Talking Through It: Conversation Do’s and Don’t for Massage

Talking Through It

Your massage is your own, so of course you have some latitude in customizing your experience. Massage therapy is one of those self-care treatments comparable to getting your hair done: you’re working with someone one-on-one in a vulnerable position. Not only are you in close physical proximity to your massage therapist, you’re undressed in a private room getting touched by them–it doesn’t get more vulnerable than that!

Naturally, a relationship of trust will develop between you and your therapist. Not only do we expect this, it’s encouraged! As your therapist gets to know your body’s unique needs and quirks, they can provide better massage with regular treatments. That personal trust and connection can play a vital role in the healing process.

Having said this, it’s important to understand that there are boundaries and limitations to that relationship, and that the conversation shared in a massage setting isn’t exempt from these.

What can I say?
Nothing, if you choose! As a rule, your practitioner will probably read your social cues. If you seem game to talk, they may engage you and start a chat while they work on you. If you don’t initiate a conversation, they’ll leave you to enjoy the massage in a peaceful, quiet setting.

You can also feel free to give your massage therapist feedback. Phrases like “That’s too deep!” or “Can you ease up on the pressure there?” or “That stroke is kind of chafing right there.” are all appropriate ways to help guide your practitioner and make your massage experience as good as it can be.

If you want to talk, that’s fine, but keep it light. Try to avoid heavy or potentially offensive topics. Would you discuss what you’re about to say with a stranger on the bus? If not, maybe reconsider your choice of topic.

If you’d like to talk and get to know your therapist over several sessions, that’s great. Just keep a few things in mind:

Massage therapist, not “Therapist”
It’s common for people come in for massage who are under serious stress. But the scope of massage therapy is only to address the physical component of healing and stress relief. The mental and psychological components should be handled by trained mental health professionals. You may develop a strong rapport with your massage therapist, but that doesn’t mean they have the training or skill to talk you through your stresses and emotional difficulties.

You wouldn’t expect a licensed family therapist or psychologist to give you a massage, would you? Of course not. The difference there is that those professionals don’t touch you, except to maybe shake your hand. A massage, however, can include a great deal of talking, and even emotional release. Clients under a great deal of stress have even been known to sob through their massage as painful emotions are released along with the muscle tension. But that doesn’t mean your massage therapist can or should become your therapist. Bring your mental health problems to a mental health professional.

Don’t ask for a date, for heaven’s sake
There’s nothing wrong with finding your massage therapist attractive, and the relatively intimate setting of touch therapy might unintentionally inspire romantic or sexual thoughts. But please: keep those thoughts and feelings to yourself during the massage.

Your massage therapist is there to help, and it’s completely inappropriate to flirt, touch them back, hold their hand, ask for dates, or try to initiate a romantic relationship with them. By the same token, your massage therapist has no business making romantic or sexual advances of any kind. In fact, such behavior at The Good Life Massage is grounds for termination.

Even if the advance would be innocent or welcome under different circumstances, it’s completely inappropriate during a massage. Besides, it makes the session far more uncomfortable and awkward. If you find that you’re developing romantic feelings for your massage therapist, consider getting your massage from someone else from now on. After all, we have several practitioners to choose from.

We won’t “take sides”
As people start talking, it can be natural to progressively get more personal. You might even feel comfortable enough to talk about personal relationships or conflicts. This is totally understandable. We all need to vent sometimes. But don’t expect your massage therapist to “take your side” or commiserate with you like a personal friend might. They might say “It sounds like you and your partner have some things to work out. I hope that works out okay,” or something equally neutral. We’ll help you release the physical tension from your whatever personal drama is impacting your life, but it’s not our place to join you in dwelling on it.

So, yes, go ahead and chat! Or don’t! But understand that your massage is a professional exchange. Yes, it’s a intimate, even a little personal, but within certain limits that are worth keeping in mind.

