5 Benefits of Massage, by Diane Chase

by Diane Chase, MA, LMT

Diane Chase, MA, LMT, Athletic Touch Therapeutic Massage Therapist

Diane Chase, MA, LMT, Athletic Touch Therapeutic Massage Therapist

5 Benefits of Massage

It was in my mid twenties when I first encountered the ominous sounding

word “stress”

…It was the first time I felt my body communicating something to me that was uncomfortable in the gut, a ‘spastic colon’ as the  doctor diagnosed and gave the prescription for Librium.

Yet the symptoms continued and the stress of solitary  life in a big city, riding the packed and stuffy, gloomy and  glum bus packed full of workers continued to takes its toll.  And there were more scary and stressful incidents there in the city that kept my little self on edge.

If it hadn’t been for  Shiatsu (Acupressure)massage and meditation back there in San Francisco  my life and my health  would have taken another direction entirely. This small example from my  personal history is a constant reminder of how beneficial  are the effects of massage and  the holistic healing arts.

Five of the numerous  benefits of massage  come to mind rolling with R’s to give and indication of how wonderful bodywork can be.

Massage provides an opportunity to:

  1. Relax the tension and aches and pains that accumulate in various parts of the body  from daily living,  athletic training, challenging physical conditions and other circumstances.
  1. Repose, the state of being at rest, free from anxiety, tranquility, to lie supported by something, to stop, to pause.  This definition alone is reason enough to schedule a massage given the varying levels of intensity , immersion and  stimulation we as modern urban people are interacting with on a steady basis.
  1. Remember  that it is a good thing to nurture and support your body’s  sensitive, intelligent lifelong  functioning as an  entity, am operating  system if your will,  that requires care and consideration.  Also, often during a massage  one can literally remember or be reminded of something important or long forgotten that has a chanceto surface  as one enters into a deeper state or zone of relaxation.
  1. To  Receive  allows a person a time frame in which to let go of having to do and  allows the yang aspect  that drives the daily life activities a chance to be harmonized in a yin or receptive posturing and mind state.  To be willing and able to take in the care and skilled touch of a massage  professional to relieve stress is also  learning to balance and harmonize  the dynamics of give and take, of yin and yang.
  1. Restore essential patternings and flows in the body’s circulatory and nervous systems.For example, the blood has a strong muscle to pump and circulate the blood but the lymphatic system which affects our immune system requires movement and exercise to maintain the efficient flows to the lymph glands and ducts.  Massage helps to facilitate and support this movement as well as stimulate the nerve receptors in the skin and reduce ‘stickiness’ or  adhesions in the connective tissue that lead to more muscle tension and stiffness.  Massage restores peace of mind and provides the body necessary time to recharge and restore the vital essence.

The Best Schedule for Injury Care

Massage for injury rehabWhen clients come in with an injury that stops them from playing their sport, they usually want to know when they will be 100%.  And they usually hope you can tell them.  They want anyone to tell them.

They know their body pretty well, and they know how severe or mild their own injury is, so the answer or words they are really hoping to hear is for someone to tell them “out loud” what they are thinking to themselves.

“Oh, this is terrible.  Just terrible.  You are out for 6 weeks or 12 weeks.  Then you’ll be right back where you were before you got hurt.”

We wish it were that easy to know the future of when and/or how fast or slow someone will get back to 100%.

But it’s not that easy.  Every human body is different.  Every injury is different.  Every athlete is different and has unique styles of discipline, rest, recovery, diet, positive self-talk, etc.

Even the exact same doctor performing the exact same ACL replacement has different outcomes.  A different muscle tone before the surgery, different muscle imbalances that probably caused the ACL tear in the first place, etc, etc.

So, when helping athletes, put yourself in their shoes.  Consider their fear of NEVER playing their sport again.  Even with a simple injury, THIS is their main concern.

This is the schedule I usually try for acute injuries: (not the plan for post-surgery)

