General

Massage Clients Help

Massage Clients Help

 

 

Massage therapists are in a position of being of help to their clients. The purpose of this post is not to go into the benefits of massage – but to consider, or at least be open to, how your massage clients help you.  Massage clients help me in many ways: 1) by being clients upon whom I can practice my skills, 2) by allowing me to  practice my art on them, 3) – and of course they’re the source of income for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole which is why, really, we’re all doing this in the first place.

But most of all massage clients help me by helping me tune into the body of another – which takes full concentration and focus. To massage another person is to perform a type of meditation. Some people (like me) find it hard to find time to simply meditate for even a short session at home – therefore if I can find it while I’m at work, then that’s a great bonus for me, it helps me help my massage clients – and it’s how my massage clients help me.

massage clients help 2

So, if after skiing those wonderful ski slopes at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, you feel like having a nice deep relaxation massage – come on in and get some help – and while you’re at it, you can help me. Come to think of it – it’s a symbiotic relationship – and why not? – that’s the way a business relationship should be, especially in the world of body and mind work. A massage can be especially beneficial if both client and therapist get into the meditation zone together.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

Listening Massage

Listening Massage

What on Earth is a listening massage?

 

When you go to your massage therapist for a massage, the entire session from intake to goodbye is about you – the client. You want,  and are paying for, your massage therapist’s full attention. This means not only the attentions of my physical massage upon your body – but also a listening ear. Therefore I mentally prepare myself to listen to words as well as what the body is telling me. I call it a Listening Massage. You may need more, you may need less. But whatever it is,  your massage therapist’s good listening ear will make your massage extra meaningful – and it’s a good business move for the massage therapist as it can make regular customers out of first-time clients. That’s what we try to do at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.

 

With the massage intake form filled out, it is of course normal and customary to review what you want from your massage – especially if  you are a first-time client with this therapist. Whilst the massage therapist will generally repeat the information on the intake form back to you, it is important, at this time, to ask questions and make comments where appropriate. This is where the Listenint Massage starts – not on the massage table. You should be doing most of the talking. If you have certain specific reasons for wanting a massage, you should find your massage therapist listening, empathizing, and showing understanding of what you are saying – but without saying too much.

If your massage therapist is listening to – you can tell by observing this advice to those in listening-type work fields or just for social reasons:

Listening Massage 3

And it’s not appropriate for the massage therapist to get caught up in too much small-talk or add to your points by adding examples of their own similar issues. Here’s me with my ‘Listening Massage’ hat on…

I had a client, a young lady, who warned me that she had badly bruised her Coccyx about three months previously – and that it still hurt. Well, that was very interesting to me as I had had that exact same injury earlier this summer. I asked her how it happened (MOI, Mechanism of Injury, could be important knowledge to the massage) and she told me that she had fallen on (not off) her bicycle – and landed on the rear wheel hub with her Coccyx. Well – my goodness – there’s an incredibly strange coincidence – that’s exactly how I suffered my own injury. So in fact there was quite a conversation I could have had with her. I could have gotten into the whole story of how this same thing had happened to me and all such other time-wasting small-talk. But the that would have been about me! – And how could this possibly have helped or contributed to the massage or the way I would give the massage? Not one little bit. I remembered to make this a Listening Massage. So of course I made empathizing noises, said ‘Ouch’ to show that I, as a massage professional, understood the nature of the pain of an injured Coccyx, and left it at that. Therefore she got to do 95% of the talking at the time of discussing the intake form, and I’m sure she felt satisfied that she had been listened to. And after all, what is it we’re after if it isn’t a satisfied customer?

But once you’re in the room with your massage therapist, in my view – this is where the chat stops and the listening massage becomes more about the massage therapist listening for breath and ‘listening’ by feel, to your body as the changes occur while the massage gets its rhythm. There will be more about that in later posts.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle

Breathe

Breathe

Breathe 2

You hear it all too often…”Don’t forget to breathe.”  Zen masters and casual meditation practitioners will tell you that the breath is the very core of our being – it’s where we ‘go’ to meditate. Therefore it stands to reason that, when receiving a massage, you will be better off if your body and mind are receiving this massage from the inside out – and you can achieve this through the breath. And a good massage therapist will sense, and hopefully breathe in sympathy. Breathing costs nothing, has immense health benefits for you and allows you to become in a more harmonious – it’s a win-win situation.

 

 

Now, of course, everybody breathes – otherwise we’d be dead! – I’m talking about a more conscious breathing on your part while on the massage table. It’s the kind of breathing that takes the mind into just itself and, as a massage therapist, I’m not shy about letting the client know I expect them to concentrate on their breathing. I also add in that they might like to try being aware of where my hands are, following them as they go and keeping track of where they’ve been. Breathing and setting the mind to keep track of where the hands are will create a profound meditation which helps me do my work.

The above applies mostly to relaxation Swedish Massage; although it also applies in sports massage and other types of massage where specific breathing  can be used in a very different kind of a way, for example, on exhalation to allow a certain range of motion to be reached. It’s quite simple – just breathe. The beginning of my Swedish relaxation massages usually involves quite a few minutes of ‘over-the-drapes’ work. There are several reasons for this which I will get into in a later blog post.  But during this time, after a brief ‘hand-walk’ up the body I’ll stand on one side of the table with my hands on the ‘other’ side of the body, and do some good compressions of the shoulders, rhomboids, erector spinae. Each time I compress I work with the client’s breath to make sure that I’m pushing down on the out-breath (therefore you have to be able to see the body moving with the breath if they’re quiet breathers). This results in a complete expulsion of all air from the lungs – something that the body rarely achieves – and something that my clients tell me feels absolutely wonderful. It’s a sort of ‘assisted breathing’ and you’ve been doing some of the work for them.

After a good spell of this on both sides of the body, I and the client are ready to have the sheets pulled back to expose the back and get some oiled Swedish massage started. The client’s body and mind are more than relaxed and ready to start with the massage that’s to come.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle,
Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole

 

 

 

 

How Much Pressure

How Much Pressure

How much Pressure  do you like? Is a strange question when applied to massage. Intake forms can be a bit silly when they ask this question. The question is far too general and tempts you to vote with their feet – as it’s not a fair question – and you don’t know your therapist. The other thing about the how much pressure question is…where? And at what stage in the massage? Not only does the amount of pressure differ all over the body, it also depends greatly on the overall flow of the massage, and the body type you’re working on. A massage therapist can and will go deeper, if appropriate, once their client is more into the massage session, more relaxed, and has been having the benefit of preparatory and warming strokes, such as petrissagetapotement, and even a more vigorous effleurage. (Additionally, I use a table warmer – which goes a long way to preparing the muscles and mind of your massage client for deeper work.)

How Much Pressure 1

 

How much pressure is used also refers to the circumstances and type of massage you are looking for. For example, I work in spas in  Jackson Hole,  and travel to out-call appointments, where clients are mostly looking for relaxation massage with some specific thrown in – such as ‘tight shoulders, neck and upper back’. These tend to be ‘one-time’ clients – looking for a bit of feel-good pampering while on vacation (and many people find that vacation is very stressful). When I am a sports therapist working on a specific problem with an athlete whom I see weekly in our office,  that’s a whole different context, where how much pressure is used  is arrived at in a whole different way: the clients needs have been assessed in previous sessions, and a plan has been developed.

 

In writing in a massage blog about how much pressure to apply , there’s a whole lot of peripheral information that needs to be considered – all the way from that silent, energy-filled ‘communication’ with the client on the table, to the much more physical aspects of the therapist’s size, weight, strength, experience with skills and knowledge of anatomy. And there’s a feeling that grows from the first moment of touch.

How Much Pressure 3

Once I have the client comfortable, warm, secure, and have done some over-the-drapes work and good warming strokes – I’ll get down to the business of massage and figuring out how much pressure to apply, and when and where. I use my senses as I move along slowly sensing how much pressure to apply in whatever stroke is appropriate for that moment. By this time I have found the right amount of oil to suit the client’s skin type and depth of massage they’re capable of handling. More oil means a lighter massage, less oil means deeper – it all has to do with the enabling or the curtailing of the speed of the stroke. With more oil, you’re going to zoom along the surface of the muscle, not spending much time there. Less time means less pressure.

How Much Pressure 4

So the question of how much pressure really means much more than putting a check in a box on an intake form – it’s an opportunity for a discussion with your massage therapist. And as you have this discussion, you’ll find that your therapist is gathering a whole lot more information than just about how much pressure you would like – an overall idea of your massage is forming in your therapist’s mind.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle,
Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole

 

 

 

Jackson Hole SHIFT Festival

Jackson Hole SHIFT Festival

The Jackson Hole SHIFT Festival is yet another festival to write about this fall. There’s been the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, the Jackson Hole Fall Film Festival (Frank’s Fall Film Festival), Jackson Hole Music Festival, Grand Targhee Music Festival – wow – Jackson Hole is the place to be for festivals.

Jackson Hole SHIFT Festival 1

The Jackson Hole SHIFT Festival is all about saving the environment – or at least how one company, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, throws a party in order to advertise it’s sustainability practices. It’s a way to get the public involved and is, overall, a coming-together of people (mostly locals this time). There’s FoodSHIFT, where the sustainable practices in food purchasing and production are explored – and of course the tasting of gourmet food. The SHIFT Summit showcases how local communities in North America, such as Jackson Hole, can make a difference – and share their knowledge with other like-minded communities.

 

There’s a presentation called ‘Tools for Tomorrow’, inspired by Patagonia’s ‘Tools for the Grassroots Activist’, and modeled on the Jackson Hole Conservation Leadership Institute. This program teaches skills needed to plan and win a conservation campaign.

 

For Adventure lovers, Outside SHIFT Festival also brings mountain biking, fishing, wildlife-watching and more. Free guided bike rides and walks will show-off Jackson Hole’s extensive pathways. Guide companies will offer nature excursions at reduced rates, as will some fishing companies and mountain-bike guiding companies. Teton Gravity Research gets in on the act too, of course, with their latest spectacle ‘Higher’. Sponsored by Subaru Jeremy Jones’ jumps can be seen at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts.

There’s also the Jackson Hole Wilderness Rendezvous – a celebration of the 50th. anniversary of The Wilderness Act, and the Jackson Hole Film Festival is finished at the National Museum of Wildlife Art with a presentation by Barry Lopez, who discusses the relationship between human culture and physical landscape.

 

The dates of the Jackson Hole SHIFT Festival are Wednesday, October 8th. until Sunday, October 12th. The fall colors will be in their last throes of brilliance – why not come out and join us?

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

 

Jackson Hole is Awesome

Jackson Hole is Awesome

Why is Jackson Hole Awesome? I’ll tell you why Jackson Hole is awesome…we get an end-of-ski-season concert – Michael Franti and Spearhead – FOR FREE!!!  Howdya like that??

 

And just to warm us up, the party started on Friday evening with Blues Traveler – and if you need warmed up for that – there’s even a previous FREE concert on Thursday evening with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (Who??? – Think Lenny Kravitz’s band and Slightly Stoopid.)

I tell you what – being a massage professional in Jackson Hole is just the best. Not only do we get free rock concerts night after night at the end of season, we get to ski in the mornings (skiers don’t generally want massages before 2pm – so that’s fine because all the powder is gone by then anyway). Let’s see – oh yes – before I’m off the concert thing – three years ago we had Grace Potter and the Nocturnals…boy – can she belt it out!

 

So what else is great about being a massage professional in Jackson Hole – well – it’s just gob-smacking gorgeous around here for one thing, and the opportunities to get out there and play in it are never-ending. Grand Teton National Park is right on our doorstep with the magnificent and mighty Teton Mountains to go hiking in.

 

You don’t have to be into big scary mountaineering to enjoy them – there’s no end to possibilities for those who are into just nice day-hiking – or you could get more abitious and get up into the really high-country, take a tent with you, and spend a night or more out there in the wilderness. A couple of years ago Rochelle and I hiked the Teton Crest Trail – three nights on the watershed ridge that separates the two Teton Counties of Wyoming and Idaho. (I wrote and photographed for an article about this, which will be published in Teton Valley Magazine this summer.)

Image showing Hamish and Rochelle hiking the Teton Crest Trail

Oh no – I’m already running out of space and I haven’t begun to tell you about the bicycling we do here – be it road biking or mountain biking – easy or gnarly trails – there’s just tons of it. You can’t go mountain biking in Grand Teton National Park, however because of the no mechanized vehicles on park trails. (A good thing in my view.)

 

And then there’s rafting on the Snake River! We’re very lucky to have our own boat – and have had for many years.

 

The Snake River has a large variety of river sections from mellow and peaceful flowating through the park, viewing the Tetons, to a fun white-water run through the Snake River Canyon – about 11 miles south of Jackson. Commercial rafting is a big industry around here in the summers. Jackson Hole supports maybe a dozen river outfitters. If you want to float or have a whitewater experience on the Snake River, I recommend Barker-Ewing (for who I rowed many years ago), or Dave Hansen Whitewater (for whom my son rowed last summer).

 

Maybe I’ll write another post on this topic when I can get into the parasailing, nordic skiing, horse-back trail-riding, mountaineering, kayaking and all the other ‘ings’ you can think of.

But the best thing about being a self-employed massage therapist in Jackson Hole is that we don’t have to go anywhere to immediately immerse ourselves in a ‘wonderful world’ – it’s  literally right out of our front door. In fact, I think I’ll go for a walk right now…

 

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle

The Relaxation Response

The Relaxation Response

Image showing inhale and exhale

Does your massage therapist ever help you achieve complete exhalation of breath by compressing your chest while lying prone (face-down)? Doesn’t that feel extra wonderful? Why is that?

The key benefit of most types of massage (with the exception of some sports and training massages) is relaxation. The out-breath is a natural state of relaxation and creates the subconscious relaxation response. This is the body’s rejuvenation time and the National Institute of Health recognizes it as having broad health benefits, including reduction of pain and restoration of sleep. Along with quality of touch and certain Swedish massage techniques, the out-breath assists in bringing about the parasympathetic response of the autonomic nervous system – rest and digest. We simply don’t do enough attentive breathing (or massage) in these high-stress times, as relaxation is the antidote to stress.

 

Think of it literally – the breath is inspiration and expiration – and you will see the Latin root of the word ‘spirit’.  Our very spirit is inherent in our breathing. Meditation is breathing, relaxation & yoga is all about breathing and  the advice to ‘Take ten deep breaths’ to calm someone down is wise and effective indeed.

 

The relaxation response can increase energy, decrease fatigue and blood pressure, increase motivation, productivity, sex-drive and decision-making ability. Many self-taught relaxation response techniques are available online, but if you’d rather leave that up to someone else, a really great massage could be indicated.

Image showing relax button

Your massage therapist should be encouraging you to breathe throughout the session, especially if complete relaxation is the goal. Then again, a more aggressive deep massage will often require ‘breathing into’ the pain of working out a knotted muscle or cross-fiber-stroking a tender muscle tendon needing to be stretched. If using range-of-motion enhancement techniques, a deep breath will often be taken before a good exhale  at which time the therapist will take the limb beyond its previous tolerance.

Image showing relaxation book

For great advice on self-help breathing and stress-reduction techniques, visit http://www.mindtools.com/smpage.html

 

Women Are From Venus

Women Are From Venus

In a previous blog I wrote about the ‘unfairness’ of men losing massage work to women by a fairly substantial margin. I’d say that female requests cost me about two-thirds of the massages I’d otherwise be getting. Various scenarios, mostly unsubstantiated,  lead to this – and they have been discussed. But here’s a slightly different angle on that whole topic…massaging women is, and should be, quite different from massaging men – and if a man is giving a woman a massage – he should really be aware of those differences:

Image showing Stop Sffering

1. Women are more prone to certain health conditions than men. Women are more likely to experience depression, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Some conditions, like osteoporosis, are directly related to women’s hormone fluctuations and smaller frames. Others, like fibromyalgia, are much more common in women, but scientists have yet to figure out why.

Image showing PMS

2. Women do not always experience the same symptoms as men with the same conditions. While men are more likely to experience a heart attack than women, women are more likely to die of the same heart attack. The reasons may be related to the publicized symptoms: while everyone knows about chest pressure and pain down the left arm, these are symptoms typically experienced by men. Women may experience dizziness, lightheadedness, or fatigue. Knowing the different ways conditions manifest in men and women can truly be a lifesaver.

 

3. Women have different risk factors than men. Remember that bit about women being more susceptible to stroke? In addition to the risk factors shared with men, there are also many women-specific risks, including being pregnant, taking hormonal birth control pills, using hormone replacement therapy, and experiencing frequent migraines. Unfortunately, these additional risk factors don’t always show up in educational materials.

 

4. Women and men sometimes react differently to drugs and other treatments. Women wake up faster from anesthesia. Some drugs, like ibuprofen, seem to be more effective in men than women, while others like erythromycin (an antibiotic) work better in women. And of course there are medications typically prescribed for sex-specific issues that can interfere with each other. As an example, acetaminophen (AKA Tylenol) can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control.

5. In spite of all this, women’s and men’s bodies are more similar than they are different. We share 99% of our genetic material with every other person on the planet. We have the same basic structure, suffer from most of the same illnesses, and heal in the same way. A healthy diet, active lifestyle, adequate sleep, and positive attitude are beneficial to men and women alike. There are no studies showing whether massage therapy is better for any one subset of people than others. Maybe that research will be done in the future. In the meantime, if you’d like to know whether it works for you, there’s only one way to find out!

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle