60% of the MDs wanted to learn more about alternative medicine/therapies.

Massage therapy can be a method of release of muscle memories resulting in (possibly) either physical or emotional discomfort or trauma but definitely reprogramming – the intent of the work is to balance the chemical, virtual, real, and spiritual body and the methods used to achieve balance are some of the most diverse and effective known to humans – from touch therapy (bodywork) to medical massage (soft tissue manipulation).

Be careful: getting regular massage may seem or actually be addictive – the endorphins that are naturally produced from an activity such as exercise, good food, and good social interaction are also produced during a massage session in your favorite place or using your favorite massage modality.  But this kind of addiction can be managed in a way that makes it a moderate form of healthy healing time for your mind, body, and soul.

 

More info about mental health:  National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA)

Deep Tissue Issues: No Pain, No Damage

Deep Tissue Massage is a term that is both comforting and productive when you think about getting a massage.  As a client, you might want to “get out the knots” or “alleviate pain” in a particular area of your body.  As a therapist, there is a plan, a particular intent to achieving a successful feeling of relief for your client at the end of a massage or a series of massages.  But the client takes a risk receiving a deep tissue massage from a therapist they haven’t worked with before OR from whom they’ve never asked for a “deep tissue” massage.  This article addresses method, concerns, and resolutions to requesting, anticipating, and giving & receiving a deep tissue massage, for clients and therapists.

The Plan

Clients often respond to their therapist’s question “What areas would you like me to work on today?” with designating specific areas that they have recently been feeling pain in or having issues with.  It is common for the therapist to devise a plan to address those areas with some specific work, using a specific method.  This need expressed by the client and solution presented by the therapist is very often verbally communicated, but sometimes is expressed through body language during the massage session.

Your massage therapist can and should comply with verbal direction…immediately. It is critical that for a successful session, for the client to experience relief without pain, that the therapist be aware of the boundaries of the muscle that s/he is addressing at any given time.

Intent. Deep Tissue massage, when done correctly, allows the most pressure to be delivered for proper physiological response – a “release” to occur – and leaves the tissue specifically worked undamaged.  Too much pressure can damage tissue, causing micro-tears in the fibers or bruising.  Too little pressure is simply ineffective for the purposes of release and resetting of the fibers.

What It Is. Many times, therapists will ask a client “do you bruise easily?” to clarify the client’s propensity for damage to the tissue, if they are aware and may have a prior experience with bruising after a deep tissue massage.  The client may be advised that, if they do bruise easily, that it may be a result of the deep tissue work they’re about to perform, the unusual pressure that will be delivered to any specific area, and that the response or failure of the tissue to release during or before the eventual lengthening effect the work will have this effect.

What it “could be”. Most times, it is the non-verbal communication by the client that presents a challenge to the therapist in understanding what muscles and systems need and have the ability to be addressed on a deeper level, by both the client and the therapist.  I believe that effective, non-verbal communication is crucial to delivering a well-planned and effective deep tissue session.

Receiving a Deep Tissue Massage

for the massage client

During the massage, although you may have a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction initially, first try to consciously and verbally express any discomfort – you may allow the therapist to “dig in” and allow the elbow, knuckles, or pointed tool (like finger tips), to access the areas where you’re feeling the chronic or acute pain, thereby increasing the sensation of pain that often accompanies the massage work.  BUT, if you anticipate or there is sharp pain or increased, persistent pain, you should tell your therapist…it is commonly understood by therapists: this is not the intent of deep tissue massage.

Why not? When there is pain, the body automatically (on a conscious or unconscious level) enters a protection mode – during this time, the brain is trained to respond to the type of pain in the area of the body where it is being experienced, and will, over time, automatically respond in the same, defensive manner by splinting, or tightening up, the muscle that is being targeted for massage.  When a muscle is engaged, or shortened, massage has a substantially less (if any) effect on the targeted, now short, muscle.

Since the intention of a [deep tissue] massage is to relax, or lengthen, muscles, this response to pain – the shortening, contraction, or engagement of the muscle, (spoken or not, conscious or unconscious) does not help the tissue or the therapist to get where they need to be, organically or procedurally, to release the tissue.  Longer times or multiple sessions with the same muscle are needed for massage therapy to be applied if the threshold of pain is crossed too often, resulting in little or no effect on the target muscle or muscle group.

