Your Massage Toolbox

Jesse Byrd, NMT instuctor

Jesse Byrd, NMT instructor

A common question we hear from massage therapists is what Continuing Education classes they should take.  This is a great question. Most states require 16-32 hours every 2 years to maintain a state massage license.  New Mexico requires 16 hours and an extra 8 hours for Instructors.

Consider your “Massage Toolbox”, loaded with the best “tools” to serve your clients.  Is it well rounded?  Does it help most clients?  Is anything missing?

The basics are usually covered in Massage School.  We call that the “Square Massage”, where you learn the VERY basics of giving a massage.

Next, add to those “basics”, taking more Sports Massage or more Myo-fascial work.  Each of these modalities can help.

Every Massage Toolbox should have basic “Body Mechanics” and self care and good business practices.  Taking care of your body is AS important as learning fascinating skills.  If your body gives out…it won’t matter what you’ve learned.

After the basic classes are in your Massage Toolbox, then start looking for modalities that interest you.

Each therapist has specific talents and passions which they are drawn to.  Listen to your gut.

Medium deep trap work

Medium deep trap work

Massage CEUs are expensive, some more than others, and since each of us will only take 2-3 weekend classes each year, choosing your classes carefully is important.

Massage has so many options for Continuing Education!

  • Sports Massage
  • Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Pregnancy Massage
  • Oncology Massage
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Spa treatments
  • & many others

You can choose classes to help keep your hands and body from wearing out, or how to run your business.  Ethics is required by all and is often quite boring.

We can also use communication classes, personal training, nursing classes, aromatherapy, stretching, on and on.   Instead of learning ALL styles of bodywork, be specific.

If Sports or Trigger point is more your style, then ANY type of anatomy classes are a great help.  Or, if helping in a senior center or hospital is more your road, then you can find classes to help cancer patients, aging clients, or even hospice clients.

If moms are who you want to help, you could concentrate on pregnancy massage, infant massage, massage for migraines or massage for menopause.

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Whitney Lowe teaching Orthopedic Massage

If you have strong hands, then Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage or the like are good options.  Like Orthopedic Massage with Whitney Lowe was great.  He was easy to learn from and he very precise, which makes him good for “anal” students as well as those who don’t pay attention to details.  Or James Waslaski’s Ortho Massage is great, too.  James’ classes are more rugged or physical.  He really gets into each move and likes to manipulate the body more than other teachers.  Each modality I have found very helpful and effective back in the office.

 

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

 

If you don’t have strong hands or would like some smarter ways to work deeper, try Robert Stevens’ Core Synchronism  classes, which are incredible.  Even though “Core” is a subtle therapy, I use it in all of my “Deep Tissue” massages.  It is by far one of my favs.

Ultimately, you’ll need to choose your own path of learning, allowing yourself to be drawn to modalities that interest you.  Go with your gut.  The amount of CEU options is crazy and overwhelming.

Each therapist has great strengths and incredible talent in certain areas.  Explore different modalities to see which type of bodywork you excel in and like.  Which modality grabs your interest? Many will.  But, the better question is which modality KEEPS your interest.  Which do you always come back to? What is your “Go-to” when sessions get tough? When a friend or family member needs help with shoulder pain, what do you think of first?  In order to find your “Go-to” modality, you need to learn several modalities…different modalities.  I admit, some of the classes I took seemed to be a waste of time and money because I never used the specific style being taught…but I still learned from each instructor, and what was MOST important is to have clarity about what I DID NOT want to do.

Personally, I don’t think each of us is great at all modalities, and each of us has a specific way of helping people feel better.  Not each modality needs to be in your tool box….and not every person is going to “click” with you or you with them.

But, when you do “click” with a client, and you feel honored and genuinely respectful of their trust & concerned with the outcome of your time together, then having many different tools in your Massage Toolbox is very powerful. Using Trigger Points to specify pain, some stretches to loosen, deep tissue to lengthen, Core to synchronize, unwinding to calm and breathing to bring everything together, is one of oodles of examples of utilizing a well-rounded toolbox.  At the end of the day, when you get to make an amazing difference in another humans life, then ALL the classes are WAY worth it.

Corrective Exercises Specialist through the NASM

I love this live class and the book is even better.  Thumbs up, NASM.

What a great tool to help with massage and personal fitness training!

