MASSAGE: A THERAPISTS’ INSIGHT

This weeks blog topic recounts my personal experiences on becoming and working as a professional therapist, and how my first love of massage has given me food for thought, developed my skills and shown me various humerous moments over the years.

Definition of massage: The word comes from the French massage “friction of kneading”, or from Arabic massa meaning “to touch, feel or handle”. It is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques; to enhance function, aid in the healing process, decrease muscle reflex activity, inhibit motor-neuron excitability,promote relaxation and well-being.

So why is it that being a “masseuse” invites such innuendos for a lot of the English population? From the dictionary definition quoted above, there is no “oooh ‘er missus” style of massage represented (please read “oooh ‘er missus in a very thick Yorkshire or Frankie Howerd accent, which ever suits)
I began my training as an holistic therapist in June 2000 and was questioned repeatedly by friends and family on a: why I wanted to pursue it as a career? And b: well just see later comments!

To be honest I wanted to become a personal trainer and follow in the footsteps of a very inspirational lady who had taught me to value exercise and what it could for me (at the moment exercise is an expensive 8 letter word, since my gym attendance has become non existent recently) and is represented by a ring of fat around my middle!). After considering that at 34 years of age with a couple of years hard physical training, my career in that field may be over before it began I changed tack and decided that in being a therapist, there are always people who need to be fixed (especially physically active personal trainers).  I enroled on a course and from day one I knew this was what I was meant to do.  My tutor was, and still is an amazing lady (I believe working in Sutton Coalfield), her words ring in my ears regularly “everyone can massage, but not everyone can give a massage”.  She explained that the techniques are easily taught but you have to be receptive and intuitive to the indvidual to really have impact on the mind, body and soul. Her teaching skills and passion for her subject fuelled my own desire to become self sufficient and quit the mind numbing job of part-time call centre automaton to start working for myself.

Massage is a physical skill and you need to pace yourself to ensure that each client gets the best from you. Posture and technique are key, without either, then the therapist becomes tired easily and treatment is below par.  By learning how to use your body, the power comes from your core as opposed to hands and arms only – exercise principles engaged.

So….anyone who has had a massage usually leaves the treatment room feeling calm, loose limbed, tired, exhausted, lighter, happier, relaxed.  Which brings me back to point b!  The other regular question asked when someone disovers they’re in the company of a professionally trained massage therapist is…………….oooh, do you do extras???  Why yes we do! It involves a glass of water or herbal tea and advice on how to feel all of the above on a more regular basis.

As a female therapist I decided early on that I was sufficiently confident in my survival skills and my professional work ethics to deal with any given situation, with either sex.  I’ve only encountered 2 questionable incidents in 15 years of practice (both of which I had instant reservations about but gave the benefit of doubt)  and I’ve learned lessons from both. 1) Only treat a client if you feel completey comfortable in the working environment,  2) trust your gut instinct and 3) No amount of money should sway your professional integrity – if in doubt stop what you’re doing and ask the client to leave.

What should you expect from a therapeutic massage treatment?

First and foremost your therapist should be wearing a professional, clean uniform (or non revealing clothing!), hair should be off the collar and face, with short nails.

A consultation should be done to find out if you are suitable to have a treatment and not cause or exacerbate any medical condition.  By discussing your reasons for having massage  a treatment plan can be agreed; you should be asked to sign and date each time you visit.

Your treatment room should be private (unless you’re in a training environment for assessment purposes), warm, clean and tidy.

You should be left to undress privately (leave underwear on) and be provided with blankets or towels to cover you up.

When your therapist returns they should ensure you are comfortable and check the level of lighting and volume of music if playing any.

During treatment the therapist should only uncover the body part being worked on.

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Pressure and comfort should be checked regularly throughout.

Conversation should be led by the client – if your therapist talks incessantly they’re not focussing on your needs.  You’re paying for a professional treatment remember, not to listen to someone elses’ day to day personal trials.  If you feel confident in talking through problems with your therapist go ahead; it’s about you, not the therapist.

At the end of treatment you should be left to dress privately and provided with aftercare advice (how your body and mind may react later, what’s normal and what’s not), and a drink of water or herbal tea.  Further treatment recommendations should be given.

Conclusions

So there you have it; you now know what a therapeutic massage therapist is striving to achieve.  It’s hard, physical work, but very rewarding as you are giving a bit of yourself each time.  In terms of enjoyment massage always allows me to ‘tune in’ and ‘tune out’ making my head clearer and more mindful (bonus for me).  Hopefully in my teaching I was able to get this point across and have helped others begin their own careers and businesses.

Call in and see us at Randle and Randle if you want to try a massage experience but don’t want to book until you’re sure it’s right for you.  Consultation is free and you can get to know your therapist before hand. 0114 2666288