Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Massage FAQ

Recently, a friend asked me a few, really good questions about massage. So I figured I'd share my answers with you.

 Q: I usually wait to get a massage until I'm a mess. Probably not a good idea?

  A: Think of massage as gardening work. You have to tend to the garden (your body) on a regular basis. You have to feed it, water it, pull the weeds out, and nurture it. By the time it's overgrown with weeds, dry and dead, it's much harder to bring it back to life. Waiting til you're a total mess...not recommended.

Q: I've gotten really painful massages in the past, where I'm really sore afterwards. Is this normal? Healthy? Does a massage have to hurt to be beneficial?

A: For a massage to be beneficial, it does NOT have to hurt, not during and not after, although it is quite common. A lot of therapists (especially unlicensed, and untrained ones) think they can work knots and trigger points out in one, long session. I think that's not true and can be dangerous. The way I see it, if I have a knot for 10're NOT getting it out in an hour. Muscles can only handle so much pressure in any given session, and eventually the inflammatory response kicks in and you start to get swelling, bruises and irritation. Plus, if it hurts while receiving, then the client tenses up and actually fights the work. You may feel much better in a day or so, but there's a much better way.

 On a scale of 1 to 10, you only need to go the depth of a 6 to effect a muscle. And you can only do that for so long. So it's much better to have a series of massages, with at least 5 days in between, and go a little lighter. I personally believe that all massages should feel good. Once the surrounding muscles have started to release their tension, you can start to go a little deeper...but it won't hurt. You can do that, and should do that, in one session, but also in subsequent sessions.

  Every person has their own tolerance level for "pain". Also, there's a difference between "good pain" and "bad pain". "Good pain" is when you're thinking, "oh, man! That hurts, but I kinda like it, don't stop." "Bad pain" is when you're thinking, "this sucks, how long do I have to endure this?" You should NEVER have bad pain during a session. Not even for a moment.

 Please stick with the licensed massage therapists. You want someone who does a medical discussion first, and is easy to communicate with.  Knots are several things, Trigger points are tight bands of muscle tissue that are continuing to fire, even when they're not being used. If that knot gets inflamed, and starts rubbing against other tendons, it can eventually lead to scar tissue. But not ALL knots are, or will lead to scar tissue. Usually, that's only for areas of the body that have been injured/torn/strained at some point.

 Massage is a wonderful tool that's been around for years. When worked on by the right person (and the same therapist is NOT right for everyone, it's completely personal taste), massage is fantastic for relaxation, pain relief, faster injury recover, and a whole lot more. But there are some times when massage is completely inappropriate (fever, swollen glands, open wounds, recent severe injury, etc.). So please discuss all current (and major past) medical conditions with your therapist. And please don't go to the people on the street or in malls (unless they're licensed). You run more risk of being injured than helped.

And if you've NOT gotten a massage yet...what are you waiting for?

And lastly, some good news. I was accepted to do massage on the athletes at the London Summer Olympics. So I'll be working on the tennis players and stationed at Wimbledon. It's my 3rd Olympics, and I'm looking forward to seeing my US Open players in London. Very exciting! The Olympics are ALL volunteer. 70,000 of us believing in a peaceful world event and celebrating the realization of dreams coming true. There's just nothing else like it. Seeing the world's best athletes is always incredibly inspiring and humbling. So be sure to watch this July!