  • First Session: 1 hour in length, massage with assessment, ice, ice massage, stretches if indicated, refer to doctor if indicated.  You are looking for the specific muscle affected, how hot/swollen it is, is it even safe for you to work on them. After isolating the problem area, assess how much pressure they can handle, how strong of a contraction if any can they make, how much stretching of the area can they handle. Ice the area, and ice massage if tolerated.
  • Next Day, Day 2: 30 minutes in length, quick massage with assessment, ice massage, stretches
  • Next Day, Day 3: 30 minutes, same as yesterday
  • Two Days later, and every 2 days for 2 weeks: 30 minutes, same treatment plan using more pressure as tolerated, adding more stretching as tolerated.  If you are also a personal trainer, add strengthening as tolerated. Start assessing why the injured area is possibly out of balance.  If injury does not improve, or keeps coming back with little activity, send them to a doctor
  • 7 & 14 days after first session: 1 hour in length (in the middle of the 30 min/every other day schedule), massage with assessment, use more pressure as tolerated, ice massage, stretches and start adding opposite areas.  Always check in with the athlete about their workout schedule and how they are feeling, are they back to regular workouts? How is the pain right after the massage? When do they feel best? Worst? What are they doing themselves to help heal? You are looking for the swelling to go down, the heat in the affected area to go away, the pain to go away with pressure and then with action of that muscle, and lastly no pain with both.
  • Next twice per week @ 30 minutes or 1 @ 60 minutes, if they are still hurting, or this is a more serious injury that will take more time, pull back to 2-30 minutes or 1 60 minute session per week, depending on their availability and yours.  Be consistent & show them their progress.

Hope this helps.

 

The Best Massage Sheets and Their Care

Truly, there is a huge difference in Massage Sheets!  We will finally have the sheets we like for sale on this website!  We use Marigold Magic, a locally owned and operated company with outstanding sheets.

When we say “outstanding” sheets, this is what that means:

This is a "sturdy elastic seam"

This is a “sturdy elastic seam”

  1. they last 1000 washes
  2. they are soft and comfortable
  3. the seams don’t come apart
  4. the elastic is sturdy and stays on the table
  5. the elastic is still “bouncy” after 100’s of washes

There are so many different styles of sheets that massage therapists prefer: colorful, plain white, flannel, silky, all cotton, partly cotton, etc.

I prefer the basic: white flannel sheet set.

A “sheet set” refers to a bottom sheet, a flat top sheet and a head rest cover.  I use a generic pillow case to cover my king sized pillow as the client’s bolster.  I get those on sale when I happen to see them.  Since they are under the blanket, I use many different colors, which makes it easy to find them on sale.

Helping Your Sheets Last Longer

For us, the bottom sheets wear out quicker than the flat sheet or the head rest cover.  This happens more quickly if the sheets are pulled too hard over the corners of the massage table.  Over time, that action on the sheet will tear the middle of the sheet, the “under the back” area, since we slide our hands under the client’s back and the sheets get worn there the most.

To delay this wearing out in this area, be sure to use both ends of the sheet under the client, by the head rest end of the table.  You can keep track by noticing where the sheet label ends up when you are “dressing” your massage table with freshly cleaned sheets, then switch where the label is next time.

After 300+ washes, when the flannel is no longer visible, and the sheets are very soft but there isn’t any visible “Wear” in the “under the back” area, take care to gently roll the sheets over the corners instead of pulling hard.  With this care,  your sheets will last another 300 washes.  I have torn sheets like this and it is heart breaking to hear the “rrrrriiiiippppp” right when you are in a hurry.  It always happens to be my favorite softest sheets that feel like velvet to the touch.  So, remember to move SLOWLY when pulling the sheets over the corners of your massage table. 🙂

Washing, Drying & Folding

To wash the sheets, we use hot water with Oxy Clean powder & a liquid detergent.  We don’t use fabric softener.  I put 3 sets in one wash load, no more.  Not even one more little head rest cover.  With more in the washer, the sheets won’t get clean.

Wash towels and pillow cases separately.

We dry them in normal heat in the drier.  We tried hanging the sheets to dry but they were too rough and not soft enough.  Because we live in New Mexico, mold is never an issue.

One of the best advantages to the White Flannel sheet is they don’t wrinkle very easily.  Even if the sheets have been sitting for a while, they won’t get wrinkly, and they especially stay nice and smooth once they are placed on the massage table.

For me, it’s easiest to fold the sheets the exact same way every time.  This way, I can do it automatically, without really thinking about it.  And in the linen closet, they stack very nicely and I can always tell which stack is the flat or fitted pile by the way the sheets look after being folded.

Add a Few Minutes to Your Massage Time

One of the best ways to keep clients is to add a few minutes to their massage hour.

Add 1-2 minutes for your clients

Add 1-2 minutes for your clients

They are paying you per minute, for you time.  If you add just 1-4 minutes, it’s great for their neck, hands or feet, and they will love it.  Sometimes you could even let them know, “Are you in a rush today? I was going to add a few minutes so I can focus a bit more on your neck, or would you rather I end on your hand?”

Schedule 15 minutes at least in between each client to allow for time to change sheets, take payments, reschedule and let the next client get ready.  The only time clients can be scheduled back to back is when you only have 2. This way, if you start your next client a few minutes late, which you will, then you can go over a few minutes and not create a traffic jam of waiting clients.