Pressure needs to be lessened or another technique used to relax the tissue, so ‘deep tissue’ becomes a modality that is ineffective if it is no longer used during the session due to the body protecting the muscle.

So, communicate verbally and non-verbally with your therapist so s/he understands that deep tissue massage techniques are or are not appropriate at the right times.

for the massage therapist

Clients may not understand, be able to tell you, or even want to tell you about the pain they may be anticipating or actually experiencing because s/he may believe it is a part of the healing process.

Therapist Awareness. Beingness can be defined as the therapist’s state of awareness – a ‘listening’ state – that includes anticipation of what the tissue needs (or doesn’t, when it comes to pressure) – simply being aware of how the tissue reacts to touch, pressure, and manipulation is SO important.

Before the session. To avoid micro-damage to the targeted muscle or surrounding area and to avoid any long-term discomfort from the massage or a complaint phone call, explain to them your understanding of pain as associated with deep tissue massage, ask their understanding, and then come to an agreement of what it is that’s in your scope to practice and what they can expect to be a “deep tissue” massage from you.

Coach them on how to communicate with you during the session, verbally.  It is much better to be able to respond immediately to verbal and non-verbal cues from your client – be in a ‘listening state’.

Always ask for feedback if you felt the session was intense for your client, based on their comments or their body language.  It is better to address the concern closer to the session on which the feedback is based so you can effectively help them recover, avoid, or even expect what they may perceive as a negative experience.

  • If you get feedback immediately following the session, respond immediately: a simple suggestion on how to clear the interstitial space that harbors blood causing the appearance of a bruise will help them recover more quickly.
  • Ask them to wait a few days to update you or observe how they feel: often times the client will feel much better than before the massage, even though there are some sensitive bruises present.

If you get feedback from your client that they bruised last time you worked on them, be ultra-sensitive to that fact and recall the amount of pressure you delivered last session with him/her and start off with conservative pressure.  The client should be able to remind you or make you aware of any thresholds they are getting ready to cross based on their experience with you.  Compassion and action will guide you to deliver a conservative yet effective pressure.

some explanations of a “bad” deep tissue massage

Therapist Inexperience. There is one saving grace for a therapist that technically is not experienced or experienced enough in a client’s eyes.  That is: the ability to ‘listen and act.’  Verbal and non-verbal cues given by a client receiving deep work are ALWAYS important information that a trained therapist needs to be able to act on.  A good therapist, no matter their tenure in practice, will immediately respond/act on the client’s given information.  How they act can always be in the best interest of the health of the client.

Client Inexperience. In my experience, when someone tells me they ‘like it really deep’, a flag goes up…the acceptance or need for pain to achieve a psychological level of relief is not within my scope as a massage therapist to address, and this is something I advise my clients of.  So, here are some of my thoughts on ‘why people tell their next therapist that they’ve had massage that hurt in the past:’

On the other hand, in the case a client does not like pain as a side-order of their deep tissue massage, I believe some clients wait to tell their next therapist that their last massage was “too deep” for any one or more of these reasons:

  • Politeness. They may not have been able to mentally bring themselves to tell their last therapist during the session.  It’s not the therapist’s fault or it’s not in the client’s nature to say something to cause what the client his/herself would perceive as conflict in an environment that they want to be stress-free.  If the MT did a good job of creating that environment of relaxation and trust, then the last thing I think the client wants to do is rain on anyone’s parade.
  • Bad Customer Service. Generally, “bad” experiences are related more quickly and often than good ones – it is a customer service fact, proven time and time again in many types of business, including a massage therapy practice.  It could be a form of release for the client, but if we communicate with and coach them to properly assess and classify their massage experiences, there’s less reason for the client to complain to the next MT (who can themselves literally do nothing to change the client’s previous experience).