Book your next massage now.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and the blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to assist you with content marketing, social media, and logo/brand development by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

 

 

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Know Your Practitioner, Part VI: Charlie Fadness

Know Your Practitioner is your chance to become more familiar and comfortable with your massage practitioner. If you aren’t sure which of our talented practitioners would be best for you to come back to regularly, this is a great way to meet them and get to know who they are, both personally and professionally. This is Part 6 in the series. To learn more about our other therapists, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

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We’re pleased to introduce you to Charlie Fadness, LMP. Charlie is highly skilled, and comes to us with a great facility for deep tissue work, and can get good and deep with the pressure if that’s what you need. Being fairly new, Charlie isn’t our busiest therapist as of this posting, but we’re confident that will change soon; his clients are already starting to come back for more. We sat down with Charlie to talk about his experience, his inspiration, and his motivation for working in massage.

View the video version of this interview below:

Tell us a little something about your personal life: hobbies, interests, family, friends, etc.
My name is Charlie Fadness. I’m born and raise here, living in Seattle most of my life, kind of jumping around a little bit, kind of going towards south, then kinda coming back to Seattle. My hobbies right now are spending time with family and friends, and then occasionally gaming on my computer from time to time. When I go out with my friends, I usually either try to either catch a bite to eat, or go to the movies, or kind of try a new activity. Our last activity was going to an archery range and then going out for dinner. That was really fun.
Tell us about your career in massage. How did you get started? What events lead to you working here?
As a kid I’ve always done massage, just kind of massaging my dad’s back, and my older sister would always make me massage her hands and feet before she went to bed. So I was always doing massage in my life. But the one thing that kind of triggered it was I was playing volleyball with a friend, and we were playing and she injured her shoulder. And I really wanted to figure our what was going on in the muscles. So I was kind of feeling around and seeing what was going on in there, but I couldn’t really find out what was going on. But I really wanted to know. So I believe that kind of sparked it all, really.

Before The Good Life Massage, I started at a chiropractor. That was my first job. I was excited! It was fun. And then slowly I moved over to Massage Envy just because the hours were a little bit better. Working at The Good Life Massage, everyone is kind of one big family. Everyone gets along. The atmosphere is really great. The clients are really great.

What’s your favorite part of this job? What gets you excited to come to work?
My favorite part about massage has to be the clients, because each day you walk in the door, you don’t really know what you’re expecting, so it’s like a whole new challenge every day, which I really like. I’m not a big fan of the “go to this job and you only have to do this set of things and not much really changes. So, when you’re in an atmosphere where everything changes, even by the minute, it’s really fun and exciting. You never know what you’re gonna tackle.

What is it about your massage that keeps your clients coming back? What makes you stand out from the other GLM therapists?
One of my strong points in massage right now is going and finding knots. I love working out the knots, and a lot of clients have told me I just kind of know where they are, and so they’re really fun for me to work out, and it brings a lot of tension release for the client.

Pick a superpower: flying or turning invisible. Explain your answer.
If I could pick a superpower, I think I would pick flying, because if you’re invisible, you can still be invisible. If you can fly, you can get to distances really quickly. So I just feel like it would be like soaring through the sky like a bird. It would just be amazing, and the views and the landscapes would all be amazing and breath-taking.

We’re all about wellness here. What’s your favorite health habit? This can be something that you’re working on, have mastered, or just feel like our clients should be doing.
Right now, as for health for myself, I’ve been really trying to eat healthy–rarely going out to eat, making all of my dinners, making all of my lunches. So that’s really be healthy for me. And drinking a lot of water and starting to exercise a little bit more, and you really feel that. Eating healthy nowadays is really important for the body just because of all the chemicals and stuff that are in the food, and sometimes when you go out you don’t really know what’s inside the food. But when you’re at home making it, you know exactly what’s inside the food. I feel like it’s a lot more beneficial for our bodies.

Is there a client you’ve worked on who stands out in your memory? Someone for whom massage made a big difference?
One of my clients that I’m seeing now has benefited a lot from massage. She would always wake up every day and have to kind of pop her hip into place. That really irritated her until her friend recommended massage. So she went in one day and I was working into her glute muscles and her hip muscles and she felt a lot of relief. She didn’t have to pop the muscles in her hip all the time, and she was really happy. I took quite a long vacation, and when I came back, she made me feel so welcome. The first time she saw me after I came back she was jumping in joy. So that made me feel really happy and excited inside.

Finish this statement: I wish my clients knew …
I wish my clients knew how important their bodies are, and how we influence the muscles in their bodies, and just kind of moving things around–that can benefit them so much.

Thanks, Charlie!

Book a massage with Charlie today through our website, or give us a call.

