Welcome! This is the first entry, of which I hope there are many more, of an ongoing dialogue with the massage therapy client. As a few of my current clients can attest, there is no lack of information for me to share when it comes to the restoration and well-being of someone who is experiencing discomfort on a daily basis. Whether that discomfort is in the form of headaches, low back pain, stabbing sensations in the shoulders, or achy legs…in most cases, there is likely a solution, therefore, there is work to be done.
But before we get rolling, there are a few things you should know:
One…this is an informational blog about massage therapy to the client. Not other practitioners, not students of massage, not social media gurus, etc. No…topics discussed here will be, for the most part, written in plain English and easy for the client to understand. Technical terms will be few, and only when I feel it’s important enough to be included in one’s everyday vernacular.
Two….the above statement is only half-true. This is an informational blog about massage therapy, yes, but also about other health-related topics such as food (not diet), movement (not –cough- exercise), work, play, breathing, stress, sleep, and what goes through your head and heart on any given day. All of these contribute to the condition of the body’s tissues and overall health. (If diet and exercise are your thing, bonus points! BUT, food and movement are an integral part of feeling your best and it is a completely individualized process.)
I am not a healer.
According to Farlex Free Online Dictionary:
Did you catch that? …. “by which the body repairs itself.” Any practitioner claiming to be a healer, needs to consult another definition: narcissism. Narcissism: inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity.
Massage therapy, and the like, can assist the body in the repair process, but it cannot heal or cure a condition on its own. It is very much a collaborative effort on the part of the client (which I’ll address in more detail at another time), a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Chiropractor, Physical Therapist, osteopath, personal trainer, etc., depending on the issues to be addressed. An LMT works with your body – we ask the tissues to consider giving up some of their anger and give way to the pressure and heat we offer so as to calm and soothe painful points in the neck, shoulders, etc. (Every now and then a client will come along who has named their trigger points – what most people refer to as ‘knots’. I had one client who named hers after her ex-husband and two teenagers.) . We politely (and sometimes not so politely) manipulate tissues to soften their stance in some areas, thereby allowing the opportunity to strengthen tissues in others. And, many times, it is simply a retraining of the soft tissues to go where we want them to go in order to alleviate pain and restore balance. But by no means can I refer to myself by a term that denotes that I, and I alone, am responsible for the progress that takes place within a body responsive to change. If you do happen to find someone claiming that distinction, better check and make sure they have Messiah on their resume, as well.
I’d much rather say that I “run interference” when referring to what my education and experience have afforded me. When a client presents with pain, my primary goal is to alleviate it, yes, but there’s only so much I, as an LMT, can do. The client has much homework after they leave until their next visit, such as mild stretching, increasing their water intake on a daily basis, making adjustments in their work environment and sleep habits…just to name a few. Becoming “body-aware” is such an integral part of the healing process – thoughts precede action. Action gets results. Only the client can take complete control as to the progress of their healing.
There are, of course, some people in which, for a variety of reasons, there is no healing of a particular issue … that is when we call the work involved management. Whether it be for pain, balance, or mobility, sometimes all we can do is explore ways to manage a problem that can never fully go away. Another topic for another day.