The Elephant in the Massage Room

Folks, I’m so sad this morning (and kind of angry).  I often get on my soap box about safe touch, bodily autonomy and respect, I know.

Sexual assault in my industry has become a big topic in the news lately to say nothing of the human trafficking linked with seedy ‘massage parlors’. I’m heartbroken that a profession that attracts people who are genuinely interested in helping people get out of pain, gain a greater sense of how their body performs, and learn about safe touch is going through some growing pains after a few thousand years.

I love what I do and I’ve worked to cultivate an environment where folks feels completely safe and in control of their body. I address the power differential in the massage room with every new client. My goal is that everyone understands that they are the navigator, I’m the driver. My ego has not and will not ever be wounded by a client expressing a hesitation, pain, or fear before, during, or after a session.

I’m relieved that clients feel empowered to speak up when a health care provider has violated a trust. I’m also really disappointed in how my industry has responded. Pretending like a problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it any less real or damaging to its victims. Pretending that a problem doesn’t exist makes it easier for predators to continue to hurt people. We owe the clients who entrust their body, pain and experiences to our hands more than this.

As A Client, here is what you should know:

Massage should be safe! If someone is causing you pain-tell them. If they don’t adjust to your request, end the session immediately!

Massage should be safe! If someone is making you feel exposed tell them. Your modesty should be respected at all times.

Massage should be safe! When looking for a therapist ask friends and family for recommendations. An experienced, knowledgeable therapist is easy to find this way. Build a relationship with a therapist and insist that they understand your goals and limitations.

There should never be a question about your safety when you are consulting with a new health care provider, but this latest news demonstrates that it is. 

My wish for each and every client seeking massage: May you build a relationship with an experienced therapist that is a true partnership with your goals in mind. May you feel confident that your boundaries are always respected, that you are always heard, and that you always feel safe.

Meditation and Massage

Improve your health with breath

Breath. Such a simple thing. It’s essential to life, but yet how often do we think about it? It ebbs and flows throughout our days and we barely give it a second thought.  We’re going to look at some ways our breath improves our health – including some techniques you can utilize today.

Deep breathing can reduce anxiety
Implementing a deep breathing technique when anxiety strikes can make the difference between a full on attack and an unwelcome blip in your day. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate, improves circulation and promotes clearer thinking.

You can use your breath to calm down
Let’s face it, when tempers flair it seems almost impossible to think about anything other than the current situation that set you off. Practicing simple breathing techniques can encourage calmness and help reverse the physical symptoms of anger.

    TECHNIQUE for Anxiety and Calm
Isolate yourself from everyone for 15 minutes
Inhale slowly for the count of 4
Exhale slowly for the count of 8
Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation
Repeat until you begin to calm down

Take breathing even deeper with pranayama
Pranayama is the practice of using the breath to soothe an active mind. If practiced right, pranayama can bring harmony between mind, body and spirit. It boosts your ability to be mentally and spiritually strong. There are very specific breathwork techniques that are outside the scope of this article, but we recommend reading up and finding a good teacher.

Use with meditation
Breathwork can be a fantastic addition to your mindfulness or meditation practice. It can allow us to open our hearts and our minds. It has been said that it can move stuck energy as well.

    TECHNIQUE for Pranayama and Meditation
Quiet your body and mind
Observe your breath as it is
Slow your breathing to a calm steady level
Concentrate on the air that moves in and out of your lungs
Focus on how your body feels and moves as you inhale and exhale

Much like massage there is no doubt that breathing can encourage relaxation and healthy habits. It keeps the body/mind functioning and curbs stress. Your muscles naturally relax and you can go about your day a little easier.

Breathing may seem insignificant. It happens naturally, so we may not think about breathing all that much, but maybe it’s time we should.

 

Women’s Health

A simple way to jumpstart your health and fitness journey

If you google “women’s health and fitness” we are willing to bet your search would turn up millions (and millions) of results. Some are legit health articles with real research to back up their claims, while others are trying to sell fitness garments, sports bras, and gear.

If you’re new to the health and fitness world it’s overwhelming. Where does a newbie start? Is it the gear? Is it the food? Or is it the exercise? September 24th is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day and we are going to walk you through some easy tips for getting started on your wellness journey.

Move some.

First and foremost, it’s important to move. Stretch, walk, run, or hike – it doesn’t matter, just get out of the normal groove of work and couch surfing. Start with five minutes a day and stay consistent. Do this for about a week. When five minutes feels so easy it’s ridiculous to not do more, bump up your time or go a small distance further. The aim here is stirring up the boring routine and get that body moving.

Get the right gear.

Most people start with the gear. They go out and buy fancy trackers, hats, clothes, gloves, etc. Sure, it’s fun to buy stuff, but some people are dropping a small fortune on new digs and falling off the wagon a few days in. Why is that? Gear shouldn’t be the motivator. Sport/smart watches are merely tools to help you in your new chapter. The motivation needs to come from within. Get moving, see what you enjoy and then get the gear to match your new activity.

Eat well.

Once movement becomes a routine, you’ll find a natural progression into healthy eating. Fitness habits support good health habits and visa versa. It’s important to start small. Remove junk foods from your home (workplace, purse, vehicle, etc) that aren’t your favorites to avoid mindless eating. Swap out an unhealthy choice for a healthy one every time you grocery shop. Reduce your portions if you feel you’re eating too much and increase the amount of (small) meals if you feel you’re not eating enough throughout the day. Plan and prep your meals around your schedule one day a week and try to curb those impulse take-out orders.

Sleep well.

Sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. When you sleep your body goes into repair and restore mode. It aids digestion, stress levels, moods, and often times our patience with basic daily tasks. Oh and your memory! (Almost forgot that.) If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, find a time that you can start winding down every night. For example, have a cup of tea at 8PM each night to jumpstart your “getting ready for bed” process. Over time your body will recognize that tea as a trigger and start winding down as soon as you smell that cup of chamomile.

Have fun.

This is huge. No one wants to do things that make them unhappy. Don’t force yourself to run if you hate running. Walk or cycle instead. Or try yoga. Or massage at Oakwood Therapeutic Massage . Find activities that you love and it’ll be that much easier to keep up with.

You know what’s best for you.

Do what feels right. Take care of yourself. Seek guidance from a medical professional if you need it. Speak to a nutritionist, a personal trainer or your own doctor. Educate yourself on what it takes to achieve the goals and results you are after. No one can do this for you. It’s your journey, so take that step – one little bit at a time.

Body Image and Massage

Body Image Risk and Reward in Massage

Body image. Almost everybody has something about their body that they don’t like. For many people it’s a minor issue, no big deal. But some people have a major issue with their body image. It affects how they live.

When I tell some people that I’m a massage therapist it can cause a strong reaction. They tell me, whether verbally or through their reaction and body language, that massage is not for them. Their body image is such an issue that they don’t think anybody else can accept them.

The paradox here is that massage can really help with body image issues. In massage school we were all nervous about taking off our clothes and letting somebody else touch us. It didn’t take long for us to discover that bodies are just bodies and become much more comfortable with our own. We also experienced how good receiving a massage made us feel. Something unexpected happened – when our bodies felt better we felt better about our bodies.

I think there are three options to consider. Let’s look at the risk versus reward for them.

1. Don’t get a massage.

This is the easiest because it involves doing nothing. The risk is low since you are not letting another person see or touch you at all.

The reward is zero. You didn’t get a massage so your body doesn’t feel any better, and you still have the stress you had before.

2. You get a massage, but the massage therapist either makes note of how you look, as if it matters.

If this has happened to you, I’m sorry. You got a crappy massage therapist. That’s a bummer, and I’m really sorry. You took a risk, and even if the rest of the massage was decent, got very little reward.

This is not going to happen if you come to me. Never. No way. I can’t say this strongly enough. It goes against the very nature of who I am, how I treat people, and what I believe.

3. You get a massage. A great massage. And the therapist does nothing to make you feel uncomfortable about your body. In fact, you feel pretty good about your body after the massage.

In this option your risk is low. I don’t care how your body looks. That’s none of my business. I just want to help it feel better. Your reward is high. Again your body will feel better from the massage and you can start feeling better about it.

I have no idea how your body got to be in the condition that it’s in. You may be dealing with something that you can’t control, such as a medical condition or an injury or accident. You may be in a lot of pain or are limited in what you can do physically. Since I don’t know what caused your body to be like it is now I can’t make any judgments about you.

I’ve worked on hundreds – maybe thousands – of people. Each body is interesting and I’ve yet to come across one that I could not help.

