All posts by Goddess

New surveys indicate that more Americans are turning to massage therapy for health.

It seems that the more Americans are seeing the benefits of massage therapy for pain relief than ever before. A survey recently completed by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) indicates that 90% of those surveyed perceive that massage therapy is effective in reducing pain, up from 86% from 2009-10. This same survey indicates a growing trend of people using massage therapy for pain during 2011. **

You know what that means, right? Come get a massage!

Call, email or text me to set up an appointment!

336.580.3355 or bdw1230@stemkowski.com

*This excludes any other offers via Groupon or gift certificates

 

**From MTJ (Massage Therapy Journal) Spring 2012, V. 51, No. 1

Massage and Pain Vol. 2

Volume 2  of Massage and Pain

The second part of this series features a client I’ll call Joe.  Joe is an avid athlete- runner, cyclist, and swimmer. Recently he signed up and trained for his first triathalon. He completed this event the day before I saw him. This particular event was not Ironman in parameter. I think it featured a quarter mile swim, 10 miles of biking and a 5K (3.1 miles) run. Still, not Ironman by any means, but still a good test of endurance and perseverance.

People ask me all the time when is it better to get a massage after a hard work out or race: before, after or both. My personal feeling is that it depends on the person. A good massage before an event can help prepare the body by loosening up muscles and may help prevent injury because muscles may be functioning more efficiently. After an event, a massage can help ease the soreness. You don’t what will work best for you until try both before and after a hard gym day or a race.

Joe’s Session After the Race: What I Can Do 

Joe came for his late morning session the day after his event. He said the race went well, that he reached his personal goals for the first time out. He was happy overall with the whole experience. We discussed what he wanted from the massage. He was sore in all the usual places one might expect from his activities (legs and back). He was looking to ease the soreness,  and speed his recovery by just feeling better.

As he talked I formulated an overall approach for the session which would include mostly lighter pressure than his usual sessions.  My intention was not try to “fix” anything that may seem really out of whack with deeper, specific work. There would be no unnecessary probing into unaffected areas.  Jostling and other Swedish massage techniques (see post entitled “Swedish Massage in a nutshell” for more info) sounded good to him, and to me.  So we proceeded.

Post – Race Care

During the session I asked him about what his post-race recovery and activities were. They included some light stretching, a hot shower, a good solid meal. He mentioned that he was lax in his hydration prior to, during and after the race. The session targeted the desired areas (especially the lower back and hips) with a lighter and quicker touch.

Also during the session I asked what he planned to do proactively to maybe head off the soreness commonly felt about 2 days after any arduous exercise. He mentioned easy walking, Ibuprofen if/when it was needed. More water.  I stressed to him the importance of the proactive part, especially the water. I also mentioned that sometimes a client can be sore after any massage, even if the pressure used was not that firm.

At the end of the session he said felt better overall, more relaxed. We parted ways until the next session.

Uh oh: Post Massage Feedback

Later that same afternoon I received a phone call from Joe. He sounded bad. He said that he hurt all over, his joints ached and he felt like he had the flu. Achey, feverish and just plain bad.  Well, CRAP! I said to myself.  I’m sorry I said to him. Throughout a peppering of questions to him about what he had done when he got home after the massage he mentioned that he had no water since that morning. He expected the aches and soreness but never anticipated this full-on “feel like I’ve been hit by a truck” feeling. ICK. His word.

Feeling horrible for him I explained that the additional aches may have  come from the massage.  Plus,  the lack of water may have concentrated the Ick such that its effects were magnified. I also mentioned that in rare cases that these symptoms can occur after a massage, regardless of the activity level of the client; that they were short-lived (24-48 hours) and can respond well to painkillers and increased hydration. He was understandably unimpressed and unappeased with the ‘might have’s  and ‘can have’s at that particular moment. I asked him what he usually did in situations of soreness. His particular remedy was Ibuprofen and a hot shower. I asked him to please drink more water and follow through on his usual routine.

The Next Session: Clarity

His next session came around, about 2 weeks later. I was wondering if he would show up for this session considering what he felt like after the last massage. He did show up for his next session (whew!) and after giving me (an affectionate) hard time about our last session’s consequences, he said that he did as I requested and he began to feel better later that night and into the next day. He was pretty much back to normal 24 hours later. Sigh of relief for all.

Lessons learned from this experience…while massage is great, it does sometimes have unpleasant repercussions. I try, with every client, to educate about these realities, situation by situation.

Lastly, I’m grateful that my clients have enough faith in me and my skills to keep coming back even after an unwelcome consequence of my services.

Massage and Pain Vol. 1

Volume 1 of Massage and Pain

This post and its contents are based mostly upon my own experiences giving and receiving massage.  I will use two different client experiences to illustrate some of these points. Client 2’s experiences can be found here.

