March 6th, 2013 • Posted by Christy Schmidt • Permalink
Hello Massage Friends,
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I would like to take a moment to speak to you about a topic that is quite confusing for clients.... What is the difference between Swedish Relaxation, Therapeutic, and Deep tissue massages? Also the expected sensations, physical responses, and your expected results from treatment.
This is a topic that brings confusion to even most Massage Therapists so it is completely understandable that clients, like yourself, would be wondering, "what's up with that?" There are three levels of massage treatment because there are so many variables in what a client is experiencing, what their reasons for the treatment are, and what their main goal of treatment is on a given day.
Swedish Relaxation massage is the most common service people seek when they are wanting stress relief, have experienced a major life change, or have never had a massage before. Swedish massage is the most basic of all massage services and the treatments given are for stimulating the relaxation hormones in the body, offering a client time away from the fast pace of life, and for the experience of "positive touch." This service will not address, typically, pain or any muscular or skeletal conditions.
Therapeutic massage has all the components of Swedish massage with the added benefit of localized and focused treatment on one or two areas of tension, stiffness, or occasional pain. This treatment requires an experienced therapist who has taken additional education classes to understand the components that play into ischemia, reduced blood flow to tissue, and usually involves additional applications such as topical pain relief ointments/oils, warm lava stones, or even heat/ice therapy. This treatment should give a client, with minor symptoms, 2-6 weeks of relatively pain free living.
Deep tissue therapy is a big gun. This is for those who have chronic, almost non-stop pain, reduced mobility, numbness, tingling, or are diagnosed with a muscular or skeletal condition. You only want to under take this type of therapy with a massage therapist who is extremely experienced and has numerous continuing education courses under his/her belt. Unfortunately, a lot of massage therapists in the field think that "deep" means lots of pressure or force applied to the tissue. This is a major problem for them and for the client. Our bodies are composed primarily of a tissue called Fascia and this tissue is so strong that it can exert 2000 lbs of force back per square inch! That means your bones will break before the fascia will give in to applied pressure. Scary huh?!?
Now, of course, this above scenario can never happen on any massage table any where, it just is not feasible but this gives you an idea of what the massage therapist is working with and what your body is capable of. The most likely out come of too much force being applied to the tissue will be further reduction of blood flow (ischemia) and a disruption of the lymphatic system further compounding the problem which will keep you in a constant massage/pain cycle indefinitely.
First a minor anatomy lesson. Think of the lymphatic system as the army, the house keeper, and the garbage truck of the body. It stops invading organisms, cleans out the by products of your cells metabolizing sugars, and then removes all this "gunk" to keep your body clean. So you can imagine why not disrupting this system is vitally important.
Both therapeutic and deep tissue massage can be experienced as pleasant, or uncomfortable and at times even exhausting. This completely depends upon the clients pain tolerance, the health of the tissue, and a myriad of other components. Generally speaking if the tissue is very sick the client will say, "you can go deeper" because there is not ample blood flow for the stimulation to signal the brain. Feeling tenderness or sometimes low level pain is a sign of tissue that is partially healthy and partially sick. The healthy part complains greatly! When it's completely pleasurable the tissue is generally healthy, meaning is not starving for oxygen and nutrients, but still has finite scar tissue and/or there is a muscle memory component at play which is causing the pain which initiated the client to seek massage therapy.
With all this said there are so many factors that play into the experience both during and post treatment. Hormones, medications, emotional components, mind-body connections, personality types, and location of area being worked all come into play too. Fluctuating hormones will cause more tenderness, some medications and lack of mind-body connection will make it so you don't "feel" the treatment, and there are just plain some areas of the body that just "hurt" to be worked because the body is designed to "protect" those areas.
Then post treatment comes into play as far as how you feel the next day and the success rate of the therapy. Did you drink plenty of water post treatment? How active were you for the rest of the day? Did you do the Epsom soak that was recommended? Are you keeping with the recommended treatment schedule or are you going too long in between appointments? Are you watching your body mechanics during your daily life? Even if you do everything right, if there is extremely sick tissue present, you are going to have discomfort the next day or two. The question really is, is the original pain subsiding? That is what I look for.
As the body heals, as life happens, as events unfold in ones life there are always adjustments that need to be made, a chance of migratory pain as the body heals, and of other areas seeming to get worse mid therapy.
Your body is extremely complicated and unique, as is your life style and activities. It is always best to talk to your therapist about your experience after treatment, your pain levels, and your goals for each session so you can live your life the way you want to. Your massage therapist is here to help, not to hurt. It is so vitally important to keep in communication with him/her so you can experience your massage the way you want and then live your best life possible.
December 31st, 2012 • Posted by Christy Schmidt • Permalink
I am going to start writing blogs consisting of health information, break throughs a person may have made with massage or energy work, or any other interesting, fun ideas I have.
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Today, lets begin with discussing the long held belief which I hear at least once a day as a body worker, "I'm just getting old" or "Oh that injury happened years ago, it don't bother me now."
None of these statements are accurate or completely true. Here's what I have learned after working on probably close to 1000 bodies. The body remembers everything...EVERYTHING! Every fall, every time you picked up a box with out bending the knees, every time a child bounced on your back, every long drive with poor posture, every surgery, every emotional stress. Simply everything.
Let me reassure you something... Your not getting old and that injury has everything to do with what is going on today! What feels like "getting old" is really limited range of motion issues caused by tension from your muscles causing pressure on your joints. Maybe that high school Knee injury formed scar tissue 15 yrs ago which now does not fully move and is causing strain in your hip and low back. Perhaps the caring for and holding of your 4 babies as they grew caused torsion in your pelvis leading to low back and upper shoulder pain.
By doing massage on a person I can usually tell what exercises a person does, if they are a "tense" person, that they injured a knee, or had a groin pull, etc regardless of time that has passed since the injury. It's called muscle memory and if intervention does not take place to help the body to release the built up tensions then the tensions simply remain and the body finds another path way to use. Typically to the determent of the person.
It is hard to asses the exact beginning of the pains and issues we may experience today. It becomes the proverbial chicken or the egg scenario, in which we ask which came first. One thing I've noticed in working with my own children is that there are tension patterns which begin early but it seems to take an injury or repetitive stress movements to start the downward spiral into chronic pain.
I have worked with a dozen young folks under the age of 18 and the tension patterns and pain they have rivals some 50 year old adults. So obviously age isn't the only determining factor. Like wise I've worked on people in their 70's with not a pain or care in the world.
I wish for anyone reading this to know not to write yourself off just because you've passed some perceived time of youth. Don't throw up your hands and say, "I just have to live with it." In addition to the situations already mentioned, you could be experiencing referred pain from other areas of the body and that's why localized treatment has not worked. Some pain can come from unknown food allergies or sensitivities to the chemical laced foods pervasive in our culture. Some can even come from mineral or vitamin deficiencies.
Remember, Not all therapies are created equal and Not one branch of medicine or complementary therapy will "cure" what ails you. You must be proactive, be educated about your condition, and take what ever action is necessary to help your body to heal. The issues you may face today were not created by just one incident alone and it may take many different therapies and professionals to get you to where you want to be.
The point here is.... There is only one YOU so please be sure to take care of yourself. Don't throw in the towel and give up. There is a lot out there that can help if only you first are willing to seek.
Be well my friends and be blessed.