If you have been avoiding massage because you feel uncomfortable about your body, let’s find an option that works for you. You don’t even have to explain anything to me. Leave your clothes on. Stay sitting up or face down or lying on your side or however you want. It’s up to you.

It’s my job to help you feel better. That’s it. Together let’s find a way to help you relieve your pain and stress. Don’t let your body image keep you from feeling good.

How Massage Fixed my Headaches

How I Ended Up Here (Part1)img_1778I’m not the most graceful human being. Not by a long shot.

In fact the only time that I’m centered, calm and coordinated is during your massage. Add to this that I grew up with brothers who thought putting me in suitcase and throwing sliding me down the stairs, or using our backyard hammock as slingshot with me as the human ammunition led to some interesting landings.

By the time I was in my late teens I was suffering almost daily with neck pain and headaches. Relief was elusive and a chiropractor I was working with shortly after a face plant gave me a corker of a whiplash injury (that’s a good story, another day, though)suggested that I see the massage therapist who he’d recently hired to ‘supplement’ his work.

One session and I was a believer!

For years I’d been searching for relief and it finally came in the form of therapeutic massage. A few years later I was studying for my license to become a therapist. I love working with folks living who are in pain. I know you. Heck, I AM you.

Loads of continuing study in pain science, kinesiology and super fancy therapy modalities later, every time someone knew comes into see me for an initial assessment, I think of my first experience with massage. It continues to shape how I cultivate compassion for those living with chronic pain and drives me to learn everyday.

2017 Thank You and Cheers to 16 years of massage!

“When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.” -Yoda

I joke with my colleagues. ” I’ve been doing this so long, my first business cards were stone tablets!”

Not completely accurate, but close. I love that the internet and social media allow me connect with you even when you aren’t on my table. The learning curve is steep to be sure, but I’m enjoying the challenge of stretching myself to try things I never have before. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to delegate all of this online marketing stuff to a really smart 12 year old and spend my time and money on getting certified in Ashiatsu or Thai Massage in Thailand! Alas, here we are. And that’s where you come in…

If I’ve been able to help you resolve or manage chronic pain, provided you comfort via safe touch, or been a small piece in your journey of self care and better health, I’d like to ask you to tell others.

If you could, take a few moments and leave a review on Google, Facebook or Massagebook, so that others can find me and I can help them also,  I would be so grateful!

Thank you for rolling with me through the move, crazy big growth and all of the great support you’ve shown this past year. Here’s to YOU and an amazing 2017!

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-Heather

Why does she always ask me that? 

Feels good

If we’ve had more than one session you made have noticed that I start most pre-session interviews with the same question. 

‘What is your goal for today?’

Sound familiar? There are several reasons why I do this. But first,  I’ll share what naturally occurs to some clients:

A. I forgot everything we did before. 

This patently untrue. Not only do I keep copious charts, I actually care about your needs, your history, and your desired outcomes. 

Here are a few reasons why I DO ask this question in almost every session.

1.  We change. We fall off ladders painting our bedroom. We his our heads on open cabinet doors whilst unloading the dishwasher. We go through emotional trauma. We lose jobs, end marriages and decide to start Couch to 5k programs. 

Each of this changes are carried around with us. Our needs in the Therapeutic environment change from week to week and I truly want you to get the most out of our time.


B.I’m also very goal oriented in my work. I feel like our effort is best served by working together to achieve a common goal. In order to do that, we need to adjust occasionally. 

In almost 16years, I’ve never given the same massage twice and I don’t intend to. You deserve all my effort, passion for learning, and creativity each time you are in my table. So please pardon the fact that I start with the same question every time, and I’ll continue to keep helping you meet your needs. 

It is my priveledge. 

Massage Therapist (not clairvoyant)

Over the years, I’ve periodically heard new clients report during an initial consultation, “I went the this one therapist and she knew with out even touching me that..”. Fill in the blank at the end of that sentence: I have no gallbladder, my cervix is tipped, I broke my leg as a kid, etc.

To be sure, some massage therapists have above average observational skills. We learn to assess how people stand, walk and hold their bodies. This helps us devise a treatment plan that will be effective. The best therapists come from a place of ‘listening’.

What this does not make us is mind readers, psychic, or some sort of mystical witch doctor.

Share your needs before, during, and after your session. If something we are doing is painful, say so. If you are in an uncomfortable position or cold, please, let us know.

The most effective therapeutic relationships are partnerships, and the best outcomes are achieved when the entire team is moving toward a common goal.