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
Massage school gave me an education on pregnancy that personal experience couldn't provide. My own experiences with pregnancy were mildly uncomfortable. Towards the end of my nine-month sentence, I felt gigantic and couldn't see my feet. My back ached from the extra weight and my boobs leaked constantly. My job, as a massage therapist, is to relieve those discomforts for other expecting mothers. I am very good at my job.
One thing I do during a pregnancy massage stands out. Because I don't have the expensive body pillow system, the pregnancy massages I provide are, by necessity, sidelying. Halfway through the massage, they need to turn over so that I can massage the other side of their body. It's the turning process itself that makes a huge difference to the majority of my pregnant clients. I ask them to turn under, not over.
The natural inclination to roll over in bed is to turn over, keeping your chest facing the ceiling. This has you fighting gravity to heft the baby belly and puts strain on the lower back, one of the common areas of complaint for pregnant women. Instead, let the weight of the baby fall towards the bed, go to all fours, then roll to the opposite side.
As part of every pregnancy massage, I explain this process and assist my clients as they awkwardly go through this motion for the first time. Then, as they settle themselves for the second half of their massage, a look of astonishment crosses their face. They just successfully rolled over without hurting themselves. With one small trick, life just got easier.
Do you have a pregnancy tip you wish you had known sooner? Comment below to share!
by Pallas Hutchison
Affordability has a major impact on whether or not massage gets incorporated into someone's lifestyle. The cost of massage changes based on region, type of service, experience of the practitioner, and atmosphere. As with many things, people get what they pay for. Areas saturated with massage practices may offer a lower rate to stay competitive. Other massage therapists may offer a lower rate to attract lower income clients. Learning advanced techniques costs the massage therapist both time and money; the cost increases to compensate. Complex body treatments require more supplies and time so the cost of the service goes up to cover the additional expenses. Massage schools have a clinic that offers a lower rate for services provided by students; massage students are required to complete a set number of clinic hours. Swanky resorts and cruise lines offer high end services, lavish amenities and pricing to match. The client pays more for the atmosphere. Private massage practices, like Oasis Massage, fall somewhere between.
Most massage therapists get into this field to help people, not to get rich. Many have client loyalty programs set up to make regular massages more affordable for their clientele. Some have a punch card where you can earn a free massage after a certain number of paid visits. Some offer discounts on multiple massages purchased up front. Some offer a monthly program. Talk to your massage therapist; chances are, they're willing to work with you. That being said, please don't try to bully us or guilt your way into a steep discount. Like you, we have bills and families to support.
In the end, it comes down to value. People spend money where they see a value. As long as people see massage a luxury service, they won't bother trying to work it into their budget. For example, coffee drinkers spend an average of 2.38 per cup, up to three times per day (1). Over the course of thirty days, that adds up to over $200. [Curious about your consumption? Check out USA Today's calculator, comparing the cost of home brewed coffee to buying at Starbucks. ] Now imagine cutting back by one cup per day, saving $71. The average person can get a 60-minute massage each month around that price. Personally, I believe that the cumulative benefits of regular massage far outweigh the benefits of a cup of coffee.
by Pallas Hutchison
This is a really common question but the answer is subjective. To help you decide how often you should get a massage, think about what your goals are:
Do you have a massage story you'd like to share? Post a comment!