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…

Hiring a New Massage Therapist..The Challenges for Both Sides

Find Matching Goals & Agendas for new Employees

Find Matching Goals & Agendas for new Employees

We are in the process of looking for, interviewing & hiring a new massage therapist to join our team.  This process is so much easier said than done.  After interviewing and determining a possible fit, then there are several layers of requirements before they are permanently hired.

The interesting thing about creating a career for another human being, is how specific each career is and how different each human being is.  Each of us is trying to determine whether the other is a good fit.  This is not always quickly established.  That’s why there needs to be clear expectations and “probationary” periods where either side can jump ship without much loss to either party.

Communication is key. But  just because one side feels they have communicated clearly doesn’t always mean that the other side heard/understood what was said.  Each side has their own agenda.  How can one create a way to have those agendas match?

What are the best ways to first determine a person’s integrity, honesty, teamwork & respect for others?  I think these qualities are often assumed to exist in others, or at least HOPED to exist in others. I have learned NOT to assume this after several massage therapists have NOT been honest or respectful or professional.

Unfortunately, this complaint is common with employers of most career types, and they end up having a hard time trusting incoming employees.  So much so that the employees are EXPECTED to lie or cheat, look out only for themselves, do the minimum required of them, etc, etc.  Instead of expecting honesty, the employers prepare for dishonesty.

This is so sad.

One can’t blame the employers.  They are basing their judgements on past experiences.  I am too.  It’s hard to have trust for new employees when others before them have been so dishonest.

On the other hand, the employee could have a pre-conceived idea of how bad an employer will treat them:  The employers will use them, not appreciate them, make oodles of money and not pay them enough for their efforts, etc, etc. So the employee could come into the relationship expecting poor treatment, thus starting out in a resentful, feeling-like-they-need-to-be-sneaky-about their-real-intentions manner leaving each side already unhappy before any work is ever done.

So, how does this dilemma go away?

By finding matching agendas & goals, which can take time.

Employees will be hired and they will do great work, under the scrutiny of a watchful employer.  And eventually the trust is earned.  This is how the dilemma goes away.  With time.

But there will also be those employees who create the bad taste in employer’s mouthes.

I sure wish those type would go away. You make it hard for everyone.  Because of you there are cameras, paper trails, uncertainty, mistrust.  Because of you there are “No Compete Clauses”. Because of you, national chains in many businesses have a running list of employees willing to take 1/3 of the pay because the chain can then afford to be lied to or cheated.

In the end, I trust.  I take another chance that they are telling the truth. I try to state clear expectations.  I try to listen between the lines of what their agenda really is.

In the end, I’m very happy to have an office manager who does this all for me! 🙂

Massage is a Great Career Choice for Moms

There is so much discussion about women and their careers on whether women should be at home with the kids or whether they should

Massage is a Great Career for a Mom

Massage is a Great Career for a Mom

pursue great careers.

The problem is that women simply ROCK.  We can do it all.  Our ability to multitask and organize is amazing.  Plus we can nurture and heal, discover & teach, cook and clean. On and on.  Lately, in the past few decades, we have tried to do it all.  And we CAN do it ALL…we just can’t do it all at the same time.

The last conversation I had with my loving Mother-in-law before she passed away, which I will never forget, as I was playing mental tug-of-war, she said to me, “Ruth, you can do ANYTHING you want….you just can’t do EVERYTHING you want….especially all at the same time.”

It’s such an individual decision to stay home or hammer at work, it seems.  Women are so capable, and for that exact reason, the struggle to find the balance between family and career can be excruciatingly painful.

For me there was no question of whether I wanted kids…I always knew I did, and set up my career around that idea. But it hasn’t always been an easy road.  As I established my business, I wondered if I’d ever meet anyone…because I was working 70+ hours each week, then going home and washing massage sheets.  I was lonely, but I was on a mission to have an established business by the time I got married.

Once established and married and staying at home with the kids, I struggled with the choice of letting my business almost die to stay home, or to stay working long hours to continue the financial success, but let someone else raise my kids.  Sleepless nights I struggled & played tug-of-war in my mind of what is the best for my family.  No one could comfort me.  No one had the right answer.  All the while staying home as my business almost died, but I spent all my time playing with my kids.

It’s funny that “in the moment”, like Rush’s song FREEWILL, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”, I WAS at home loving my kids, laughing, playing, but suffering with the withering of something I had spent so much time creating.  I finally let go and appreciated where I was in life….that this was one of the “have ANYTHING” while a career was part of the “EVERYTHING right now” part of my Mother-in-law’s advice.  She had been through what she was watching me struggle through.

The idea that those who are not in this position can’t understand is the push and pull from both sides.  Each side feels extremely justified in their convictions of YOUR time.  The very beginning of being a Mom is the hardest, especially with an established career:

  • Staying at home is actually MUCH HARDER than working!!
  • At work, I know EXACTLY what I’m doing and what to expect
  • At home, even the best plan rarely starts and ends the way it’s “supposed to”
  • At home, nothing is EVER organized, clean, put away for any amount of time
  • At work, I know where everything is, counters are clean, my mind seems peaceful and clear
  • At work, I am making more money for the family & keeping staff happy
  • At home I am spending money & keeping family happy
  • People at work want you at work and don’t care about those at home
  • People at home want you at home and don’t care about those at work
  • At work I can sit quietly, alone, and get oodles done
  • At home, I’m never alone, I worry and am constantly moving to manage the household…just to start all over again, it’s never done

This is the cycle of thoughts until a decision is truly made peace with.  The loss of my bustling business was all about my ego, and that part of me could wait. The kids and their daily milestones could not and would not wait.  This finally was crystal clear to me and the rebuilding of a career took back seat to being home full-time when the kids were home. What an incredible opportunity.  I am so lucky.

