Ask the Massage Therapist

I’ve been a licensed and practicing massage therapist in the Seattle area for the last 3.5 years now. Anything you want to know about massage or massage therapists? Ask away. I’ll do my best to answer.

I have heard somewhere that deep-tissue massage is harmful, something about the lymph nodes I think. Have you heard of this?

Interesting you should ask, as I am currently training in lymphatic massage.

I have not heard of this, per se, but do know from my training so far in lymphatic work that it has the potential to be. But potential and actual are two different things.

My understanding is that a healthy lymphatic system can withstand the relatively brief mashing of a deep-tissue massage. And most of the lymph nodes are located in areas where deep work is unlikely.

I do know that a deep tissue massage is contraindicated if you have an active infection. The massage can force the infection through the lymph nodes before they’ve had a chance to properly manage the infection and thus can cause it to spread.

The porn fan in all of us thanks you for your username/thread combo.

Ha! I had this screen name long before I attended massage school.

Are you trained in a primary method/modality or in several? How did you choose which one(s)?

I often get “knots” in my upper back if I’ve been having an extra stressful time at work. The massage therapists that I’ve worked with are always able to find these and work them out, which is awesome. Not to ask you to give away any secrets, but what is happening to make the knot go away? Should I be worried that I am getting knots in the first place?

I’ve got to ask;

What’s the temptation to give a bit more than a massage, when you come across a particularly attractive individual?

I was trained in Swedish and Deep Tissue, which is pretty much the standard here in the US. In school we were given small examples of the myriad other styles of bodywork available in case we wanted to pursue them later. I have since gained certification in reflexology, and am now studying MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) in the Vodder technique.

No worries about “secrets”. And there’s a lot of reasons why you could be getting the knots. My understanding of what’s making them go away is that your massage therapist is talking to your body’s neuromuscular system during the massage. There are various ways a massage therapist can “address” a knot, and many of them have to do with stimulating neuromuscular reflexes in the body which tell the muscle “let go”. Not trying to be vague with my answer…it’s just that it would take a lot more space than I have to give here to tell you how it works.

As to why you’re getting the knots…again…myriad reasons. But as far as upper back/neck pain, a lot of people need to stretch out their shoulder/chest area. Contracted pectoralis minor is a very common cause of “knots” in the upper back/shoulders.

I’m glad you asked. People are often very curious about this. The answer is: zero temptation. Really. Here are a couple of reasons why (not necessarily in order of importance):

[li]I could lose my license. [/li][li]It violates the ethics pledges of my profession.[/li][li]I’m a happily married woman.[/li][li]It perpetuates the dated and unfortunate myth that massage therapist = prostitute[/li][/ul]

If I happen to have a “particularly attractive individual” it’s can certainly be a pleasant and enjoyable experience, aesthetically speaking. But they get the same massage as everyone else.

Tell us about the nastiest person you had to massage.

Have you had any people get visibly excited by your massages? How do you respond to that?

Had to finish eating before I started this one…

This wasn’t a particularly nasty person…but the condition was unpleasant. I worked on an older man (mid-60’s?) who had severely clogged pores on his back. I didn’t really notice it until I was massaging and I felt what felt like grains of sand rolling around in the oil. More and more of them. I came to realize it was all the sebum plugs popping out of his pores as I massaged him.

Nope, never have. I attribute this to a couple of things:

[li]I usually work on women. Their excitement tends to be less visible.[/li]
[li]I screen my clients fairly carefully before I accept their appointments.[/li]
[li]I’m very no-nonsense on my client intake.[/li]
[li]I use fairly heavy blankets on the table. :D[/li][/ol]

What are you screening them for? What are you looking out for?

Do all your client come to you because of muscle problems or do you have some clients that want a massage just for pleasure?

I’m screening to see if I’m the right person for what they’re looking for. Do they have a specific injury they need help with? Are they very pregnant? I tend more toward general relaxation massage, and tend to refer out of someone has a very specific situation and I know someone who’s a better fit for them. I’m also screening for creeps. Don’t want 'em.

Thank you for your answers Girl Next Door. It sounds like you have a very interesting business.

How does a client’s pregnancy affect the massage? How do you give a pregnancy woman a back massage (she can’t lie on her stomach, can she?)? Have you had clients who decline to fully undress? Have you ever had a client who declined to be draped? Would that bother you?

The main thing with pregnancy massage is positioning. Lots of pillows/bolsters/and side-lying work will usually do the trick. I could do a pregnancy massage, but since I have a friend who specializes in it (and who knows more of the intricacies of possible complications) I usually just send everyone to her.

Yep, I’ve had clients decline to fully undress. We can do a clothed massage. It’s not necessarily as effective, but it can get the job done and it’s important that the client be comfortable.

I’ve never had a client flat out decline to be draped. I’ve had a few who, when I’m carefully adjusting their drapes, say “Oh, don’t bother! I’m not modest.” Yes, it bothers me. “I’m not doing it for you,” I might tell them. “I’m doing it to maintain the standards for my profession.”

I’m new to massage therapy and I need some help with my
new business. II’m trying to automate the appointment
scheduling process. Is there a particular brand of software
or a website that is the norm for people in our profession?
I found this scheduling form:
Anyone have experience with this or any other massage forms?

Due to the wear and tear on the digits, I understand a Message Therapist is not a long term career choice. Is this true?