Deep Tissue Massage

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

Teton County Library

Teton County Library

The Teton County Library definitely belongs in the realm of ‘Things to do in Jackson Hole‘. And why not? One of the things we learn at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole is that people who come to Jackson Hole actually overdo it – and end up needing a massage. Too much of a goal-oriented vacation raises expectations and proves to be stressful, and generally prevents much of the rest and relaxation that is the whole point of being on vacation. A visit to Teton County Library is a delightful treat.  There are beautiful and diverse, comfortable seating areas to go and read yourself a book of a periodical. It’s a great way to take a load off your feet or get out of the heat, or the heavy rains we experience here in Jackson Hole in the summers. Additionally, there are meeting rooms, study rooms and a large display area where, currently, the featured show is Yellowstone, Then and Now – and exhibit and speaker series.

Teton County Library, by the way, means Teton County Wyoming, of course, as Jackson Hole is in Wyoming…but there’s also a Teton County in Idaho – just over Teton Pass. Oh – and you have to go through Teton County, Idaho, in order to get to the Alta Branch of Teton Country Library – unless, that is, you drop in by parasail or hike over the Teton Range from Grand Teton National Park.

The following, from the Teton County Library’s web site, explains the recent renovation and addition to this spectacular and modern state-of-the art facility: The voter-approved library project includes an 11,000-square-foot addition and renovation of the previous 24,000-square-foot building, parking lot and outdoor areas. The building project has created more space for reading and study, computers and technology, community meeting rooms, and dedicated teen and children’s areas, which are separated from quieter library spaces. We are planning for Silver LEED certification. The library’s existing electrical, data and building systems were replaced, upgraded and modernized. Architects on the project were Gilday Architects with Humphries/Poli Architects, and Construction Manager was GE Johnson. Teton County Library is certainly the most contemporary in the Entire Yellowstone Region.

Teton County Library is celebrating it’s 75th birthday this year with all kinds of special events so be sure to check out their web site http://tclib.org/

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle

 

Massage Client Expectations.

Massage Client Expectations.

At massage Professionals of Jackson Hole, we see two main types of clients. There are our regular customers who come more to our office at 270 Veronica Lane, and there are our out-call clients who have us come to their home to give them their massage(s). The latter are more generally visitors to the area on vacation – and, so far, we tend to see those people just once. (That may hopefully change as time goes by and they visit again.)

With regular clients to the office – we get to know who they are and what their need for massage is based on. We start to get a history, write SOAP notes about their visits – and the ‘P’ in SOAP is ‘plan’ which we can make, together with the client. If a client doesn’t have any specific complaints or ‘work to be done’ – then that’s OK – a relaxation massage is just as beneficial and we get to know how to deliver that the more often we see a person. On the subject of this post – ‘Expectations’, it’s a much easier task to provide a client’s expectations with regular clients.

It’s the one-time massage client where that becomes much more difficult. We’ve never seen them before and, aside from a quick intake form, know essentially nothing about them. With a regular client, the first session is more about discovery (on both the part of the client and the massage therapist) than therapy. Even the second session is still a ‘getting-to-know-you’ period of time, and that most essential element, trust, is being built up. Therefore sometimes it is hard to meet the expectations of a one-and-only time massage client who has been skiing hard at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and wishes us to sort out all that ails him so that he can ski next day. (Could just as easily be ‘she’.)

 

My point is that most massage therapists are very capable of giving a darn good overall massage – from relaxation to deep tissue – all over the body and applying specific work to specific areas as requested. But before a massage therapist can really deliver exactly the specific massage the client wants / needs – there has to be knowledge, trust, understanding, confidence built up between the two and that takes time.

 

If you are a one-time client visiting a massage office or having them come to you, it’s good to have an understanding of this and lower your expectations. Of course, it’s important to list the areas where you feel you’d like attention – and the therapist will fit that into the overall massage – but with 60 minutes in which to work their magic, understand that there may be limits and allow for the ‘relaxation’ part of massage to be just as beneficial as specific work.

