Category Archives: Rambling

Massage Video: Working with Shoulder Pain After Surgery

Here’s a new video about how I work with postsurgical shoulder pain. I talk about my strategy, and I demonstrate specific techniques for working gently from a myofascial perspective:

I’d like to highlight something that’s changed for me in my practice: While I do explore the client’s range of motion, I do my best to avoid those painful end-points. Over the course of my career, I’ve found that mobilization can work just as well (or better!) when it’s done painlessly. If done patiently and with good communication, it can be a way of demonstrating to the client that safe movement is possible. I’ve frequently had clients stand up with a greater comfortable range of motion despite the fact that I didn’t try to increase that ROM on the table!

I’ve also started erring on the side of less specific work during that first session, especially in areas that are prone to guarding or spasm. That specific stripping and trigger point work can still be incorporated in future sessions, but by working broadly at first, I can help the client gradually get used to movement and contact without provoking spasm or next-day tightness. ... continue reading.

Is Your Massage Practice Sending the Wrong Message?

Here’s an important article about a negative experience that a client had while on the table: https://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/dealing-with-a-fat-shaming-massage-therapist/

In a previous rant, I said that massage therapists causing pain—and making their clients think it was necessary—was one of the only massage-related phenomena that truly made me angry. Well, this counts as causing pain. If someone comes to me with a unique human body, anything that I say or do to stigmatize that person for their shape, or size, or sounds, or smell, is causing harm. They’ll leave that experience thinking, “I was wrong for putting myself in that vulnerable position.” In other words, they trusted us with their body, and we breached that trust.

Maybe you would never think of commenting directly on someone’s weight, which is great! With that as a given, I’d like to direct your attention to something that we’ve learned from psychological and medical studies: The power of words, and the power of symbols in general. How we speak, and even the signs and pictures in our offices, can communicate a powerful message of brokenness or wholeness to our clients. ... continue reading.

Dealing With Your Massage-Related Injuries

You may have heard me make the claim that I’m injury-free. “I’ve been using my weird body mechanics and low tables for a decade, and I don’t have any pain to show for it.” How could that be possible? How can a massage therapist avoid all injury?

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It… may have been an exaggeration. What I mean to say is that, while I’m CONSTANTLY injuring myself in new and interesting ways, I don’t have any chronic pain to show for it. It’s a matter of giving each new ache or pain the reverence they deserve, actually treating the injuries instead of ignoring them, and adapting to allow those parts to recover.

Let’s look at the last two months. I got a twinge in my thumb while doing some weird little swirling flourish thing during petrissage (I have no memory of commanding my hands to do this), and I started having pain in my wrist after allowing it to extend to an extreme angle during a high-pressure move. ... continue reading.