Massage Therapy continues to evolve as a profession. Whether your needs include stress management, rehabilitating injury or relieving pain, it’s a modality worth your consideration. I’ve been a therapist for 24 years.
Here are the top ten myths about massage therapy:
1. “No pain, no gain.”
We can achieve great changes without turning it into a test of anybody’s manhood. We aren’t here to torture you. We’re here to help and it doesn’t help to progress to deep tissue massage too quickly. Some people pride themselves on how tough they are but that’s really not part of the equation. Soft tissue is meant to be soft, vascular and pliable. If your muscle is like a rock, rushing into deep tissue work will only make the muscle contract. We try to coax the body toward positive change, not coerce it.
2. “Sorry! I forgot to shave my legs!”
We don’t care and it doesn’t matter. Relax. Few of the guys we treat shave their legs so you shouldn’t worry about it, either, ladies.
3. “Massage Therapy is just passive.”
Not the way I do it and that’s true for many therapists. I look at each treatment as a course correction. I’m trying to help you get your body to a more optimal state but it’s the stuff you do every day that will make a difference. To that end, I frequently suggests remedial exercise and tactics to help you along the road to recovery, rehabilitation and ease of movement.
4. “Massage is just a feel good thing.”
The research suggests it’s much more than just making you feel good. The goals and scope of practice for massage therapy include: “the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain.” (Massage Therapy Act, Ontario, 1991.)
5. “Anybody can massage.”
Professionals take extensive training to treat the body and to know when not to treat the body. If you want professional bodywork, hire a pro and you’ll soon see the difference between that and the work of an amateur.
6. “Women can’t massage as deep as men.”
Are you looking to get bruised? I tell people if you’re looking for a female therapist to prove you wrong, just tell her you don’t think she can make you say uncle. Of course, torturing you is not the point of therapy and (most) therapists won’t rise to the bait. Therapists typically use body weight and savvy techniques to avoid undue wear and tear on their bodies. They can apply all the pressure you need. Some clients think they need more pressure than they’re getting. That’s a different conversation because, typically. with an well-placed elbow and a lean, that’s plenty of pressure for most clients.
7. “Massage therapists need you to go back again and again before you get results.”
Simply untrue. I get a “before picture” of each client before they get on the table using palpation, testing, observation and subjective measures. When I’m done, I expect to see measurable changes (e.g. range of motion) after the first session and every session after that. If what I’m doing isn’t working, something serious is going on or you need a different approach to the issues treated. I’m not out to soak anybody. If you don’t feel the changes, I refer out until you get the help you need. Most clients, by far, see and feel positive changes right away when we do the “after picture” with the outtake interview.
8. “Massage isn’t for serious problems.”
I don’t cure cancer but I do provide helpful care to people with cancer and other serious conditions. I treat chronic pain and help with a number of serious musculoskeletal conditions. The most common issues I deal with are headaches, neck pain, shoulder injuries and low back pain. Those problems are very serious to anyone who suffers them.
9. “Massage is all fluff and buff.”
If your experience of bodywork is limited to a massage on a Jamaican beach on your honeymoon, I can understand that misapprehension. As detailed above, we do use multiple techniques to help patients with many conditions. That said, there’s nothing wrong with relaxation massage. Maybe a lighter, stress-relieving massage is just what you need. Approximately 20% of my colleagues work in spas and I don’t turn up my nose at giving or receiving a drool-inducing relaxation massage. It’s an hour in heaven where nothing is asked of you. Relaxation massage is a treat for the senses.
10. “Massage feels good but it doesn’t last.”
I can’t control how your body will react to treatment but how you react largely depends on the body you bring to the table. As I mentioned above, I help put the soft tissue in an optimal state. Once I’ve reduced your triggerpoints, pain and and hypertonicity, it’s up to you to keep the good feelings going. I usually suggest therapeutic exercises and self-care tips to that end. The progression of your treatment plan largely depends on what you do after you leave my clinic. (Tip: Don’t get your low back into great shape only to ruin it by digging up an acre of garden on the first day after I helped you make the pain go away!)
I’m happy to help anyone with their pain and stress management needs. If you’re in the London, Ontario area, you can book an appointment at my clinic by going to www.MassageTherapyScience.com.
For plenty of stress, time, energy and pain management tips, pick up my book, Do the Thing! (in ebook or paperback.)
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~ Robert Chazz Chute is a massage therapist who writes science fiction, crime thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and Do the Thing, the last stress-management book you’ll ever need.
Pick up the last stress-busting book you’ll ever need here.