Allow me to introduce myself and give you some background as to how I got into massage therapy / bodywork. In 2005 I had transferred to SFSU as a Junior, to study business management. Was taking International Business, Business Calculus, Business Management and Holistic Health Eastern Perspectives. About 6 weeks into the semester I realized business school did not resonate with me and that I was not going to make it through 2 years of business school. After dropping a few classes I was left with calculus and Holistic Health. I decided on Holistic Health as a minor, and to explore other options for my major. The next semester I was taking The Psychophysiology of Healing, Intro to Chinese Medicine, Holistic Health and Human Nature, Thai Chi, and Ashtanga Yoga. I figured I’d dive into the hippy pool and see what happened. After three instances of different classmates mentioning a bodywork school, The Heartwood Institute in Garberville CA, I decided to look into it as an option. Being legally blind I knew that working with my sense of touch would be a huge advantage. The more I read about the school, the more I wanted to go. So, after finishing my second semester at SFSU, I scheduled and took a tour of Heartwood that summer, fell in love with the place and enrolled in their Holistic Health Practitioner program.
My year long residential program began in the summer of 2006 and was 1,025 hours, more than enough to work anywhere in the country. The school was set back in the mountains of Northern California, in Southern Humboldt County, about 20 miles outside Garberville. Being immersed in the massage culture was a big part of my success. The entire population of the school, at its peek, was only 90 people. My class had only 12 students and ended up graduating 9 by the end. That small group setting allowed for a great deal of one-on-one time with our instructors as well as with one another. I forged many lifelong friendships, learned a lot about myself, and cultivated the tools to continue learning the art of massage long after school was over. In 2007 I graduated from Heartwood and spent a month in Brazil visiting my Brazilian brother and sister, before moving to Oakland California to begin my career as a massage therapist. Over a decade later and I’m still loving what I do, learning how to do it better, and helping people feel better their bodies.
Staying in any position for an extended amount of time leads to trouble. Take a moment to counter the effects of sitting for long periods of time. For every hour that you’re sitting at your desk, or in your car, I want you to move for 5 minutes. If you get up and walk around the block, up a few flights of stairs, or jog in place, MOVE! MOVE! MoVE! Get the blood pumping! Activate those muscles to keep them engaged in motion.
After sitting for hours on end we feel stiff. Our muscles get use to being in a shortened state and little by little they become sort of stuck that way. Then it takes a lot more effort to stretch them out and retrain them to a healthy resting length. When our muscles become stuck in a shortened state of being, we end up with headaches, things pulled out of alignment, and aches and pains all over. It’s all connected. The tight hamstrings, in the back of your legs, can pull the hips and glutes out of place, putting stress and tension on the low back and continuing to cause trouble all the way to the top of your head and the bottom of your feet. This imbalance can cause low-back pain, poor posture, aches and pains in seemingly unrelated areas, and jsut leave us feeling crumby. If you set a reminder on your phone to go off every hour to remind you that it’s time to move, you’ll be taking a big step toward your goal of being pain free.
Deep tissue is about focused work for long-term results. It has much less to do with pressure, and more to do with technique. Yes, deep tissue work can be a much stronger pressure, but it is not always the case. A no pain, no gain mentality is common among many clients and I often find myself educating clients that just because you CAN take the pain, doesn’t mean you need to, or that it’s even good for you. Pain is our bodies way of telling us that something is wrong. Some discomfort is to be expected. But there’s a difference between pain, and therapeutic discomfort. Just because you CAN take it, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I encourage clients to work within their own personal limits and to gage the pressure on a 1-10 scale, where 7 is a threshold. When we work within these limits there should not be any prolonged soreness.
How long should soreness last, after a massage?
Some soreness, up to 48 hours after a massage session, can be expected when we are breaking down stubborn knots and adhesions or scar tissue. If you are still sore beyond that, it’s a strong indication that we worked too deep and should redefine your threshold. Bodywork should happen within the bounderies of comfort. You should not experience pain.
