I have back problems.
I have neck problems.
Massage Therapy is something I both dread and love.
I’m talking deep tissue massage therapy here, ladies and gentlemen – not that “couples” kind of relaxing romantic get-away kind of hands on therapy (I wish!).
Nope. We’re talking the breathe deeply think happy place kinda thoughts to remove yourself from the pain kinda therapy.
My problems are not new and I have been getting massage therapy ever since walking through one of those wellness floor shows. A tiny slip of a woman was offering deep discounted massage therapy if you booked a visit with her. I figured I wouldn’t hurt to try since physiotherapy wasn’t working and my Chiropractic visits were becoming less effective over time. From the first treatment, I was hooked. That was back in 1996. Since then I’ve been through a lot of massage therapists… So, since I’m an on-the-table expert in this type of treatment I thought I would share some of my experiences with you and suggest what you should be looking for.
What is deep tissue massage?
It’s working the deeper layers of muscle, tendon and ligament to release tension patterns in their fibers. Have you ever had a sore back but then found your outer thighs became extremely tender to touch? A headache that was minimized by rotating your neck or shrugging your shoulders? That’s tension and it can be relieved through this deep tissue massage. Having said that, it is not a cure. It is simply a release and a way to help you cope with pain or physical limitations.
How does it work? The therapist applies, heat and may do some surface stretching of the outer layers of your muscles in severe cases. Then they will apply lotion and use pressure points as well as long deep slow movements along the muscle fibers and eventually across them as the tensions are diminished.
Does it hurt? At times, YES! While most massage therapists will work with your tolerance and level of inflammation, there will still be a measure of pain. It should not however, be severe. I’ve had 1 massage therapist, that after 1 treatment, I knew I was never going to him ever again. The guy must have figured that if he pulverized me I wouldn’t know what was my real pain and the pain he inflicted. Stay away from “manhandlers” like that.
Do you have to get naked? Now there’s a loaded question. 🙂 Seriously though the answer is no. It will of course depend on the area that needs to be treated. For instance, I do have to strip down to my granny cotton undies, BUT .. I am covered under a full sheet and only the area getting the massage is revealed at any one time. Because my initial injury is to my sacriiliac, the sheet is usually right along a bikini line across my buttocks (I feel like Forrest Gump whenever I say “buttocks”). Because the person giving the treatment is a professional REGISTERED MASSAGE THERAPIST, (the qualifications vary from province to province, and even in the US there are regulatory bodies so check with yours to determine who is qualified), I am quite comfortable with the situation.
Are all Registered Massage Therapists (RMT’s) equal? Nope. nuh unh. Let me see, recounting my own experiences, I have taken treatment from 10 different people, both male and female. Of the 3 male therapists, I found 1 that I liked for effective treatment, but was never 100% comfortable when getting any treatment because of the location of the injury. Of the 7 female therapists, I had 3 that were very gentle and solicitous, 2 that were Princesses of Pain but very effective, 1 that was effective but drove me nuts talking about how she was going to be the one who would cure me of everything that ailed me, and 1 that was so avante garde in her treatments that I ended up worse off. So, as you can see, you may have to try more than one RMT before you find a good match.
Things to look for:
Are they Registered?
Check their certificates for validity and make sure that they get recertified and take courses regularly.
Do they take Insurance Claims?
Are the premises clean?
Are the rooms private and sterile?
Do they take a medical history and ask pertinent questions?
Do they offer advice on post-treatment expectations and actions?
Having done your homework, now you can get down to the business of getting treatment for those nagging aches and pains. I like it when I find a good match in a therapist and one that I can hold conversations with. I recall the one therapist in Cobourg Ontario. The first thing she would do, would be to shake me all over, starting on one side and working her way around the table. Strange but it actually felt good too. I asked her if I was “done” to her satisfaction the first time she did it. After that, we got along great and I looked forward to the treatments, even though she was one of those that I dubbed a Princess of Pain.
So why did I decide to talk about Massage Therapists today? Well, because I had a treatment at noon. My current Therapist is one of those who is always gentle and very careful not to cause me undue pain. We have a great relationship. I say stupid things and she laughs. It’s great! 🙂 Anyway, I was laying there today and she was working on a particularly stubborn section of my back. While she’s doing this I usually like to shut up in case I distract her and she forgets where she is. So, I was off in my happy place and thinking 101 different thoughts. I started thinking about the blog topic for today (and it wasn’t Massage Therapy in case you were wondering), when I suddenly blurted out to her that I had started writing a blog. She hardly hesitated at all, but I could tell I had startled her with this “out of the blue” declaration because she actually stuttered “o-O’Kay”. It struck me really funny for some reason (I still start chuckling even now), and I started to giggle. Which got her to chuckle and before you know it, we were both laughing like mad fools. Not only did I come out of there feeling more relaxed and limber, but I was smiling broadly too. That feeling lasted the rest of the day.