|October 19 - 25 is Massage Therapy Awareness Week|
|Images courtesy of Equilibrium Massage Therapy and Wellness Centre|
Be on Time
Walking into the clinic already calm rather than in a panic over parking will allow you to melt into the table even faster. Plan to arrive at your appointment early and if it's your first time at the clinic, give yourself an extra five minutes to have to fill out a health history form.
You would never walk into a coffee shop and order a latte when what you really wanted was a sugar-free vanilla soy latte with no foam. Take the extra moment to discuss with your MT what's going on with your body, what your goal is for the massage, and areas you want focused on or avoided. Agreeing on a treatment plan will get everyone on the same page and set you up for getting what you need from that session. Once the massage is under way, find your voice and speak up if there is something making you uncomfortable. Room temperature, music, and massage pressure can all be adjusted.
Bring it back to the Breath
Treat your massage like savasana. Not the place to be making lists, or planning. Stressful thoughts cause your body to react, your breath becomes shallow and your body tightens. If you catch your mind wandering, take a couple of diaphragmatic breaths and focus on letting go while you exhale.
Find your Edge
The time breakdown can be compared to a Yoga class with a peak pose, you wouldn't expect Full Wheel to be the very first thing you do. Warming up with breath work, sun salutation A's and some gentler preparation poses will allow your body to open more easily once you get to the peak. Allow your MT to warm up the tissues and work up to firm, focused pressure. “No pain, no gain” is a massage therapy myth. Even if you want a deep tissue massage, you must be able to relax and breathe through the pressure for it to be effective. Everyone has a different tolerance and some areas are always more sensitive than others. Continue the communication throughout the duration of the massage if you need more or less pressure.
Get some Svadhyaya
Finding a Massage Therapist you are comfortable with is essential. Take some time to self-reflect on how you move around the world and what kind of interactions you enjoy. Have you had the same hair stylist for 10 years? Set your yoga mat in the exact same spot every class? Do you love trying different Yoga teachers, styles and studios? There's no wrong answer here. All Registered Massage Therapists in Manitoba have a 2200hr certification, but beyond education, everyone has a different style, personality and may offer different modalities within their practice. If you enjoy building rapport and familiarity, honour that. If you thrive with change and new experiences, use it to your advantage. Looking at other aspects of your life can help you to figure out how to find a massage therapist -or several- to help facilitate your health goals.
What you do with your body between treatments has a huge impact on how long the effects of the massage lasts. Realistically, one hour of massage will not “fix” an injury that you've had for years, or undo the effects on your body of sitting at a desk for 40hrs a week. Yoga is often recommended to clients because of the attention to breath and feeling it teaches, and the balance of stretching and strengthening it offers. Whether you current goal is injury rehab, stress reduction and relaxation or correcting your posture, bringing mindfulness to your body will help you find comfort in your time off the mat and off the table.