What do I need?
This list is by no means exhaustive. People need massage for as many different reasons as there are different people in the world. But, here are some examples of the type of work I do with clients on a regular basis.
If none of these scenarios apply to you, and you want to know how massage can help you feel better, please let me know!
I have chronic pain
Do you sit at a desk all day, and your upper back is always in knots? Or maybe you stand all day and your lower back constantly aches. Or perhaps you work and go to school and have to carry 20 pounds of crap with you to get through the day (or maybe you just live in NYC!). Or, is it possible you are typing this blurb on a laptop while sitting on your sofa? Oh wait...that’s me.
Many people suffer from chronic pain in some form or fashion. Sometimes it’s a serious problem that requires medical intervention such as a herniated disc. And sometimes massage alone can be enormously effective in easing the discomfort and restoring muscular balance.
I work with a lot of professionals who work at a desk and have complaints such as upper back/shoulder pain, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, headaches, and general stiffness.
I also work with several cooks affected by lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) from chopping and working with pans on the stove, and low back pain from endless hours standing, bending, lifting and reaching.
My musician clients often have chronic pain due to the position their body is in during the long hours of rehearsal and performance (e.g., neck pain from playing the violin).
And I have worked with a few folks on film and TV crews who are pounding the pavement in Manhattan and Brooklyn all day carrying very heavy equipment on one side of their body. Low back pain, shoulder pain, and arm and hand pain are very common complaints.
Massage can be very effective for many of these types of pain. Sometimes, it’s about working directly on the area of complaint, such as the lateral elbow for tennis elbow, and then helping educate you about how you can use your body in a more balanced way (if possible), and developing a massage treatment plan that works for you.
Sometimes, such as the case of sitting at a desk, there are muscle imbalances involved. Some muscles, such as the pectoral and psoas, can become adaptively shorted. And other muscles, such as the gluteals can become adaptively lengthened. These imbalances pull the skeleton out of alignment and cause tension in other areas of the body. Again...massage can be incredibly effective in relieving your pain both in the short and long term.
I can’t turn my head/My neck is killing me!
Several times in my career, each and every client I saw in one day had some kind of neck pain and limited range of motion after waking up in the morning. And when you can’t turn your head, you can’t do anything.
In some cases, neck pain is idiopathic (unknown origin). It is also common to overdo it at the gym, strain a muscle, and wake up in the morning with a stiff neck. Or perhaps stress or lifestyle re-aggravate some chronic whiplash symptoms.
The reflexes in the neck are on a hair trigger. After all, the neck holds up the most important organ in your body. As such, there are a lot of muscles in the neck, and these muscles are constantly making micro-adjustments to hold your head upright. Sometimes, a muscle gets strained or the neck is held in an awkward position for too long and a muscle contracts and doesn't want to let go.
Massage is very effective at addressing these issues. We will discuss the source of the pain, go through some range of motion and brief assessment and implement the appropriate techniques. Heat or ice application may be recommended depending on the source of the pain. And we will go over stretching protocols so that you can stretch effectively and safely.
Sometimes, this type of pain can be resolved in one or two sessions (e.g., if you just slept funny one night, or have a minor strain). And sometimes the pain may never go away entirely (e.g., disc issue, or whiplash), but massage can be effective at managing the discomfort, giving you a greater quality of life between sessions.
I am training for a marathon/triathlon/insert your sport here
As I mentioned in the post What is Sports Massage?, sports massage employs a variety of Swedish massage and deep tissue massage techniques to help prevent and recover from injury, increase range of motion, or help an athlete recover from a big event. The exact techniques used depend on the timing of the session and present injuries.
Pre-event sports massage is focused on bringing circulation to the muscles most involved in the event so those muscles can function most effectively. Post-event sports massage is focused on normalizing the body systems after strenuous exertion. These types of sports massage generally take place at the sporting event itself, or within a very short time-frame of the event.
The sports massage that most of us receive is designed to help optimize training between events with goals such as treating an injury, or increasing range of motion. This type of massage doesn't use any specialized techniques - appropriate Swedish and deep tissue techniques will be used depending on your needs.
And needs vary...perhaps you are working through a named condition like tendinitis, IT band syndrome, or tennis or golfer’s elbow. Or perhaps your legs feel heavy, your hamstrings are tight, or your shoulder range of motion isn't quite what it should be. Think of massage as an essential part of your training plan - just like the mileage you log, and the nutrition you fuel yourself with. It can help keep you free from pain and limitation, so you can concentrate on your performance.
I can’t relax
The inability to relax manifests in different ways for everyone: muscular tension and pain, migraines, insomnia, stomach issues, etc. Stress is a normal part of life. But, when stress continues without a break or opportunity for relaxation, it takes a negative toll on the body. When stress hormones are present for extended periods of time, it can even lower immune system function (which is why you always seem to get sick at the worst possible time!).
Making the time for the massage is a huge first step. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
Be prepared for it to take several sessions for your body to being to let go. But, once your body and mind begin to find that space, the effects of regular massage will be swift and you’ll wonder why it took you so long to make that first appointment.
My lifestyle has suddenly changed
Are you a new mom coping with tension in your body brought on by nursing and carrying a newborn? Are you a parent of toddlers with low back pain from too much bending over and lifting? Or maybe you have a new job with a long commute made even longer by the addition of a laptop to your already heavy load.
When our lives make a major shift, with all of the amazing new opportunities often come new ways we use our body. As such, you may feel sore or tense in places you weren't before. Life is an exercise regimen just like your gym routine and when you change it up, your body has to adapt. Massage can help you bring balance to your body as you navigate your new lifestyle.
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