What a great tool to help with massage and personal fitness training!

The test was tough.  I didn’t open the book and thought I would cruise through the test without any preparation and I was very wrong.  Thank God the test is hard, because this is important info, and not info to dish out lightly.  I was thankful for a challenge and am happy I studied the book to the point where if it’s not memorized, I at least know what page to find the info I need.

Though the class I took was a bit loud for the first few hours of the NASM’s Corrective Exercises live workshop at BrikFitness in Redondo, California, I still enjoyed it and really enjoyed the great trainers taking the class with me.  There were healthy shakes being swirled together in blenders while enthusiastic personal trainers encouraged their exercising clients through their regular Sunday workouts all a while the workout music going and then the videos we were supposed to be hearing.

It was like trying to pay attention to a college professor speaking in a mall.  I was trying to pay attention, glaring at the instructors with all my might and sonic ear power, but the blender would win.

The cool exercises that the personal trainers were trying also stole my attention for seconds at a time, which was enough to loose entire blocks of information from the class.

Finally, after several hours of being in a health store locker room with 80’s workout music tapping at my brain, all the noise went away, the blenders stopped, the clients and trainers went home, and the workout music was turned off.  Phew…now, what did you say for the past 2 hours?

Besides the major distractions, the information is excellent and I am already using it in all my massages and personal training sessions.

Corrective Exercises is just that, exercises to correct imbalances in our bodies.  We learned to assess what is off balance, either because a muscle is weak, overactive, too tight, etc.  From how a person moved in a certain exercise, we learned how to tell which muscles need foam rolling, which need stretching, and which need strengthening.  Awesome!

Every massage therapist should take this class because it really fits hand in hand with how we can help people.  Then, if you add personal training, you are several steps ahead in being able to massage their body back into balance.

Core Synchronism with Robert Stevens

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

I highly, highly recommend Core Synchronism with Robert Stevens for any massage therapist, chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or neurologist.  I had the pleasure of taking Core Synchronism with it’s creator, Robert Stevens.

If you have the chance, come to Albuquerque and learn “Core” from Robert. He is incredible.  You will learn about the brain like you never have before.  Robert is inspiring, leading me and most of his students to crave more learning.  After his classes, I always find myself reading, exploring, searching and being curious more than I did before his classes.

A brilliant scholar & masterful communicator, Robert is able to explain how to palpate and learn Core Synchronism so it becomes natural in your practice.  This is subtle work; it’s easy on your hands and body, yet it’s effective on your toughest clients.  I use Core on my tough athletes and softer clients alike. 🙂 And, I use it on my ADHD husband when he has trouble being still.  Out of all modalities, my husband requests Core the most. So do my kids, btw.

The Class had about 20 students and 3 assistants.  Each assistant was incredibly helpful, patient and kind.  The class I took, Core 4, was 5 days long, 1:30-5:30, M-F, in the main classroom in The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics where Robert Stevens in the director.  There are 7 weeks possible, Core 1-7, each class is a one-week class except for Core 7 which is 3 days and for which registration is full for about a year in advance (FYI).  Each class is a pre-requisite for the next. Many people take the first 3 at one time (I did too, years ago).  I would not recommend taking all 7 at one time.  It’s better to use Core for a year or two and understand the basics and then add to it from there.

After practicing Core 1, 2 & 3 since 1996, I was ready to move on to Core 4.  I do wish I had the childcare in order to take Core 4, 5 & 6 this year, but I’ll need to wait until next year.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t palpate the rhythms at first.  It’s like riding a bike.  It seems impossible at first for some students, but once they feel the movement the first time, everything changes for them.

The classroom was large with plenty of tables and chairs.  The restrooms are in the classroom and there is filtered water available and a fridge for lunches/snacks.  Each student sat with a different partner each day and we traded as we learned from Robert, who worked on one of the assistants-unless the class is an odd number, in which case, he works on a student.

I would recommend arriving early each day and settling in.  There is oodles of info and it’s non-stop and very cerebral work, not physical, so being centered, well-rested and caught up with what happened the day before is helpful.  Also, bring a good snack.  You will have 1-3 breaks, but only one of them is long enough to enjoy your snack.

Core Synchronism is a great “tool” in your toolbox.  You won’t regret trying it, trust me. 🙂