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Old 08-28-2007, 06:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Ask a Massage Therapist

I doubt this will have anywhere near the number of questions as the Ask a Dentist thread, but what the heck. I'm sure it'll have more questions than "Ask an Outdoor Air Quality Environmental Engineering Consultant" would have had, which is what this thread would have been called a year and a half ago.

So, any burning questions out there?
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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the most burning question for me is when can you come to atlanta and give me one?

Im so proud of you
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:50 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks sweetie! Unfortunately, massage therapy is licensed on a state-by-state basis, and Georgia is one of the states that requires a license. Also, it's not quite a day trip, and the table takes a lot of room to pack.
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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but I wouldnt tell
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Old 08-28-2007, 07:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My upper and mid back are always terribly knotted, largely as the result of a long-term shoulder injury. My muscles are always so tense, that even taking a deep breath results in those whiney crackling noises that come from a big stretch.

My question to you, are there any sort of basic massage/knot-removing techniques or motions that could be easily and safely performed by a non-licensed therapist? I can't find the time to go to the chiropractor anymore yet alone an MT, but I can find a few minutes here or there for the girlfriend to knead something out.
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My wife has been having a very sore back, and we are almost sure it is due to her school starting up again. She is in law school which means many many books and her backpack gets really heavy.

We got her a rolling backpack, but she doesn't really like to use it much, therefore, she is very sore in her upper back and neck most nights.

Her bday is coming up, so I just bought her a gift certificate to a massage/dya spa. Which type of massage would be best to relieve this sort of pain? They have 'normal' massages, and deep tissues, and then something called a hot stone massage I think.

What would you recommend?
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My damn left piriformis is always inflamed and sore. It hurts plenty on its own, and it often activates sciatica on my left side. Chiropractic care and semi-regular massage has helped, but I wonder if there's stretching or exercise I can do to relax it at home?

(Congratulations, by the way!)
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Old 08-28-2007, 08:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChassisWelder
My upper and mid back are always terribly knotted, largely as the result of a long-term shoulder injury. My muscles are always so tense, that even taking a deep breath results in those whiney crackling noises that come from a big stretch.

My question to you, are there any sort of basic massage/knot-removing techniques or motions that could be easily and safely performed by a non-licensed therapist? I can't find the time to go to the chiropractor anymore yet alone an MT, but I can find a few minutes here or there for the girlfriend to knead something out.
Get a tennis ball and put it in a tube sock. Stand with your back against a wall, and hang the sock down your back so that it is resting on the knot or trigger point. Lean back as you exhale, and just let the ball sink into the spot. Breathe deeply for three breaths, and imagine your exhalations leaving from that spot and making it nice and soft and open and fluffy. If it didn't release, reposition the ball and try again.

I do this to myself; the technique is called "sustained compression".

Quote:
Originally Posted by hambone
My wife has been having a very sore back, and we are almost sure it is due to her school starting up again. She is in law school which means many many books and her backpack gets really heavy.

We got her a rolling backpack, but she doesn't really like to use it much, therefore, she is very sore in her upper back and neck most nights.

Her bday is coming up, so I just bought her a gift certificate to a massage/dya spa. Which type of massage would be best to relieve this sort of pain? They have 'normal' massages, and deep tissues, and then something called a hot stone massage I think.

What would you recommend?
"Deep tissue", which is also called "neuromuscular" in some places.

A "normal" or "Swedish" or "Relaxation" massage is targeted at relaxing your nervous system. "Deep tissue" is targeted at finding individual muscles and releasing the tension in them. Both have their uses (my wife gets Swedish 1/3rd of the time, neuro 2/3rds).

Just to add, if she has never received a massage before, it might be better to go with Swedish, if she is in any way skittish about having a stranger touch her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
My damn left piriformis is always inflamed and sore. It hurts plenty on its own, and it often activates sciatica on my left side. Chiropractic care and semi-regular massage has helped, but I wonder if there's stretching or exercise I can do to relax it at home?

(Congratulations, by the way!)
Aagh, piriformis syndrome. At least it isn't actual sciatica, right?

