Many folks (including some massage therapists) view massage as a way to fix what ails you.
Fixing is something you do to something that is broken. A mechanic fixes your car. A plumber fixes your leaky pipe.
I understand what you mean when you say your back hurts and you want me to get rid of those “knots”, to fix it. But you’re not broken, and thinking that way robs you of your power. The words we use matter.
I’m not here to fix you. You won’t hear me calling myself a healer. My hands (and feet) aren’t magic. It would be nice if I could just push on the right areas and work out those “knots” and you’d be healed! The body is too complex for that, I’m afraid.
You come in and you’re in pain and you want it to stop. I get it. Pain sucks. But I can’t force your body to do anything.
I’m here to support you, to hear you, to see you.
To empower you.
You might think “if you’re not fixing my pain, why the heck am I getting a massage?”
Don’t get me wrong, massage can help you feel better, but I think we can ask a better question.
So often, we focus on how we don’t want to feel. What if we thought about it from a different angle?
What if you started thinking about how you want to feel?
Not less stressed or in less pain. Not running away from something.
Butmoreof something? Moving toward what you want.
I view massage as a conversation between my hands and feet and your nervous system. I’m manipulating your soft tissues as a way to communicate to your nervous system that it’s okay to relax, that you can feel differently. We’re co-creating a new way of feeling, you and I.
We’re creating ease and freedom in your body.
The words we use matter.
What if you challenged your story of your pain? What if that shoulder wasn’t your “bad” shoulder?
You’re in a lot of pain and you think you need someone (your massage therapist, your doctor, your chiropractor) to “fix” you. When you come to me to “fix” something, that’s perpetuating a cycle that ultimately keeps you stuck in your stress or pain.
But what if, instead of running away from your pain, instead of trying to “fix” what isn’t broken, we worked on moving toward something desirable, like creating more freedom in your body?
You are constantly stressed. Crunched for time. Feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
And sure, sometimes you do something nice for yourself, like get a massage!
And you feel amazing afterwards. Fully present in your body.
But soon after, that dull ache between your shoulder blades comes back, and before you know it, it’s a sharp pain. Back to the massage therapist to “fix” your shoulder!
I’m not here to fix you. I don’t believe you’re broken. Even in my massage school days, I’ve always seen massage as a reset or pattern interrupt to your busy life. And I’ve struggled with finding a way to help you take full advantage of that reset and get out of this stress loop. I’ve studied lots of massage techniques, aromatherapy, and yoga. I have all these tools at my disposal, but they weren’t cutting it.
I want better for you. I want you to have that just-had-a-massage feeling everyday.
What is BodyMind Coaching? Can it help me?
A little over a year ago, this thing called Body Mind coaching showed up in my life. I was a bit resistant to the idea. I wasn’t an athlete growing up so I had no real idea what coaching was, and it seemed a bit New-Agey to me. But I had this gut feeling it was the right next step for me, so even though it was scary and way outside my comfort zone, I took the leap.
Your body is always talking to you: gut feelings, that uncomfortable feeling in your shoulder before that full blown pain, that light feeling in your chest when you’re excited about something.
Many times, we fail to recognize these messages or just downright ignore them. And it leads to pain, stress, frustration.
BodyMind Coaching is a strategy to help you learn the language of your body, actually listen to it, and take action from there. You learn to notice that dull ache when it’s just a tiny uncomfortable feeling and take action before it leads to burnout. You listen to that gut feeling and pursue your dream job. You start to live your life intentionally.
If you want to feel like you are actually living your life — not just dragging yourself through BodyMind Coaching might be for you.
**This is a no-cost phone consultation, and is not an office visit.
BodyMind Coaching and Massage
Through a structured BodyMind Coaching conversation, we discuss how stress is showing up in your body and in your life, your goals, and how you actually want to feel. Once you’re in this space of creating what you want rather than running away from what you don’t want, it’s time to embody that feeling with a customized massage! After spending an hour cultivating this feeling you want to create, we’ll talk about next steps, so you can keep expanding that feeling during the rest of your week.
Know you could benefit from a massage, but not sure about this whole coaching thing? My Integrative Massage Sessions are a great way to dip your toe in the water.
So you’ve heard good things about yoga, but the idea of going to a group class makes you nervous. I get it – it can be intimidating to walk into a group yoga class where everyone seems to know what they are doing.