425-243-7705

Please note that Charlie is unable to perform the aromatherapy enhancement due to an allergy.

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and director of marketing at The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at TGunnWriter.com or on Twitter, @ElManoRoboto

7 Mendacious Massage Misconceptions

Massage is becoming more popular every day. The public is finally getting educated on what regular massage can do to benefit your mental and physical health.

Having said that, there are a surprising number of myths and misconceptions about massage that we feel the need to clear up here and now.

This came up as a subject recently in our post about pre-natal massage. In my interview with Christie Ellis, formerly of GLM, the following misconception about prenatal massage came up:

“Prenatal massage can induce labor”
I’ll let Christie take this first one:

“That is a myth! Massage does not cause labor. Acupressure can precipitate labor, and that would be on the level of applying director pressure on a very specific spot for two or three minutes every fifteen minutes over the span of about forty-eight hours.

So there’s no way to come in for a prenatal massage and come out a mother?
“(laughs) No! And to be clear, acupuncture and acupressure are very different than massage. We’re using much broader strokes with massage and there’s absolutely no concern that a nice foot massage could put a woman into labor.

“Another myth I would point out is that abdominal massage can cause miscarriage. That’s out there, too, especially for people who are concerned about the first trimester.

“I do think it’s important to have someone that’s trained for any sort of abdominal work, but massage in general is very safe for expecting mothers.”

But there are plenty of other misconceptions about massage out there. This should put a dent in a few of the more common ones:

“Sure, you feel great right after a massage, but the effects are only temporary”
This idea probably comes from those who really need regular massage, but only tried it once, and went back to the status quo after a day or two. If you suffer from chronic pain or posture issues, regular massage can be particularly beneficial in “retraining” your muscles and your body to be well and whole.

Massage Results take time

You wouldn’t expect to reach all your fitness goals with just one workout, right? Massage is the same way: long-term improvements in your physical health almost never come in the form of a magic bullet. It just takes time and persistence.

If cost seems to be a barrier to getting the treatment you need, you might not have all the facts.

“Does it hurt? It’s supposed to. Just let it happen.”
If you feel pain or discomfort during your massage, say something! While it’s true that some discomfort can be expected in treatment massage, you need to keep talking to your practitioner about your comfort and the treatment they’re doing. Even if a particular stroke or method is supposed to be therapeutic, your therapist can and should honor your requests. The kind of care you receive is entirely in your hands, and should be wholly directed by you.

What’s more, too much pain can actually be counterproductive. If you’re sincerely in pain, you’ll unconsciously tense up other muscle groups, creating the exact opposite of the desired effect for your massage.

“Massage releases toxins and cleanses your system”
Not really. It depends on what you mean by “toxins”. What massage does do is help stimulate circulation throughout your body. This can be helpful if you’re injured. Increased blood flow can be very beneficial in that case. That circulation can include run-of-the-mill cell waste, but there’s no medical magic in stimulating processes that your body routinely caries out anyway. You can get the same effect from vigorous exercise.

“If you don’t walk away feeling like a million bucks, you got a bad massage”
It’s true that, for most cases, people walk away from their massage feeling relaxed, limber, even a little euphoric. But while this is commonly the case, a good massage can sometimes make you feel, well, lousy–at least immediately afterward.

Are you fighting a bug? If you’re getting sick, a massage can sometimes accelerate how quickly you feel the symptoms. You may walk in feeling fairly well, oblivious to the fact that you’re about to get sick, and then get off the table feeling a little weak and achy. If that turns into a bout with a cold or the flu, we feel your pain. But you can’t blame the massage therapist or the job they did for making it happen.

Another scenario is when deep tissue treatment is called for and requested. When your practitioner needs to go deep below the surface tissue to release trigger points and send circulation to distressed areas, this may cause some discomfort both during and just after the treatment.

This can be the case for specialty treatments we offer, including deep transverse friction and myoskeletal alignment. People sometimes report feeling sore after these kinds of heavy treatment-style massages. That does not mean your practitioner did a bad job. In fact, that can be a sign that more regular treatment is called for. It shouldn’t hurt every time, and there should be significant improvement after a good night’s sleep.