I'm running out the door right now, but next time I jump back on, I'll have my "Orthopedic Assessment" book handy, and I'll see what I can find.
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Last edited by Redlemon; 08-29-2007 at 06:06 AM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
Aagh, piriformis syndrome. At least it isn't actual sciatica, right?
Well, I've had that too. This isn't THAT bad, but it's not much fun.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:21 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Awesome idea with the sock and tennis ball!
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Are you licensed in CT, and if so, how much would you charge to come to Stamford tomorrow (Wednesday) and do ten-minute sessions for students at UCONN for a couple hours starting around noon as part of our welcome week? The guy we had signed up bitched out on us and we have nobody on such short notice.

I don't have Internet access at home, so on the remote chance that this is possible, call us at our office number 251-8545 in the morning, and ask for Ian (me,) Bryan or George (tell them Ian contacted you.) I think we negotiated $75/hr for the guy who bailed, and since we need someone who's licensed for insurance reasons, we could probably go a bit higher since it's such short notice. I forget if they had him booked for 2 or 4 hours.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:42 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I used to do a great deal of sparing back in high school and took several pretty devastating kicks to the back. Not only that, but up until marriage, I slept on a futon every night. Needless to say, my back has more than a few issues.

What is the best plan for someone seeking to revitalize all the back muscles in a major way?

I'll be giving the sock/tennis ball thing a shot.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:08 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSelfDestruct
Are you licensed in CT, and if so, how much would you charge to come to Stamford tomorrow (Wednesday) and do ten-minute sessions for students at UCONN for a couple hours starting around noon as part of our welcome week? The guy we had signed up bitched out on us and we have nobody on such short notice.

I don't have Internet access at home, so on the remote chance that this is possible, call us at our office number 251-8545 in the morning, and ask for Ian (me,) Bryan or George (tell them Ian contacted you.) I think we negotiated $75/hr for the guy who bailed, and since we need someone who's licensed for insurance reasons, we could probably go a bit higher since it's such short notice. I forget if they had him booked for 2 or 4 hours.
I just tried to call you, but it went to voicemail. I'll call again. But either way...

I am Connecticut licensed, but I do not have a chair in order to do onsite massage; I should probably get one. Thanks very much for the offer.

But all is not lost: try American Massage Therapy Association's Find a Massage Therapist Page. In the advanced form, you can enter your zip code, a search radius, and select "On site/chair massage" as your modality. There's about 40 therapists listed in a 10 mile radius around UConn Stamford, and you have to be licensed in order to join the AMTA.

Also, just to keep in mind - 1 therapist doing 10 minute massages (plus 5 minutes in between for reviewing the intake forms, cleaning chair, etc.) is only 4 massages an hour. You might want more than one therapist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ratbastid
My damn left piriformis is always inflamed and sore. It hurts plenty on its own, and it often activates sciatica on my left side. Chiropractic care and semi-regular massage has helped, but I wonder if there's stretching or exercise I can do to relax it at home?
This is a tricky situation, since we don't want to exacerbate the symptoms while attempting to treat it. To stretch the left piriformis, lie on your right side on the edge of your bed, facing off the bed. Keep your right leg straight, bend your left leg at least 60 degrees, and let your left leg drop past the edge of the table. (Of course, this is also the test used to check if you have piriformis syndrome, so if you start to feel tingling/shooting pains, back off.) It might help to have one of your lovely ladies support your left hip in a vertical position with one hand and supporting your left knee as it descends.

There is also "contract-relax" stretching, which would definitely require the help of an assistant. For 6-8 seconds, you would press your knee up against her hand (by rotating your hip at the joint, not by raising {abducting} your leg), then release and stretch. Repeat a few times, each time you will get more stretch out of it.

There also may be a trigger point in your piriformis. Here's a good diagram and description of the trigger point location. You might be able to use the tennis ball on that while lying down; however, piriformis is a deep muscle (underneath the gluteus maximus), you might have to try something a bit firmer and specific if the tennis ball is insufficient.

Applying heat can also be good.

(I said that PI was "better" than sciatica only because a bulging disc is a lot harder to treat without surgery. The pain is the same.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
I used to do a great deal of sparing back in high school and took several pretty devastating kicks to the back. Not only that, but up until marriage, I slept on a futon every night. Needless to say, my back has more than a few issues.

What is the best plan for someone seeking to revitalize all the back muscles in a major way?
Difficult question: I'd probably start with yoga or something similar, as it should work and stretch everything. You can then identify which muscles are requiring further treatment, and massage (to release tension) or physical therapy (if there is more significant damage) or chiropractic (if the bones are out of line).
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Last edited by Redlemon; 08-29-2007 at 07:22 AM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:59 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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How do you relax leg muscles? I work on my feet all day and i do a lot of walking. when i get home, my legs are a bit sore. I'd like to know what you do to relax the muscles so that they can be better in the morning.

and thanks for starting this thread. it's pretty cool.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:03 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks very much, I'll give that a shot.

Oh, how do you wake up your clients when they doze off? Just curious.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:15 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I've edited some of my above responses - people who read them earlier might want to jump to the top again.
Quote:
Originally Posted by MexicanOnABike
How do you relax leg muscles? I work on my feet all day and i do a lot of walking. when i get home, my legs are a bit sore. I'd like to know what you do to relax the muscles so that they can be better in the morning.
This looks like a decent self-leg-massage description (it's essentially Swedish methods: effleurage, pettrisage, and tapotement), although "preventing cellulite" sounds like an oversell to me:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Self-Massage, Massage Techniques
Knowing how to massage your own legs is very useful whether you are athletic or not. Leg massage can relieve aching after standing too long & help tired muscles recover after exercise. It stimulates the lymph system and regular thigh massage is believed by many to improve the appearance of thighs by smoothing them out & preventing cellulite. Do the whole sequence on one leg first, then the other one.

1. First, mold your hands to the shape of your leg, rest your foot flat and bend your knee up. Start by stroking your whole leg from ankle to thigh with one hand on each side of the leg. Begin at the foot and stroke smoothly up the calf, over the knee and up to the top of the thigh. Repeat five times.

2. Knead the whole thigh, paying attention to the front and outside. With alternate hands, rhythmically squeeze and release the flesh. This regular kneading can really improve the shape & texture of the thighs.

3. After that step, smooth your thigh by stroking it. Stroke up the thigh from the knee with one hand following the other.

4. Pummel the front and outside of your thighs with loosely clenched fists. This bouncy movement brings blood to the surface and relieves stiffness after sitting down for too long.

5. Massage all around your knee, stroke the area gently, then apply circular pressures with your fingertips around the kneecap. Finish by stroking softly behind your knee up toward your body.

6. Knead your calf muscles with both hands, alternating squeezing the muscle away from the bone & then releasing it. Then gently soothe the area by gently stroking, one hand following the other up the back of the leg.
Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Oh, how do you wake up your clients when they doze off? Just curious.
I usually start my clients prone (face down). The last step in a Swedish massage is typically tapotement (drumming) to the entire back of the body, so that can bring them back to consciousness.

When ending the massage supine (face up), I'm ending on the neck, scalp, and face. I haven't had anyone fall asleep during that portion.

If they are asleep during the rest of the session, that's fine with me. The muscles relax a bit more, and they still get the benefits of the session along with a nap. I'd rather have a sleeping client than one who wants to talk through the whole session. Talking interferes with relaxation.
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:26 AM   #17 (permalink)
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What are the pros/cons of selecting a same-sex vrs. opposite sex message therapist?
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:07 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Racnad
What are the pros/cons of selecting a same-sex vrs. opposite sex message therapist?
Other than your personal comfort level, there are no pros or cons.

We're not here for sex; in fact, I even stop looking at my wife sexually when she is on my table. My focus is on the muscles under my hands, and I'm just trying to figure out how they are doing and what they want.

Myths:

A woman will be more empathetic. Actually, anyone entering this field is going to have a pretty high empathy rating.

A man will be able to go deeper/apply more pressure. Actually, all the power should come from the legs, and one of the women in my class probably had the highest "pressure rating" (on the other hand, more is not necessarily better, you just go in as far as the muscles ask).