Don’t short your clients!  This is the worst business practice in our profession.  Have integrity about your time.  If you have to short them at some point, let them know that you are aware of stopping early and offer to give them more time for their next massage.  If it’s a new client, then discount the massage. Keep the practice that “the client is always right”.

When you “take the hit” of a client discount and/or less money for a short massage, or a treatment you were late to, too tired/hungry to do your best, etc, a few dollars less is worth their loyalty.  They will appreciate the gesture, and in most cases will tip you more, or if not a tip, at least will remember your integrity. Respect their time & money.

A few minutes of your time given as a gift will return to you much more abundance than a few minutes of time.

Making a Good Impression in Your Massage Interview

Make a good first impression

Make a good first impression

So, you would like to work as a Massage Therapist in a certain place you have seen or found to need massage help?  They don’t need a resume, but are requesting an initial interview to see if you are a match.

Great!  Now you can prepare and show your best professionalism. Before you go in for your massage interview, do some research on the company you are interviewing with.  Also, do some brainstorming: do an honest self-assesment, make a list and be clear about  what your needs are:

      • What days can you work?
      • How many massage sessions are you willing to do in one day?
      • How much time between sessions do you need?
      • What type of clients do you/don’t you want to work on?
      • Why do you want to work in this particular place?
      • What are your favorite modalities?
      • What are you strengths & weaknesses?
      • Are you a team player or do you work better alone?
      • Do you want/need to be in charge?

Make your best first impression for your massage interview.  It can be a make or break of getting a job you really want.  Basic interview do’s:

  • Be on time
  • Look professional: smell nice, have good “massage friendly” clothes on
  • Wear shoes
  • Cover your underarms
  • Have your nails clipped and clean
  • Use a friendly greeting, look them in the eye and smile
  • Be yourself
  • Be honest
  • Show good manners
  • Stay positive
  • Have your resume with you or emailed ahead
  • Know their business, do your research, know why you want to work there, express that
  • Sit with good posture with both feet on the ground
  • Breathe

What NOT to do in an interview, especially for a Massage Therapist: (all of these have happened to us in an interview through the years! Shocking!)

  • Show up late
  • Come barefoot
  • Brag
  • Be confrontational
  • Wear revealing clothing, no bra, tank tops, no shoes, flip flops, sandals, or heavy perfume
  • Talk nervously without stopping
  • Show up stoned or drunk
  • Ask simple questions about their business, know ahead of time…why are you interviewing here?
  • Bring others with you to the interview
  • Bring food to eat during the interview
  • Bring pets with you to the interview
  • Tap your fingers or feet
  • Chew gum
  • Say negative statements about the place you are interviewing with

Good luck!

What to Expect During a Therapeutic Massage

What to expect during a Therapeutic Massage

What to expect during a Therapeutic Massage

This is a great question and one that I often assume people already know the answer to.  For those of you wondering what to expect, who have never had a Therapeutic Massage and still wonder what that means exactly, I apologize for my assumption and will explain how I see a Therapeutic Massage from the clients perspective.  Here’s a basic list of what to expect:

  1. Friendly Massage Therapist who explains every step
  2. Clean office space
  3. Get ready alone to your comfort level of undressing
  4. Plenty of comfortable sheets & blanket to cover you
  5. The Massage Therapist knocks when they come back in
  6. The Massage Therapist should communicate with you for your requests/pain/comfort level
  7. If there are painful areas, your pain tolerance is respected
  8. If there is not enough pressure, you can request more…or leave
  9. Your aches/pains/tensions are addressed
  10. You feel safe, comfy, happy & relaxed
  11. Your time is honored and accounted for
  12. Payment is taken, (tips are encouraged)
  13. You reschedule 🙂 At least 1 massage per month for life (just think how this investment in your health could change your patience level, sleep, relaxation, effectiveness, peace & calm, etc….just sayin’)

First of all, keep in mind that the phrase and act of giving a “Therapeutic Massage” is as broad a term as asking an art class to paint the picture of a house.  For the art students, they are shown in the same way how to outline the frame of the house, where to put the windows and doors, maybe even what colors to use, yet each student will paint something very unique.  Their painting will still have the house frame, some doors and windows, and possibly similar colors as their classmates, but each painting is as individual as each painter.

The same is true for “Therapeutic Massage.”  The hours of required classes of “how to” in any massage school world wide are basically the same.  Students are taught the same framework of a basic massage.

I can remember learning to do 3 circles on each part of the arm, then each part of the leg, then the foot, then the other foot, then the next leg, etc, until the entire sequence was finished. And we’d practice this basic “square” until it was memorized.