Jane and Her Lower Back Pain

Client 1, I’ll call her Jane, came in one day complaining of lower back pain mostly triggered from bending over.  Putting shoes or socks on was a painful process.  Watching Jane walk into my office I was struck by how awkwardly she moved, and how she held herself. She couldn’t seem to stand up straight. During the intake process we formulated a plan of action for the session.  This included working the lower back into the hips and also included working the quads (quadriceps: muscles running down the front of the thigh) as there are connections to tightness here and lower back tension/pain.

The session progressed nicely.  She was able to withstand a fair amount of pressure and I was able to feel through my fingers and hands that some of the tighter muscles had relaxed and no longer caused her as much pain when touched. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most painful, her pain went from a 7-8 to 2-3.

Post-Massage Discussions

After the massage I recommended that she be vigilant about the changes she felt in her body from the session.  I said there might be some soreness as the work was very specific.  In the event of soreness I explained that applying heat  and cold to the worked areas would be ideal to alleviate some of the aches.  Adding heat to an already inflamed area which is why I recommend both hot and cold.

I also discussed with her what she normally did when she  had stiff or achey muscles. Did she take ibuprofen or Tylenol?  Ride out the pain? I advocated whatever worked for her but stressed the importance of  being proactive regarding her discomfort. Don’t wait so long so that when you do decide to do something about it your relief will take longer to achieve.

The Next Appointment and a Rude Awakening

Jane’s next session was 3 days later. She said she almost cancelled the appointment.  She said that hours after the massage she was in a lot of pain in the hip area especially, to the point that her knees almost buckled.  This pain went into the next day but by the 2nd day after the massage she felt much better. Her range of motion was back to normal. She was feeling slight twinges but no pain. She felt that her daughter’s friend’s 3 doses of 800mg of Ibuprofen was very helpful to her to get through the pain.

Hearing about a client in pain from something a massage therapist did during the session is something not he or she ever wishes to hear.  However, even if all precautions were considered and appropriate action was taken from the client’s feedback during the session, this situation still occurs.

DOMS: Post massage pain

I’ve read that the pain from a massage can be likened to what is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Pain, aches,  and stiffness from doing a fair amount of infrequent exercise where the muscles are used in a way that is unusual.  The pain and stiffness from DOMS usually dissipates within 24-72 hours with good hydration and wet heat application. The same can be said for post-massage soreness.

The bigger issue, for me anyway, is whether the massage therapist is exposing the muscular issues/pain or inflicting muscular pain.  Exposing the pain is working through a series of techniques on an area that was already in distress, with the intention of easing the pain/stiffness with appropriate pressure and technique.  Inflicting the pain is exactly what it sounds like- using too much pressure or an inappropriate technique on an area that may or may not have been distressed.

Massage Limitations and Communication

When dealing with a specific issue like Jane’s I am very careful in explaining what I’m going to be working on and why.  I always say that if I’m using too much pressure or an area is just too sore to the touch to please tell me so I can adjust it or move on.  Communication is absolutely vital here. I cannot stress enough to people that the massage session is yours, you paid for it,  so you definitely have a say as to what goes on during it.  Some aches and pains are normal.  This may explain the soreness, or feeling sick.  Yes, sick.  With flu-like symptoms.  See more about this in this post.

After a Bad Massage Experience…

An option for those who may have had bad massage experiences before: tell your massage therapist about your past experiences.  Good massage therapists are more interested in making the massage work for you rather than going about the massage with their own results in mind.

Or, if you’re trying someone new ask specifically for a Swedish massage which is a more superficial, flowing and relaxing type of massage.

As for Jane her next massage was a reworking of the affected areas and a new awareness of how a massage can affect the client.

Swedish Massage in a nutshell

A question I get at least once a week is about the differences in massage types. In this post I’ll break down Swedish massage and how I use it.

Origins:

Swedish massage wasn’t originated in Sweden nor was it discovered or created by a Swede. What Americans call Swedish massage is called Classical massage throughout the rest of the world. A Dutchman (Johan Georg Mezger) was responsible for systemizing the basic strokes (more on that later) of the massage system we know as Swedish massage today.

Purpose of Swedish massage:

This type of massage is specifically designed to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscle or bone. The strokes flow in the direction of the blood stream (toward the heart). Other purposes are to increase oxygen flow in the blood, release toxins from the muscles, and stimulate circulation.

Basic Strokes and how they may feel to you:

Sliding and gliding strokes are called effleurage strokes-along bigger areas of muscle.  Kneading would be considered petrissage-I usually use this on the quads or thigh muscles.  It is literally like kneading dough or trying to wring out a wet towel. That can sound daunting to those of us who would rather not jiggle or be wrung out on the table.  I tend to use jostling for more athletic folks who need post-workout/race/event relief.