“If you have cancer, massage will spread the cancer cells through your body”
This is basically impossible. Massage moves lymph, but cancer doesn’t spread through the lymphatic system. Metastization (the spread of cancer) is due to genetic mutation and a number of factors that have nothing at all to do with the functioning of the lymphatic system.

Having said that, if you’re a cancer patient, it’s wise to consult with your oncologist before scheduling a massage. Relaxation massage at any stage of cancer can actually be immensely beneficial, reducing depression and anxiety. Some studies have even shown that it reduces nausea and pain.

Are there any others you’ve heard that we didn’t cover here? Do you have any questions about massage and what it can do for you?

Let us know in the comments below.

You can also contact us by phone at 425-243-7705

or by email at support@goodliferenton.com

As with everything on this blog, none of this information should be construed as medical advice or care. The employees of The Good Life Massage, including the writers of this blog, are not medical doctors. Consult with your physician before making any changes to improve your health.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at tgunnwriter.com

Amy Gunn, LMP is a co-founder of The Good Life Massage and has been a licensed massage practitioner since 1999. 

Swedish Vs. Deep Tissue Massage

What is Swedish massage?
Swedish massage is a basic massage used primarily for relaxation, but which also delivers a multitude of health beneifts, many of which we’ve covered here.

Muscular Anatomy of the BackThis kind of massage works the superficial muscle groups, or in other words, the muscles closest to the skin. It helps to circulate blood and lymph throughout your body using strokes that will move those fluids back up to the heart. The result is that some people report feeling like they’ve just had a good workout after a massage, only they didn’t have to do anything.

The intensity of this massage can vary broadly, from intense and uncomfortable to light and smoothe. It all depends on your taste and what you feel is most beneficial to you. For this reason, it’s crucial that you keep the lines of communication open with your therapist both before and during your session.

Why is it called Swedish massage?
Like many successful innovations, Swedish massage has many fathers.

For several years it was believed that a Swedish practitioner, Henri Peter Ling, was the originator of Swedish massage as we know it. It is now believed, however, that a Dutchman named Johan Georg Mezger bears more of the credit. But there’s really nothing particularly Swedish about it, as such. It incorporates techniques and methods that have been used in different parts of the world, and which go back much further than either Mezger or Ling.

In Europe, what we know as Swedish massage is referred to as a classic massage. If you think about it, this label makes a lot more sense, but for some reason, the “Swedish” name has stuck in our culture. It may be that since so much of our culture is dictated by marketing and advertising, calling it a Swedish massage makes it sound more exotic and continental. In any case, be aware that the name is just that: a name.

Deep tissue massage
This kind of massage is intended as a treatment to help improve posture or soothe chronic pain. Deep tissue massage aims to work down below your superficial muscle groups to treat muscles and tissue deep inside your body.

Contrary to the popular misconception, this kind of massage is not merely a high-pressure version of the ordinary Swedish massage. Rather, this is designed for treatment of a specific area or muscle group. It is not intended for work over your whole body, nor would you want it to be. This kind of massage over your full body would actually be harmful.

Our LMPs have been thoroughly trained and know human anatomy extremely well. As they work on you, or even as they watch you walk in the door, they’re able to identify areas that could use extra help or attention. But they’ll only treat you if you ask for it.

This kind of massage is often used as a medical treatment, and we tend to see a lot of that for those clients who have been referred by their physician. Are you billing workers comp or making a claim against an auto insurance policy? This may be the kind of massage you need.

Which should I choose?
If you’re like most people, Swedish massage would suit you just fine. If you have chronic pain or posture problems that you want resolved, we may choose to use some deep tissue therapy to address those, but only if you discuss it with us first.

It’s important to start your session with a detailed conversation with your therapist. This should be more about what kind of pressure you like or what music you want to listen to (though that’s important too). This conversation is your chance to ask for help.

  • Are you having a pain in your back that just doesn’t go away, no matter how you adjust or try to get comfortable?
  • Is there an injury they should be aware of?

Even if you’ve mentioned something on your intake form, it’s a good idea to address it with your practitioner verbally to make sure your concerns are heard.

If you have questions about any of our treatments, please feel free to email us at TheGoodLifeMassage@gmail.com and a licensed massage practitioner will address any concerns you may have.

To book a massage, please visit our website or give us a call at 425-243-7705.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. Find him on the Internet at http://www.tgunnwriter.com