Disclaimer: There’s a lot to cover in this post. So much that it won’t allow me spaces between each of my paragraphs. This formatting will not be standard.
- I’ve been in the bodywork industry for the better part of a decade. I’ve worked for spas, clinics, individuals, even incorporated techniques into work as a PCA for children with developmental disabilities. I have been involved in hiring new therapists at various places where I’ve worked. Since graduating from school, I’ve met only two massage therapists who do the kind of rehabilitative techniques I find most effective, and every other service I’ve been wildly impressed by has been a non-standard modality, such as Reiki, CranioSacral, acupuncture, etc.
- People ask why I work in a small day spa, when there are places I’d likely make more money or have higher-profile clientele. Honestly, I like being positioned to meet clients in the place they’re most likely to try when they’re in pain — the most commonly known resource for the service. I feel that being present there is the best way to introduce clients to the range of options available. Many clients I’ve seen have already been through surgery and physical therapy — both very important services in their own right, undeniably. Many of these clients have reported never having had crucial muscles palpated, much less addressed with rehabilitative intent. Most of them, particularly those who commit to a regular treatment routine, note a substantial decrease in pain, an increase in range of motion, positive changes to their general sense of well-being, and a sense of sovereignty over their own bodies. This tends to be somewhat mind-blowing. Expectations of what massage can accomplish are often low, based on experiences only of Swedish, the industry standard — and this often follows expectations that are unrealistically high, thinking that one session is enough to undo a lifetime of stress and tension patterns.
- Please don’t think that I’m dissing Swedish. It is a terrifically important set of skills, which underpins a lot of other techniques and modalities, including what I do a lot of the time. Swedish is characterized by long, flowing strokes, joining the parts of the body into a unified whole, promoting relaxation and improved circulation. It also incorporates kneading, vibration, tapping/pummeling, and friction. It can be done lightly, or when done harder, is often referred to as “deep tissue.” However, just because something is the most commonly taught and most commonly offered example of something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for every occasion. It usually means that it is fairly basic, able to reach a wide audience, and is unlikely to shock anyone.
- I’m from Wisconsin originally. Like any good Sconnie girl, cheese is a pretty easy reference point for me. Let’s think of Swedish massage as a nice mild cheddar. Deep Tissue could be a bit more aggressive, a sharp cheddar. They’re great cheeses. They have lots of applications. It would be fine to go your whole life loving cheddar more than anything. But… wouldn’t you also perhaps benefit from recognizing that sometimes mozzarella fits better into certain types of cuisine? Or maybe you like parmesan (and maybe you think it smells like vomit — everyone’s nervous systems are specific to them, and that’s totally valid!) And maybe you’re a little more adventurous and can’t get by without feta or brie. Maybe you’re a connoisseur with really selective tastes and only go for artisan cheeses like Pondhopper goat cheese or Pluvius. Maybe you’re vegan and don’t eat dairy products of any kind — that’s totally okay, too. All of these are choices, and all of them are great, if they make you happy. But what if what you really, really, really want is a good, aged gouda and every store you go to only stocks mild cheddar? What if you don’t even know what you’re looking for, but every sample platter you try at every restaurant only gives you the range of cheddar (a mild, medium, and sharp, perhaps, but still cheddar)?
- I am writing this to provide a gentle introduction to other ways of nurturing the body and helping it in its healing process. Some of the modalities I try will be fairly basic and familiar. Some of them will be deliberately out-there. I will give you my honest opinion about my experience, but please remember, YOU are the most important authority on what is right for YOU. Try them, or don’t. Ask questions, or don’t. As for me, I thoroughly look forward to supporting my body in every way I can think of, experiencing the fullest range of sensations I can find, meeting a lot of amazing people committed to helping people live their lives more fully and happily, promoting their businesses, and finding new paths to explore myself, to improve my own capacity for assisting clients as a bodywork practitioner.
- Not everything I try will be strictly bodywork. Everything I try will vaguely fit within the totally nebulous catch-all phrase “healing modality” — I choose that because it’s as nonspecific as possible. If you don’t like it, substitute something you prefer. A lot of terminology around Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) can have negative associations, due to overuse or misuse or misunderstanding. Not trying to push anyone’s buttons, but sometimes it’s inevitable. If it happens, please know that it’s unintentional, and I wish you well.