Sports 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.)

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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Start a Great Massage Habit with your Valentine ‘s Day Gift.

Start a Great Massage Habit with your Valentine ‘s Day Gift

 

It’s the season for love and, like flowers, massage is one of the ‘go-to’ gifts to give. But why stop at that? Why not give yourself a gift as well and book a couples massage for extra romance. And then, while you’re enjoying that massage, consider the health benefits – for you and your partner – of regular massage. Read on – and you’ll see that if it’s good for your body – then it’s good for your partner. Better still, if you can get couples massages as often as possible, it’s good for both of you…together.

Massage Therapy for Health and Fitness

 

It may simply look like a lot of pressing and kneading on skin, but massage is actually a scientific process. The reason you feel different after a massage is because it is healing and invigorating tired, aching or injured muscles. Massage increases blood and lymph circulation. Lymph is a fluid that rids body tissues of waste, is dependent on the squeezing effect of muscles. An active person has better lymph flow than an inactive person. However, stimulation from vigorous activity can lead to increased waste, which can negate the benefit. This is where massage has a huge advantage. Massage can dramatically aid lymph movement, which together with blood, supplies nutrients and oxygen and rids wastes and toxins. It is easy to understand why good circulation is so important to our health and why massage can be so beneficial just for this purpose.

Massage and Sport

 

Massage plays a part in every form of sport or exercise. Unfortunately, many people believe aches and pains are an inevitable consequence to activity. But massage can actually reduce or eliminate what may appear to be exercise-induced pain.

It can increase endurance, control fatigue and help people feel better when used as part of a regular health program. Massage can also speed muscle recovery rates as it eliminates irritation from waste. By helping reduce fatigue and aid recovery, massage enables more productive training, with longer, more effective workouts. The ultimate spin-offs are better performance with fewer injuries. Exercise changes the way our muscles work. Blood vessels become more intricate as the body demands more oxygen and nutrients and increases waste elimination. This takes time. While the muscles are getting into shape, they can struggle to get enough oxygen and nutrients, so waste collects.

Some Other Benefits of Massage

 

  • Increase the blood’s oxygen capacity by 10-15%
  • Help loosen contracted, shortened muscles and stimulate weak, flaccid muscles. This muscle “balancing” can even help posture and promote more efficient movement;
  • Speed recovery from exercise-induced fatigue;
  • Increase production of gastric juices, saliva and urine;
  • Increase excretion of nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus, and sodium chloride (salt). This suggests that the metabolic rate increases;
  • Balance the nervous system by soothing or stimulating it, depending on which effect is needed;
  • Improves function of the oil and sweat glands that lubricate, clean and cool the skin. Though, inflexible skin can become softer and more supple;
  • Indirectly or directly stimulating nerves the supply internal organs can dilate the organs’ blood vessels, improving blood supply.

For much of this content – Special Thanks to Allissa Haines and ‘Writing a Blue Streak‘, and to Butlers Body in Balance

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.

 

What is Sports Massage?

Sports Massage – What Is It?

 

There are several important differences between sports massage and Swedish massage – and even a regular session of ‘deep’ massage. That’s not to say there isn’t any crossover of techniques or benefits. A sports massage will be more vigorous, more specific in muscles / joints worked with, they can involve even deeper work than deep massage (but not always and only as indicated), are often at a 5 – 7 on a pain scale up to 10, and are generally more intense with shorter, faster strokes. There can be much more attention paid to stretching.

 

As a client, you can expect a much more rigorous pre-session interview, where your therapist will be listening carefully to detailed descriptions of the work you are requiring, the type of lifestyle / sports you have, your goals wit therapy, and your areas of pain or dysfunction.

In order to warm the muscles, either to work deeper, or in a pre-sports event massage, strokes will be much faster and should actually cause excitement, rather than relaxation.

Because sports massage is about warming muscles, therefore using friction, much less oil is used than in Swedish massage. There are also certain muscle-lengthening methods, such a ‘pin-and-stretch’, that are best done with no oil at all – or even over the drapes or clothing. Many sports massage therapists prefer lotion over oil is it is less viscous.

 

In the case of performance athletes, pain at some level is expected in sports massage. It’s part of what you get, and expect, for being an athlete. Sports at a higher level will eventually cause pain anyway with over-exertion of muscles; pain will eventually decrease performance. So it makes sense to prepare the body to last longer before getting to this stage – and that can be painful. However, on a pain scale of 1 – 10, where at 1 there’s not even awareness of touch, and 10 in unbearable pain, somewhere between 5 and 7 is the zone of therapeutic effectiveness. The therapist should keep in touch with you constantly about the pain level, watching your breathing, finger-twitching, and restive body motions. There is no need or good reason to endure pain beyond about a level 7.

 

Participation is a big part of sports massage. Forget about setting your face in the cradle and falling asleep. You will be asked to assist with stretching moves, roll onto your back, side or front several times, lift this or push that while the therapist resists in the opposite direction – and constant feedback about your experience.

 

In next week’s post I will be discussing what to expect from sports massage at performance-sports events specifically.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.

 

 

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.