Be a Proactive Therapist When Faced With A Complaint About “My Last Massage…”

Here are a number of things I may ask of and communicate to a client that has had a bad deep tissue experience and who is now relating it to me:

1.      Empathize/Sympathize with his/her situation

2.      Educate, through asking key questions, like:

a.      “Did you tell your therapist?  If you did, then you need to stop the session next time

b.      “Did you tell your therapist afterward?  There might be other considerations in your physical condition that the therapist can further advise you on how to resolve if massage causes pain for you…”

c.      “Did you drink enough water before your massage? (Do you think you might have been dehydrated?)“…and then tell them the effects of ‘not enough water’ on tissue during a massage…

d.      “Did you have an injury in the area or anomaly that you didn’t have in previous sessions that could have been negatively affected by massage?”  The client could have a condition that they don’t know about of which peripheral neuropathy is a symptom, like Fibromyalgia Syndrome or Lupus or Diabetes.  Or they could’ve had a couple of alcoholic drinks or were on medication that reduces mechanical sensory input.

e.      “How long was it since your last massage (before your bad massage)?“…and then tell them about tissue memory & elasticity and how ‘getting back into the groove’ can be a factor in what depth they can receive after a long stay away from deep massage.

3.      Define my relationship with this client (in so many words, and without saying: I am not “their last therapist”) – assure him/her that I will be aware of their needs and requests at all times during the deep tissue massage.

Avoid a potential ‘bad’ massage because of ineffective communication

A massage therapist’s depth can be perceived as invasive, intrusive, and inconsiderate, BUT – when I understand why Clients complain to the next therapist, I realize there is NOT A THING I can do about it…eg. to change their behavior.  All I can do is change my own.  Following are some scenarios I’ve experienced and consider when I think there is [going to be] a ‘too deep’ issue:

1.      Problem: The client didn’t tell the therapist ‘it’s too deep’ – It could be that the client didn’t feel like they could say anything to their MT about the discomfort – maybe they didn’t feel like their feedback would be welcome.  so they go ahead and receive a massage that’s ‘too deep’.

Solution: In reply to the question “how’s that pressure?’ a client says “good” in that monotone voice, change something: either go deeper, change speed, go lighter, slow down – something’s not satisfactory to the client.  Now: you can’t squeeze it out of them, so ask again about the pressure at another point – while you’re touching the client, doing the deep work.

2.      Problem: They haven’t had a massage in a while – often, getting a massage after not having one for a while is like getting back into the gym after you’ve been out several months after previously going 3 times a week.  Muscles are stretched, poked, and pressed…and the fibers are not always as flexible or elastic as the client thought they would be.

Solution: Preset your ‘deep scale’ to a lighter mode – and tell them that’s what you’re doing!  If you set the expectation, they will be happy…because what you said would happen, is happening during the massage 🙂

3.      Problem: The client didn’t drink enough water before the massage – water is a medium that is essential for the muscle tissue and fascia to move easily over itself.  Without the lubricant internally as well as externally, friction causes irritation and possibly inflammation on, at least, a microscopic level…thus, the discomfort.

Solution: give them water – tell them why you’re suggesting water for them…that minute!  Explain that preparing for a massage with drinking water can reduce the pain they might experience after a deeper massage.

4.      Problem: The client is experiencing changes in their metabolism or other physical changes are occurring.

Solution: be aware of conditions, considerations, and contraindications for doing massage.  If you have a question about practicing on a person with or in a particular condition, you might always want to preface

Some bottom line solutions for me, as a massage therapist:

  • I am open to constructive and even negative criticism – I realize that I am there to facilitate his/her healing.
  • If I don’t exercise due diligence in making sure at any point that my client is happy with the pressure, I risk a client complaining later, either to me (after the fact) or to another therapist.

Ultimately: What Works

Some clients like the ‘hurts so good’ feeling, and they always are sore the next day – this can be a sought after feeling for some clients who psychologically are subjecting themselves to pain inflicted by another for something that is out of the scope of the MT’s control.  Maybe after they’re sore the next day, the following day they feel great!  This could be a method of healing for them, psychologically and physically.

There are conditions that I’ve seen that benefit from being sore during the massage or even the next day – one condition of the client is that of fibromyalgia.  FibroMyalgia Syndrome (FMS) patients take the pain in order to feel great the next day – there are some FMS patients that have enough experience to realize that the positive effects of the pain experienced during a deep tissue massage are worth experiencing the pain of the moment (during a massage, deep tissue or otherwise).

