This blog is prompted by some discussions on Facebook and some discussion I have had with my graduates who are working a various spas and franchises. The perpetuating issue of myths related to massage affects is challenging many of our beliefs about massage therapy. There are other rules out there as well. For example:
· Never break contact with your client once the massage has begun
· You have to use long strokes to make the massage experience relaxing
· You have to put your table low to get more pressure
· Massage strokes must go toward the heart
· The client is disturbed if you move them around during the massage
And well I am sure you have some to mention as well.
This reminds me of a story: A person always cut a ham in half before putting in the pan to bake. One day someone asked them why they did that? The reply was-because my mother always did it that way. Later when asking mother why she cut the ham in half before putting it in the pan she said,” had to cut it in half or it would not fit in the pan I used.”
The rules that I want to challenge in this blog are related to how massage therapists are hurting themselves attempting to comply with the rules. I also hold us mature educators out there accountable for perpetuating these out of date and potentially harmful rules. I challenge all of us to take inventory of what we do during massage and then answer these questions:
Why am I doing this?
Does this increase the likelihood that the client’s goals will be met?
Where did I learn this?
I this approach making me bend over, reach, twist, bend my knees to far or in other words hurting me to do it?
What is this method supposed to do?
What physiologic function does this method mimic?
Am I just mindlessly rubbing?
Listen everyone: just because someone taught you something does not mean it is correct. Long standing rules about how to do massage need to be challenged. Just because something has been done a certain way for a long time does not mean it is the best way to accomplish the goal.
The long sweeping strokes for example are very hard on the low back and shoulders. So why do them. Good question right? I expect some are thinking about connection and flow and whatever. If the client’s outcome is relaxation then the physiology for that is parasympathetic dominance. The characteristics of the massage to mimic and support the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system are:
· Feeling safe
· Feeling connect to another
· Nothing abrupt, surprising or startling
· Slow rhythms, i.e. music if enjoyed, slow massage (not so slow you need time lapsed photography to see it)
· Nothing painful
· Being warm
· Being quiet
· Being rocked
· Moderate pressure- not light and not deep and no poking or tickling
· Smooth transitions from one part of the body to another
· Time –about 45 minutes
· Full body approach- for goodness sake only spend about 15 minutes on the back if even that much.
You get the idea. And where do these elements require long sweeping strokes that make the massage therapist bend over and reach.
I expect some reading this have their fascia in a twist. If that is the case then meditate on the picture of my garden and then we need to get over ourselves and take responsibility to prepare the next generation of massage therapist using our wisdom and experience and not our outdated rules.