Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Common Confusions About Massage Therapy

Did you get a massage gift certificate but haven't made your appointment yet? Maybe you've heard how great massage is but are not sure what's expected. As a massage therapist myself, I'm familiar with some of the issues and questions that come up. My friend and fellow crafter, Maggie Ragatz, Rolfer and massage therapist, has over 750 hours of training. I recently heard her share a few of these tips and asked her to share them so we can all rest assured.
Common Confusions about Massage Therapy and Snippets from The World According to Maggie, CMT, in Rebuttal
Myth 1: All Massage Therapists are trained in all forms of bodywork.
WAM: There are hundreds of bodywork schools out there and as many forms of bodywork. Because we’re all so different, it is helpful to communicate what you like and don’t like. Also, “bodyworker” is a blanket term commonly used to categorize most touch-based, movement-based and energy-based healers and Body Therapists. Here is a brief (and loose) example--keep in mind there are many other subcategories:
Structural Integration
Rolfing Structural Integration*
Guild Structural Integration
Massage Therapy
Skillful Touch Massage Therapy*
Deep TissueSwedishShiatsu
Energy Work
Reiki Energy Balancing
*These are the two that Maggie does! Yay!
Myth 2: Your CMT knows your body better than you do--after all, s/he’s the one with the training, right?
WAM: You are the expert on your body! If you feel hot, cold, bored, sad, or fidgety; pain, numbness, tingling, discomfort, or anything else, it is okay to say something. Your comfort is what is important! If you want more or less pressure at any point during your massage it is okay to communicate that. You won’t hurt our feelings!
Myth 3: Massage Therapists care about body odor, yellow toenails, lunch breath, cellulite, stubble or hairy legs, etc.
WAM: It’s normal to feel shy or uncomfortable when a stranger is looking at you. However, I got into this work because I think human beings are pretty interesting, and I’m aware that “pretty interesting” comes with its set of smells and rough spots. It’s no big deal. I promise.
Myth 4 A: You need to be quiet during your massage.WAM: If you want to talk for the whole sixty minutes, feel free. It’s common to want to get stuff off your chest as someone is helping to relieve physical stress.
Myth 4 B: You need to talk and/or entertain your massage therapist during your massage. WAM: If you want to be totally silent during your massage, it’s fine. There is no need to keep up a conversation with the person working on you. Your session is about you and helping you relax.
Myth 5: You have to get totally naked to have a massage.
WAM: Before a massage it is suggested that you disrobe to your comfort level. If you would like to be completely clothed, it’s fine (your massage therapist won’t use oils on your clothes!). If you would like to take off everything, it’s fine. If you want to leave on your underwear, it’s fine. The massage is about you feeling at ease, so do what makes you feel comfortable!
Myth 6: You need to help the CMT move your arms and legs during the session.
WAM: I move your arms and legs from beneath the sheet to be able to work on them, and you are not obligated to help. It’s useful for me to feel the flexibility of your limbs to know how much work I need to do in that area.
Myth 7: If it hurts it’s good for you.
WAM: During a massage, many people enjoy what they call “a good kind of pain.” This is okay. However, it is important to remember that just because you’re feeling intensity, this does not automatically mean it is doing good things to you! Pain is a way for your body to give you information, and sometimes that information is that your body is being damaged! If you feel nauseous or have to grit your teeth, if you think, “Well, it’s not as bad as labor or the time I broke my leg,” then it’s probably too much! Again (and again), communication is key!!
Myth 8: Everyone who gets a massage knows all of this stuff already.
WAM: If you have questions about massage (about male Massage Therapists, essential oil in your hair, hypoallergenic oils, etc.,), it’s great to ask.

maggie.ragatz@gmail.com office (805) 543-8688. I love questions about massage, Rolfing, and bodywork in general. I communicate with several bodyworkers in town and I refer clients to them regularly. If I can’t meet your needs or answer your questions, I will try to find someone who can!