When I look at the overall meaning of the term “deep tissue”, it means to me a level of awareness and that I need to have a heightened sense of listening and responsiveness to my client’s needs.  When a client requests this as a modality (on a menu, for example) I think they have been trained to understand, through experience or explanation, that “deep tissue” is a mode of performing a massage.  In fact, I understand “deep tissue massage” to be a technique of Swedish massage or a technique encompassed by another modality which indicates a level of superficial or profound system or musculature address.

The client misperception of the term “deep tissue” also indicates to me that the client is expecting a predetermined protocol and that they are willing and able to compromise their comfort level of receiving, risking tissue damage, to order what they perceive as a higher level of massage session.  Why would a professional set up an expectation for their client of “more pain(ful), more gain(ful)” in what is perceived as a predetermined and traditionally-accepted menu format?  For me, the depth and need for any specific level of pressure is always determined per client AND by session, and can vary greatly from health condition to season.

I have always been a proponent for a “one price massage”, removing what I believe is a misconception that the depth of a massage is more valuable the deeper it is.  Deeper does not necessarily mean “more therapeutic” – appropriate depth IS more therapeutic.  You could be an athlete that just ran a marathon: deep tissue is not appropriate up to 24 hours post-event.  You could be a cancer patient and deep tissue could NOT be appropriate only in certain areas or affecting certain systems.  You could be suffering from edema or lymphedema, whereby a diagnosis and working with the client’s doctor is more appropriate before applying deep strokes that can be damaging, or at the least, ineffective.

Ultimately. In my opinion, the client determines depth of stroke on a session-by-session, moment-by-moment, and stroke-by-stroke basis – and needs to be understood and applied immediately, appropriately, effectively, and compassionately – as to not do harm – by every massage therapist.

Take these thoughts and suggestions with you and see your massage become more productive – every time you get a deep tissue massage.

Podcasting the Massage Message – AMTA & NIH broadcast

podcastmass588x400Here’s another article on how the internet and massage therapy go together to promote massage therapy.  And this relationship for broadcasting is achieving a national level.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is collaborating with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on an educational podcast about the benefits of massage therapy for stress relief.

Read more of Massage Today’s report, HERE…

Craigslist Applauded by AMTA: MT safety & professionalism improved

Craigslist home page imageToday, the AMTA released to its members a bit of good news for the interest and safety of practitioners in the massage industry: Starting in Illinois, and assuming it changes in other states in the future, the ‘erotic’ posting section is being removed by the Craigslist company on their site. The AMTA is strongly discouraging an alternately suggested ‘adult’ section, but basically applauds Craigslist effort to minimize delineating, illicit, and illegal massage advertising in the majority of the states in the U.S. by posters who are not legally able to provide the services or identities they assume through the current posting place on Craigslist.

Here’s the email: (Leave your comment here after you read it!)

For many years AMTA has sought means to clean up massage listings on Craigslist and protect both the public and massage therapists who advertise legitimately on the service. Previous direct efforts with the company have had little effect. Meanwhile, AMTA has continued to cooperate with law enforcement officials in their efforts to control ads on Craigslist. Yesterday, it was announced that Craigslist will drop its ‘erotic services’ section in the state of Illinois and this appears to indicate an overall change by the company in other states.
AMTA has issued the following press release expressing its view of the decision and calls for Craigslist and others to respect the massage therapy profession and protect the professionalism and safety of massage therapists. AMTA President, Judy Stahl has already been interviewed by news media and we are convinced that our view will receive media attention.
AMTA encourages members to look at listings in the ‘therapeutic’ section of Craigslist in their area for ads that use the word massage and promote something other than legitimate massage therapy. You can flag such ads as inappropriate. Several flags of an ad usually result in the ad being removed.
Your association will continue its efforts, and its contacts with law enforcement officials, to restrict massage therapy advertising to legitimate massage therapists and protect the safety of practitioners.

