Suzi Bier Nov 20, 2013
It's Therapist Thursday! So, we're giving our team the opportunity to weigh-in on weekly questions and topics.
Besides massage, what else can I do to reduce stress?
One easy thing you can do and incorporate throughout any day: Take a deep breath and while doing so, raise your shoulders as high as comfortably possible (don't let there be any pain), then, exhale lower your shoulders and pause for just a brief moment (1-2 seconds). Our breath, and connecting to it greatly reduces the production of cortisol (the hormone released when our body senses stress), and also helps disperse the exising cortisol currently present. If you can find time for yourself to do this throughout the day, you will feel the difference.-Steve
Is it appropriate for children to get a massage?
Children should receive massage; they injure themselves just like adults and they can also become stressed. Massage benefits children just as much as an adult and can have a greater impact on them long term if they receive regular massage. If skeletal muscular issues/injuries are taken care of younger in life then the person may not have as much trouble later in life; great preventative care. The length of a massage for a child is very dependent on the individual child. My personal recommendation is to start with a half an hour if the child is under ten and adjust depending on his/her energy level and ability to sit still for long periods of time.-Bonnie
It is always appropriate for children to get massage or bodywork; it is children who possess the best postures. They have not had time to learn as many bad habits when it comes to sitting, walking or standing. It is great to help keep this more perfect posture in check through the growth of the child. And, as long as you keep in mind all your contraindications and make sure your focus is on the comfort and safety in both physical and emotional aspects of your client, as well as the emotional aspect of their parent or guardian, and refer when you as a therapist can’t fulfill this completely. With this is mind, youth massage can be very beneficial to growth and development.-Steve
We all have stress, children included. With busy schedules, activities, school, peers and even growing, children’s bodies also experience a variety of stressors throughout the day. From infancy to young adulthood, massage is a gentle yet, yet effective way to bring balance to the whole body. Having children of my own, I have seen the positive effects of massage. Not only has it relieved muscle pain and tension after athletic events and training, but it has alleviated headaches, promoted healthier sleep and had positive effects on behavioral changes and mood swings. Massage stimulates the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system that everyone, especially growing children with high energy levels, could benefit from.-Launie
Besides regular massage, what else should be part of a good holistic wellness program?
Monthly massage is a BIG part of anyone's holistic wellness program; also important is daily stretching and a mindful diet. Trying to stay away from preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and fast food, which can leave one feeling less energized. There are so many different forms of bodywork that’s always a good idea to keep an open mind. Try acupuncture if you've never had it before. A health coach can not only give you the tools to better take care of yourself, but also provide motivation for getting where you want to be. Feeling good physically is important but also keeping your mind going is important also. If you've never done meditation, give it a try. There are many easy beginner follow- along videos on YouTube. Reading a little bit everyday works your brain out too. Life can get hectic and schedules very busy, but if you can set aside a bit of time for important things like listed above you WILL notice improvements not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. – Tayler
Along with massage, exercise, stretching, and meditation are great things to do as well since they move both your body and your mind. It is also very important to do things that make you happy, having a good outlook on life is the best thing you can do to prolong your health.-Bonnie
What makes a good "tableside manner"?
Good "tableside manner" to me is how well I am able to connect with and communicate with the client. People appreciate it when a therapist knows about a condition they have without the client having to explain it; they also appreciate it when the therapist admits to not having the answer but being willing to find the answer or refer the client to someone that can help them. If the therapist comes across as caring about the client, being confident in their ability to help the client, and can make the client feel like they are the most important thing at that moment then the client will connect with the therapist in a very healing way.-Bonnie
What's the best type of massage to get if I'm mainly looking to relieve stress?
When one is looking to relieve stress the best type of massage for you to receive is all dependent on what type of pressure you like. If you like deep work and find it relaxing then get a deep tissue, if you prefer a lighter touch then Swedish is for you. If you had a week where you really just need for your brain to turn off for a while and do not mind a unique light massage then you should try Lomi Lomi, a Hawaiian style massage. But in the end if you want to relieve stress then get what seems best to you. - Bonnie
What do you love most about massage?
What I love most about massage is being able to have good quality one-on-one time with someone. As a society we lack interpersonal relations due to busy lives, online social networks, and a lack of closeness with one another. Massage is a great way to bridge that social gap society has forced on us and connect with another living human being. When was the last time you had a full hour dedicated to just you? - Bonnie
Do I have to get completely undressed for massage therapy?
