Massage education



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





Sweetheart Chocolate Massage

Sweetheart Chocolate Massage


Although we at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole don’t offer chocolate massage, here’s a superb article, thanks to, that allows you, finally, to indulge in (literally) chocolate – especially for Valentines Day …and other days:

While there is no doubt that chocolate is the best pick-me-up around, it has always got a bad rap for being full of calories and fat. Chocolate has also been considered one of the culprits for bad skin as too much consumption can lead to acne and skin blemishes.


Of late though, the view on chocolate for the skin has taken an about turn. High-end spas all around the world have introduced the latest in skin care – chocolate spa treatments! From soothing chocolate massages and body wraps to indulgent chocolate facials and invigorating chocolate body scrubs, suddenly chocolate is everywhere. Using cocoa-based creams, lotions, and oils, you can now choose to get your chocolate fix without the calories.


Some of the benefits of chocolate body treatments include:

  • Firms the skin – The caffeine present in chocolate stimulates the circulation and improves blood flow. This in turn improves and invigorates skin cells, decreases the aging process and increases firmness of the skin.
  • Rich in anti-oxidants – The darker the chocolate, the more powerful are the antioxidant properties. It is also important that you choose your creams and lotions carefully before you begin using them. Products that contain more than 35% of pure cocoa are more effective when it comes to revitalizing the skin and giving it a plumper and firmer feel. Antioxidants also help increase the level of collagen and elastin in the skin and thereby reduce the effects of aging. Fine lines and wrinkles can be treated with regular chocolate treatments as antioxidants lessen the damage caused by free radicals in the body.
  • As a moisturizing agent – Cocoa butter contains high amounts of natural oils and emollients necessary for treating dry, rough and flaky skin. A chocolate massage or chocolate body wrap using a cocoa-butter based massage cream will help remedy rough skin especially on those stubborn spots such as the elbows, knees and feet. The higher the percentage of cocoa butter in the lotion or cream, the better moisturized the skin stays long after the treatment is over.
  • Good for health – Studies have shown that eating a small bit of dark chocolate every day can improve your cardiovascular system, and help prevent atherosclerosis and chronic fatigue due to its antioxidant properties. Chocolate also has the power to improve a person’s mood and cause feelings of euphoria. Even the smell of chocolate can accomplish this positive effect on the brain; making chocolate massages an ideal way reap the health benefits of without any of the guilt associated with eating too much chocolate.
  • Good for cellulite – Chocolate contains theobromine that helps burn fat and get rid of cellulite. A chocolate massage or chocolate body wrap helps work the chocolate-based lotion or oil into the skin for the best results.
  • Calming effects – Who hasn’t calmed down after biting into a chunk of chocolate? In much the same way, a chocolate massage helps reduce stress and tension and eases tight and sore muscles.


You can also make your own chocolate massage lotion at home in a few simple steps:

  1. Mix together a quarter cup of cocoa powder with one cup of shea butter and a quarter cup of chamomile oil. You can use a blender for this to get a nice smooth consistency.
  2. Mix till the lotion is smooth and free of lumps. If you would like it thinner, add some more oil. If you prefer a thicker cream, add some more shea butter. Make sure that the shea butter is at room temperature for the best results.
  3. Pour this lotion into a jar with a tight lid and store in a cool dark place.
  4. Use to massage into the skin or as a moisturizer. It is gentle enough for everyday use.



Thanks also to Everyday Health for this wonderful chocolate massage post.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle


Who Gets Sports Massage?

Sports Massage – Who Gets it?

Sports Massage is an expanding field. Its broadening appeal is the result of an aging and more exercise-conscious population. Certain types of work may also benefit from Sports Massage, even though ‘sports’ is not an accurate moniker for the activities: Musicians, construction workers, dancers, assembly-line workers can all have harmful, strenuous and repetitive loads on their musculo-skeletal systems.


With aging, active people will find muscular elasticity dwindling, as does muscular recovery time from hard or over use. Many other of the body’s  systems are generally working more slowly and less efficiently the older we get. A sensible, balanced approach to your fitness is necessary. Whilst it is imperative that we exercise our bodies (and minds) to stay vital and strong, it can make sense to back off a little – and consider that Sports massage  becomes more and more a valuable adjunct.


Clients will usually end up in a Sports Massage clinic as a result of either a prescription from a physician, or on their own self-advisement or that of a sports coach or trainer.

A doctor’s prescription will be quite specific, with a diagnosis of a problem (perhaps a sports or over-use injury) and instructions to the sports therapist. Self-advisement is simply that you feel you’d like to give your body the best chances for performance, maintaining comfort,  and injury prevention (Facilitated stretching is invaluable for this and can be a wonderful part of ‘maintenance’ deep massage). If you are at the sports massage therapist for an injury or complaint without a doctor’s prescription, beware that the therapist is not allowed, by law, to make a diagnosis and they are not allowed to ‘treat’ a client on their own initiative. Tempting as it is you should not go to a massage therapist of any kind with the idea that it is any kind of a substitute for a physician’s care.


For more serious performance athletes, the value of sports massage is now well recognized by coaches and trainers – indeed, massage therapists are often part of the training/coaching effort. Pre-event, post-event and ‘maintenance’ massage are fast becoming  a normal part of athletic training. Reducing ‘down-time’, increasing post-event recovery time, rehabilitating injuries and increasing ease of movement are just some of the benefits of Sports Massage at the performance level. Additionally, the sports massage therapist can advise on ‘homework’ for the athlete, such as stretching, or common-sense injury-reducing care, such as treating recent soft tissue injuries with PRICE – Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.