Or maybe you attend a regular group yoga class, but feel like there’s something missing. Maybe you’re not sure you’re doing the poses “right”. Or you wait the whole class for your favorite pose, but it’s not included that day.
Group yoga classes can be awesome, but here are four great reasons to utilize 1:1 instruction as well:
Develop Confidence in Your Practice
“I wish I could do yoga, but I’m not flexible!” I totally get it. Walking into a group class when you can’t touch your toes and it seems like everyone else can twist themselves up like a pretzel is a touch overwhelming. First, the more you practice, the more flexible you will become. Second, the more you practice, the more confident you will become in moving your body in new and challenging ways without worrying about what the person next to you is doing.
Personalized with Your Goals in Mind
Often group yoga class students are at very different levels in their yoga practice. When you attend Private Yoga lessons your instructor can meet you where you are and help you get the most out of your yoga practice. We work on your personal goals, whether that’s increased flexibility, a calmer mind, or less pain in your neck.
Modified for Your Body
Many folks come to yoga with injuries or health concerns that make it difficult to practice certain poses in certain ways. When you work with a Yoga Instructor 1:1, we can modify poses so they work with your body, lessening your chance of injury. We can also modify the length of your session.
Fit Yoga into Your Schedule
Group yoga classes are the same times and days, week in and out. But many of us have inconsistent schedules and we can’t always set aside the same time or day every week to make it to our favorite yoga class. But with Private Yoga, you can work with your Yoga Instructor to set the schedule that works for you. Maybe this week, it’s Monday at 2pm, but next week it’s Thursday at 7am.
We aren’t a high-touch society. We don’t touch strangers, and we may even feel weird touching our friends and family. So it can be awkward to get massage. We don’t know what we’re supposed to do.
Just telling us to “Relax!” doesn’t cut it.
To start, allow the full weight of your body to sink into the table and take full, deep breaths. This can be difficult. Don’t be hard on yourself. If you notice your mind racing, thinking about all the things left to do today, bring your attention back to your breath. If you’re clenching your jaw rethinking an argument with a friend, allow the muscle to soften.
Again, this can be difficult. Don’t be hard on yourself. But if you’re clenching your jaw or holding your breath because the massage hurts…
What if it hurts?
Sometimes, when getting a massage, folks describe feeling a “good pain” or a “good hurt.”It’s an intense sensation, but it feels right. Like sweet relief. This is totally fine.
But sometimes, pain is just pain. If you find yourself tensing your muscles in an effort to avoid the pain, tell your massage therapist. We can adjust the massage so it doesn’t hurt. We’re here to help you feel better, not worse.
Should I talk?
Although some people prefer to talk throughout the massage, don’t feel like you have to make conversation with the massage therapist. Many people close their eyes and try to relax. Your massage therapist should take the cue from you.
But please be sure to speak up if you:
Feel too hot or cold
Are in pain
Have any questions about the massage
Forgot to mention a health issue during the consultation
What if I fall asleep?…or drool?!
Falling asleep during a massage is very common. I almost always fall asleep when I get a massage. It’s totally fine to snore or drool.
What if I have to pee?
Please tell us. We have a bathroom in our office. Holding it for the duration of the massage is not relaxing!
So there you have it. A few guidelines for what to do during your massage. Did I miss anything? Let me know.
And remember, your massage therapist will ask about the pressure and your level of comfort. This is your massage. If you are too cold or hot, if the pressure is too light, deep, or painful or if anything is interfering with you relaxing it is important to speak up.
Welcome to myth #3 on our reasons-you-can’t-get-a-massage-myth series. Be sure to check out Myth #1 here and Myth #2 here.
Myth #3: You can’t get a massage while breastfeeding.
This myth is so insidious, because nobody needs a massage more than postpartum parents. The idea behind this misunderstanding is the belief that massage somehow squeezes toxins out of a person’s tissues, which are then released into the bloodstream. Since the body is “toxic” after a massage, the story goes, any breast milk produced at this time is also toxic. The choice is between “pumping and dumping” after receiving bodywork, or avoiding massage therapy altogether until the child is weaned.
Fortunately, this isn’t even one of those half-true-but-it’s-complicated situations; it’s 100% false, no question. Normal cell byproducts are filtered by the body and are not a danger to breastmilk, and massage doesn’t release toxins anyway. And keep in mind that massage can improve depression, body image, and (perhaps most importantly to new parents) SLEEP.
