Last April, I joined a BNI group and found that the 60 second elevator speech is mildly terrifying. I don’t want to say the same thing week after week but what to talk about? It’s hard to do more than introduce massage in 60 seconds so how do I describe my business, massage, which I view as a complex and widely varied topic…
My solution: Research common massage myths and debunk them one at a time. Not only do I have something to talk about for several weeks but I also can turn each myth into it’s own blog to fully explore and correct misconceptions about my field of work.
A hammer and a saw are both tools, therefore they must be interchangeable. While cutting down a tree with a hammer may work eventually, it certainly is not the most efficient approach to the problem. A podiatrist is a doctor; so is an ophthalmologist…. Therefore it wouldn’t matter who is testing your vision. The many years of school required by all doctors makes them familiar with every part of the body. However, their specialization varies and determines what services they provide to their patients. The same can be said of massage practitioners.
Bodywork includes massage therapy but not all bodywork is considered massage. An analogy for this would be a boot is a type of shoe but not all shoes are boots. (I will explore the vast catalog of bodywork in a future post.) Massage is a general term for a wide array of therapeutic touch modalities. Styles and techniques have developed independently on every continent over thousands of years. Dozens of different applications are taught by countless schools around the globe. Each student gravitates towards a different specialization, accumulating a unique combination of skills. Now take into account the individual’s value system and life experiences. The result is not a cookie-cutter massage script that every therapist follows to the letter for every client every day.
The following are two fictional bodyworkers to help further illustrate the misconception:
- A former ballet dancer becomes a massage therapist after receiving help for an injury. She values posture and functional movement so she studies structural alignment, trigger point therapy, and functional release techniques. She also learns how to retrain muscles to help correct postural deviations. She works with athletes and dancers who want to speed up recovery time and improve their performance. She regularly attends workshops on stretching techniques, allowing her to integrate flexibility exercises into her massages.
- A woman who was abused as a child is drawn to cranial-sacral work, reflexology and Reiki. These modalities are gentler on the client’s body as well as the practitioner’s. She is deeply spiritual and uses her faith to comfort others. She works primarily with battered women and children. Her past experiences allow her to connect with her clients and help them overcome traumatic events.
Speaking from experience, I have not given the same massage twice, even to the same client. Each time someone comes in my door, they have a different body than the previous visit. By listening to each client, I get a different area to focus on. They’ve taken a long car trip (focus on low back, glutes and driving leg) or they’ve babysat their three grandchildren (just relax, with some focus on left shoulder from holding the baby). They’ve run in a 5k (all leg work please) or they’ve spent too many hours in front of their computer for work (shoulders hunched forward, pecs shortened, neck and eyes strained). I can keep creating scenarios and explaining what I would expect to see but I think my point has been made.