“Are you certified in Oncology Massage?”

Therapist performing massage on client's lower left leg on table

Good question. Short answer is, I’m Licensed by the state board (which is the board of nursing in VA… we don’t have our own dedicated Massage Board at this time.)

Society for Oncology Massage logoI’m a member of the Society for Oncology Massage (s4om.org) and have taken classes to learn about safely adapting massage therapy for clients who are dealing with cancer. And the learning never ends 🙂

At this time, we don’t have a specific certification for Oncology Massage Therapy (OMT). A therapist who has taken the advanced training, can join S4OM and be connected with like-minded therapists across the country.

There sure are a plethora of classes that I want to enroll in to learn more about OMT. New perspectives to listen to. Webinars to watch. And new insights to gain about clients and what they are going through, and the best ways to help. Plus sacred cows to question. It was formerly believed that someone who has cancer, could not have a massage. Thankfully, we have learned that this isn’t true.

(Along with my underlying healing-process. Cancer diagnosis hands you a new normal, and I’m still working on what that really means in my own life, too.)

I’m excited to be able to offer OMT and to be given the tools to adapt massage therapy so that it’s safe and beneficial. And we need more therapists to take OMT training courses, so that fewer people will be turned away from getting a massage. Maybe someday the S4OM will create a Certification for our specialty. We’ll see…

Should I Cancel My Massage if I’m Not Feeling Well?

Woman sneezing into tissue

Yes, please. Cancel if you are sick. Great! We’re done here.

Nah, we’ve got a bunch more to cover. There are lots of variables to being sick. What does that even mean and why does it matter? Let’s dig in.

What is ‘sick’?

For determining your ability to receive massage, ‘sick’ means one or any combination of the following:

  • Fever and related symptoms
    • Chills
    • Aches
    • Unusual fatigue
  • Respiratory issues
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Very runny and/or stuffy sinuses
    • Sore throat
  • GI issues
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea

If you have any of the above happening, it’s best to cancel.

Massage isn’t going to help you get better

A sick body needs rest. Receiving massage is an active task. Massage causes change in the body and your body has to work to maintain stability. Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from rest and recovery. That’s not helping.

Kermit the Frog with tissues

You’re not going to be cozy on the massage table. Sure, it sounds like a warm massage table would be great. But the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways. Gravity and pressure are not your friend here. Even if I do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.

If you’re feeling at all dizzy or loopy, lying face down can make that sensation even worse. Especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection. You may have that lingering dry cough well past the stage of contagion or actual illness.

If you’re unsure about your situation, please call me before your appointment and we can make a decision together.

It’s really, really easy to spread those germs

If you come in sick, you may get me (and my other clients) sick. Even with the best handwashing, coughing into your elbow, and precision skills depositing your dirty tissue into the trash bin, you’re likely to leave a few germs hanging in the air and I’m likely to breathe them in. And my next client may already have a compromised immune system.

There’s a lot we just can’t control about cold and flu season. We may have been exposed without knowing and be contagious for a few days before symptoms show up. That’s just part of living in a world with other people.  But we can control where we go and who we see while we are symptomatic. I know it’s a bummer to delay your massage, but it’s also the right thing to do when you are contagious.

Stay healthy

You already know the best ways to stay healthy through cold and flu season. (But I’ll remind you.) Consider getting a flu shot, wash your hands, get enough sleep, get out into the fresh air when possible. Some stores provide wipes to use on the handle of your shopping cart, which is good if the previous shopper may have had a cold. I try not to touch door handles in public… I use a paper towel, tissue, or my coat as a barrier when opening a door.

If you feel cold symptoms coming on, do your best to cancel whatever you can from your schedule. Keep your activities to a bare minimum and just rest. Stay hydrated. Ask for help. That’s hard to do, but worth the effort.

Here’s to staying healthy through this season and the whole year!

https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/how-long-flu

3 Ways a Massage Can Help You Today!

Closeup view of client having left hand massaged

(1) Got a Headache?

Tension headaches (often called stress headaches) are the most common type of headaches among adults.

