It doesn't have to hurt!
If you think that a massage is ineffective unless it hurts, you need to think again. Over the years many massage clients have become accustomed to this way of being treated, they associate the words “deep tissue” and “sports massage” with hard and unrelenting pressure, elbows and thumbs dug into the flesh. When in fact, a “deep tissue” massage is any massage that goes beneath the superficial muscles of the body. These superficial muscles are not great dense pieces of flesh – think in terms of gammon steak rather than a thick juicy fillet! If the therapist is applying too much pressure and the client begins to tense against this; there is really little point or value in continuing.
I will typically begin by placing heat pads on any problem areas to be worked on, this “softens up” the muscle in readiness. Continuing on with a variety of techniques including skin – rolling (can you guess what it involves?) to stretch and release the muscle fascia. Then onto the muscles themselves, using a small amount of wax I will begin with broad strokes using my palms, soft fists or forearms to gradually introduce my touch to the muscle fibres allowing them to adjust and relax to what may at first seem, to the brain as an invasive act. This then allows me to delve deeper and palpate into the deeper tissue in search of trigger points (knots) these are muscle fibres that have become stuck together, no longer allowing fresh blood and therefore vital nutrients into the area. These trigger points will vary depending on the particular muscle and how chronic the condition is. Typically ranging from feeling like a grain of sand to golf ball sized and often rope like. Pressure is applied directly to these taut muscle fibres forcing out any build up of toxins, when the pressure is released fresh blood and nutrients rush into the area to regenerate the tissue, this I will repeat two or three times. Using clear communication with the client I can establish how much pressure to apply, typically working within a pain scale of zero (no pain) to ten (excruciating pain) at around six. After which I will return to the broad work and stretch these muscles.
As good as I am at working on the ailing bodies of the Great British public the client ultimately has to take responsibility for their own health. Your dentist would be horrified if you didn’t adhere to daily tooth brushing and flossing to maintain good oral health. I expect and encourage clients to stretch and strengthen the problematic areas of their body. I will often recommend yoga and or Pilates, but as a bare minimum a few simple stretches (which I will demonstrate to them) taking usually no longer than five minutes to be done two to three times weekly.
If you have a particularly problematic and painful condition I will look to treat you initially on a weekly basis for up to three weeks at which point we should be seeing a marked improvement in pain and range of movement; if not a full recovery. From then on treatment will be fortnightly if reduced range of movement and pain are still present, however, if all is well then I recommend a monthly to six weekly maintenance massage. Just bare in mind that the stresses and strains that have caused the condition for which you are seeking help have been built up over years and years. Your body has no on/off switch that I can flip to reboot, your expectations need to be realistic as to the amount of treatments you may require and as mentioned above the investment in time to do your “homework”. Rest assured that investment in your well-being will reap many rewards not just in your physical health.
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