So, would it freak you out if a woman/man that you didn't know was touching you? If so, you will be tensed up during the session and not get much out of it. Realize, however, that the concern is only in your mind, not that of the therapist.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:29 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Any hints for massaging an overweight or obese person?
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:40 AM   #20 (permalink)
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No questions for ya, I just wanted to say Congrats, and I think Massage Therapists should rule the world!


I get Deep Tissue massage therapy, and it's literally changed my life. Have one scheduled tonight, in fact (It's gonna hurt like a motha though, I had to pause for a few months...).
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:56 AM   #21 (permalink)
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hmmm I wonder if I could make a day trip to you.....

Congratulations on achieving your goal. I wish you lots of luck.
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:41 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I've had this knot in my right shoulder off and on (well mostly on) for about the past 8 months. It feels like it's right above my shoulder blade, not sure how else to describe the location. I suppose my question is - what causes someone to develop a knot in the same place over and over again and what are some good methods for getting it out? I've never had a professional massage, but I'd be willing to try if it would help. But if there were anything I could do in the meantime to improve the condition, I'd sure love to know. Thanks!
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:41 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
Difficult question: I'd probably start with yoga or something similar, as it should work and stretch everything. You can then identify which muscles are requiring further treatment, and massage (to release tension) or physical therapy (if there is more significant damage) or chiropractic (if the bones are out of line).
This is very sage advice. I had a lot of back issues until I started doing yoga, and now they are mostly a thing of the past.

Will: I would recommend getting a yoga block if you start doing yoga--it is very helpful for stretching the muscles of the back.
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Old 08-30-2007, 05:35 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Racnad
Any hints for massaging an overweight or obese person?
Swedish massage is pretty much the same no matter how much fat the person has. However, it is more challenging to palpate the muscles and determine where the problem areas are if you are doing more specific work.

On a more professional level, they might need help getting on or off the table, and will likely require a larger bolster under the knees when supine (face-up).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sultana
I get Deep Tissue massage therapy, and it's literally changed my life. Have one scheduled tonight, in fact (It's gonna hurt like a motha though, I had to pause for a few months...).
I think that your therapist is going in too deep. Deep tissue should not hurt. In the US, we have a "no pain, no gain" concept that should not be carried through to massage work. You might be stiff the next day (especially if you don't drink enough water), but never in pain.

Rolphing is a possible exception to that rule, but I've heard that even that can be properly performed without causing pain.

Sulty, you are in California, which has no statewide regulations for massage (corrected by divagrrl; see her post later regarding municipal regulations). Most states require 500 course hours before you can be considered a massage therapist. You might want to find someone who has taken the board exam (the NCETMB), which also requires 500 course hours. You can find a NCETMB-finder on the link above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sportswidow05
hmmm I wonder if I could make a day trip to you.....
I'm in Shelton, which is close to Bridgeport and therefore the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shoegirl
I've had this knot in my right shoulder off and on (well mostly on) for about the past 8 months. It feels like it's right above my shoulder blade, not sure how else to describe the location. I suppose my question is - what causes someone to develop a knot in the same place over and over again and what are some good methods for getting it out? I've never had a professional massage, but I'd be willing to try if it would help. But if there were anything I could do in the meantime to improve the condition, I'd sure love to know. Thanks!
Knots are also known as trigger points. Trigger points form in the weak parts of muscles, so there are many common points on the body that we expect to find the trigger points. There's a lot of good information on the Wikipedia trigger point page.

I'm guessing that the spot is at the inside top tip of the scapula (shoulder blade)? It's probably your levator scapulae, which connects your scapula to your neck, and helps you to raise your shoulders.


Massage is definitely designed to relieve those trigger points. You also might try the tennis ball sock trick I discussed above for some relief, since static compression is one of the top methods for releasing trigger points.
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Last edited by Redlemon; 09-07-2007 at 06:27 AM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:21 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I love my therapist. I've been going to her every other week for about 6 months now. It's awesome. If I'm feeling particularly tense I will see her every week.

I only wish insurance covered massage.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:42 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Here's a question nobody has asked yet:
Quote:
Originally Posted by nobody
Should I leave my underwear on during a massage?
I'd prefer that you remove them. It makes it easier to fully reach the bottom attachments of the back muscles when I'm working on your back. It makes it easier to reach the top of your leg when I'm working on your legs.