If you’ve ever gotten a massage, chances are good your massage therapist has told you that you should drink a lot of water afterward. Many believe that deep tissue massage releases toxins from your muscles and that water is needed to flush it out. Let’s start there.
What toxins are we taking about here?
Toxins are a bit of buzzword. Seems every time you turn around someone’s trying to sell you something to “detoxify” your body, like a special diet or a fancy drink. They don’t really mention what “toxins” you need to ditch. So we’re not quite clear what toxins we’re talking about.
Is massage detoxifying?
Often massage textbooks teach budding massage therapists that massage breaks up knots, releasing toxins in your muscles and flushing them out by increasing circulation in your body. Water is supposed to help with the “flushing.”
This is based on old, but pervasive myth about how massage works. We want to understand how massage works, and the idea that it removes toxic substances that are causing pain is a simple, appealing explanation.
To be clear, toxins do actually exist. Any chemical in a high enough concentration can be toxic to the body. Some things like pesticides and lead are more toxic than others. But massage doesn’t help get rid of these things. When these things do end up in our body, our body has ways of dealing with them, like processing in the liver or sweating.
So, should I drink water after my massage?
The reason many massage therapists recommend drinking water directly after massage isn’t supported by science. But our bodies are composed of quite a bit of water. It’s essential to life.
I’m usually thirsty after a massage. That’s why I offer you water.
Contraindication is a long word with a simple meaning: a reason you shouldn’t receive a particular treatment, such as a massage. There are local contraindications—things like a small wound—that shouldn’t be massaged directly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get a perfectly good massage on other parts of your body. Then there are general contraindications, or situations in which you shouldn’t get a massage at all. Contraindications can be an illness like the flu, a treatment or medication like a strong blood thinner, or even something environmental, like a bedbug infestation at home.
But there’s another kind of contraindication that also seems to make the rounds on a regular basis: the mythological kind. Despite all the scientific advancements we’ve made in studying massage therapy over the years, there are a few persistent misunderstandings that just won’t seem to die. And while tales of mermaids and unicorns can brighten an otherwise dull day, these massage myths unfortunately prevent too many people from getting the professional bodywork they deserve.
Myth #1: You can’t get a massage during the first trimester of pregnancy.
This myth is based around the idea that there is an acupressure point around the ankles that can induce premature labor. Since the first three months of pregnancy are also the time of the highest risk of miscarriage, the wisdom says that it’s best not to get a massage at all during this time.
Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that pregnant women regularly do all sorts of things that put pressure on the ankles.
Like wear shoes.
And given that most people go at least a few weeks before they’re even aware that they’ve conceived, this is basically saying that anyone with the sort of working parts that could lead to pregnancy should stay away from the massage table… just in case.
Luckily, there’s no evidence for any of this. Still, it’s a good practice to give your massage therapist a heads up if you know that you’re pregnant so that they can be prepared to make adjustments for things like loosening ligaments or a sudden sensitivity to smells.
One caveat, if you are having complications with your pregnancy, talk to your doctor or call us before scheduling: (217) 352-7944.
Folks seek out massage for many different reasons, including relaxation, stress relief, and pain relief. Right off the top, if you’re looking to relax or de-stress, a painful or uncomfortable massage is not the way to go.
Many of our customers come in for massage looking for relief from muscle aches and pains. Often folks think that, to achieve this, the massage has gotta hurt. A lot. No pain, no gain! Right? We’ve all heard it, but is more pain the way to relieve pain? And if so, how much pain?
What do we mean by “hurt”?
Sometimes, when getting a massage, folks describe feeling a “good pain” or a “good hurt.”It’s an intense sensation, but it feels right. Like sweet relief. So pain isn’t maybe the right word to use to describe this sensation.
But sometimes, pain is just pain. And if you tune into your body, you may find yourself holding your breath, or clenching your jaw, tensing your muscles in an effort to avoid the pain.
Is pain helpful for relieving pain?
There is a difference between an intense or vigorous massage and a painful one. An intense feeling of “good pain” can be therapeutic. But a painful massage that causes you to tense your muscles in an effort to avoid the pain? Not so much.
So, how much should your massage hurt?
Not at all.
You may feel an intense sensation that many describe as “good pain” for lack of a better phrase. And that is perfectly normal and helpful.
But if you’re just feeling plain ol’ pain, if you’re holding your breath or clenching your fists, that’s no good. Tell your massage therapist if it hurts, or if you need less pressure in that area (or for the whole massage), or even if an area is too painful to be touched at all. We’re here to help you feel better, not worse.
