Let me know what you think! More like this? Stick to massage, for Heaven’s sake? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
I’ve spent the last year going slightly mad, and also watching lots of vocal coaching on YouTube. Over that time I’ve been using self-massage to keep my throat happy and healthy, which I talk about here:
Mostly this is an excuse to get back into gear with an easy video, but I’d love feedback from singers! For massage therapists: If you’ve got singers, public speakers, Twitch streamers, or other professionals who give their vocal cords frequent high-intensity workouts, just realize that you don’t need to target any muscles specifically, and that work in the area doesn’t need to be a direct confrontation. By engaging the superficial fascia on and around the anterior neck and putting it into traction, you’re sending powerful stretch signals to the spinal cord, both from the fascia, and from the embedded muscles. Just by dragging skin up along the track of the SCMs, you’re putting the extrinsic laryngeal muscles under traction. By going slowly here, you can send a signal that these muscles can reduce their tone — and in doing so, you can give your clients a better internal feel for these muscles. They might even use that awareness to prevent strain in the future!
Want to try some massage for your own jaw? Follow along with me as I demonstrate an easy myofascial release technique that takes just a few minutes! Do you feel that sense of ease and freedom afterward? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to share with friends and massage clients!
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know the ending. The whole “toxin” thing is a persistent myth, and it’s based on a misunderstanding of our internal environment. It assumes that there are areas of stagnation within muscles, and that these areas need to be wrung out so that fresh fluid can pump in. The fact is that the body is constantly refreshing the fluid between and within cells, especially highly vascular tissue like muscle. With every heartbeat and every little movement, circulation carries on.
I want to make one thing clear: I get it. The idea of stagnant fluid makes sense. After all, we get up and feel stiff. Doesn’t that mean that the muscle itself is stiff? The toxin thing makes a kind of sense too. If we feel pain, or just feel heavy or tired, doesn’t something need to be flushed out?
These ideas resonate with us because they match our macroscopic world. When a hinge is stiff, it needs oil. When we sit in a chair often enough, it wears out. But our bodies aren’t just macroscopic and static; there’s a rich, busy microscopic world at work, even when you’re sitting still. If chemicals start accumulating in a cell (carbon dioxide, lactate, salts, etc.), our organelles, channels, and pumps bring it back to homeostasis. If tissue becomes hypoxic, capillaries dilate to increase the local blood flow. If there’s damage, macrophages and fibroblasts mobilize to fix it up. The “stagnant tissue” idea falls apart upon closer inspection.
If you tell clients about toxins, I know it’s because that’s the information you were given. The only reason I’m trying to put the brakes on this myth is because clients take this information to heart. They hear about these toxins and start wondering if they’re sick. They can carry this toxin idea with them for the rest of their lives.
Instead, what if we emphasized how robust their homeostatic mechanisms are? What if we talked more about how resilient they are, both in body and mind? As massage therapists, we can choose to focus on the wholeness of each person, rather than on something being broken. We can make this case silently through our hands, and we can openly tell people: “Even though you’re in pain, your body is resilient, and change can happen.”
Let me know what you think. If you used to talk about toxins, what have you changed when talking to clients? What do you say when a client asks, “is massage good for flushing toxins?” Thanks for reading!
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.
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.
We want you to realize that you are your body, and that you’re just as you should be.