I have been touring the circuit of massage therapy establishments in the town in which I live and went for a 90 minute massage last Friday.
To start on a positive note, the LMT did two things that are a part of most of my massages that no one had ever done in session with me before and it was interesting to see how it played out. Obviously, the particulars of pressure and leverage would have been different but I was still grateful to get a sense of how it worked in the scope of things. Additionally, she made very constructive recommendations on strengthening exercises I could be doing to support areas where she encountered problems in my tissue.
As to the rest… Getting a massage for me has become like going to the theater- it’s all educational, whether the choices made “worked” for me or whether they did not.
In that spirit this Friday, I learned or had affirmed a few things about how I hope to practice massage therapy:
1. There should be middle ground (such as petrissage) between light effleurage and deep tissue work. Otherwise the degree to which the client’s muscles will be defending themselves will nullify many of the positive effects of the massage. The lack of transitional pressure has left me sore for the last 3 days while only feeling marginally relieved despite a fair degree of acumen on her part as to where I had adhesions and trigger points. Most especially the lack of middle ground was true when… see #2.
2. Listen to your clients! After a brief round of introductory effleurage over my gastrocs, the LMT enthusiastically got to work on them- causing repeated cramping as my muscles guarded themselves from the onslaught. When I pointed out the continued cramping, and eventually fired the antagonist to make it ease up, the LMT’s only response was “Well, it will take more than one session”, before resuming with exactly the same degree of pressure while my muscles continued to guard and cramp.
3. In strange contrast to the rest of the massage there was a lot of vague and unfocused time spent working on my neck in supine. After the effleurage there were pauses long enough that I wondered if she was checking a phone somehow or checked-out mentally in some other way. This was in the last 15 minutes of a massage which otherwise had been very direct and focused with a great degree of intentionality, making the difference very noticeable. Even with the upshot that my neck only continued with its prior ache rather than having added to it the trauma suffered by other problem areas, I took away a solid reminder that losing time in vagueness was fairly profitless massage.
I also got the notice that the next semester massage clinic is kicking off at my old school and already booked my first massage of the summer there. Getting more learned is not always a chore 🙂