Breath

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

 

 

 

 

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