Friday, January 20, 2012

Massage and YOU

Massage should be all about YOU. That's right. After all, only you know what is bothering you, so speak up when you go for your massage appointment! Let the therapist know where it hurts, how long you have been in pain and what action you did which may have caused the strain. Yes, we therapists like to think we can take one look at you and "poof" ... know exactly what you need. But to understand your problem and begin to realize how to ease your pain we may need to ask you a few questions first.

For example ...
A friend of mine called me the other day and asked if I had time to give her a massage. She had a pain in her neck and shoulder for days and she was supposed to get on an airplane in a few more days. We set up a time for her and when she arrived I asked her a few questions first.

"When did you first feel this pain?"

"A few days ago when I lifted some groceries out of the trunk of the car, carried them to the kitchen counter, and then lifted them up onto the counter  ... bam ... I felt it immediately".

Ouch! But she only had the pain on one side. Hmmm. Interesting.

At this point a massage therapist is going to have things pop up in his/her head when conversations like this one takes place. Muscles up and down the back and the neck as well as how they connect and work together will present themselves. I told my friend that it may have started in her lower back (she bent over) where she actually is not feeling anything but that it affected her upper back and neck (she held her neck and shoulder muscles in a tense position all the way from the car to the counter).

Check out the image above of the muscles in your back!!! They go here and there, lay underneath one another or on top, connect to the front or run vertically up and down on either side of your spine. It's pretty amazing! So, where does one go from here?

Usually the next step is touch. Once your session begins your therapist will begin feeling your back, neck and shoulders to assess tight areas, etc. If they touch a spot and you feel pain or discomfort, speak up and let them know, "That's the spot".

With my friend, I suggested working on her feet first as I know that it can begin the relaxing process. By the time I reached her back, she was relaxed enough for me to work the problem areas. Asking every now and then, "Is this too hard?", or "How are you doing?" helped us work together as a team to facilitate a positive result.

An hour later when the session was over I suggested for her to lay there for a minute before sitting up slowly, using her arms to push herself up, not her neck. I suggested she sit for a moment on the table and take a few deep breaths before standing on the floor. Once she was dressed we sat on the couch and talked for a few minutes. At one point she looked at me and said, "I don't feel any pain." She seemed to be puzzled and amazed at the same time. How could she be out of pain with just a one hour massage when she had been in pain and even on muscle relaxers for days without relief?

I don't presume to know everything but I do know that massage can do amazing things if we give ourselves the time to enjoy one. You don't even have to be in pain to make an appointment! In fact, regular massages can keep you free of pain. It's done that for me.

Take care of yourself so you can take care of the ones you love. Call me and let's get you started towards a pain free 2012.


Massage Among The Guardians
Nancy Pezdek, Holistic Massage Therapist, LMBT# 11024

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