Body Image Risk and Reward in Massage

Almost everybody has something about their body that they don’t like. For many people it’s a minor issue, no big deal. But some people have a major issue with their body image. It affects how they live and their happiness.

When I tell some people that I’m a massage therapist it can cause a strong reaction. They tell me, whether verbally or through their reaction and body language, that massage is not for them. Their body image is such an issue that they don’t think anybody else can accept them.

The paradox here is that massage can really help with body image issues. In massage school we were all nervous about taking off our clothes and letting somebody else touch us. It didn’t take long for us to discover that bodies are just bodies and become much more comfortable with our own. We also experienced how good receiving a massage made us feel. Something unexpected happened – when our bodies felt better we felt better about our bodies.

I think there are three options to consider. Let’s look at the risk versus reward for them.

1. Don’t get a massage.

This is the easiest because it involves doing nothing. The risk is low since you are not letting another person see or touch you at all.

The reward is zero. You didn’t get a massage so your body doesn’t feel any better, and you still have the stress you had before.

2. You get a massage, but the massage therapist either makes note of how you look, as if it matters.

If this has happened to you, I’m sorry. You got a crappy massage therapist. That’s a bummer, and I’m really sorry. You took a risk, and even if the rest of the massage was decent, got very little reward.
This is not going to happen if you come to me. Never. No way. I can’t say this strongly enough. It goes against the very nature of who I am, how I treat people, and what I believe.

3. You get a massage. A great massage. And the therapist does nothing to make you feel uncomfortable about your body. In fact, you feel pretty good about your body after the massage.

In this option your risk is low. I don’t care how your body looks. That’s none of my business. I just want to help it feel better. Your reward is high. Again your body will feel better from the massage and you can start feeling better about it.

I have no idea how your body got to be in the condition that it’s in. You may be dealing with something that you can’t control, such as a medical condition or an injury or accident. You may be in a lot of pain or are limited in what you can do physically. Since I don’t know what caused your body to be like it is now I can’t make any judgments about you.

I’ve worked on hundreds of people. Each body is interesting and I’ve yet to come across one that I could not help.
If you have been avoiding massage because you feel uncomfortable about your body, let’s find an option that works for you. You don’t even have to explain anything to me. Leave your clothes on. Stay sitting up or face down or lying on your side or however you want. It’s up to you.
It’s my job to help you feel better. That’s it. Together let’s find a way to help you relieve your pain and stress. Don’t let your body image keep you from feeling good.

I like to perform Myofascial Release and Shiatsu Shin Tai on my clients. One really important aspect is that these modalities are performed with the clients wearing loose fitting clothing and is very effective in reducing pain, stress, and stuck areas.

See my post on Massage and Myofascial Release for more information about how it can benefit you.

Just The Way Things Are

Did you ever have a dream about doing something to help someone only to have the dream demolished because the inevitable is going to happen no matter what you think you can do to stop it?

There is this place that I really like. I like it for its flavor, its essence, and the way it makes me feel. But there is something in the future that is going to change this place. A corporation wants to move in and take over. This take over will change things for the better they say, more people will want to come here and it will make more money. Why does making more money matter more than people’s happiness? Why do cold, uncompassionate corporations win? Is it because individuals don’t stand up to them?

Why do things have to change? I guess that it’s just the way things are. I’m feeling a little melancholy today because I really can’t do anything this upcoming change. The changes will be coming and I will have to adjust or move. Maybe I feel this way because so many changes have occurred lately in my life and I just can’t handle another one.

On the converse side, I feel really blessed. so many good things have happened lately that I feel overwhelmed with gratitude. I am surrounded by loving people and my business is growing. The basic necessities of life are being provided and abundance is on its way.

I guess it’s just the way things are!

Massage and Myofascial Release

Have you ever wondered why you lose range of motion as you age? Did you ever ask yourself what really happens inside your body when you have surgery and why the scar afterwards is so tight and affects other areas of your body?

Under our skin, our bodies have a continuous connected network of myofascial tissue from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes. It looks like fine strands of cotton candy. It is wrapped around every bone, muscle and organ.When an injury occurs, lets say in the shoulder and range of motion is lost due to postural armoring, the client will only move the shoulder in a shortened range of motion due to pain. Over a period of time, the body says, OK, they want to hold their shoulder in this position so lets help them and fascia armoring builds and range of motion is further decreased.The client can’t figure out why they can’t move their arm to reach for something like they did in the past.

