Starting my 23 year as a full time massage therapist

This September marks the start of my 23rd year as a full-time massage therapist. It was September 15, 1995 when I resigned from the corporate world and decided to go into business for myself. Out of my little studio I have served over 1,500 customers and logged more than 13,000 hours of massage therapy. While I have added several different techniques over the years, I can say that they all work but they don’t all work on everyone every time. I had a client ask me what technique that I was using and after a few minutes I told him I had used about 4 different approaches in his therapeutic massage. Reflexology (feet and hand massage) has been the most frequently used additional modality. While from a standard medical model it may not make sense, I have seen it work with success on many occasions. I try to start each massage with foot massage. When my wife, Janice, was going through her breast cancer treatment is was a real blessing in relieving muscle pain and nausea. I have treated several cancer patients with reflexology to reduce nausea and vomiting. Many clients have also benefited from sinus and inner ear relief. Active Isolated Stretching is another very effective modality. You can actually stretch muscles than you can reach by massage. Some muscles are located in impossible to reach areas. I have found that using stretching techniques results in longer lasting benefits from massage. Total Body Balancing is a technique that involves a quick assessment of the person to see what releases quick and what needs further follow up. I then use a variety of procedures, selecting those that offer the most benefit for the least amount of pain and discomfort. In October 2017 I will become certified in cupping. For those of you who watched the last Olympics and saw the red areas on Michael Phelps’s shoulders, the marks were made by using cups. I have using them for a while now and like the results so I am spending the time for additional training. I used to think Kinesio tape was a gimmick until my Crossfit coach, Kim Dunlap, used it to relieve my elbow pain. The relief was immediate. After an additional 32 hours of training I use it a lot in my massage practice. This helps prevent reoccurrence of muscle pain and spasms. I like it and use it on myself when needed. You can buy this now in many locations, including sporting goods stores and pharmacies, but I will note that it is important to learn to apply it correctly. Frequently I am asked how much I charge for a Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or sports massage. The short answer is that every technique I do is the same price. Each massage is tailored to each individual preference and need and effectiveness. In my 23 years of practice I have only wanted to do the best possible therapeutic massage. My time is my time and I do not charge extra to use hot stones, perform stretching, or to utilize any other therapy that might be of the greatest benefit to the client. Thank you for my customers who have allowed me to maintain this practice over the last two decades plus. Janice says I can’t retire until I’m 70. This means at least 6 more years of providing a service that I believe my clients consider a good value. I still enjoy what I do and being a part of my clients’ lives. Six years or more; I really don’t see myself ever stopping providing the very best in massage therapy.

massage for sinus drainage and inner ear

While there are several reasons for wanting and or needing a massage.   I wanted to take a moment to tell you about some conditions that I have successfully treated with massage therapy.  Two conditions are sinus drainage and vertigo caused in fluid in the inner ear.

The first step is reflexology by working with the points in the feet that refer to the neck, shoulders, sinuses and inner ear.  This alone has been very effective for several of my clients.  Many have reported that there sinuses started draining and they were feeling better.  This is also helpful in someone who would have difficultly lying face down because of sinus pressure.  With the sinuses starting to open and drain then the course of treatment will vary from case to case.   Warm stones or cloths can also be applied to the sinuses while manual lymph drainage is performed on the neck and shoulders.  If the neck and shoulders and not released first the drainage will hit a road block and not drain effectively.  Once the neck and shoulders are relaxed then massage be applied directly to the sinuses to promote drainage and pressure relief.

For vertigo caused by pressure in the inner ear canal my procedure is much the same but I use manual lymph drainage technique and some cranial sacral techniques.  More emphasis is placed on drainage of the ear canal.  My wife has a frequent inner ear problem which results in dizziness if she stands up to fast.  While she has explored several options nothing seems to work as well as this combination of massage techniques.

Being a therapeutic massage therapist I do not charge a different price for different therapies.  I may use up to five different modalities to find the most effective treatment.   This is way the price for a massage is the same regardless of what modality I use.   I never know which modality will work the best on everyone every time.  With some practice you can use many of the techniques I demonstrate and use at home for self-care.  The cold and allergy season is coming up and I wanted to give you a thought about successful alternative care.

What is deep tissue massage?

The two most common requests that I get for massage are for deep tissue massage and trigger point.    A dictionary definition of deep tissue is as follows:

a type of massage which reaches structures far beneath the superficialfascia to attempt to relieve chronic muscle problems or injuries

The confusion comes in with how deep is deep and is deep work always painful?  I have not seen any research which relates the effectiveness of massage to the amount pain the client receives.

From my own experience my back was broken in 1993 after being hit by a car while riding my bicycle.  The result as a compression fraction of T-12 and L-1 no problems but a lot of pain.  I enrolled in massage school in 1994.  I have read Bonnie Prudden’s books “Pain Erasure” and “Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain Free Living” .  Her technique is trigger point and is effective and painful.   Trigger point therapy was effective in relieving muscle spasms in my back.

After a plane flight to Bermuda in 1994 my back was in spasm.  I made and appointment with a massage therapist.  I told him that the spasm would most likely go away if he took his elbow and worked along my belt line.  He said “don’t treat your body like that man we don’t have to be so rough.”  At that point I really did care how but trusted him to do what he thought would work.  By using massage over the trigger point area the muscle spasm released without all of the pain.  It was a real game changer for me.

I thought that maybe my reading of Bonnie Prudden’s work was not accurate.  So I attended her school in Tucson AZ in 2001 for training.  While she was in her 80’s at the time and it was really great to meet her.  After training for three days I liked the methods even less.  I was convinced that there were less painful methods to do deep tissue work.

While I use several techniques to relieve muscle spasm and break up scar tissue optimize nerve and blood.  After 21 years as a therapist I never know which one will work the best.  This is why I do not have different prices for massage, I never know which method will be the most beneficial.  I want my massage to be effective with minimizing pain and discomfort.  By using stretching combined with massage, trigger point and reflexology.