If you haven’t already heard, Buzzfeedrecently broke a story about abuse occurring in Massage Envy franchise locations. There has been a lot of conversation about the story online and in the news, which you may have seen. What you probably haven’t seen (unless you’re a part of our profession) is the uproar it has caused in the massage therapy community. Horror is a common emotion: who would do such a thing? Sadness: for the people who will be too fearful to receive the bodywork they need out of fear for their safety. And anger. Plenty of anger.
To be clear, this anger isn’t for the thousands of ethical massage therapists, managers, and support staff at Massage Envy. Whether you care for their business model or not, the vast majority of Massage Envy employees are out there doing their jobs, caring for clients, and earning a living, and they deserve our support. The anger is for perpetrators who violated the faith placed in them by trusting clients; the franchise owners, managers, and employees who allowed it to happen; and the organization that provided neither sufficient guidance nor real consequences for the people they allow to work in their name.
We want you to know that we as a community of massage therapists are trying to do our best to hold ourselves and our organizations accountable, and work for changes at Massage Envy and elsewhere to make sure this never happens again.
But we also want you to know that we care about you. As a client and as an individual. Because you have a right to feel safe while getting a massage. And this goes whether you’re receiving a massage here or anywhere else.
So here are some promises to you:
We will remain vigilant in our hiring. This includes extensive reference checks as well as basics such as double checking claims regarding certifications and licensure.
We will be proactive and regularly solicit feedback from clients about their experience. Big or small, positive or negative, we want to know your experience so that we can do our best and stop major issues before they start.
We will investigate ANY complaint of therapist misconduct, and share this process openly with you.
We will not permit a massage therapist under investigation to work with clients until the investigation has concluded.
We will maintain written records of every report and investigation.
We will report the incident to the licensing board, law enforcement, and other agencies as appropriate.
We will support clients in whatever course of action they choose to take.
The power is yours
There is a natural power differential when a person decides to get a massage. When one person is trained, familiar with the environment, standing up, and fully dressed, and the other has none of those advantages, it can be easy to feel like someone receiving a massage has no power at all. But it’s important to know that, no matter how much of an expert a person may be in massage, you are the expert on your experience. And as the expert on you:
You have the right to tell your massage therapist to change or stop what they are doing for any reason.
You have the right to end your massage session at any time for any reason.
You have the right to stop seeing your massage therapist, or to choose a new massage therapist, for any reason.
Again, you have a right to feel safe while getting a massage.
And since we’re having an open conversation about safety, we also need to be clear about one more thing: massage therapists also have a right to feel safe while giving a massage.
Ensuring the safety of massage therapists from clients who would harass, assault, or otherwise harm them is another conversation that you might not always be privy to as a client, but is a major point of discourse in the massage therapy community. For whatever reason, there are still people out there who confuse (or choose to conflate) massage therapy with sex work, and feel free to act on that impulse regardless of the wishes of the therapist in question.
If this is obviously problematic to you, like it is to 99% of the people in the world, then you don’t really need the following reminder.
But if you’re in that 1% and believe you’re owed sexual favors by virtue of existing and rely on that sense of personal entitlement while preying on massage therapists, especially those who are inexperienced or economically disadvantaged, here’s a wake-up call for you:
Your massage therapist also has rights
Massage therapists have the right to refuse to provide any service they feel would be inappropriate, out of their scope of practice, uncomfortable, or unsafe.
Massage therapists have the right to end a session at any time if they feel unsafe with a client.
Massage therapists have the right to no longer see a client they feel unsafe with or unqualified to treat.
Massage therapists have the right to report a client’s inappropriate behavior to their supervisor and to law enforcement.
Massage therapy business owners have the right to stop scheduling a client for inappropriate behavior, to ban them from the premises, and to warn other local therapists about them. (And massage therapists do talk to one another. It’s a small profession.)
In the end, everything is better off in the light.
It’s better to have a major exposé in the news than for abuse to go on unaccounted-for. It’s better to ask hard questions before choosing a new massage therapist than to go into a session anxious or afraid. And it’s definitely better for massage therapists to address the issue of safety head-on, rather than pretending the concern doesn’t exist.
We all have a right to feel safe.
Hopefully, if we continue to work together to shine light into the dark corners of the world, all of us will.
(1) State of Illinois Massage Therapy License Number for Karyn Claflin: 227016354