Trauma, inflammatory responses and or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce an area of tightness in the affected area of the body. This area of tightness causes snags or pulls that transmit into other areas. Compare it to a sweater that has a snag in one spot and when held up will show the snag along with the rest of the sweater  that is being affected and pulled. This creates compensatory patterns and the body is out of balance.

I have a female client that walked into my office with a frozen shoulder and through the process of using myofascial release on different areas of her shoulder, upper arm, upper back and scapula, I was able to find the area of restriction and help her body to release the stuck area.

Myofascial Release is a hands-on massage technique that is so subtle that the person being worked on only feels the warmth of the therapist’s hands and occasional pops or releases below the skin’s surface. But so much more is happening.

Applying gentle pressure to the affected area, allows the connective tissue and fascia  to elongate and in some instances, break free which feels like a small pop to the client and therapist. The affected area relaxes and sometimes the release can be felt in another part of the body. The end result is greater range of motion and a feeling of openness. The client feels relaxed, has a smile on their face because the pain is gone and can’t believe how fabulous they feel from such a light touch.

In addition to the physical injury, emotions are created and can be trapped in the injured tissue.When a release occurs, the client could feel a surge of emotion, have an image appear in their mind and crying can occur. This could happen at the time of treatment or a day or two later. This is another positive aspect of myofascial release, not just the physical release of fascia armoring, but also an emotional release thus freeing the client’s body from holding onto emotions and draining their energy.

This technique can be performed fully clothed on a massage table without the use of oils or creams on the skin. A session can last from 30 to 60 minutes depending upon the clients issues and how ready their body is to release the stuck areas.

So if you are experiencing decreased range of motion, tight scaring from surgery or have had a traumatic injury, a massage utilizing myofascial release may be just what you need.

Just like my client commented before she left my office “Wow! I can now move my arm without pain and have increased range of motion.

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Regular Massage

Maybe you are wondering, “What are the benefits of massage, let alone regular massage?” or your thoughts may be, “Why have a massage at all if I’m feeling pretty good?”

A research study analyzing eight clinical trials and is entitled: Massage for Low Back Pain – Will It Benefit My Patient? from the Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy  2003, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p134-135. 2p. expresses how regular massage affects the body. A few benefits listed are:

  • Massage is beneficial for patients with sub-acute and chronic non-specific low back pain in terms of improving systems and functions
  • Massage therapy is costly, but it may save money in health care provider visits, pain medication and cost of back care services.
  • Effects of massage are improved with exercise and education
  • Beneficial effects of massage in patients with chronic low back pain are long lasting (at least one year after end of sessions)

Also taken into consideration is therapeutic touch, connectedness of one human being with another in a relaxing environment. Therapeutic touch pertains to healing or curative powers. Through various massage techniques, the massage therapists manipulates muscle tissue to release tightness, promote relaxation, release toxins and stimulate the various body systems to promote healing. The skin is the body’s largest organ. Through touch the internal organs and nervous system are stimulated

It is amazing to me to see a client walk into The Copper Bowl in Deale, Maryland with neck pain and a face that reflects pain and discomfort and after a 60 minute massage, they walk out of the room with a smile on their face and increased mobility of their head and shoulders.

So why wait until you have low back or neck pain.You can benefit from a regular massage  that can be once a week, every 2 weeks, or once a month. The choice is yours.

One of my regular weekly clients has this to say about her experience with regular weekly massage: “….I had trouble sleeping and relaxing through the day. My anxiety was at its worst. Now with weekly massages my sleeping is better, I feel that I’m relaxed, have more energy and I feel an overall good feeling about my body. Your body is a marvelous instrument and like any instrument it needs to be tuned and pampered. I have been seeing Kathy for over a year now and my overall health has improved.” Debbie S.

So when will you add regular massage to your personal wellness plan and have your own testimony to share with the world. I look forward to meeting you and being a part of your life.

Blessings,

Kathy Brokos, LMT

 

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