Category Archives: Rambling

Dealing with Self-Doubt as a Massage Therapist

Do you deal with self-doubt as a massage therapist? When you work with a new client, do you spend the whole time convinced that it’s the worst massage ever? Then this video is for you:

This is an edited version of a previous livestream, now with 75% fewer tangents and pauses. There’s also a nice guided meditation at the end, now with soothing music ๐Ÿ™‚

I give tips on getting out of negative head loops in this video, but there’s something that I don’t really address: “What if my massage actually sucks? Like, what if I’m a legitimately bad massage therapist?” You know why I don’t address that? Because it’s not true. In fact, it’s damn near impossible.

Massage can be exceptional for a lot of reasons, many of them having to do with experience and intuition. But for a massage to just be “really good,” all you need are a few simple ingredients: ... continue reading.

Video: Abdominal self-massage (and self-acceptance)

This is ostensibly about abdominal self-massage (it even includes 5 different techniques!), but it’s really about getting back into the therapeutic headspace.

As you might imagine, I made this one for myself. I haven’t started back yet thanks to some resurgence here in the South, but every time I get back to the planning phase I think, “do I even know how to do massage any more? Where would I start?” In my head I try to play back a whole massage all at once, along with all the techniques and draping and communication that requires, and it feels overwhelming.

But then I remember this: It all starts with one touch. If I can do that, then the rest follows. Trying to game out every moment, or imagine everything that could go wrong, those are barriers that we put up to flow. The essence of massage is self-sustaining and self-guiding, with the interplay of hand and body showing you the way. If we simply make that first contact and then get out of the way, the rest can easily follow. ... continue reading.

Overcoming the Inertia of the Body

I’d like you to try a quick thought experiment: Imagine doing one intense workout in the course of a month. You charge yourself up, you break through your mental block, and you finally go to that fitness bootcamp you’ve been dreading. You lay it all on the line, and you kick butt. What effects will this have on your health?

Over the short term, there will be huge effects. Protein synthesis and catabolism will both be through the roof. You might burn in excess of a thousand calories, prompting significant lipolysis. You’ll spend a couple of hours bathed in adrenaline, and then you’ll get some feel-good chemicals in the aftermath.

Over the long term, what is the effect of a single intense workout over the course of a month? Probably… nothing at all. A single workout isn’t capable of moving the needle on your scale, let alone prompting lasting physical changes in your body, or biochemical changes in your brain. Why? Because of negative feedback. Because of the inertia of homeostasis. When your body notices big changes in your blood, it releases hormones to counteract that. When your sympathetic nervous system is in an unusual state of overdrive, it will tip the balance in the other direction until you can relax and digest. ... continue reading.

Massage Tutorial Video: Talking to Clients On the Table

New video! This week we’re talking about talking. More specifically, what can you do to maximize your time with a client on the table? Especially in a time-crunch environment, finding little nooks and crannies to fit client education into can be invaluable.

I find this especially useful when I’m dealing with areas of heightened sensitivity. If a client comes in with a painful sacroiliac area and sciatica symptoms, for instance, I try to talk them through the treatment as I deliver it. I want them to know what I’m trying to achieve with my slow steamrolling, and I ask them to let me know their experience. Does it feel like we’re in a relevant area? Do you feel this referring pain anywhere else? As I gather information, I can also deliver some, telling them about their posterior pelvis and where relevant muscles attach. When you live with chronic pain, learning more about it can be a relief in itself! ... continue reading.

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.

Let me know what you think! Is there anything that you’d add or do differently? Did I finally drone on for too long during a video? ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks to my 124 Patreon supporters! You may have noticed that I’ve been posting videos more frequently, and your monthly support makes that possible. My goal is 500 patrons by the end of the yearโ€”if you’d like to join in, check out https://www.patreon.com/MassageSloth.