The Massage PressureScale:
The 1-10 massage pressure scale is a great tool for communication between you and your therapist. At any point during your massage session you can communicate that the pressure in a certain area could be a bit more or a bit less by using a number as reference. When used regularly, from session to session, this becomes an even more powerful tool, allowing you to customize each massage moment to moment. Remember that open communication and feedback is crucial to a successful working relationship with your massage therapist.
This is an awesome trick to work out that built up tension in the back and shoulders, getting rid of knots to eliminate back pain. It’s been an incredible help for many of my clients who experience back pain, and I recommend it all the time. The more often you’re able to work it into your self-care, the more mobility and relief you’ll experience.
This trick is great to do once or twice a day. But even if you can fit it in a few times a week, you’ll see great results in the amount of tightness you cary around.
1. Lying on the floor, place a tennis ball between your back and the floor, in the areas of tension. Making sure you’ve got it pressing into the knot, and staying away from any pressure on the spine, or other boney areas.
2. Lean into the ball and roll it up and down along the tight spaces in your back.
3. When you find those particularly tight spots, hold the ball and relax into it until you feel the knot release. Breathing is key. Nice long breaths, about 3-5 second inhales and exhales. Holding the pressure for at least 10 breaths, or up to a minute.
You’re in control of the depth of pressure. If you’d like more, lean into it a bit more. If the pressure is a bit too much, simply ease out of it until you reach a depth that feels like it’s working for you.
For a less intense version, try leaning against a wall instead of lying on your back. For this, I suggest placing a tennis ball in a sock or stocking so that you can hold on to the other end of the stocking/sock controlling the placement of the ball. Again, leaning into the pressure and breathing to allow the muscle to expand and release. Allowing the breath to do all the work will ensure that the muscle is releasing and lengthening out.
Throw a couple of tennis balls in the car on long road trips and use by placing them between your back and the car seat to release knots while on the road. It works wonders!
I hope this trick brings you some relief. Remember, although knots will not completely go away over night, they will begin to ease and the discomfort you experience through the day will dissipate.
What can massage be for you?
Receiving massage helps keep you doing the things you love. Massage is a fantastic way to re-connect to your body. Massage is a way to take time out to focus on our wellbeing, to listen to how we’re feeling right here and right now. As I begin to work with the tissue, and you begin to work with your breath, the body will open up and begin to reveal holding patterns. With a combination of techniques, customized to each individual client, I map my way through these patterns, holding on certain areas, while easing up and gliding over others, to encourage movement, release, and neurological re-mapping, to restore the body to it’s natural pain-free state.
Back Pain, shoulder Pain, Neck Pain, and pain from old injuries. These are all symptoms of our modern life. These are not our natural states of being. We spend a lot of time sitting; in cars, in front of our computers, on the sofa, and at fabulous restaurants eating amazing food, we’re sitting a LOT. This leads to a very sedentary lifestyle, and causes our bodies to feel old and broken. Many of us end up living with tension and knots for so long that we become disconnected from them until our bodies demand our attention through pulled muscles, kinks in the neck, muscle spasms, or we lose the ability to do normal day to day activities.
Another major issue clients come to me with is headaches. Often brought on by stressful situations, headaches can really take the wind out of your sales. Tension builds up on the muscles around the head, neck, and shoulders, causing tension headaches and migraines. It’s not normally the traffic that gives us the headache, or the interaction with that guy at the office that we try to avoid, but the combination of every little stressed that comes across our paths and the postures in which we take on to deal with them, it’s cumulative.
Do you experience insomnia, An overactive mind, Restless leg Syndrome? Many of my clients report that they fall sleep much faster, and sleep more soundly after a massage. During a massage the body will release serotonin, Which is a precursor for melatonin, the chemical in your brain that helps you sleep. Aside from the boost of happy brain drugs, receiving massage regularly, also allows us to continue to make progress in releasing holding patterns, alleviating knots, and re-wiring the brain through neuromuscular cues, so that the body is in more of a relaxed/natural state of being more often. All of this adds to your ability to fall asleep faster, and sleep deeper.
Get a massage on the calendar tdoay and start feeling better in your body.