Pain management can be complicated for a therapist and client to maneuver. For clients, the most immediate request is obviously relief: please help me feel less pain right now. Then, depending on the confidence the client has in the therapist they’re working with and their own ambitions for relief, they begin to look for long term resolution of their pain: please help me feel less pain. Not surprisingly, I think most therapists receive that first request a lot and, maybe a little more surprisingly, they receive that first request a lot from the same clients, over and over.
My answer to that question is usually to come in whenever you have a concern you want addressed. Sometimes a concern is ongoing and has been going on for a long time. In which case, you might come in regularly to get where you want to be. How often is regular depends on what we're trying to accomplish and how quickly we're trying to accomplish it. I work very hard to make the most of our time inside my office so that you can feel your best outside my office.
Clients often come to me disappointed with a massage they received elsewhere which was too light in pressure, ultimately not effective, and thus disappointing. They come to me seeking deep tissue work. My work often is deep tissue, but only when it can be. The depth of the work is not a technique that is applied but a goal that is achieved when a client is able to relax enough to allow for the pressure to go deep. Massage is often discussed as if it is either deep or not, without addressing how it gets deep.
Most of our clients have been receiving massages for years, so they know that massage therapy is helpful when something troubles them, however, it isn’t always obvious how massage therapy can help when something isn’t troubling them. Though not always the case, most of the kinds of complaints presented in our office are an accumulation of stress or activity. I sometimes explain it as follows:
It's part of my work to help my clients articulate their complaint and formulate goals, but it's sometimes hard to either do that or see why doing that is necessary.
When one can identify an issue as having clear and articulated parts, it becomes more manageable, more definite. That's not to say it's any less work, but that the work is more clearly defined and thus easier to address.
Kit Laughlin in an educator and stretch therapy founder and, I think, has some really worthwhile views and ideas concerning the value of "stretching." In the following video he unpacks what stretching means to him. It's worth a watch.
Though many small issues seem to go away just given enough time, it's misleading to think of them as resolved. That is, to think that they've not left their mark. My work often consists in addressing complaints that are made up of years (more often decades) of seemingly insignificant aches and pains that form a network of issues which are inevitably experienced by my clients as, seemingly, one major issue. I then work to unravel that web and try to address the root (or roots) of a given problem.
Bodies are your way of experiencing the world and in experiencing the world through a body, you change and grow and become the person you are. It is a profound experience to get to know their bodies because in doing so they get to know themselves. Knowing your limitations, playing with and challenging those limitations, is an exercise in growth as a person.
What does the goodness of a massage refer to? Is it that a good massage is relaxing or maybe it needs to be productive? To me, the notion of a "good massage" is just a catch all term for whatever it is someone wants. So then I ask you, what do you want from a massage? That is an all together different question than whatever might result in the answer "a good massage."
Ignoring pain over a long period of time can, I think, create an odd disconnect with pain, tension, and discomfort in general. It isn’t that common that that disconnect is extreme, but when it is, it can be very difficult to work with. Once it does get to that point, it might only appear as an innocuous, innocent, or mostly irrelevant discomfort but in reality is expressive of a much more pervasive problem.
A lot of my clients have achieved a measure of physical precision in the execution of movement yet lack the ability to let go of the tension they can so readily exert. Relaxing doesn't come easy to most of us. Relaxing can be an even greater challenge for those who practice tensing and never practice letting go of that tension. Here are my thoughts on relaxing and its effect on your treatment.
As I am sure many of us have who still experience pain, restriction, or apprehension from injuries they sustained years ago or, not infrequently, decades ago. Many clients come to me and mention their bad back and refer back to when it first started bothering them years ago. When asked how many years, “Two? Three? A decade?” most people describe their bad body part as having been there “since I can remember” or “always.”
My first issue with the term "full body massage" is that of ambiguity. Here I like to discuss theory behind receiving massage therapy and what that means and doesn't mean in my practice.
The following is an email exchange between me and a onetime client. I wanted to post it because I think this client's comments and criticism are probably quite common and worth thinking about. I would invite anyone visiting my site to read them and consider both them and my response to them.
As I mature in my practice, I find I am developing more of a style and defining ethos to my work. Part of this ethos is sincerely engendering long term benefit into my work. Clients sometimes seek immediate relief irrespective of what may come afterward. However, as an aspiration for my work, I look toward providing care that persists.
Deliberate practice, rather than mindless repetition, requires focus and mindfulness. Deliberate practice is slow and meticulous. It is a process of "hypothesis testing" wherein one "relentlessly seek[s] solutions to clearly defined problems." This article discusses how you can apply deliberate practice to relaxation. Read more.
Often, I find people try to trick themselves into relaxing. Put yourself in a dark room, listen to calming music, lay down, and close your eyes and you will find yourself relaxed. It's easiest to practice relaxation in a quiet and calm space. However, common pitfalls arise. Here are a few rules to help avoiding pitfalls.
In the below video, originally posted on YouTube.com by Kevin Moore, is an easy to follow explanation of why some people may feel soreness, restriction, or discomfort when doing push ups or other exercises that place the wrist is dorsiflexion. For those who may find poses like downward dog or plank uncomfortable, check it out.
You might think that the more pain one experiences, the more benefit one receives. For those who wish to experience pain, so often it is not a question of merely experiencing pain, but also embracing pain. Experiencing pain and then embracing pain can be very difficult but worthwhile with long lasting effects in how one perceives a reoccurring or old injury. Read more
Intuition is somewhat of a blanket term for three distinct skills: intuitive touch, reading body language, and communication. Intuitive touch is the recognition of feedback - not necessarily from the person but from the tissue. Here are my thoughts on intuitive massage.