Because Massage & Bodywork is becoming more and more popular, many of us have a pretty good idea of why people do it. (hint: IT MAKES PEOPLE FEEL BETTER!)
But to be more specific, I'd like to articulate some of the reasons I'm seeing my clients regularly. I've put together the 10 main reasons people are currently coming to my practice, in no particular order.
This is a big huge obvious one! Stress lingers in our muscles and our minds....and bodywork is a great effective way to release and lessen this tension. Someone might come in after a stressful day, week, month or year and leave feeling calm, collected and renewed. Amazing!
2) DESK JOB
We all know sitting at a desk or in front of a computer all day isn't healthy. Bodywork can help to unwind some of this damage, by addressing the regions of the body most affected by this type of work. What are these regions? Well, most commonly: Neck, shoulders, back, forearms and hands.
I love working with pregnancy! The rapid changes of pregnancy are lovingly supported with bodywork, as we work to support the environment that the little one is growing in. Certain points and regions are avoided for safety and the utmost care is taken to keep the mother comfortable. What's good for mom is good for baby, so bodywork provides wonderful care for both bodies!
4) CAR ACCIDENT INJURY
In Minnesota car insurance will pay for Massage Therapy in order to treat injuries sustained in a car accident. I have worked with many clients through their rehabilitation process and work in conjunction with their primary care physician or chiropractor. I take care of the billing so that all a person has to do is focus on getting better!
Whether depression or anxiety is chronic or newly revealed due to a life change or event, bodywork can provide support. Shiatsu is especially well suited to treating emotional conditions, because it treats the body and mind as one and works on an energetic level. While bodywork might not provide a 'cure' for depression or anxiety, it can play an active partner in someone's holistic treatment plan and can offer relief.
6) SUPPORT FOR AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Many people who ride a bicycle, exercise regularly or play sports use bodywork as partner in their regular upkeep and maintenance. Whether the goal is to soften muscles that have been working hard or to help repair an injury sustained during activity, Massage & Bodywork has a lot to offer in this arena.
7) FEELING UNWELL
Perhaps someone doesn't feel good. Or maybe they haven't felt good in a really long time. This may manifest in a combination of complaints, from muscle pain to digestive trouble to not sleeping well. Perhaps there is an official diagnosis and perhaps there isn't. Either way, the main point is that the person feels unwell and wants to feel better. In these cases I work to find out if we can discover a connection between the various symptoms, in order to find out how best to use bodywork for the person. And because I treat the whole body with careful attention paid to the mind and emotions too, the sessions can be a very effective tool of support and care.
8) PREVENTATIVE WELLNESS
Although this is less common, I would like to applaud those who seek out bodywork as care BEFORE they have an urgent need! Prevention is about a thousand times easier and more effective than remedial treatments. People who come in on a regular basis, even when they are feeling good, will get great results from their sessions. They will relax, reset their nervous systems, prevent illness, grow their self awareness and more.
When conducting an assessment at the beginning of a session, I always ask about energy levels. And I would have to say that about half of all my clients report fatigue. Often this is in conjunction with pain or some reason listed above. Despite the many different reasons that someone might be feeling fatigued, I can report that bodywork almost always helps to re-energize the body!
This is such a big one. And as a person who had a history of headaches myself I have so so much compassion for those who suffer this type of pain. A headache is miserable. And chronic headaches and migraines are marathons of pain. Bodywork has a lot to offer people who have headaches. Most of the time a headache is gone by the end of a session. And with time and regular visits, the frequency of headaches can be reduced with the ultimate goal of preventing them all together. Also, if there is an underlying imbalance that may be contributing to headaches, I am able to advise some simple lifestyle practices that may help to further treat the problem. If you are someone who 'lives' with regular headaches...I urge you to please begin a regular bodywork regimen today!!!
Do you relate? What does bodywork do for you?
In peace and health,
Susie Carlson, Dipl. ABT
Certified Shiatsu & Massage Therapist, Minneapolis MN
As a bodywork therapist, I use both Shiatsu & Massage as part of my practice. They are separate distinct therapies, each with their own set of techniques and theories of treatment. Although they are different, these two types of therapy are extremely complementary. The following short article will help to differentiate each one.
SHIATSU (a japanese style of therapeutic massage)
Shiatsu-Anma, like Acupuncture, is based in part on the theory of Qi. Qi may seem like an abstract or made up concept, but it is something we can feel and experience quite easily during these types of treatments.
Qi theory sounds something like this: Our bodies contain an energy that circulates through the body in predictable and functional patterns and without it we would not be alive. This Vital Energy in our bodies, or Qi, can be moved and affected in many ways. It is an unseen force that is in charge of animating our bodies, moving our emotions, keeping our muscles, limbs and joints mobile and the underlying force beneath every physiological function. We can eat foods, do exercises and meditate to move our Qi. We can get acupuncture or massage. Much like swedish or deep tissue massage manipulates soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) Shiatsu manipulates Qi.
