I have a confession to make. Before beginning massage school six years ago, the only type of massage I ever received was Swedish relaxation massage. I would see deep tissue massage offered on the list of services and would think to myself, “Swedish massage already feels really great, why would I need to go deeper?” Deep tissue massage was intimidating to me, so I avoided it.
It has been 6 years since I became a massage therapist, and my massage philosophy has grown quite a lot. I prefer a massage to focus on deeper physical issues, but my favorite aspects of receiving massage are still the most relaxing and nurturing: feet, hands, neck, and scalp massage. The massages I give are typically deep tissue and targeted towards injury recovery and pain relief, but I believe incorporating nurturing and relaxing modalities is important, too. This is not to say that I have abandoned my original, basic massage philosophy that I had upon entering school. Now, I believe that Swedish massage is great for preparing tense tissues and your mind for deeper work. It’s painful and even counter-productive to simply “dive into cold tissue” without preparing the muscles to relax. I like to take the time to ease in to my client’s muscles, and I am rewarded with more effective treatments and my clients feel better, long lasting results.
Before I went to massage school I received massage regularly. As a client in the waiting room, I would see other clients come out of their sessions, blissfully happy and relaxed, and interestingly, the massage therapists looked happy as well! It dawned on me that it must be gratifying to have a profession where satisfaction is derived from making other people feel happy, too. This was the initial reason I pursued massage therapy as a profession, and is the reason I continually look for new ways to increase my knowledge and skill. I enjoy reading about interesting new techniques and current massage research. I have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the muscles of the body and what they do, and I am fascinated with body-wide connections and movements. This knowledge and curiosity provides me with a “mental map” of the human body, and goes beyond the traditional anatomical structure and function topics found in textbooks. With this specialized mental map, I can discern shifts and distortions in tissue connections just by looking at my client’s posture. This allows me to design a plan of action specific to each client’s needs and concerns.
Receiving regular massage is only part of the equation, the other part is how my clients take care of themselves between massage sessions. I spend a lot of time researching self-care techniques for clients and encourage self-care guidelines so they may extend their healing in between massages.
I still believe, at its core, massage therapy is intended to be relaxing and relieve stress. I enjoy providing a knowledgeable, individualized massage that integrates healing of deeper tissues and nurturing relaxation techniques. I want my clients leave my office with a more balanced sense of wellbeing.