Pain or pressure in your forehead, or on the top or sides of your head? Could be a tension headache. It’s especially likely if you’ve been hunching over a desk, spent a lot of time in a car, or if you’re shivering & huddling to keep warm in the wintertime.

A massage can help get rid of that headache, and regular massages may lessen its frequency.

Male client having scalp massageHave you tried adding a scalp massage to your session? A lot of my clients love it, and say that this makes their headache feel better.

(2) Help for Low Back Pain

A major research study was published in 2011 showing that massage therapy was better than drugs for general lower back pain. (“Better than drugs.” I just had to say that twice.) 

Just about everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their life. If it happens to you, don’t suffer. Schedule a massage and get back into action.

(3) Improves Irritability

Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It isn’t fun. It might be time for some self-care.

Massage is great for stress relief. You get to shut off all the electronic gizmos that buzz & chime & demand your attention, and take some time out.

Music, silence, warmth, massage. All the crankiness disappears. This is dual purpose. You’ll feel better and all the people around you will be happier that you’re back to your sunny self.

To Sum Up…

Got a headache, low back pain, or a case of the grumpies? Let me know when you’d like to come in, and we’ll help you feel better ASAP.

What Should I Expect When I Come In for a Massage?

Exterior of building where Quiet Strength Massage Therapy is found.

Sometimes when I meet somebody and tell them I’m a massage therapist, they tell me they have been meaning to get a massage.

They mention tension in their shoulders, or they feel stressed out because of their job, or they have pain in their back that never seems to go away. Oftentimes, they had a massage before… but it’s been a long time ago.

Or they tell me that their overbooked schedule makes it difficult to fit some self-care into their calendar. And many people that I’ve talked to, are just nervous about coming in for a massage, because they aren’t sure what it is like. And they’re not sure whether or not a massage will help them. Or whether they’ll like it.

Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions that you have about massage therapy, or if you’re wondering whether bodywork can help you.

Over the years, I’ve worked with lots of clients who never had a massage before…and the vast majority really feel better after they try it!

Because I’m a small business with just one client at a time, I can offer you a relaxing atmosphere that won’t feel like “rush ’em in, & rush ’em out.”

Red alarm clock with grass backgroundFor your first appointment, try to arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled time. That gives you time to sit down, relax, and fill out a form (your contact information, some questions about your medical history, and what you want me to help you with).

My intake form is pretty thorough, but that’s important… so that I can adapt your massage to any medical issues that you might have (past or present).

It’s in your best interests to let me know your health history. I’m not just being nosy, but I want to work in a manner that is safe & beneficial for every client.

Overall, therapeutic massage is safe, but there are lots of health conditions that affect the way that I should work. So yeah, I ask questions, but it’s in your best interests.

As we go over your information questionnaire, please tell me if there are areas that you would like me to focus more time on during your massage.

Most of the time, when clients are new to massage therapy, I’d suggest working on all these areas: your scalp, face, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet, and back. But if there is something you want me to leave out, that is completely your decision. Some people are too ticklish to enjoy work on their feet, for example. No problem. Let me know and I will respect your preference. It’s YOUR massage!

Of course, when a client comes in with a particular problem that they want me to spend all or most of their massage time on, that’s fine too.

After we have talked about your goals and preferences, I will show you the massage room and step out so you can get ready.

My table is comfortable and has some thick padding on it with an adjustable warmer to help you relax. It’s up to you whether you remove clothing… most people do, because it makes it easier to work on your muscles. But again, this is your choice.

You then will get under the sheet & blanket and I will knock on the door to see if you are ready before I come back in the room. (Note: Draping with the sheet, blanket, &/or towels, is required for all massages at all times. I am a professional Massage Therapist licensed with the Virginia Board of Nursing, & that is the law.)

Usually I use organic or pesticide-free jojoba for massages. Jojoba is a non-allergenic ester that is close to your skin’s natural oils. If you want aromatherapy oils added, the oils I use are organic. But I won’t use scented oils without permission. I know that many people are sensitive to perfumes & scents! Nope, no “surprise” odors used on your skin that you were not expecting!

I have a towel warmer in the massage room, and normally incorporate some nice cozy towels during a session. But if you are sensitive to heat, just let me know.

If you have booked an hour massage with me, normally that means you get an hour of actual massage time on the table. As an independent business owner, I’m adamant that an hour massage should be an hour massage. (Many of the massage franchises or spas give you a “50-minute hour” and then rush you out the door. Not here.)

One of the most important things I can say about your massage is this: Please speak up and let me know at the time, if there is anything I can change in order to make you more comfortable.

If there is too much pressure, or if there isn’t enough pressure; if you’d like different music; if you’d like another blanket, etc. Please tell me right away, so that your session is what you wanted.

Normally, I do not talk very much during your massage, except to check in with you and get feedback. I don’t want clients to feel like they need to carry on a conversation. It’s your time to relax and enjoy. If you would like to talk, of course you can. But don’t feel like you have to.

When your session is over, I’ll leave the room. I don’t want clients to feel rushed after their massage! Please let me know how you feel and if you have any questions. Sometimes it helps clients to drink some water and stretch a bit after their session.

I want to help you meet your goals for getting massage therapy, whether you mostly want to relax & destress, or you have particular “issues with your tissues.” So please keep me informed about how I can help your massage be what you want it to be!

Body Image Risk and Reward in Massage

(This is a guest post by Barry Hatfield, a massage therapist & blogger who practices in Ohio. Shared with you by permission.)

Body image. Almost everybody has something about their body that they don’t like. For many people it’s a minor issue, no big deal. But some people have a major issue with their body image. It affects how they live and their happiness.

When I tell some people that I’m a massage therapist it can cause a strong reaction. They tell me, whether verbally or through their reaction and body language, that massage is not for them. Their body image is such an issue that they don’t think anybody else can accept them.

The paradox here is that massage can really help with body image issues. In massage school we were all nervous about taking off our clothes and letting somebody else touch us. It didn’t take long for us to discover that bodies are just bodies and become much more comfortable with our own. We also experienced how good receiving a
massage made us feel. Something unexpected happened – when our bodies felt better we felt better about our bodies.

I think there are three options to consider. Let’s look at the risk versus reward for them.

  1. Don’t get a massage. This is the easiest because it involves doing nothing. The risk is low since you are not letting another person see or touch you at all.The reward is zero. You didn’t get a massage so your body doesn’t feel any better, and you still have the stress you had before.
  2. You get a massage, but the massage therapist makes note of how you look, as if it matters.If this has happened to you, I’m sorry. You got a crappy massage therapist. That’s a bummer, and I’m really sorry. You took a risk, and even if the rest of the massage was decent, got very little reward.This is not going to happen if you come to me. Never. No way.  I can’t say this strongly enough. It goes against the very nature of who I am, how I treat people, and what I believe.
  3. You get a massage. A great massage. And the therapist does nothing to make you feel uncomfortable about your body. In fact, you feel pretty good about your body after the massage.In this option your risk is low. I don’t care how your body looks. That’s none of my business. I just want to help it feel better. Your reward is high. Again your body will feel better from the massage and you can start feeling better about it.

I have no idea how your body got to be in the condition that it’s in. You may be dealing with something that you can’t control, such as a medical condition or an injury or accident. You may be in a lot of pain or are limited in what you can do physically.

Since I don’t know what caused your body to be like it is now I can’t make any judgments about you.

I’ve worked on hundreds – maybe thousands – of people. Each body is interesting and I’ve yet to come across one that I could not help.

If you have been avoiding massage because you feel uncomfortable about your body:

Let’s find an option that works for you. You don’t even have to explain anything to me. Leave your clothes on. Stay sitting up or face down or lying on your side or however you want. It’s up to you.

It’s my job to help you feel better. That’s it. Together let’s find a way to help you relieve your pain and stress. Don’t let your body image keep you from feeling good.

Be Safe when You’re Outside!

Blue sky and clouds with palm trees in Hawaii

Learn about Skin Cancer Awareness

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. (Source: the Skin Cancer Foundation)

In 2014, I was diagnosed with melanoma. It was caused by sunlight exposure… although I didn’t use tanning beds, I loved to be outside and rarely wore adequate sun protection. This has changed my life in many ways, and I try to share what I’ve learned whenever possible.