Shiatsu uses Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and it's own set of massage techniques to restore balance to the body. It directly affects Qi and also activates the parasympathetic nervous system which helps our body into healing mode. This means it can relieve pain AND treat numerous internal imbalances of the body such as chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive disorders, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, insomnia, menstrual disorders and more. Shiatsu can also treat soft tissue and structural imbalances, a benefit that is emphasized when the therapist has Massage Therapy training. Perhaps most importantly, Shiatsu emphasizes preventative care. Regular treatments stop imbalances before they start.
Because Shiatsu focuses on Qi and pressure can be adjusted to be deep or very light, it is very safe for all people, even those with serious health conditions who may not be able to receive Massage or those with fear of needles who may not be open to trying Acupuncture.
More on Shiatsu here.
MASSAGE (western relaxation and therapeutic massage)
Massage applies an in-depth knowledge of Anatomy along with it's own set of techniques to restore balance to the soft tissue and physical structure of the body. It's ability to get very specific with the location of injuries, muscle adhesions and palpation techniques makes it an excellent choice for treating tendonitis, muscle pain & tension, headaches, trigger points and sprains/strains. It's goal of improving circulation make it well suited for promoting overall health and relaxation. Massage can also treat Qi and energetic imbalances when treatments are performed by a therapist with Shiatsu or TCM training.
Most of us are already pretty familiar with the language of Western Biomedicine which is used in Massage. We know about muscles, tendons, ligaments and the circulatory system, at least by name. Massage moves blood and lymph through the body and into injured regions, speeding up the healing process.
It is good to know that there are certain health conditions that are not safe for massage and a Massage Therapist will screen for these conditions during your initial meeting.
WHY USE BOTH?
Sometimes when we have muscle pain, tendonitis, trigger points or sprains (all of the conditions Massage is so well suited to treat) there is also an underlying energetic imbalance that causes us to be more susceptible to those things. That is where Shiatsu or a knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine comes in. By combining Massage techniques (to more quickly resolve the soft tissue problem) with Shiatsu techniques (to treat the underlying imbalance and kick the parasympathetic nervous system into gear for healing) then we can have the best of both worlds and a very powerful combination. This is the advantage of a session that includes both.
When a therapist is trained in both Shiatsu and Massage, they focus on both Qi and soft tissue at the same time, regardless of whether they are using Shiatsu or Massage techniques. It should be noted that Shiatsu therapists are trained in Anatomy and still treat the physical structure of the body, but use different techniques than Massage Therapists.
Some people respond better or simply prefer one style over the other. Some people like sessions that integrate both styles of Bodywork and others like to alternate between the two. Trying them both is a great way to increase awareness of the body and empower yourself to treat your body in the way that works best for you.
~Susie Carlson, dipl. ABT, Certified Shiatsu & Massage Therapist
One type of therapy I've studied, that I've mentioned rarely but use in practice daily, is Trigger Point Therapy. That is, the act of locating and eliminating trigger points in the body.
Why are trigger points relevant to most people and how do we get rid of them?
Read below to find out.
The term Trigger Point was coined by Janet Travell, a physician and researcher who co-wrote a famous book on the subject. She is well known for her work with Trigger Points but more famously recognized as the personal physician of President John F. Kennedy! (And the first female physician of a U.S. president, I might add!)
Her research on the treatment of musculoskeletal pain has informed the practice of massage therapy as well as many other health practices.
A myofascial trigger point is a tender, palpable spot located within a taut band of muscle tissue, that typically refers pain to another location in the body. This means that while we may feel pain very strongly in one spot, the cause of the pain may be located in another spot completely. Until the trigger point is released, the pain will continue. Trigger points also cause stiffness and weakness of the involved muscle.
FACT: Any skeletal muscle in the body can develop a trigger point.
FACT: There are two types of trigger points: active and latent.
FACT: Latent trigger points, which are less noticeable and cause stiffness and restricted range of motion rather than severe pain, are far more common that active trigger points.
FACT: A latent trigger point can turn into an active trigger point at any time.
FACT: When an active trigger point is present stretching the muscle increases rather than decreases pain.
Trigger points are caused by acute overload, overwork fatigue, direct trauma and by cold. They are indirectly caused by other trigger points, internal disease, arthritic joints and emotional stress.
Trigger points are treated by normalizing the involved soft tissue through various massage techniques and prevented by regular exercise and avoiding the causes listed above.
Bodywork is a very effective way to eliminate trigger points. However, perpetuating factors such as lack of exercise, overwork or repetitive stress must be considered for treatment to be complete.
I wish you a cheerful and healthy October!
about the wisdom of Chinese Medicine as applied to Shiatsu & Massage, healthy living, the benefits of Bodywork and simple healthy lifestyle practices.