Myth: You can’t get a massage if you weigh too little, or too much.
There are so many variations of this misconception. And the myths sound like they were made up by the MeanGirls.
“Skinny people don’t have enough “meat on their bones” to get a massage, they’ll just bruise.”
“Overweight people can’t get a real massage because there’s too much tissue between their skin and their muscles.”
“People without perfect bodies shouldn’t show their skin to anyone.” Umm, Nobody has a perfect body…
And so on. Yada, Yada.
Big people like massage. Small people like massage. In-between people like massage. And we massage therapists love providing massage to all kinds of people. It’s a perfect combination!
Are there different techniques better suited to bodies with specific needs? Of course. Is weight or size a prohibitive factor? Nope. Not by a long shot. The folks who make these kinds of comments and judgments, are either misinformed or just being mean.
I don’t judge my clients’ weight, or whether or not you are working on losing or gaining pounds. My table is called an Earthlite Ellora, and it is sturdy enough for the vast majority of people. (It’s rated for 600 lbs.) And it has an electric lift, by the way… which means that the table height adjusts. It’s a nice feature, because it makes the table easily accessible for any client! You can enjoy a massage here.
Good question. The short answer is, I’m Licensed in therapeutic massage by the Virginia nursing board (because we don’t have our own dedicated massage therapy Board in the Department of Health Professions.)
And as a Preferred Provider from the Society for Oncology Massage (s4om.org), I have taken advanced training classes to learn about safely adapting massage therapy for clients who are dealing with cancer.
To keep in touch with new findings relevant to cancer treatments, side effects and improving quality of life for people with cancer, I actively follow several organizations such as AiM at Melanoma, Susan G Komen, MD Anderson, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, CURE, Memorial Sloan Kettering… and more!
Although I can understand and relate with how it may feel when you’re going through cancer (I was in active treatment a few years ago), I’ll never claim to know it all. My education never ends 🙂 and your situation is unique.
So, 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 massage therapists across the country. Through virtual learning, I’ve been able to meet some kind-hearted colleagues who work in many other states.
Special training is important to provide massage for cancer patients
One concern that you may have as a client: Not every massage therapist has been able to take oncology training (especially if they have not been out of school very long).
Although I’ve worked with some very talented, skilled newer therapists, they may not yet know what modifications are important in order to work with oncology clients. General massage school programs may not have taught their students what questions they need to ask you about your cancer treatment or side effects.
Also, some of the side effects from cancer treatments or surgeries can affect what massage is best for you, long term. For example, if you have ever had any lymph nodes removed or treated with radiation, your massage therapist needs to make adjustments in the way that they work with those areas — even if treatment was decades ago.
In the spirit of continuing to learn, there certainly 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 you are going through, and the best ways to help.
Plus there are many massage-related “sacred cows” that I like to challenge. For example: 20 years ago, a lot of people believed that someone who has cancer, could not receive a massage at all. Thankfully, we have learned that this isn’t true.
(Any cancer diagnosis definitely hands you a new normal, and I’m still working on what that really means in my own life, too.)
So… certified in oncology massage?
I’m excited to be able to offer massage for cancer patients, and grateful to be given the tools to adapt massage therapy so that it’s safe and beneficial. We will talk about your specific treatment and how it is affecting you.
Before your first appointment, I’ll send you a health history questionnaire — so please tell me what medications you are taking, and I’ll look them up to learn more about them.
I want to provide this massage service to help as many clients as I can. So many people are dealing with side effects from cancer, such as pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, and fatigue. And massage therapy can mitigate some of those effects.
Some of the resources are local to Hampton Roads, and some of them are national organizations. Many of them have helped me over the past 8 years, and they could be beneficial to you or someone you know.
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
Very runny and/or stuffy sinuses
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.
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.
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!
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.
Have 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.
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.
Will massage help ME?
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.”
When you book your first appointment, please watch your email. A few days beforehand, I’m going to send you two electronic questionnaires to fill out; one is a health history, and one is a COVID information form. Please fill them out before you come in.
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).
At this time, I do require masks to be worn while you’re in the office, and I will be wearing a KN95 mask also. I am vaccinated, and am accepting appointments from clients who are also vaccinated. That’s because “social distancing” is kind of impossible with massage 🙂
There’s a HEPA air purifier in my office, which will be running the whole time you’re here. It’s just another layer of protection for both of us.
If you’ve recently had symptoms of COVID, or if you (or anyone in your household) have been exposed, please contact me to reschedule your appointment.
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.
What will your massage be like?
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.
What happens next
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.)
Please speak up!
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.
Thank you for coming in!
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!
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, to get a really effective massage for your back pain, we need to think (and work) holistically.
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! Check my appointment schedule here, and see if there is a time that would work best for you.
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.