I Wrote a Book about Massage!

It’s called “Massage Is Weird,” and it’s about massage, communication, treating pain (and dealing with it yourself), and beating burnout. If that seems kind of broad… it is! This book is everything I know about being a massage therapist, with a special focus on living a life of quiet satisfaction. Click here to order (eBook and softcover versions available), or continue below to read some samples.

Text: "Beat burnout. Communicate effectively. Prevent pain and make more money."

Who is this book for? It’s for new massage therapists who are still trying to find their place in the massage world. Do you need to work for someone and give up 75% of your income for the first 5 years, or can you skip to the part where you’re paid what you’re worth? Is wrist pain and thumb pain a necessary part of the process, or can you skip that too? Why is pain so mysterious, and why aren’t you producing all those massage miracles that you see the gurus talk about? ... continue reading.

Video: Myofascial release for “tech neck”

We’re talking posterior neck pain and tension, and the protracted posture that might develop from years of working with computers (or cleaning teeth, fixing cars, painting tiny models, etc.). This isn’t so much about “fixing” as it is about helping clients feel a sense of freedom. As they stand up from the table, I’d like them to say, “ahh, it feels like I can stand up straight.” Between our work on the table and small changes they make through their day, I find that even previously persistent neck pain can resolve fairly quickly!

And that brings me to the topic of our sermon today: Emphasizing resilience and adaptability. During our sessions, we can send a variety of messages, often without meaning to. For instance, let’s say we spend an hour digging into the back of the neck. The message that might get received is, “this part is broken, it’s gummed up like a poorly maintained transmission, and it needs to be repaired.” Not only can this reinforce some self-stigma that the client might already have about a painful part, it’s also false! That part isn’t broken, and it doesn’t need to be fixed by a someone with special tools. ... continue reading.

Video: Myofascial Release for “That Damn Spot”

My goal with this session is for the client to stand up from the table feeling ease and freedom in their posture. If they say something like “I feel an inch taller,” I know I did it right.

Why not just “dig out the knot”? Because I don’t think that spot is to blame. This seems to be an area that becomes sensitized when the upper back muscles are in an untenable position: Being required to stay long and strong for hours a day, and generally being overpowered by the pecs. If we can get all the nearby muscles to give up some of their baseline tone (which I think myofascial release is a great choice for), then that gives the client’s nervous system a chance to reevaluate that tug-of-war.

And that brings me to something I’d like to address: Client buy-in. Are you giving the client an idea of your clinical reasoning before you proceed? Are the two of you determining the best course of action together? This has implications for a lot of things that we value as massage therapists: Pain outcomes, rapport building, informed consent, and client return rate. ... continue reading.

Video: How to Sit More During Massage

New massage video! This one is on how to sit more during your sessions (yes, I’m serious about the whole “massage lazy” thing):

The benefits of sitting more: Less time on your feet, which is also kinder to your low back than a full 6 hours of bending and lunging. More variety for you AND for your client — you’ll find that the same techniques feel much different when performed from this new angle. And most importantly, easier access to the lateral portions of the body!

I love seated massage for prolonged, deep dives into the lateral hip, the fibularis group (aka the peroneals), and the shoulder, both in supine and prone. In the video I demonstrate a brief routine for working with the entire rotator cuff group while the client is prone, but just realize that this can be extended considerably. You can sink doubled up thumbs toward the lateral scapula and target the teres, you can strip supraspinatus and infraspinatus and look for points of exquisite tenderness, and you can sink into that subscap for as much as a minute, inviting your client to breathe as you do so. ... continue reading.

How to (safely!) use your thumbs for massage

I know there’s been a movement to reduce thumb use in the massage world, but I think that there are a lot of effective ways to use them without risking injury.
The secret? Follow your natural ergonomics rather than trying to force your thumbs to do movements they don’t want to do:

Find positions of power and stability and let those guide your tool use and body mechanics. In the video, I demonstrate ways to strip, compress, and petrissage that should feel fairly easy and intuitive. Reduce or eliminate the effortful circular movements that seem to find their way into a lot of Swedish routines, and instead rely on stacked joints and body weight.

Something that I neglected to say in the video: Switch tools early and often. Don’t wait until you’re feeling fatigue in your thumbs or wrists before you switch. Instead, anticipate your limits and change things up frequently enough that your muscles never tire. By doing this, the only part of your body that should be tired at the end of the day are your feet 🙂 And that reminds me, I need to make a video on how to sit more during a session… ... continue reading.