NiaMassage

Musings from the Massage Chair & Table

Ten Things – (Part 1 of 2) From the Massage Therapist’s Point of View

I came across a hilarious blog named HaHasforHooHas.com, and a post written by Susannah named “Ten Things You’ll Probably Think While Getting a Professional Massage”. I loved it so much, I wanted to post my reply to her (and many of your) concerns. Here’s my response. Now mind you, this is my view on the subject, not on behalf of any other therapist.

1. I hope that I don’t fart. I promise you that as soon as we talk about what your needs are for the massage session, and I leave the room, both of us are thinking the same thing, “I hope that I don’t fart.” It’s a bodily function, and in most cases, when you are relaxed, is no longer in your control. Don’t stress on it. All it means is that your body is working.

2. This music confuses me. Here’s the thing – we listen to ‘massage music’ all day. When I worked at Logan Airport after 9/11, the owner had very few CDs, and one was Enya. Not everyone wants to hear the “Sounds of the Blue Whale” during their sessions, because they think it’s too ethereal. If you don’t like the music, by all means ask me to change it, or you can play your own.

3. Do I have a medical problem? Diagnosing anything is outside of our scope of practice. We may refer you to see your doctor if we see something out of the ordinary. Knots can be stiff, inflexible groups or parts of muscles that may take a little work to get back to feeling better. Just make sure you breathe when you getting it worked on. (Sometimes it can feel a little intense. Taking deep breaths can help to work through it.) Ask questions when you wonder what’s going on. It’s OK!

If you're making faces, the pressure is probably too deep.

If you’re making faces, the pressure is probably too deep.

4. Is this person trying to kill me? Trigger points and knots can feel really intense when they are worked on. As deep as ‘deep tissue massage’ can get, bruises don’t look cute on anyone. Deep pressure is relative; some people want to feel like they were run over by a steamroller. You, not so much. It’s okay, there is more than one way to address sore muscles. Let me know if the pressure is too much. I can’t see your face when you’re on your stomach, making squidgy faces, wondering why I’m trying to kill you.

5. Did I forget to shave my legs?  This should NEVER be a worry, unless you’ve actually cut yourself on your own stubble. Again, growing body hair is a bodily function. Here’s the thing – when you shave your legs, you remove the most superficial barrier of your skin, along with the hair you’re trying to get rid of. This barrier prevents bacteria and other irritants being absorbed into your skin, like a bouncer at a club. Although many therapists use hypo-allergenic, non skin-clogging massage media (Oil, lotion, or cream), some may not, causing more problems such as ingrown hairs and blackheads. Which would you rather have – stubble or blackheads? I’ll take Stubble for $200, Alex.

Now, this is half of Susannah’s list. I’ll be back next week to reply to the rest of her post. Make sure you read the other posts there; you’ll enjoy the posts!

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Relax, Chill, Take a Breath…

OK, it’s almost halfway to the middle of November, and I am trying to avoid that space…you know what I am talking about- Not having nearly ANYthing on your “To Do” list done, but feeling like I just want to chuck it all, and stay home for the rest of the year. Now, that is an extreme idea, even for me, but one wonders…20131113-115129.jpg

What usually works for me, not always mind you, is to sit and take a breath. A nice DEEP breath. When we are stressed, our hormone response tells the body to take quick, shallow breaths. When this happens, our mental and physical decision-making skills are overloaded with too much information, and sometimes renders us into a huddled mass, down in the trenches, waiting to strike out at the right moment.

With the holidays looming, one way to enjoy the upcoming hustle and bustle is to take care of YOURSELF first. Have a get together with your friends (who are also probably as stressed out as you are) and share ideas – find out who has the best babysitting resources, coupons, recipes, etc. and do a Swap of sorts. Have a Massage Therapist on hand (hint, hint) to give those ever so needed stress relieving Chair or Foot massages, to get everyone in the spirit!

Understanding your reality (all of us are NOT Martha Stewart), prioritizing your lists, collaboration, delegating tasks on the list(s) and asking for HELP will also help lower those stress levels, as well. If you are trying out a new dish or project, try it out ahead of time, so you can make the mistakes without the ‘pressure to be perfect’ at any holiday event. Ask others for help – I use Pinterest as a resource for all kinds of ideas, so I can enjoy and not just endure the holidays. We still have about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, so we can send the DEF-CON Level back to 4.