 

Be well,        Hamish and Rochelle

You Gotta Go Deeper Than That, Man

You Gotta Go Deeper Than That, Man

Image showing deep tissue massage

Yes, those were my client’s actual words. And, believe me, for the first hour of this two-hour massage – that’s precisely what I thought I had been doing…and exhausting myself in the process. I should qualify that – and I explained this to my client before he got onto the table – it can’t ‘all’ be deep tissue massage. Perhaps a third of it will be – and then only in areas that merit deep work (in my view) and aren’t ‘danger zones’ (poplietal, lower back, for example). The other two thirds of the time consist of gentler work where, first, I am bringing the client into a comfortable relaxed zone in both body and mind – this in order for me to gain ‘permission’ to go deeper. To the same goal I am also warming with vibration, loosening with tapotement, assessing and ‘melting’ muscles with both soft and more aggressive effleurage and sometimes still pressure.

 

This post is a continuation of the previous post ‘Taking it Easy’ – and the client has skied a combined vertical of 30,000 ft. that day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Having employed a mountain ski guide in uniform – he didn’t have to wait in lift or tram lines.

 

This client is an athlete through-and-through – every muscle an element of a highly-tuned machine. A body-builder and a TRX exerciser. He has every right to ask for a deep tissue massage and frankly I was apprehensive going into it. He is accustomed to receiving sports massages from his sports trainer twice per week. And so, back to the beginning, after giving it all I had in the way of ‘deep pressure without hurting’ – I discovered that he actually wanted me to hurt him. My client, nicely, let me know that nothing I had done so far had made much impression. The expectations had been high. It is also worth noting here that, in deep tissue or sports massage – communication is everything (unlike Swedish massage where I, and usually the client, prefer to keep quiet). He should have felt free to comment much earlier – and I should have solicited.

I’m no slouch either…a mountain athlete myself with a regular workout schedule. I understand the human form – especially from an athletic perspective. I’m 6’2, 195 lbs and can deliver a good, strong massage – not often letting people down.

 

By this time I was massaging the calves – often a tender area, especially on skiers, and there was nothing – no amount of pressure I could lay on with all of my weight – that could elicit a twitch in those tell-tale fingers or any sign of pulling away. Yet he still described having discomfort that HE thought I could address – which I could only contribute to the peroneal muscles -where, I admit, I rarely ‘go’ with clients. ‘OK – you asked for it – I thought – and went in there deep and long with the very point of my elbow and stripped like crazy. Aha – that did it! I could feel him breathing into it and enjoying the pain and, yes, relief that it gave him. This gave me confidence and much more ‘permission’ from both him and his body to go deeper to the point of pain (and – for him – relief) – which I did for the rest of his massage – including, incredibly, a strong elbowing of his biceps and triceps tendons (he had considerable tendinitis there, I think, from the TRX exercises and a hand-dragging trick in snowboarding called ‘pat-the-dog’).

 

My experience as a massage therapist grew with that session. Beyond knowing that I had done well by receiving the biggest tip of my career, my confidence soared along with my ability to expand my offering of (very) deep tissue massage to well-tuned athletic hard-men (and women) who need it.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

 

 

 

 

You Come to Us.

You Come To Us

Last week my blog post was all about ‘We Come To You’.  This was indeed how we defined our business when we started out – it seemed like a really good idea – and it IS – up to a point.  There are some people who just don’t want us to come to them.  For various reasons, it’s not convenient. There might be interruptions at home, or the noise of TV, kids, dogs, construction…who knows.

For the occasional visitor who comes to Jackson Hole and stays in nice hotels or vacation residences, in-home massage is a great service and one that is much appreciated as part of a pampering massage experience. But we now feel that this leaves out our more local customers who may not have large places for us to come to – and they’d rather be in a more purpose-oriented massage studio to get down to the business or regular sports or deep tissue massage therapy.

So Rochelle and I have decided to expand our practice and our thinking…and just this week we have taken on a shared space in ‘The Connection‘ (270 Veronica Lane, Jackson), which will enable people to come to a centrally located massage studio in Jackson at their convenience…and ours.