For Immediate Release
May 13, 2009
AMTA Applauds Craigslist Decision
Calls for Protection of Massage Therapists
Evanston, IL – The American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) views the decision by Craigslist to remove its ‘erotic services’ section as an opportunity to clarify for the public that prostitutes who claim to provide massage are not massage therapists. “The public and massage therapists have a right to know that advertising for massage should only be the right of massage therapists,” says Judy Stahl, AMTA President. “We hope this decision will ensure that massage is only advertised on Craigslist through its ‘therapeutic’ section and that any new ‘adult’ section will not allow posters to use terms related to massage therapy.” Most states regulate the massage therapy profession and restrict use of the term ‘massage’ in business and advertising to legally practicing massage therapists.
The recent publicity surrounding the murder of a call girl who called herself a masseuse on Craigslist has confused many people. Massage therapists have had clients and patients question their professionalism and raise concerns about them advertising their massage practices through Craigslist.
Unfortunately, prostitutes frequently claim to offer massage and use the term ‘masseuse’ to appear as legitimate therapists. While most massage practitioners prefer the term massage therapist, some still use the older term, rooted in European health traditions, of ‘masseuse’.
AMTA believes these terms related to massage should only be used by those with a legal and professional right to do so. The non-profit professional association wants the public to feel confident that anyone who claims to provide massage is a trained professional who practices legally. “We call on Craigslist, the media and other online services to respect massage therapists and to protect the public from misrepresentations of massage. And, we continue our support for the efforts of the state attorneys general to protect the public from inappropriate advertising,” says Stahl.
The American Massage Therapy Association is a nonprofit professional association of more than 58,000 members founded in 1943. AMTA professional members have demonstrated a level of skill and knowledge through education and/or testing and must meet continuing education requirements to retain membership. AMTA provides information about massage therapy to the public and works to improve the professional climate for massage therapists. It advocates fair and consistent licensing of massage therapists in all states.

As prostitutes turn to Craigslist, Nassau County law takes notice (NY Times story, Sep 4, 2007)

As prostitutes turn to Craigslist, Nassau County law takes notice (NY Times story, Sep 4, 2007)

Please: exercise your rights as a member of the Public to flag inappropriate ads that use the word “massage” as well as the inappropriateness of other text or pictures that do not represent massage therapy.

Craigslist will not accept an over-zealous flaggers of posts, and considers that terminable behavior or at least behavior that will be ignored, so if your thinking about being a ‘vigilante’ by going in and flagging hundreds of ads today, your success rate will be much lower.

If each public member and massage therapist flagged just one ad in a responsible manner, Craigslist will be busy getting the message that there are inappropriate and inaccurate listings that need to be removed – the more flags, the more messages. Getting non-MTs out of the Therapeutic Massage section entirely is impossible, but with enough monitoring, it can be reduced greatly and the safety of your client, yourself, and your industry will be better insured.  It only makes things better for the Client and for legitimate practitioners.

  • Has Craigslist ‘stepped up’?
  • What is your experience with Craigslist?
  • Do you think the national attention on the media-touted “Craigslist Killer” has brought the medium of Craigslist under scrutiny and given the massage therapy industry the edge it needs to demand action for the safety of the people who are working in or benefiting from massage therapy?

Abdominal & Pelvic Massage and Women’s Health Issues

deeper pressure addresses physiological aspects of the abdomen

deeper pressure addresses physiological aspects of the abdomen

Massage Therapists are trained to do abdominal and pelvic massage – this type of massage on the area of the torso can be physiological or energetic in nature. A therapist can assist in the movement of blood, toxins, muscle tissue, and visceral structures physiologically, and move energies related to the Hara, kidneys (Jing), and aura.

the Hara is believed to exist 3 finger-widths below & deep to the navel

the Hara is believed to exist 3 finger-widths below & deep to the navel

Several structures in the lower female pelvis are the apparatus that allows a woman to bear another human being. The ovaries produce and release eggs that travel down the uterine (Fallopian) tubes monthly, taking a 5-day journey to attempt to attach to the tissue nest of greatly-available blood and nutrients, the endometrium lining that the uterus has prepared all month (approximately every 28 days). The eggs are most likely to be fertilized in that journey down the uterine (Fallopian) tube. If the eggs are not fertilized within a certain amount of time, hormones communicate that the nest of blood and nutrients needs to be shed in the menses and the cycle starts at the beginning again.
No matter the reason for a massage therapist to choose to work on the abdominal and pelvic area, there are some conditions a therapist and their client need to be aware of when addressing the female reproductive system. Several conditions that women regularly and/or naturally experience in the pelvic area and that are of concern in the area of massage therapy include: use of birth control, dysmenorrhea, spontaneous and elective abortion, endometriosis, and fibroid tumors.
Birth control pills are used to tell the brain that the body is pregnant, thereby stopping the flow of hormones that prepare the body for fertilization and pregnancy. Massage in the pelvic area is appropriate when considering this form of health affectation.
Dysmenorrhea, referred to more commonly as a painful menstrual period, is defined by the woman’s experience of limiting activities for at least 1 day every month because of symptoms of dull aching or sharp severe lower abdominal pain – accompanying nausea and vomiting are also signs of dysmenorrhea. It is not advisable for massage to be done on the area of localized pain within the first two days that symptoms show – it is advisable to use reflexive techniques and massage all other indicated areas of the body.
Spontaneous Abortion, an unintentional termination of a pregnancy, can happen in many stages of pregnancy and for many reasons, many having to do with the overall & systemic health of the mother and the ability of the egg or fetus to survive in the health of the mother’s uterus. Elective Abortion, an intentional termination of a pregnancy, can also happen for many health-related reasons. In either the case of spontaneous or elective abortion, the lining of the uterus is disrupted and needs time to heal. Massage in the pelvic region is not appropriate after a spontaneous or elective abortion until after bleeding has stopped and there is no sign of infection. Client and therapist should be aware of doctor recommendations for massage therapy if an abortion occurred less than 6 weeks ago.
Endometriosis is a resultant condition of the non-exiting (in menstruation) tissue fragments of the endometrium (of the uterus) attaching to other cells and structure in the body. Circulation and implantation of the endometrial cells produces “blood blisters” or clear vesicles in early years – in later years, the implanted cells will grow over, appearing black and scarred. Massage therapy is not advised in the area of the diagnosis of endometriosis, especially during menstruation. Diagnoses have been known to displace structures in the area of endometriosis (usually in the pelvic region), so care in providing and receiving pelvic work is suggested for locally diagnosed endometriosis.
Fibroid Tumors grow in or around the uterus, mostly undetected (because of their small size) and exist in a postulated 20-30% of women between 30 and 50 years old¹. Symptoms of small fibroids are unrealized while in diagnosed cases of larger fibroids can reveal symptoms of mechanical pressure on other structures (including nerves) in the pelvic area and increased menstrual bleeding. Massage is suggested in pelvic areas other than the uterus if there is a diagnosis of fibroid tumors – as large fibroids can displace other structures in the pelvic area, massage is not appropriate in the area of the uterus.

finger-tip massage done at the transverse abdominal wall

finger-tip massage done at the transverse abdominal wall

Here are some points to consider when going for your therapeutic massage and your therapist does pelvic work:

  1. Deep work in the pelvic area is not generally practiced in massage therapy, although a few modalities address the pelvic region using deep tissue techniques. A client should always ask and the therapist should always explain what the intent of their work is deep in the pelvis.
  2. Deep work in the pelvic or abdominal area is generally not advised on days of heavy menstrual flow. Many other massage therapy techniques can be used by a therapist to alleviate symptomatic experiences of pain and discomfort.
  3. Let your massage therapist know if you’ve been experiencing conditions related to your health as a woman, so your therapist may best serve you and deliver the most appropriate method to improve your health and well-being.
  4. Your therapist may also let you know about structures s/he feels (literally) may be abnormal or out of place; the therapist may also refer you to a qualified health care provider that s/he knows personally in order to assist you in achieving a level of wellness or “peace of mind” – listen, and visit that doctor or qualified practitioner who can help you determine what the issue is and how to improve your overall health.
  5. As with all other areas of the body, the pressure should be delivered by the therapist and experienced by the client at a level that is comfortable and expected. Any level of discomfort beyond acceptable standards of the client needs to be recognized and addressed by the client so the therapist can respond appropriately.
  6. Most of all, enjoy your pelvic massage! It increases the internal health of the abdomen, strengthening, circulating, and stimulating movement in the organs and musculature, making your entire body healthier!
¹”A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology,” Ruth Werner, 1998, p. 331