Like an open canvas is to a painter, so is a massage to a Massage Therapist.  Each session can have different tones of light or dark colors, soft or hard pressure, starting on the feet or neck or back, starting face-up or face-down.  What type of lotion, oil, aromatherapy to use? Should you add hot rocks, hot towels, different music, heated blankets? Are you going to stay standing or use a chair? How much breathing or stretching will be involved?  The way the massage goes is lead by many factors of how fast the client relaxes with different tools from our pallet of massage moves.

What should you expect during a Therapeutic Massage…

Your therapist should greet you happily, with a form for you to fill out of your basic medical information as it pertains to having a massage.  This is because certain medical conditions, some obvious, some not so obvious, can be affected negatively by the rubbing of skin, lymph, muscles, etc.  You could see questions like, “do you have any open wounds?” (the more obvious problem for massage), to “do you have blood clots” (a less obvious but very serious contraindication…which means….massage could make this condition worse).

After you finish your paperwork, your therapist will lead you to your massage room and explain what to do.  It could go something like this: “Have you ever had a massage before? How can I help you today? This is the massage table. When you lay down, you should be between the bottom sheet and the top sheet/blanket.  Your face goes into this headrest. You can put your belonging and clothes over here on this chair.  For me to work on the pain on your back, I suggest that you take off at least your shirt.  You may also take off all your clothes or just leave your underwear on.  You should know that you will always be covered by this sheet and blanket.  Do you have any questions?  I’m going to leave the room and wash my hands.  You go ahead and get ready.  I will knock when I come back in.”

You can make the best choice for you of whether to get undressed or not.  Truly, as Massage Therapists, if they have worked on several 1000 clients, then they are used to anything.  I work on nuns who cannot take off their clothes, on clients who need an chaperone in the room for religious reasons, and those very used to massage who start getting undressed before I close the door…and everything in-between. Lay down, relax, breathe, get comfortable.

You need to be comfortable.  That’s what matters.  We will work with whatever makes you comfortable.

During your Therapeutic Massage, you should expect communication from your therapist: if the pressure is too hard, hard enough, are you comfortable, are you warm enough, is the music ok for you, etc, etc.  When you have a special request, for example, “neck pain”, then the therapist should ask you about your pain tolerance in certain “trigger point” areas.  What does “trigger point” mean.

“Trigger Points” to you mean a sore spot when it is touched.  One of those “I-didn’t-know-that-hurt-until-you-pushed-on-it” type points.  We are looking for these in certain areas because “pain patterns” often have a “trigger point” associated with them. This means that we may be able to stop the associated pain by rubbing on the “trigger point” instead.  The body is REALLY all connected.  I’m never shocked anymore with where a client will feel “referred pain” from a “trigger point”.

What is “referred pain”? This can happen, for example, when we are pressing on a “trigger point”, but instead of feeling pain at that point, you could feel pain down your arm, up your neck, in your chest, etc.  Sometimes it’s on the other side of the body, sometimes down the legs, arms, etc.  Everyone is different and every trigger point is different.

Your therapist should use several different styles or “modalities” of massage to relieve your pains, tenderness and tension.  This may include different oils or lotions, first checking if you have any sensitivities, aromatherapy, hot towels, deep tissue, lighter work, rocking, myofacial work, etc.

So, in general, if you only have a few areas of tension that need extra time, then your massage will usually go something like this:  You start face-down and the massage therapist starts on your back, shoulders and neck, by rubbing oil/lotion along the muscle next to the spine, neck and out to the shoulders for about 10-15 minutes.  Sometimes the hips are included, even under your underwear, if that’s ok with you.  Next, the legs and feet. (for the massage I give, I usually work on the legs and the back at the same time…because often back pain is relieved from relaxing the legs.  By working on them at the same time, I can tell which part of the leg “causes” different parts of the back to relax…fyi”  After both legs are massaged, then usually the back is worked on briefly one more time, then you are asked to turn over.  You are always covered when you turn over.  Once face-up, your legs and feet are massaged again, then both arms (I always work on the stomach here, but not every therapist does), and finally the neck, shoulders, jaw, head, etc. with the therapist working from the front of the table.  This part usually takes the bulk of the “face-up” time. To end, usually the feet are massaged one last time and you are asked to relax and get up when you are ready but to take your time.

The pain you could feel during a Therapeutic Massage should not be past your tolerance, period.  Given that you are telling them the truth of what really hurts, the therapist should not hurt you.  Sometimes “trigger points” can hurt, but usually not for long and the pain should not last for more than 24 hours.