And, like so many things in life, this has turned out to be a fabulous move for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.  For starters, we now have Tina Seay in our lives – and what a beautiful, nurturing person she is.  Rochelle and I are immediately better off for knowing her.  Tina runs The Connection – ‘A Place To Connect at All Levels’ – it’s a lovely, relaxing, quiet suite of rooms where different massage / body work / energy work professionals practice their professions.  Here’s how Tina describes The Connection:

It is a collective center where people meet to explore themselves, their place in the world, and how to reach their highest most exquisite Self.  Through bodywork, energy work, workshops, and products The Connection is a center created for the evolution of body, mind, and spirit.

Aside from creating the physical presence of ‘The Connection’, Tina’s own practice is Healing Touch Massage and Body Work.  The following few lines from her web site should tell it all:

Get out of exist mode; Move into the present moment, Become more optimistic, Allow yourself to move forward; Rebound from your extreme sports activities; Recover from your crippled posture after the long plane ride; Look good, feel good.  Become more flexible.

Also present in The Connection is Sheri Todd, NCMT (Nationally Certified Massage Therapist) with her business Teton Manual Therapy – Orthopedic Health Assessment and Wellness.

What is ‘Manual Therapy’? – Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_therapy

Sheri’s qualifications, experience and expertise are just too great to go into here (so go check out her web site) – but let’s just say she’s another wonderful person to be ‘connected’ with and Rochelle and I look forward to working in unison with these two wonderful professionals.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

60 or 90 Minutes?

60 or 90 Minutes?

 

I feel so strongly about this that I am considering dropping the 60 minute time slot in favor of 90 minute sessions  – especially for deep tissue massage. That is – proper deep tissue massage. Or let’s call it deep tissue therapy or body work.

Yes – massage therapists can all give a nice relaxation Swedish massage in 60 minutes – but it’s almost always a compromised massage if it is to address the whole body including hands, feet, scalp and face. I find myself distracted by looking at the clock and having to leave something out or just briefly touched if I am not careful. And lets face it – if your massage therapist is any good – 60 minutes will always leave you feeling a bit short-changed. People rarely get off a massage table thinking that they’ve had enough or have been there too long. (Let’s not even go to the 50 minute time of spas – which I think is really poor service.)

 

But with deep tissue – 60 minutes  just isn’t enough to address the whole body adequately. I don’t even try. This is enough time to address either the upper body or the lower body or specifics like shoulder / upper back and neck complaints.

 

I’m talking about a proper deep tissue massage here, where communication between client and therapist is essential and on-going throughout the session. This is deep tissue where time has to be spent assessing, palpating, warming and softening (melting) the more superficial muscles – necessary to allow access to the deeper muscles. And simultaneously it takes time for the client to relax mentally, to find their breathing rhythms and their trust and comfort in the session that’s about to begin. After all that prep work, which takes time (everybody has different requirements), the therapist has to work slowly and methodically – slowness equals deepness (or at least the effect of deepness) lotion or oil is kept to a minimum and burning of the skin isn’t an option. The therapist is ‘listening’ to the body, feeling what’s going on in the anatomy, looking at the client’s face, watching for trembles, movement, resistance and gauging the effect of the stroke or tool or method being used.  Only when the muscle has ‘released’, or otherwise responded as desired, is it time to move on. We need time to ask questions of the client (How is this feeling?), listen to the answers. There’s experimentation – is this working? If not, how about this? Or after this – I think I should add this?

And then there’s joint mobilization and increasing range of motion (ROM) for many differing conditions and desired outcomes. Massaging muscles doesn’t just stand on its own! I will often perform joint mobilization and stretching techniques to the areas of the body served by those muscles that are receiving a massage. This gives a much more beneficial (and great-feeling) all-around massage.

 

So the point is -if you’re booking a proper deep tissue massage, or even a relaxation massage with elements of deep tissue – give yourself and your therapist a break and do the 90 minute version – you’ll love it!

Choosing 90 minutes for deep tissue massage is a win-win situation. The client receives a better massage and better results, the therapist gets to give a better massage, is likely to get better reviews and will earn better money.  (The value for the client is usually better too, as the per-minute price of a 90 minute session is usually less than that of the 60 minute session.)

Oh – and by the way – be prepared to book future sessions. The first deep tissue massage is often (usually) a get-to-know-you time. There are many, many benefits to repeat visits to a therapist who, in their first session, has come to know your body, yourself, and has an extended plan of care. Over time a relationship develops and the overall result is…a healthier and happier you.

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle