Massage is a form of manual therapy that involves the massage therapist (me) applying pressure to the client (you) through the use of their hands, forearms, elbows or even specially designed instruments. Depending on the desired results and the type of treatment, oil may or may not be used. The process and implementation of massage therapy is endlessly fascinating and is a direct connection between you and your therapist. A good massage session will involve a therapist who can not only listen to the words you use to describe your injuries, but one who can listen to your body as well.
If the clients goal is to relax, a Swedish massage using oil will be the most likely avenue the massage therapist will take. Long gliding strokes are used to sedate the musculature as well as the nervous system of the client. It is absolutely incredible how different you will feel after an hour of Swedish massage. New research has shown that there are many tangible benefits to massage therapy including increased feelings of contentment and relaxation. The Study abstract can be found here.
As you work your way into the more structural approaches that massage therapy can offer, the protocol can drastically change. Stretching and manual movement of a client’s joints may be incorporated into the massage, as well as long sustained direct pressure into areas of tension or pain. As mentioned above, the therapist may use their hands, thumbs, forearms, or elbows during the treatment. The therapist may eventually use pin-point accuracy to unravel muscles that have become bound up or adhesed. Although this process may not always be enjoyable, it should never be painful. You are looking for a therapeutic “good-hurt” that helps to alleviate problem areas that have been stuck for weeks, months, or even years.
The actual massage…
- When getting undressed, don’t go beyond your comfort level. Part of the goal of every massage is to help you relax. If you are uncomfortable the entire time, your massage will not be as beneficial or enjoyable. Fewer layers will allow the therapist to use oils or creams to more fully warm-up injury sites or problem areas. The therapist, however, can always work through clothing. Do not let this stop you from trying massage.
- Lay down on the table and get under the linens
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to settle your body and your mind
- Let your muscles begin to relax
- When the therapist moves your limb, or head, do not help them. Let your body get even heavier. It is their job to move your body. They will ask for help if they need it.
- Let your therapist warm up your muscles first. Just like you wouldn’t run a marathon without stretching first, you don’t want deep pressure before your muscles are ready and warm. Be patient.
- Communicate with your therapist. After about 10 minutes if you want deeper pressure, definitely ask! Also, if the temperature of the room is off, the music is too loud, or anything else, please make your concerns heard. We are here to make you comfortable.
- Remember to breath. Long steady breathing may help your body relax and your muscles to soften.
- When the massage is over, take a few breaths after your therapist has left the room. Slowly redress and let your body ease its way back into the world.