Signs that the massage was too Deep:

  • You have bruising
  • It hurts to move after the massage
  • You feel soreness past 24 hours
  • You are uncomfortable during the massage

If the therapist is not using enough pressure and you feel like a Salad from having so much oil kindly rubbed on you, you can request more pressure and end the massage if you don’t feel like you are getting your money’s worth.

Don’t get trapped getting a “Fluff & Buff” from a non-experienced therapist with no hand strength.  That is a common complaint, though.

Payment for your massage should be painless and understood beforehand.  Some Massage Offices/studios only take cash/check.  Not all take credit cards, so plan ahead.

And, a note for tipping.  Please tip.  It’s common practice and really appreciated.  Remember that the average career of a Massage Therapist is only 5 years mostly because it’s hard on our hands.  So, keep that in mind, and if your therapist did a good job, let them know with a $10-$20 tip per hour.

Lastly, after your massage, after paying, if you enjoyed the massage, please reschedule.  Many therapists can be shy and might not prompt you to reschedule.  This is about YOU, and having a good massage once per month is really worth the time and money.  Just imagine how this world would be if each adult had a relaxing massage each month…

7 Reasons to Be a Massage Therapist

 

Are you thinking about a career in Massage Therapy?  Here is a list from our office staff and other therapists of why they became massage therapists:

Is Massage Therapy the best career for you?

Is Massage Therapy the best career for you?became a massage therapist:

1.  A career to serve others:  If you have a passion for helping others, this is a great career for you.  Each massage can show you miracles of healing, of the human spirit & the amazing human body, spirituality & a powerful healing of touch.  This is the good part and most rewarding part of this profession.

2.  Flexible schedule:  Once you are established, and even when you are becoming established, the hours you choose to work are up to you.  Maybe you want to work full time, even 60+ hours per week…you can do this.  And, if massage therapy might be a part time gig for you, bringing in extra cash while you raise a family or go to school, this could work too.  The schedule is very flexible.  This is another great reward of massage therapy.

3.  A space to be calm in an otherwise stressful lifestyle: Many of the therapists we spoke with said that they like to use Massage Therapy as a way to be calm in their otherwise overwhelmed life.  When therapists are running from one activity, class or job to another, giving a massage can be very calming and rewarding in a spiritually peaceful sense.

4.  Cause positive change for others:  A very rewarding aspect of being a Massage Therapist is the pride, excitement, joy and relief when your clients feel better for extended periods of time. These changes that you facilitate are not just for 1-2 days but for weeks and months, empowering your clients with good health.  A trust is built between you and these clients that is powerful.  With this trust comes responsibility and loyalty.  For you, being loyal to your client’s true needs will be as important as their loyalty to you.  It’s like winning a championship on the same team together…this feeling never goes away.

5.  Create safe, compassionate & relaxing spaces for others: There are not many places that we, as adults, can go and just be quiet, still, safe.  Many irons prod at us all.  As a Massage Therapist, you get to create that quiet, safe space for your clients.  What is relaxing to you might not be relaxing to everyone, but the people who do find your style relaxing and rejuvenating will find you.  Once your space is created, treat it as a sanctuary, with quiet, respect, loving thoughts & deeds at all times.  You will pray in this space, cry in this space, focus in this space and heal in this space.  So enjoy this precious opportunity that not many professions experience.  Your massage room will become an area where your clients feel instantly at ease.  They are able to talk about things no one else will ever hear, to cry, laugh, breath and let go.  

6.  Express creativity:  Each massage is like a blank canvas.  There is the “square” massage we are all taught in massage school.  This “square” is important and serves as the basic borders of where to start.  But each person is different and unique.  There is no exception to this rule with Massage Therapists.  Each Massage Therapist will move just a bit differently for the same problem with which they are presented.  In this sense, no picture of a massage would ever be the same, even from the same therapist.  You can try starting at the feet or back, the neck or head.  You can use deep pressure, light pressure, rocking, compressions, etc, etc.  It is never boring.  Change the music you listen to during your massage, try more or less lighting. Change the colors in your room or the weight of your blankets or sheets. Use aromatherapy oils, hot stones or ice.  Expressing yourself through massage is extremely unique.

7.  Connect with people in a safe & healthy way:  There is a clear boundary with massage.  You are the healing facilitator and your client is trusting you to guide them to a healthier being.  This takes tremendous energy on your part, and integrity, honesty, respect, honor, love & compassion.  There is no healthier relationship than this.  Together you will experience laughter, ah ha moments for both of you, amazement, and mutual respect & gratitude.  Ask a Massage Therapist to describe the relationships they have with 2 of their most profound clients and you will see deep appreciation.