When someone who is new to massage therapy comes into the studio, I want him or her to feel safe and comfortable. I am very thorough in explaining the whole process. When I am preparing them for the massage I ask them to dress down to their own level of comfort and to lie between the sheets. I assure them that they will always be covered and I will only uncover an area that I am working on. I also give them an example," when I am working on your back I will pull the sheet back just to uncover your back. When we are ready to move on I will cover your back again and only uncover one leg." I find when you are thorough with your explanation people are more comfortable. - Nancy
I first explain to the client about how draping is done to prevent any exposure. In my six years I have never exposed a client. Through our draping techniques, clients have been protected from exposing themselves. If they are still uneasy about getting undressed, we can work around just about any requests from the client. However, it is much easier and we can get better work done when we can properly manipulate the muscles. I’ve had to do anything from a fully clothed massage, to (in some extreme cases - mostly with elderly clients) helping with undressing the upper body. Also, the client leaving the bra on and having me unclasp the back while working that area. For lower body my clients that are not comfortable at all undressing or incapable I suggest bringing shorts or yoga pants or something light weight so not to get too hot. Clothes should never be a reason to not get a massage! -Toni
I tell my clients to undress to their comfort level. Some still ask me "what is that"? I then tell my clients that they will be draped except for the area I'm working on then I explain each process: the back, the legs, you will then turn over, the front the legs and arms then finish with the neck. They then feel comfortable about the process and enjoy their experience. - Connie
Although you can disrobe to your level of comfort for a massage, i.e. leave on your underwear or bra; it does often limit what the therapist is able to do. If the bra is left on then shoulder access and back access can be restricted causing sections of the back and shoulders to be missed. If underwear is left on than it is more difficult to properly massage the hips, which is an area that many people have problems with. So, you can leave on articles of clothing but you will probably be limiting what the therapist can do for you in those areas. - Bonnie
What do you need when you need a quick recharge?
I'm a big believer in bananas!! If I need a quick re-charge I take a fifteen-minute break, guzzle some water and eat a banana. Usually that will keep me nourished and focused for the next two hours. Google bananas and you will see endless benefits they provide! - Carlee
My routine for a quick pick-me-up is a quick walk around the block on my lunch hour. It gives me fresh air, it clears my mind and gets me prepared for the rest of my shift. - Connie
During the day a lot of people need a quick "pick-me-up" and often turn to caffeine. Healthier options are 1) Eat an apple; they can have a similar "wake-up" effect on the body; although not as drastic. 2) Take a short brisk walk; this will increase your heart rate, get your blood moving and wake up your brain. 3) Take yourself through breathing exercises; this will help your brain to function by oxygenating it, which will effectively "wake" it up. 4) Take vitamin supplements primarily a B complex. B helps to energize the body. - Bonnie
For me as a massage therapist, I try to make sure I always have at least some healthy food in my stomach. So, my body will go to that for energy instead of attacking my body. In the event that I’m on my feet all day, every three hours I go on at least a ten-minute walk to get fresh air and get my blood flowing. -Toni
How will I feel after my massage session?
Immediately after the session most people feel relaxed, less stressed, and frequently like they need a nap, some people feel invigorated and want to do something active, and others are very spacy for a while; whatever you feel indulge it. Take a nap, go for a walk, sit for a while, clean your home... The morning after a massage you can have several different sensations depending on the type of massage you had done. If you had a relaxing massage then you will probably still feel relaxed, maybe lighter, more energy, and less stressed. If you had a deeper massage or some specific work done you can feel sore in the targeted areas, this will feel like you worked out a bit too much, this usually only lasts 24 hours, 48 at the most, and when the soreness dissipates most people feel amazing, pain free, with better mobility. Drinking an extra 10-20 ounces of water the day of a massage helps to reduce the soreness and increase the relaxed feeling.-Bonnie V.
How much anatomy do you need to know to be a good massage therapist?
