by Pallas Hutchison
Many massages begin with the client saying "I'm sorry, I forgot to shave my legs!" or "I'm sorry about my feet." Even worse, some people seem truly horrified when I tell them what I do. They refuse to get a massage, regardless of the benefits, because they "don't want anyone to see my body, much less touch it." By coming in to get a massage, the client trusts the massage therapist with their body and all of the insecurities that go with it. This is both a gift and a responsibility that we, as massage therapists, do not take lightly.
Massage therapists respect every client's modesty and privacy. Clients disrobe only to their level of comfort and get on the massage table underneath the sheet; this could mean completely nude or fully dressed. If the client opts for nude, the massage therapist still won't see him/her naked. During the massage, the only area uncovered is the area currently being massaged. The area then gets re-draped before the massage therapist moves on to the next area.
Everyone can pick out at least one part of themselves that they don't like. It could be a birthmark or some extra weight, skin tags or a hairy back, a skin condition or scars from an old injury. These things make each client unique and, while they are a part of you, they do not define you. Massage therapists see them only as much as they affect the function of your body and your health. For the most part, this is what massage therapist's see when a client is on the table...
Unless a client comes directly from a gym dripping in sweat or straight off a boat after a week of deep sea fishing with no shower, massage therapists truly do not get offended by the human body. You wouldn't apologize for having brown eyes so please don't apologize for other parts of your body.
[Images from Pinterest]
by Pallas Hutchison
Unless they have a long history with massage therapy, many clients don't know the differences between modalities. Some of the modalities overlap techniques or are so subtly different that even massage therapists may get confused or blur the lines between styles. Deep Tissue Massage is probably the least understood. Some clients are under the misconception that deep is a reference to pressure. Using firm pressure does not mean it is a deep tissue massage.
Pressure refers to the amount of force the massage therapist uses during a massage. Firm pressure is exactly that: firm pressure. However, please note that levels of pressure are completely subjective. Firm pressure to one client may feel like medium pressure to another. The massage therapist may use medium or even light pressure and the client could perceive it as firm pressure. This subjectivity is why massage therapists check in with clients during each massage.
Deep references the location of the tissues targeted by the style of massage. The body is assembled in layers. The outermost layer is the skin. The innermost layer is the bones. Anatomically speaking, 'deep' tissue means the tissues closest to the bone. The opposite, or 'superficial' tissue, references the tissues furthest from the bone. Therefore, deep tissue massage focuses specifically on the layers of muscle tissue closest to the bone, with less focus on flow and overall relaxation.
A massage therapist can access the deep muscles by forcing their way through other layers, regardless of any tension, but that will most likely result in a painful massage, both at the time it is received and the next day or two. Brute force is not always an effective tool. The recommended approach for deep tissue massage is to palpate the layers of muscle, from the superficial inward, until the massage therapist can access the deeper muscles with less discomfort.
Massage does not have to hurt to be effective. The body tenses up when in pain, think of it as a self-preservation response. Some techniques may be uncomfortable to receive; however, if the massage hurts to the point where the client tenses up, then massage therapist will be working against the body, not with it, and may actually damage the tissues instead of facilitating healing. Again, this is why massage therapists check in with clients during each massage.
Hopefully that clears up any misconceptions about deep tissue massage. Please share any comments or questions below.
by Pallas Hutchison
Technology has put appointment scheduling into the hands of the client. While more convenient for some, it also creates a whole new problem for clients. With so many different types of massage and bodywork available, choosing what type of appointment to book can be challenging, especially if you are new to massage or the business doesn't describe their services adequately. To make this less overwhelming, I have constructed a flow chart based on the services offered at Oasis Massage to help with the decision.
As a massage therapist, my job is to help you assess and meet your bodywork goals safely and efficiently. Sounds pretty fancy but it's mostly a matter of asking the right questions. My general rule-of-thumb with new clients is to book their first appointment as a "Specialty" massage. This gives me the freedom to use a variety of techniques until we find the style that suits them best. Swedish massage, one of the better known styles, is also well-suited as an introductory style of massage.
Once you've decided what kind of massage you want, decide how long your massage should be. Different session lengths suit different goals. A full body massage could be accomplished in 30-45 minutes but it will feel rushed, leaving both the client and the practitioner unsatisfied by the experience. However, if you only want one area worked on, then 30 minutes at a time may provide pain relief without overworking the area of complaint. Availability and affordability may also play a part in deciding how long a session to book.
Remember, the farther ahead you schedule, the more likely you are to get the session time and duration that you want.
How Often Should I Get a Massage?
by Pallas Hutchison
As soon as my baby bump made it's first appearance, I got inundated with helpful tips from everyone I knew - and several people that I didn't know. My older female relatives smiled knowingly at me when I decided against getting an epidural. The larger the bump got, the more people tried to give me unwanted advice. Women in the grocery store would stop me, trying to put their hands on my bulging belly while telling me all about how they almost died during labor and was I looking forward to childbirth? Not surprisingly, I was terrified.
Pregnancy itself seemed comical. An early ultrasound revealed that I was having twin boys. Later, the techs changed their mind and my due date shifted from August 10th to July 26th. Somewhere in the middle of that time frame, they decided I had been pregnant long enough and that the baby needed an eviction notice. Having gained over 70 pounds during the pregnancy, I was fine with that plan. I got hooked up to an IV and they gave me petocin to induce me. Either the baby didn't get the memo or the petocin didn't work because, after 12 hours, nothing had changed and I had to stay overnight for monitoring.
The next day, I played cards with Shaun while the machines kept drawing lines on a chart. According the machine, I was having contractions. I kept waiting for the pain to start. My mother would come in and check on us then go report back to the friends gathered in the waiting area. Nurses would wander in, make a note on my chart, then wander out again. At one point, my mother and the nurses started talking to each other in the doorway. I registered this in my peripheral vision but ignored it. The pain hadn't kicked in yet, which told me labor hadn't actually started, and I had a card game to win.
We never did finish that card game. Shortly after that hushed conversation, my mother told Shaun that he may want to leave for awhile. He, also absorbed in the game, took a few minutes to realize what that meant. Labor had started without me; the expected pain still hadn't hit me. [A side note, Shaun didn't meet his niece until three days later.]
The doctor gave me something to help me sleep and I entered a bizarre cycle of snoring then waking up for each contraction. I don't remember much but my mother said it was hilarious. Once I had dilated sufficiently, they switched me from the hospital bed to a birthing stool to let gravity help with the process. Shortly after that, the baby slid out followed by placenta and childbirth had ended. I remember saying That's it? I'm done? because the pain still hadn't reached my expectation. The nursing staff seemed surprised and amused that I found childbirth almost anticlimactic.
Six hours after labor started, I held my perfect baby. Honestly, my first impression of my daughter was less than flattering. She looked like an eggplant. Her was head squished up, her face purple from yelling. She had little tufts of hair on her ears like an elf or a troll. Today, my little eggplant turns thirteen. She finds these descriptions of her newborn self funny. She jokes that she got to pick her birthdate, not the doctor.
The second time around, I knew what to expect so it went even easier. I went in with a git'r'done attitude. Three hours later, I held my second child.
My purpose in sharing these stories is not to brag or to irritate those who had difficulties in childbirth but to reassure those who are being told the same horror stories I was. It seems that those with a bad experience share the loudest, scaring women who are going through this for the first time. A woman's body is made to reproduce. Some have an easy time, some do not. To the best of my knowledge, having a difficult labor is NOT a genetic trait that gets passed on from your mother. Childbirth should be a time of joy, not fear.
What is your birth story?