I get this question from my clients more than any other question; "What made you want to do massage for a living?" or "What got you into massage?" I will be answering these questions in the most articulate and basic way possible...but first, I will be addressing a couple of other things.
Firstly, thank you for reading this article as well as the others that I have written. I take my (job) as an LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) to an area where many others do not by writing articles on massage-based topics. I give the readers a little insight on a variety of things from a practitioner's point of view.
The reason the word "Job" was parenthesized is because although this IS a job, I look at it like it isn't, and my reason for doing so; I thoroughly enjoy my profession (I am fortunate in this regard).
I also enjoy explaining things to people and enjoy writing as well. I sort-of think it is my calling to teach others. Also, if you have read my previous blogs, you should have realized by now that I definitely take an artistic approach to most matters and not so much the pragmatic. AND I believe that this is very fitting because I consider Massage Therapy an art and a trade.
Sure, there are technicalities involved in massage therapy as well as a certain umbrella of the sciences: biology, kinesiology, anatomy, physiology, etc., but also, a person needs to realize that everyone can take the same painting/pottery/design class, but some people just are not good painters. Just ask someone, "Hey, are you good at drawing?". The answer is usually a laugh and a "No".
One other thing; some of the best musicians, never took a lesson. Go figure.
So, it's an art. It's a science. Thats all. End of story. Let's continue.
Imagine running your fingers over that section of wood in the above picture. If you are worried about getting splinters, then I am with you, so you'll probably have to move from horizontally (against the grain). If you want to get a good feel for all of the bumps and textures, but do not want to drag your fingers over it, how would you go about doing so? Is the wood damp or is it very dry? Is it 5 inches thick, or is it thin and brittle? Are some boards looser than others?
Some of these questions apply to many of my clients. Usually at first touch, I know what I am getting into. What may look like a frail body on a smaller-framed person may very well be the most dense and tough person I work on all week. Some of my very large bodybuilders are actually a lot more flexible and pliable than people 1/3 of their size. It is a surprising phenomenon for sure when it happens.
Textures, textures, textures is what it's all about. Palpating and getting a feel for the elasticity, the depth, and the tightness of a person's muscles, sounds a lot like working with clay or Play-Doh. It also sounds a lot like working with pizza dough. It's really easy for me to corelate those things because I'm an artist...and I've also spent a LOT of time working with pizza dough. And you are all pizza dough in my opinion.
I spent about 10 years working in restaurants as a teenager and mostly young adult life, and I grew some pretty strong hands (a lot of it was from slapping out frozen and un-proofed pizza dough in the middle of dinner rush because SOMEbody during the day shift forgot to let the dough breath outside of the walk-in cooler (I'm not going to say any names)...haha, I DIGRESS). I also gained some pretty good work-ethic, and actually enjoyed working way past the point of sweating my ass off in hot kitchens. Yes, slapping a pizza and throwing it in the air to me is as natural as riding a bike.
So how are people like pizza dough? Easy. Look at the above picture. See that lumpy mess? It's folded up, twisted, full of air pockets. The middle is probably softer than the outter edges...
Yea, that's most of you getting on my table for the first time. That is what you do to your muscles after a grueling workout or after years of not stretching, working out, or getting bodywork.
Some words to describe how some of you feel to me are; clammy, lumpy, stiff, rigid, stringy, and frozen. I know for a fact that I have compared some of you to a 10 Lb bag of gas station ice cubes. Some of you will need a water-based lotion, and some of you need oil. Some of you need to be ironed out and some of you need to be rearranged like a Rubiks Cube. Whatever your body type is, my goal is to re-shuffle the deck, break it down, and smooth it all out so that I can send you home feeling like you just got some good work. VOILA!
Also, it's not all physical. There is a definite mental aspect of being an LMT. Should I stretch the fascia? What components of the rotator cuff hurt and what motion is causing the discomfort? Is it painful on the dominant side or the non-dominant side? Is there kyphosis and/or lordosis? What kind of job does this pizza (I mean person) have? There is so much more than what many people think. Also, how much time do I have; 90 minutes or only 60? Is this person sensitive to deep pressure? If deep tissue is out of the question, what is my next approach?
So, getting back to my original question; What got me in to massage? Well, I tell some people I got hurt lifting weights incorrectly, I tell some people that I got hurt playing rugby, and I tell some people that massage was a natural calling for me and I was a born healer. I honestly think all 3 are pretty right.
I DID play rugby on a mostly intramural(ish) level. I played for about 3 seasons, was learning the entire time, still don't know all the rules, and had a lot of fun. During my rugby days, I DID injure my low back performing "Good Mornings' (and probably with horrible form). So, the combination of years of improper lifting, getting run over and running people over on the rugby pitch just sort-of hit me all at once and I suffered 3 bulging discs L3/L4, L4/L5, and L5/S1. The very next day after doing the Good Mornings, I was inflamed and couldn't even get out of bed. I just KNEW that I was in for a long recovery.
Anyway, long story short, worst pain I ever experienced in my life. I went from feeling like my life was over to running outside in about 5 months' time. I learned a lot. During my recovery, I got my first taste of real bodywork and that pretty much changed everything for me. I went to massage school in Seattle and here I am.
Let me know what you would like me to write about or what you think of this little article.
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