Friction would be either in same direction (parallel to muscle fibers) or cross-wise (against the grain of the muscle).  This to me just feels good- it is usually only applied in small areas of tightened muscle.  Friction is effective around the shoulder blades. Cross-fiber friction is commonly used for the bottom of the foot and I use it on the sides of the thighs.

Vibration is shaking or jostling larger muscle groups, like the hamstrings or calves or quads.  As a runner I really liked having my legs jostled- it relaxed them and stimulated blood flow. Again, this is a technique that I don’t normally use for the more relaxation oriented sessions.  Vibration is a good technique for the more athletically inclined.

Tapotement is a very stimulating use of percussive striking of palms, fingers or the outside of the hand on muscles. The pressure can be firm but the intent is to stimulate circulation.  This I find to be strangely relaxing and energizing at the same time.  I generally don’t use this technique unless there are knots or tightened areas that aren’t responding to anything else or there was a specific request from the client not to be sleepy after the massage.  Tapotement will definitely wake you up in a good way.

It’s also a good tool for someone who is suffering from a respiratory ailment.  The drumming can help break up some of the stuff that might be caught in the lungs.

So when you request a Swedish massage…

You should expect firm pressure that glides and kneads.  The strokes should be relatively slow, although these strokes, when combined with a far bit of speed and a shorter stroke distance, can be very stimulating.  Specific work on troubled areas is generally not the norm for a Swedish massage.  It’s a total feel good experience.  Relaxation and enhanced well-being are major by-products of this type of massage.

Swedish massage is an excellent partner for deep tissue massage for a session because…

You receive the relaxation, “feel good” experience with the knowledge that some of your higher tension areas are being helped too. The best of both worlds!

Most of the massages I do are a combo of Swedish massage intention (relaxation) and deep tissue concentration (specific work). The ease of muscles from the Swedish techniques seems to facilitate deeper work without the added owies- a clinical term for areas that can be sore to the touch with deeper work.

What if you’re not sure what type of massage you need...all of my sessions are customized based upon a client’s needs so once we have our pre-session discussion about what it is you want and need from your massage, Swedish massage (or a combo of other modalities) techniques may be the way to go.

If you’re new to massage…

Welcome!  You’ve chosen a great way to get relaxed and feel better!  Here are some frequently asked questions you may have regarding your first massage with  me.

Do I have to be naked for the session?

No.  I usually let the client dictate what their comfort levels are, and most clients keep their underwear on.  Some like to be naked.  Some women like to keep their bras on.  Some like to remain fully clothed.

There are massage laws in most states regarding what is called “draping”- that sheets and/or blankets cover the breasts, genitals and buttocks of a client, for their comfort and protection. Some massage techniques are used on these areas, always with the client’s permission.  I usually have a conversation with a client before we start about working the hips and buttocks through the blanket or sheet- massage in this area can alleviate tightness and pain in the lower back.

What can I expect from my first massage experience with you?

A great massage and great service!  One of the first things you’ll do is fill out a health intake form.  This includes information regarding your medical past, medications, injuries, surgeries, what areas you feel you want addressed.  After that is completed you and I will discuss any questions you may have about the massage, what you want worked on and why.  In some cases, depending on your health history, massage may be contraindicated- meaning it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to receive a massage. If you’re under a doctor’s care you would need to get clearance for the massage.

From there, potential medical concerns dealt with, we will both formulate how the session will go. Will this be a full body massage (legs, arms, head and neck, back) or will we be working on one or two specific areas?  Are there areas that you wish for me to avoid?  Are you ticklish anywhere?

I have a little speech I give my new-to- massage clients: please let me know during the session if the pressure I’m applying is too much or not enough.  If there is something I’m doing that is uncomfortable or painful please let me know. This is your massage! I want you to have the massage you’ve always wanted.

What do I do during the massage?

Get as comfortable as you can.  Talk or don’t talk- it’s your session.  I usually tell people the first time I see them that if they want to talk I’ll talk to them.  If they don’t want to, I won’t. Drooling is allowed.

How will the massage feel?

Nice relaxing, flowing strokes initially help the muscles relax and warm up.  This also enables me to apply the massage lotion so that the strokes don’t drag uncomfortably on the skin. As the session progresses deeper  and specific pressure may be felt in some of the troubled areas.  Deep relaxation is a usual by-product of the massage.  But if there is discomfort or pain please let me know.

There are just a few questions that could come up regarding this new and exciting experience.  I will be working on a page for the different types of massage very soon- this may also clear up any confusion regarding techniques.