Before you go ahead and run off the cliff, stop, take a breath. A nice, deep breath.

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I just had a panic attack.

I haven’t had one in ages. The last time I had a full blown panic attack was over 12 years ago, when I was lost in Seattle, and I couldn’t remember where we parked after the Seafair parade. It was absolutely debilitating, and I just couldn’t function. I had my daughter with me, and I must have scared her half to death.

I’ve since learned how to recognize what a panic attack ‘looks like’ for me, and to know how to combat the feeling before it gets out of hand. But this one, I didn’t see coming. I wasn’t looking for it, and it didn’t come on suddenly. It was one of those slow-to-boil panic attacks, very much like how one would put a lobster into a cool pot of water, and then turn up the heat.

Yesterday, I just couldn’t seem to get motivated to leave the house. I made all the tasks that I had to do be inside, and near my desk. I had calls to make, but yet, didn’t make them. I had family commitments to attend to, but didn’t go to them. I have several events the rest of this month I have to attend/run/work at, so it wasn’t an opportune time to ‘take a break’ from life. I got what I had to do in the house done, but not much else.

As the day progressed, I started to understand what was going on. I get on Facebook, and I start to see the 9/11 pictures go up on statuses and pages. I didn’t realize the date until last night that 12 years ago, we were in NY, visiting friends and family, quite by surprise (for them – we lived on the West coast, and moved back East a few days before), and we were on our way back home to Massachusetts. I was home by the time the second plane hit the tower after sending my then boyfriend to work, and daughter off to school. I remember being in the Towers 10 years before, on a date, pressing my head against the glass to look down, recalling how, even that far up, that ice crystals change over to rain, before they hit the ground. The hyperventilating began, and my heart began to race. Tears rolled down my face as I sat on the couch, just frozen to the spot, hands firmly stuck under my legs.

I had to tell myself that these events are two separate incidents, and it’s OK to be upset, but it’s not OK to stay upset. I shook myself, to bring me to the present. All I could do is sit and just be aware that it’s 2013, not 2011. I’m not in Massachusetts, by myself, glued to the TV. I closed my eyes, pried my hands away from my legs, and placed my right hand over my rapidly beating heart, and the left one over my stomach. Take a deep breath, I repeated to myself. As I got more and more calm, and aware of my surroundings, I got up and shook that mess (for the lack of a better word) off. I realize that it isn’t as easy for those who actually lost friends, family and colleagues, but sitting in that space of fear and despair wasn’t going to serve me today. What I need to do today is serve others.

As I sit here, finishing this post. I feel much better. I have clients to serve, and will shift my focus on how to help, as opposed to feeling helpless. Now that I know what was going on, and how I can do better, I think this 9/11 will be better for me than the last 12.

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Do you suffer from this?

Just Be Still

Sometimes, our best intentions can be sidelined by our thoughts scrambling for attention. Not every thought that crosses the mind is important at that time.

I catch myself  *so* often thinking this – ‘OK, I gotta get ready to go, but first, I have to make a draft of this promo, and then, I gotta do a blog post…” Next thing I know I see that something else has to be done, and I’m off task. (In the time writing this, I am now supposed to be getting ready to go to an event, but paid a bill, took a sales call, and was still trying to figure out how to finish this blog post.)

I call this “But First…” Disease.

Sometimes, our best intentions can be sidelined by our thoughts scrambling for attention. Not every thought that crosses the mind is important at that time. Making priority lists, and crossing tasks off are great, but the little tiny tasks sneak up on me, and take me off point like a pebble being washed away by a wave.

So, I take a breath, and be still. And just stop. I slow my breathing by taking deep breaths, and just become aware of what’s going on in my head. Not necessarily clear my head, but just take all the thoughts that are scrambling, and create a list of what I need to do RIGHT NOW.  A better visual description is trying to corral kids in the playground after lunch to form straight lines, to go back to class. (Shows you how old I am! 😉 )

Now, I can keep it moving…it’s an ongoing process, but I will become a “But First…” Disease Survivor. But first, I have to finish this blog post!

One day...one day.

One day…one day.

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