Did you know…

• Sunscreens are not created equal! Here is a resource to help you choose one with safer ingredients.

• Sun exposure adds up day by day… you need protection from UV rays 365 days a year,
even when it’s cloudy. Here are some suggestions.

• Melanoma can develop between your toes, on the soles of your feet, or other less exposed areas. Sometimes it appears as a small spot.

Watch for any changes in your skin, and visit a dermatologist to have your skin checked at least annually.

Because I’m fair-skinned and have many moles, I assumed that the melanoma was “just another mole.” It didn’t look like any of the melanoma photos I had seen in school.

My intention is not to bring anybody down, but I want to help increase awareness & help others to avoid melanoma and other cancers. If there is anything you want to ask about my experience going through treatment, please don’t hesitate.

Celebrate Easy Random Acts of Kindness

Tealights burning in Himalayan Salt candleholders

International Random Acts of Kindness Week was founded by a nonprofit organization in Denver. Their website is packed with great ideas on how to celebrate, and I especially love the approach of committing a random act of kindness for three different people:

• Someone you don’t know

• Someone you know

• Yourself

Someone you don’t know

This is pretty simple and can quickly become a habit. (That’s a good thing!)

Smile. When you’re in a depressingly long line at the bank, watching a parent deal with their toddler’s public meltdown, or sitting next to another car in traffic. A kind grin goes a long way when you’re feeling a bit hopeless about the daily hassles in life.

When I was going through chemotherapy, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. But I decided that I would do my best to smile at the other patients in the treatment room. It wasn’t easy to act positive, but I hope I helped someone along the way.

Someone you know

Take a moment to think about who in your life may be a little touch-deficient. Maybe you know someone who is recently widowed, a single parent with older children, or a new empty-nester. Maybe even a young teenager in an especially introverted stage of awkwardness.

Make it a point to touch someone. It could be a warm hand shake, high-five, or great hug, whatever is appropriate for that person and situation. Touch is shown to make us happier and healthier, and it benefits both you and the receiver!

Yourself

People depend on you, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you’ve only got a few minutes, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths. Or put on some of your favorite music and chill. Or put on some of your other favorite music and dance like nobody’s watching 🙂

If you can set aside some more time, get a massage, go for a walk by yourself to recharge, or window shop at your favorite mall.

Kindness doesn’t have to cost you anything, and it doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. A little goes a long way!

3 Keys to Successful Massage for Your Lower Back Pain

Client face down having a back massage

Massage can help your lower back!

Low back pain is one of the most frequent problems I hear from my massage clients. If your lower back muscles are giving you grief, you are in good company! Fortunately, most clients find that massage therapy helps them.

To get the best results from your lower back pain treatment, keep these points in mind:

First: We should work on your legs, too!

• You will enjoy the most relief when we work on the underlying causes of your muscular pain.

Your glutes, hamstrings, and IT band pull on your lower back and hips. So, if these
muscles are tight & restricted, you will feel pain in your lower back. You’ll get more benefits from your session if I work on these muscles, and not just on your back itself.

“Where you think it is, it ain’t.” (Ida Rolf)

When a client tells me that they have low back pain, I also want to pay attention to their feet. Your shoes, and how much time per day you stand on your feet, and what kind of surface you’re standing on, are major factors in how your back feels.

Second: We most likely won’t “cure” your back pain in one session.

(I don’t claim to “cure” or “fix” anybody, by the way.)

• To feel relief from a chronic back problem, your best plan may be to come in for a series of focused appointments.

Although your muscles may feel better right away after your first session, massage
therapy has a cumulative effect on your body.

Just as you can gain muscle tone if you exercise consistently, your back pain will improve more over time if you come in for massage therapy regularly!

Third: Share feedback about how you felt.

• Be sure to keep me updated about how you felt after your previous session. It’s normal for your back to feel less painful on some days and to feel tight on other days.

Don’t give up! You’re moving in the right direction! We can always make changes so that your massages will help you as much as possible.