The more anatomy you know the better but it is worthless unless you couple it with physiology. Many people come to a massage therapist for a weird pain that they know nothing about. If you know how the body works, things like the fascial line that connects the right foot to the left side of the back of the head, or how the neck can make the arm go numb, or how a trigger point in the calf can give someone a headache, then you are more able to effectively and efficiently treat a person and get them back doing the things that they love; and this will bring them and their friends back to you. This also makes the difference between a therapist that rubs people and one that treats people. - Bonnie
More than you would think, during their education a massage therapist is required to learn the name, location, and function of every muscle in the body. Every time a massage therapist is performing a gliding stroke down a client's back or driving an elbow into a knot a therapist knows exactly what is being worked on and the effect they're creating. A therapist's knowledge of anatomy doesn't stop at the muscular system however. Knowledge of every system of the body is essential for determining the source of a client's pain or avoiding areas of endangerment sites that should not be massaged, some modalities even focus on treating these other systems rather than the muscles. Some examples include craniosacral therapy, lymphatic drainage, and reflexology. – Hayden
I believe that it is very important to have a good understanding of anatomy and physiology. While we are working on someone we need to be aware of the effects of our touch. From an anatomy standpoint not knowing the physical structure could be a potential problem. E.g. if you're not aware that we have "floating" ribs you could push too hard and potentially fracture one. From a physiological view we need to understand how we are effecting the systems. e.g. massage can lower your blood sugar levels and that is important information if you're working with a diabetic. These are only two examples but there are a plethora of reasons why we as massage therapists should have a good understanding of anatomy and physiology. - Nancy
How often should I get a massage?
I feel that people who have no current issues should receive a massage once a month in order to stay moving well and feeling good. People who have tight muscles or adhesions should get a massage more often until their issues are resolved, as often as once a week. - Nancy
Massage is therapeutic on multiple levels; it can be physically therapeutic, mentally therapeutic, and emotionally therapeutic. The average American lives in a world that is socially disconnected and touch deprived. Massage allows that person to both receive touch in a non-invasive, non-demanding way, and connect with a person whose sole focus is them: how often does that happen for you in a given day? It fills a gap in peoples’ lives that they did not even know they had until it was pointed out to them, which is how massage is more than what the doctor ordered. - Bonnie
Every three to four weeks is ideal. The trick is getting massage often enough so any progress made at the last appointment isn't wasted. For some people it may be more often. Massage isn't only for "fixing" existing ailments and stress. It should also be seen as a preventative measure to keep your body and mind happy.-Allison
What makes a massage therapeutic?
For starters, therapeutic massage is beneficial in the upmost way that it calms you, relaxes tense muscles, increases circulation, reduces pain and sensitivity, increases range of motion and gives you physiological benefits that a pill cannot provide without adding toxins and junk into your body. Not only can massage help with pain and tight muscles, but it can also relax someone who might suffer from depression, anxiety and insomnia. Massage is a beautiful thing :) –Carlee
What's your favorite wellness trick or treat?
I have to be honest, my favorite wellness treat is a nap! As much as I dreaded them as a kid, now I wish I could take them more often. They truly are a treat!-Allison
I think that the best wellness treat is finding out you have a surprise massage waiting for you, especially when it is an 80 min with your favorite therapist :)- Bonnie
I find that doing little things each day make the most impact in my overall wellness. Whether it's drinking water or stretching or having a green smoothie for my physical health or getting some natural vitamin D from the sun for my mental health or serving others by baking goodies or doing their dishes for my emotional health. All of these little things can make the day brighter. It's nearly impossible to be perfect so I strive to do my best one thing at a time.-Kayla
What are some effective non-traditional headache remedies?
It depends on the headache. If it is a migraine; when you first notice it coming on (weird lights, light sensitivity, smell...), plunge your feet into ice cold water for a couple of minutes. This will draw blood away from your head (migraines are vascular) and pump it towards your feet, effectively eliminating or reducing the intensity of the migraine.
For normal headaches, drink water (many headaches can be caused by dehydration). If you know it is a tension headache you can pinch the muscle on your shoulder and hold it for a few minutes, this will relax that muscle which has pain patterns into the head, you can also do the pinch the meaty part of the thumb trick ( I have had mixed results with this one).
The best headache treatment is preventative, if you are stressed take a few moments to breath, walk for a few moments then go back to what you were doing. Relax.-Bonnie
Depends on the cause. A lot of headaches come from reaction to foods or food additives, including sugar, dairy and food colors. This is particularly common with migraines. Also could be from spinal alignment, especially cervical. If neither of these is a cause, it's not caused by a cold or flu and massage hasn't cleared it, I take something called Head Relief Formula, by Golden Flower herbs, which generally works if the above things I mentioned aren't the cause.-Deanna
How do you make someone who has never had a massage comfortable?
