Massage Tutorial Video: Abdominal Massage, the Vagus Nerve, and Belly Breathing

New massage tutorial video! This one has an abdominal massage demonstration… but it’s really about interacting with the parasympathetic nervous system:

It’s pretty common to abandon abdominal massage after massage school. After all, we have to deal with chest draping, clients sometimes feel self-conscious about the area, and it’s rarely requested. All this is true, but there’s one type of client who I’ll always suggest ab work to: Those with major stress, and those who are there for the psychological benefits of massage.

You see, interacting with the belly, whether via kind contact or through diaphragmatic breathing, sends signals to the enteric nervous system (the portion of the peripheral nervous system innervating the gut). The body devotes a LOT of neurological resources to the digestive tract, receiving constant updates on every square inch of the colon, sending signals about the speed of peristalsis, deciding whether a sphincter should stay closed, etc.

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How to Get Reviews for Your Massage Business

Getting reviews for your massage business is important. It gives you instant credibility during those crucial first seconds when a client is deciding, “should I explore this therapist’s page further, or should I go back to looking at cat memes?” It lets curious clients see how other people perceive you. Are they praising your ability to deal with pain? Your expertise? These reviews, along with pictures, videos, and autobiographical information, can form a clear picture of who you are and how you operate before a client even steps into your office. In other words, each new client will be your biggest fan before you even meet.

You may have noticed that clients don’t seem to leave a lot of spontaneous reviews. Even the ones who rave about you and send you referrals don’t always hit up Yelp or Facebook to sing your praises. Over time, that can leave you with a strong online presence, but no outside references to back up your credibility.

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Massage Tutorial Video: Sciatica Myofascial Release Techniques

Today’s massage tutorial video is on sciatica pain and how to deal with it from a myofascial perspective:

You’ll notice that I don’t spend much time focusing on piriformis or any of the hip rotators. I don’t target the lumbar paraspinals or the sacrum. Instead, I encompass all of these areas in broad “steamroller” techniques that grab the fascia and give it some traction. I’ve had much more success with this approach than any specific neuromuscular work.

I also include some mobilization of the hip as I work, bringing it into different angles of rotation and abduction. While I can’t affect any disc dysfunction that might be present, I do think that I can work with spasm and hypertonicity down the line. Nothing in the body happens in isolation—if there’s nerve impingement near the spine, there’s tight muscle and hypersensitivity nearby, and we can work with that!

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For Massage Clients: Your Body is Just Right

Your body is exactly as it should be. It’s perfectly fine for your body to be the way it is, and to do the things a body does.

That means that you can be any shape and size, and that’s how it should be. Your skin can have hair, and stretch marks, and cellulite. Your stomach can make noises, your armpits can be fragrant, and you can snore when you fall asleep. Never apologize for being fully and thoroughly human.

Via Anna, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’re in pain, we want to help you have less of it, and to help you accept it. There is no “should” when it comes to pain, and judging and blaming your own body only makes things worse. What would it be like to work with your painful back or knee, to act in partnership? To accept yourself on good days and bad?

One of the beautiful things about massage is that it’s about the big picture. It’s an hour where we work with you as a whole person. While you might get some extra attention to your stiff shoulder, we won’t pick you apart into pieces. We want you to feel more integrated and connected, and to realize your wholeness on a deep level.

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Fibromyalgia and Massage: How to Help without Hurting

What is fibromyalgia, and how should we deal with it as massage therapists? Should we press directly on tender points, or avoid them? Should we use deeper pressure, or only lighter work?

If you’re completely unfamiliar with this condition, it means widespread pain that isn’t related to injury or overuse. If you’ve got fibromyalgia, a lot of your body hurts, and no one can quite tell you why. There are no lesions on MRI or CT scans, there are no strains or sprains; you just hurt. On top of that, there are other common symptoms: Poor sleep quality, fatigue, memory problems (often described as “brain fog”), and depression. You can read more at this Mayo Clinic article.

Fibromyalgia tends to be cyclical, with many sufferers noticing periods of flare-up and remission. Your clients will have bad weeks and good weeks, and finding out where they are in that cycle can help you determine how to proceed. More on that in a second.

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