In the next issue I will discuss what to expect in a Sports Massage.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.


Sports Massage – Performance Vs. Fitness

Sports Massage – Performance VS. Fitness


Jackson Hole is a natural place to find athletes and active people who are in need of body work. Think of it as necessary tune-ups without which physical performance could suffer.

But what’s the difference between performance and fitness? Where do those lines cross? How can massage help? What kind of massage does an athlete need? What kind of massage does a ‘fit’ person need? What is a ‘Deep Tissue’ massage?

Let’s start with the definition of ‘Performance’ as it pertains to humans – “The capacity to compete sport-specific activity with skill and performance.”


And the definition of ‘Fitness’:

1. The state or condition of being fit; suitability or appropriateness.
2. Good health or physical condition, especially as the result of exercise and proper nutrition.
There are subtle but definite differences between the two and it does not follow that increased performance equals increased fitness as the drive to obtain certain levels in that performance exposes the body to more harm in the way of over-exertion and / or injury.
Injuries can be from simple acts of impact or falls – such as in skiing or cycling – or overuse injuries from repetitive actions (tennis, golf), or simply an over-aggressive training regime leading to strained ligaments or over-worked muscles.
In Rocky Mountain ski towns it’s sometimes hard to tell the two apart. But let’s just say that the ‘keep-fit’ crowd are the recreational cyclists, skiers etc. who are out for a good time with the added bonus that it’s great for your health (IF you do it properly) – and the performance crowd are those who do crazy things like race up the Grand Teton or bike in the Logan to Jackson bike ride every September.
People who maintain good health and ‘wellness’ may live more comfortable lives as they get older, than their performance-based sports counterparts. One of the best ‘keep-fit’ exercise regimes is, simply, walking. (Though add some thing in for the upper body – cross country skiing accommodates this nicely.)
The key is…don’t overdo it – and of course get regular massage that pertains to your specific sports / wellness needs. True sports jocks can be just as much in need of a nice relaxing Swedish massage (90-minutes  please) and it could just as easily be true that a normally ‘fit’ person would benefit from a deep tissue massage. After all, that ‘fitness’ we are discussing does require a certain amount of physical activity and specific exercise that works all of the body. Not everyone has the skill, time, discipline to effect that perfect exercise routine, where balances in work-outs / rest / warm-up time / cool down time are found.
Properly indicated massage of any type may help performance athletes and just regular ‘fit’ people in many ways – most notably the movement of bodily fluids, the relaxation of muscles, raising the effects of the parasympathetic nervous system, removal of toxins and lactic acid from muscle cells – and many more.
Performance athletes, specifically, will of course benefit from massage of traumatic injury sites to assist in their healing – but they will also benefit from the effects of increase in parasympathetic functioning in the autonomic nervous system (rest and digest). As a group, performance athletes experience body and mental fatigue. A good Swedish massage is often found to send such athletes to sleep – which is, obviously, exactly what they need.
Be well,
Hamish and Rochelle.




How My Massage Clients Help Me.

How My Massage Clients Help Me

My regular readers (millions of ’em)  will know that this blog is about the trials and tribulations of a new, mostly out-call  massage therapy company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I write about the journey which my GF Rochelle and I have decided to embark – with massage being our central theme.


In fact, we’re about to come upon an important and exciting first anniversary – (no, not our personal one – we celebrated our second anniversary of coupledom back in August) – but it’s our anniversary off driving off to Oakland, California from Jackson, Wyoming, for further education at the McKinnon School of Body Therapy. It has been a year since Rochelle and I first took off on a wild ride – two weeks of car camping  and hiking in Death Valley National Park and onto Oakland until late December.  We both very much enjoy this journey as it’s a discovery wrapped around a learning experience. We shared many precious, sometimes trying moments during that trip as it was all new territory to me and exciting for us both to be living as students in a completely different environment for us Jackson Hole-ites. I should explain that Rochelle had first studied the basic Swedish Massage course there the year before that!  Indeed – it was because of her positive experiences in massage work that I am now also on the band-wagon.


But going back to school during the fall months is just one of the paths on which this journey takes us. We’re both new massage therapists and are determined to make a real go of having a relationship, a business, a future together and who knows – in time it might pay the bills. I’ll be keeping you up to date while we’re at school in Oakland and on our adventure – but for now I want to get to the topic of this post – ‘How My Massage Clients Help Me’.

Image showing Wily Coyote

Massage therapists are in a position 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 clients help you. Or at least – this is how they help me: My being in the ‘new-massage-therapist-and-business’ situation that I am in – is a result of financial ruin back in 2008 -10, including the loss of my income and home back in 2008. I am 57 years old and having to start again from scratch. Massage, and Rochelle, are bringing me back in a most agreeable way – I love the whole subject and wish I had my younger years back in order to have more ‘future’ in which to learn. But how my clients help me is simply by being there on my massage table. I am grateful. They are helping me (and us – but I’m talking about me) by being clients upon whom I can practice my skills, my art – and of course they’re the source of moolah, which is why, really, we’re all doing this in the first place.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.