I won't think that you are looking for sex if you have removed your underwear. (This was a concern of mine the first time I received a professional massage.)

However, if it makes you uncomfortable to take your underwear off, by all means, leave them on. Being uncomfortable expresses itself as muscle tension.

Ladies: do NOT leave your bra on if at all possible. It really messes up the flow of my strokes. I never ask about panties, but I will request if you are comfortable removing your bra if I find out you are still wearing it.


So, really, ask me anything, I won't be offended. I've seen on massage therapy boards where someone asks a question even slightly off-color, and that user gets pounded back to the stone age. That is one of the reasons why I started this thread here.
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Old 08-30-2007, 04:21 PM   #27 (permalink)
 
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ever had a situation when the person wasn't clean and you were too grossed out to do the massage? either not clean by dirt or by too much hair or bad BO etc...
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Old 08-31-2007, 03:41 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Hi there, i have a couple of questions about self massage.

I tend to get muscle tightness and burning in my right lattisimus and trapezius, often for no reason. Generally massaging does help, but it takes forever most likely because i'm doing it wrong.

Is there a 'proper' or more effective way for me to sort these problems out when they emerge?
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Old 08-31-2007, 04:39 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MexicanOnABike
ever had a situation when the person wasn't clean and you were too grossed out to do the massage? either not clean by dirt or by too much hair or bad BO etc...
Not yet. The closest so far was when a client was prone, and they hadn't wiped quite well enough, and there was a slight fecal smell. It's good to have peppermint foot massage cream handy in a situation like this; a little dab under my nose, and I can't smell anything else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevie667
Hi there, i have a couple of questions about self massage.

I tend to get muscle tightness and burning in my right lattisimus and trapezius, often for no reason. Generally massaging does help, but it takes forever most likely because i'm doing it wrong.

Is there a 'proper' or more effective way for me to sort these problems out when they emerge?
This is not an easy area to self-massage. There are some tools available (such as the Backnobber).

You would be better served to figure out what brings on the pain. Sleeping position? Bad mouse/keyboard setup? Overexercising?
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Old 09-01-2007, 11:48 PM   #30 (permalink)
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OK, now I'm a little different a c4 quad with severe shoulder pain. My right scapula throbs most of the time and so does the front of my arm(upper) and chest wall around and into my armpit. The doctor says it's a skeletal muscle issue from lack of movement.

I have had massages and it feel wonderful at the time but sometimes the next day I hurt worse.

Any suggestions?
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Old 09-02-2007, 05:44 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewmaniac
OK, now I'm a little different a c4 quad with severe shoulder pain. My right scapula throbs most of the time and so does the front of my arm(upper) and chest wall around and into my armpit. The doctor says it's a skeletal muscle issue from lack of movement.

I have had massages and it feel wonderful at the time but sometimes the next day I hurt worse.

Any suggestions?
I don't know what 'c4 quad' means, so I'm probably going to give an incomplete answer.

If it's lack of movement resulting in the pain, get some stretches and activity on that muscle.

If you are having day-after pain following a massage, there are a few general reasons:
  1. You didn't drink enough water after the massage. They tell us in school that massage can "release built-up toxins into the blood stream, which is collected by the lymph system; if you don't get enough water to flush that out, you can have pain the next day". But, they never said what those toxins were, and I can't figure that out. Nonetheless, there seems to be a causal relationship between insufficient water and day-following pain, whatever the underlying reasons may be.
  2. Your therapist is going in too deeply.
  3. You have some 'splinting' going on, where one set of muscles is hypertonic in order to protect a damaged muscle. When those splints are released, it can reveal other pains that you weren't aware of.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:45 PM   #32 (permalink)
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You are mistaken about Cali having no regulation. This is not true. While therapists have no STATE licensing, we do have relatively stringent municipal licensing. Many cities are requiring 500-1000 hours plus the National Board Exam. Some require less, but only if you are working under another licensed professional such as a doctor or chiropractor.
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Old 09-07-2007, 06:26 AM   #33 (permalink)
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I had an interesting moment last week. I was working on a female, finished her back, and now had turned her face-up. I was doing some leg stretches on her, with one knee near her shoulder, and thought "What's that familiar smell?" Then I realized - pussy juice.

In my classes, they frequently reminded us that a man's erection is not necessarily a sign of sexual interest; it could just be part of the parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest", as opposed to the sympathetic "fight or flight") kicking in as they relax. But they never mentioned female arousal.

There were no signs of inappropriate action on her part, so I just chalked it up to "doing a good job", and kept going.
Quote:
Originally Posted by divagrrrl
You are mistaken about Cali having no regulation. This is not true. While therapists have no STATE licensing, we do have relatively stringent municipal licensing. Many cities are requiring 500-1000 hours plus the National Board Exam. Some require less, but only if you are working under another licensed professional such as a doctor or chiropractor.
Sorry, I only knew about CA on a statewide-basis, not by region. I'll add a correction above, but at least my statement about the Board Exam can still hold true.

(Hi Diva! )

I also heard that they attempted to pass state regulations in California last year, but for some reason the chiropractors fought and defeated the regulation. Can't we all just get along?
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Last edited by Redlemon; 09-07-2007 at 06:34 AM..
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Old 09-07-2007, 02:16 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Just rememberd to check this thread, my friend got your call last week, I really appreciate you calling. Turns out that the guy who canceled ended up coming, but it was just him instead of him and another person, so it kind of worked out.
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Originally Posted by Racnad
What are the pros/cons of selecting a same-sex vrs. opposite sex message therapist?
Unless your masseuse is an Amazon, a guy will have bigger hands and be able to massage more deeply. My lower back is so fucked up it practically takes someone the size of a a pro wrestler to get the knots worked out.
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Old 05-19-2008, 05:05 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by vanblah
I only wish insurance covered massage.
The owner of the place where I work just informed me that Blue Cross/Blue Shield is covering massage therapy. I don't know the details yet, but you might check with your provider.

And, I'm reopening this thread for more questions. I enjoy the challenge, it helps me be ready to answer whatever questions my clients may raise.
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Old 05-19-2008, 05:28 AM   #36 (permalink)
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So have you been asked for a 'happy ending' yet?
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Old 05-19-2008, 05:44 AM   #37 (permalink)
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So have you been asked for a 'happy ending' yet?
No.
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Old 05-19-2008, 06:09 AM   #38 (permalink)
 
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Ah, I'm still envious of your job... once I finish my PhD, I really might just run off to massage therapy school. I do wonder, though, about the salary and how long it takes to get "established"... how difficult is it to find a position? To open your own practice? Is it better to work for someone else, or to contract yourself out? Also, how much did massage school cost? Do you ever get sick of the patients, after a long and smelly day?

I had an allergy attack (hay fever) in January and a few sneezes into it, my lower back was killing me. I found it difficult to bend over at the waist, to get out of bed, to do push-ups... basically, anything involving the lower back muscles (right above the butt, directly to the left and right of the spine). It got better over time, but has never been the way it was before those sneezes.

I've practically OD'd on ibuprofen, used hot and cold packs, IcyHot patches, got a Swedish massage, and had a chiropractice adjustment done a couple of weeks ago (which actually helped it a lot). But still, every couple of weeks I'll just be walking along or doing some mild exercise, and suddenly WHAM!... all power leaves my lower back and I'm whimpering for the next couple of days.

The Icelandic doctor scribbled out a physical therapy recommendation, so I'm trying that avenue next... but I'm actually wondering if this kind of chronic pain demands an MRI to check for slipped disks, pinched nerves, etc. (And no idea what to do, if that's the case.) Any thoughts from your profession?
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Old 05-19-2008, 06:53 AM   #39 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abaya
Ah, I'm still envious of your job... once I finish my PhD, I really might just run off to massage therapy school. I do wonder, though, about the salary and how long it takes to get "established"... how difficult is it to find a position? To open your own practice? Is it better to work for someone else, or to contract yourself out? Also, how much did massage school cost? Do you ever get sick of the patients, after a long and smelly day?
I don't consider myself anywhere near "established" yet. I'm probably working in the wrong place right now, but I need the absolute flexibility that this place provides for about one more year. Most places in my area "hire" workers on an independent contractor basis; so, there's no salary. You get paid if you get work.

Opening your own practice is more risk and more reward. I don't have the contacts and the self-promotional skills to succeed at working for myself, so I chose to work for someone else.

According to salary.com, "A typical Massage Therapist working in the United States earns a median base salary of $45,400, according to our analysis of data reported by corporate HR departments. Half of the people in this job earn between $36,763 and $55,665."

My schooling, including equipment, cost about $12k, and it took 9 months. It was 600 class-hours.
Quote:
I had an allergy attack (hay fever) in January and a few sneezes into it, my lower back was killing me. I found it difficult to bend over at the waist, to get out of bed, to do push-ups... basically, anything involving the lower back muscles (right above the butt, directly to the left and right of the spine). It got better over time, but has never been the way it was before those sneezes.

I've practically OD'd on ibuprofen, used hot and cold packs, IcyHot patches, got a Swedish massage, and had a chiropractice adjustment done a couple of weeks ago (which actually helped it a lot). But still, every couple of weeks I'll just be walking along or doing some mild exercise, and suddenly WHAM!... all power leaves my lower back and I'm whimpering for the next couple of days.

The Icelandic doctor scribbled out a physical therapy recommendation, so I'm trying that avenue next... but I'm actually wondering if this kind of chronic pain demands an MRI to check for slipped disks, pinched nerves, etc. (And no idea what to do, if that's the case.) Any thoughts from your profession?
First, my profession is not allowed to diagnose. We can only assess and try to work from there.

I think visiting the PT would be a good idea. They will be able to do a thorough test of your muscles, both in active (you providing the motion) and passive (them moving you) to isolate which muscles are causing your pain. They might find that massage will be what will help you.

Quick and overly-simplistic guide to the healing arts: massage will be for relaxing overly-tight muscles. Physical therapy will be for strengthening weak muscles. Chiropractic will be for realigning bones that have moved out of place. Sometimes you will need more that one of these in series, and it will help in those times to have them talk to each other to maximize the healing.

The type of pain you are describing sounds like "splinting"; this is where a muscle is injured, and the surrounding muscles go into a spasm in order to isolate and protect the injured muscle. If the spasm is released or bypassed, the original muscle's pain comes through again.

You mentioned that you received a Swedish massage; that wouldn't help your issue. Swedish massage is for relaxation. Neuromuscular, or deep tissue, or similar is for dealing with pain.
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:56 AM   #40 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
According to salary.com, "A typical Massage Therapist working in the United States earns a median base salary of $45,400, according to our analysis of data reported by corporate HR departments. Half of the people in this job earn between $36,763 and $55,665."

My schooling, including equipment, cost about $12k, and it took 9 months. It was 600 class-hours.
Good to know. Sounds like it takes about the same investment as teaching high school and pays off about the same amount (at least, in my experience). I guess you have to have two incomes to make it work with kids?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
Quick and overly-simplistic guide to the healing arts: massage will be for relaxing overly-tight muscles. Physical therapy will be for strengthening weak muscles. Chiropractic will be for realigning bones that have moved out of place. Sometimes you will need more that one of these in series, and it will help in those times to have them talk to each other to maximize the healing.
Thanks for the explanation. I don't know about them talking to each other (in diff countries), but my chiro did tell me that he didn't see a skeletal problem with my back pain. So that confirms what you are telling me here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
The type of pain you are describing sounds like "splinting"; this is where a muscle is injured, and the surrounding muscles go into a spasm in order to isolate and protect the injured muscle. If the spasm is released or bypassed, the original muscle's pain comes through again.
This is very interesting, thank you. It feels like maybe one of my spinal erector muscles (I think that's what they're called) was originally injured, if this is the case... and the surrounding ones flash into action to protect it, I suppose. So what you are saying is that in PT or deep-tissue massage, the goal would be to release/bypass the spasm in order to get to the deeper injury? (Dunno if I mentioned this, but when this "splinting" thing happens, it feels like someone has just punched me very hard in the lower back, and my back feels like it's crumbling for a millisecond before I straighten up and regain control. I also feel a lot of pain when I am flat on my back, when the "arch" is flattened a bit...)
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