Category Archives: Massage Maladies

Massage Malady #5: Cervical Sadism

If you’ve read my writing or watched my videos, you know that I love the neck. I fearlessly grasp sternocleidomastoid, I’ll draw the scalenes in as I work the traps, and I’ll happily give the local fascia a stretch with a slow, soft fist. I know there’s a lot of nervous, vascular, and lymphatic tissue present, but the neck is a robust structure full of feel-good muscle, begging to be explored. If you deal with it mindfully, you can really offer the client a new experience of a structure that has previously only caused them pain, or that they think of as the place where they “hold their stress.”

But… there are limits. That brings us to today’s massage malady: “Cervical Sadism.”


This is rarely seen with actual massage techniques: People tend to respect the anterior and lateral neck’s potential vulnerability by being careful with it, or even avoiding it altogether! While that’s not great, at least it’s erring on the side of caution. Conversely, this particular problem is characterized by a blithe disregard for the neck’s normal range of motion. ... continue reading.

Massage Malady #2: “Distractor Spinae”

Today’s massage malady: Distractor Spinae. This is the unfortunate condition in which massage therapists become SO ENTHRALLED by the spine and the surrounding tissues that other structures are all but ignored. Latissimus dorsi? What’s that? Rotator cuff… that’s in the ankle, right?


This happens for a reason, of course. There is a ton of feel-good muscle around the spine, especially if you count trapezius. When people think of massage, they think of getting their erectors ironed out and getting some superior trap petrissage. Your clients may have forgotten that they have other parts too.

All the more reason to branch out! If you can regularly include areas of the body that other massage therapists either glance over or skip entirely, you can differentiate yourself in a crowded market. If you’re just doing what everyone else is doing, why should a client request you specifically? ... continue reading.

Massage Malady #1: Invisible Jean Shorts Syndrome

Let’s talk about some common massage problems. First up: Invisible Jean Shorts Syndrome. This is where a massage therapist conspicuously stops massage techniques far before their logical conclusion, as if the client were wearing a pair of jean shorts from the 1990s.

Massage Malady #1

Your massage therapist starts a lovely stroke down your back, your spine starts to decompress, the pressure is perfect and… they stop at L2, thwarted as if by a force field. They’re traveling up the hamstrings, really ironing them out, the world is wonderful, and… they stop 6 inches from your ischial tuberosity.

Now, I don’t mean to make you feel bad if you’ve got issues about the gluteal region. That’s fine, that’s not unusual, and it’s something that we’ll talk about in the future. If, however, you’ve got no issues with the glutes: There’s something uniquely frustrating, as a client, about a technique half-delivered! ... continue reading.