For those Moms who may be going through something similar with your career vs your family….hang in there.  Only you know the right answer for you and your family.  Meditate.  Force exercise and quiet time at home.  I think it’s good for our kids to see powerful women in the workforce.  And also, it’s so important for kids to have their Mom to be with and physically hang on to.  When you look back on your life, ask yourself, “what is most important to me” then make choices accordingly.  That’s what I answered for myself.  This answer is different for each Mom.

As a Massage Mom, this has been a great 20 years!!  I recommend this career and wouldn’t have had it any other way.

The PROS for a Mom as a Massage Therapist:

  • Able to establish an office and buy a house fairly quickly
  • Work while pregnant and raising kids all while working minimal hours making great money
  • Forced to stay in shape
  • Choose days and hours worked
  • Choose the clients I want to work on
  • Do what I love & make money doing it
  • Connect with clients in a manner that is extremely fulfilling
  • Be a “stay-at-home-Mom” with a career
  • Be with my kids most of every day
  •  Exciting daily work, always challenging, always engaging
  • Learning something new everyday
  • Honoring God with my work, using the talents I was given
  • And the best pro of all:  I’ve been honored to help the clients I love so much
  • Help them feel better in their lives
  • Keep my clients playing their sport
  • Allow clients to become and stay pain free.

The CONs for a Mom as a Massage Therapist:

  • Massage is physically demanding
  • My hands hurt after 20 years of working
  • There is little camaraderie in this profession

Bottom line:  massage is a great career choice for a Mom, especially before you have kids.  Strengthen your hands before you start and learn excellent body posture while you work.  This is true in any profession.  Good luck. 🙂

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.

Should You Choose Deep Tissue Massage?

When you are about to make an appointment for a massage, should you have a deep tissue massage or some other style of massage?  Good question.

It really depends on 3 things:

  1. What type of Massage Office are you going to:  If you are going to a national chain, or a place hiring only new graduates with less than 2 years of experience, just remember that a beginner can HURT you with deep pressure.  Another point to remember, though, is that if you don’t ask for a “Deep” massage, your massage could be a weak “Fluff & Buff” wet noodle oil application.  So, find experienced therapists. At our office, even if you ask for a Deep Tissue Massage and that turns out NOT to be what you need, we will figure it out for you.  Also, not everyone who requests “Deep Tissue” actually needs or will benefit from “Deep” work.  Again, this is something an experienced massage therapist will be able to determine from how your muscles respond to deep pressure.  
  2. Have You Had a Massage Before?  If you have never had a massage, then we suggest not trying a Deep Tissue massage first.  Try a Relaxation Massage first.  If you are a referral from another athlete or someone who likes Deep Tissue, and you are not coming to our office, tell the massage therapist that you “think” you like deep pressure, but you don’t want to be hurt.  Each person responds differently, even those people who think they like the same style of massage.  If you are coming to our office, we will take care of you and will know from a few questions what your best massage style will be.
  3. What result from the Massage are you looking for?  If you want to leave relaxed and ready for rest, then choose a massage for relaxation.  From a Deep Tissue massage you are looking to have problem areas “fixed” or to get the “kinks out”.  You could feel like you just did a hard workout.  You could be sore for 24 hours.  Your painful areas may be more sore for a day and then much better.  If you are not wanting to feel this “soreness”, then a relaxation massage is better for you. If you are sore for more than 24 hours…your massage was TOO hard and it caused more damage than healing.

Another thought about whether you need Deep Tissue or some other style of bodywork:  When your mind is saying “Press as hard as you can!! You can’t hurt me!” yet when the massage therapist uses pressure and your body flinches, your toes curl, your hands make a fist and/or one of your legs starts kicking…may we suggest that you may need some more calming or lighter work.

If lighter work makes you ansi and uncomfortable, this is almost a sure sign that you are ready to make major changes…possibly letting go of some old pain patterns, possibly ready to let go of some old anger or sadness.  Often times, these types of patterns come out with very gentle massage styles like polarity, core synchronism, or even light Myo-Facial Release. It’s quick and pain less to get patterns out of your body this way…it just feels a bit “scary” right before it’s about to happen.

For those who have massage on a regular basis, this cycle of healing happens very quickly because their body gets used to this form of healing and lets go of pain patterns or emotional patterns much faster.

When pain patterns are released this way it is quick and sometimes permanent.  If the pain returns in a few days, then the pattern needs to be addressed at a different angle.

When emotional patterns are released this way, the person can feel more patience, calm & peace.  Getting angry at drivers and talks with family members can be much smoother and less reactive than they once were.

As always, if you have any questions, email us at info@athletictouch.com