How Do You Spell Relief?

Posted: July 22, 2013 By:

Over the past 30 years I have had the opportunity to work on more clients than I can count. I believe that the reason massage is so effective and why so many people are now seeking it is because it provides relief.

In this “on demand” world in which we live there are few opportunities to be unavailable to the outside world, so when we experience the peace we crave, our mind, body and spirit can experience a profound feeling of relaxation…and healing can then occur.

While the concept of relaxation as a path to relief sounds logical and may not be a new idea, the pressure from our day-to-day lives driven by an increasingly goal-oriented society can make this concept feel like a distant and sometimes impossible task. Most people don’t know how to relax so part of the session should focus on coaching someone to let go.

When we experience true relaxation, we are able to take our attention away from areas of the body experiencing pain or problems and healing can occur. Your nervous system will immediately respond; muscles relax, the flow of energy is restored to the affected area and release will occur more easily.

So the question is… How do you bridge the gap between therapeutic massage and alternative treatments with traditional medical practices and diagnosis?

The gap

Traditional Medical practices…

Throughout the years I have found that the medical profession focuses it’s attention on the specific area of pain. In my experience this area is only part of the problem and possibly just a symptom of a larger imbalance.

Often a client will approach a massage session in the same way; too focused on the painful area. In my experience, if I am working on a client that wants me to focus on a certain area, or believes that a particular method or modality is what is needed the session may not be as effective. Since the body’s muscles and fascia are so connected the pain someone experiences in their lower back may stem from their feet or ankles. Or if the lower back is out of balance they will eventually have pain in their neck and shoulders as well.

The health care profession has become so specialized sometimes the obvious is missed..

If experiencing chronic foot pain a doctor may recommend inserts to correct the foot’s misalignment. But foot pain can be triggered from a misaligned lower back which creates an imbalance. This can cause a shortening of the tissue/muscles in the lower back, legs and hamstrings. If the condition is left untreated long enough it can result in chronic foot pain.This is a example of why its extremely important to treat the whole body to ensure lasting results.

The beneficial results of reducing stress are immeasurable and I believe that change is on the horizon.

The medical profession is now recognizing stress as one of the causes of many diseases. More doctors now recommend massage/alternate therapies to reduce tension to their patients. I believe we are seeing a change toward a more holistic approach to health care. I think the public has in part influenced this shift. Yet, many clients still feel the need to explain in detail where they are experiencing pain and expect that the session should be focused on that area.

Nowhere in the medical field can you get the holistic approach and attention that is available in the hands of a talented and experienced massage therapist.

I emphasize, talented and experienced massage therapist because more and more people are entering the field of massage, but a license does not necessarily make them experts.

Clients and massage therapists can often be so focused on the particular technique that relaxation becomes illusive. The idea that digging deeper into a problem area to alleviate pain can actually be the opposite of what is needed and could do more harm. While training is very important and there are some very powerful techniques in the bodywork field today, they are only tools. Since each person is unique no one technique fits all. Its often best to avoid looking for a particular technique or list of credentials and focus on finding someone with experience. There is a delicate balance of positive expectations, technique and coaching the client to “let go” simultaneously that should be monitored by a therapist during each session.

Its also important to enter into each session with an open mind. I believe that each client’s trust and expectation of their session plays a big part in their experience and recovery.

We have few opportunities to be unavailable to the outside world today. But when we experience the peace we crave, our body, mind, and spirit can experience a profound sense of peace. Once we feel the sensation of relief we can then take a deep breath, relax, let our busy mind slow and allow ourselves to just be.

So no matter what your reason is for seeking massage, I hope you will take the opportunity to learn how to relax and most important…just breathe.