Personally I love massaging first-timers; I think of it as a way to introduce someone to a world of awesome. I think that it is critically important to be friendly, which will put them at ease. Make sure you sound competent and confident so that they believe that you can help them with whatever brought them in; it is really easy to ruin a first massage if you do not sound like you know all of the ins and outs of massage. Finally letting them know what you are going to do (I give a quick run of the order of body parts I am going to massage and re-emphasize places they wanted extra work), what they need to do (level to undress to), and to let them know that ultimately they are in control of the massage. This usually serves me well with putting them to ease.-Bonnie
I would start by chatting with them and getting to know them; hopefully relaxing them a little. Next, I would let them know our philosophy of a customized massage, reminding them that if they aren't sure what pressure they like, the therapist can adjust everything from the pressure to the lighting. I would also relate my own experience with that therapist and pass on what I like about their technique. It's also nice to invite them to read about their therapist in our "Meet Our Therapists" book.-Allison
What’s your favorite thing about Fall?
My favorite thing about Fall is the crispness to the air, cute scarves, pumpkin patches and baking - it's very comforting.-Carlee
The crisp, fresh smell of the air in the mornings and the necessity of a warm beverage to fight off the chill of the breeze.-Tara
There are so many things I love about Fall. The newness of starting over each year, even though I am no longer school age. The crisp freshness in the air on a cold day with blue skies and colorful leaves. The crunch of those leaves under your feet. Drinking hot cider and eating fresh donuts at the pumpkin patch. Those are but a few of my favorite things, and the reasons why Fall is my favorite season!-Allison
Massage has to hurt to do any good, right?
I don't agree with the phrase, "No pain, no gain". The mentality that a massage should hurt in order to have a result is false. Can a massage hurt? Sure. There is a difference though when it's painful because the therapist is using too much pressure or your muscle is excessively tight and/or holding onto too much much lactic acid.-Nikki
Massage does not have to hurt. It is a common misconception that in order to get any benefit from massage that you have to breathe through the pain. No pain, no gain-right? Wrong!!! When done properly, you can get just as much benefit from a very light massage as you can from a deep painful one. There is also a huge difference between "hurt so good", which is the sweet spot, and "it just hurts"; which is your body's way of saying that it is too much. Another way of thinking about it is that if you are flinching and tensing up because of the pain from the massage then you are undoing all of the previous work; very counter-productive.-Bonnie
I personally do not like to cause any pain. Unless you have an irreversible diagnosis that will not get better and causes you to always be in pain, then the little bit of pain I cause during the session (and of course, being relaxed) may actually lower the regular pain. For those who say pain is weakness leaving the body; that only applies to working out. With massage, if you tense up (which your muscles can do without you even knowing) massage will not be as effective and you're more likely to be sore afterwards. So, I go to a pressure I feel everything relax.-Toni
What do you miss the most about Elementary School?
I miss Kindergarten the most. We had a water table where you could build towers and various things out of tubes and wheels and then put water through and watch all of the wheels, gates and things move and dump the water. It was an added bonus that I would "accidently" get soaked half of the time.-Bonnie
Of course, that would be when we would sit in a circle and everyone would get a massage while giving the person in front of you a massage.-Toni
Should I talk during massage?
I think it should be left to the client to lead. If they want to talk, I will follow, but I allow them to control the flow and topic. It's their session; for some it helps them. Then you have those who do not want to talk, so that's a cue for us to stay silent unless checking in.-Nikki
It's all about what makes you comfortable as a client. If talking helps put you at ease then talk away. If no talking makes you more comfortable then silence is ok as well. The session is all about you and what works best for you.-Glenn
Almost all conversation should be directed by the client. If they want to talk than they should be allowed to and the therapist should not discourage them. If the client wants silence that should also be respected. Some clients relax better if they are able to talk and others relax better through meditation.-Bonnie
Can stress be beneficial?
It depends on the type and amount of stress. In response to stress, a burst of hormones (as long as it is not chronic or lasts a long time), can actually help complete certain tasks. The most important being the flight or fight response; making it to the finish line in a marathon or passing a test.-Toni
Stress in small increments can be beneficial. For example, if you are minimally stressed about an exam or a work project then the stress can actually give you a burst of energy to get the work done! Such temporary stress can actually be helpful to complete whatever task was required. However, stress in too high of quantities and for any extended period of time can be detrimental to your health.-Tara