More than just a massage therapist?
So Vic and I released our latest podcast episode – in it we talk about what massage ACTUALLY does.
Now I’m not actually going to go into detail on that here because if you want to know the answer, you’ll have to listen to the podcast! But it did get me thinking about what I do, as a “massage therapist”, “remedial massage therapist”, “soft tissue therapist” or whatever fancy title you want to assign me.
I think there's a certain element of snobbery, both within the industry and outside it, over people being just a massage therapist. But we are so much more than that.
Don’t believe me, read on.
1. I reassure you that you are not fragile.
God, as therapists we’ve heard them all in the clinic at some point. Your spine is crumbling. Your knees are bad because you run. Your age is the reason you hurt.
NONE OF THE ABOVE IS TRUE. Not. One. Statement.
But it can be scary when a medical profession uses those terms. Just the vision of your spine crumbling or your knees wearing away can be enough to stop people from doing the activities they love (fear/avoidance cycle remember?). I take the time to sit down with you and explain why these statements are incorrect. I reassure you that you are not fragile, you WILL NOT break. And together we will find a way to help your pain and get you back to what you love.
2. I give you the skills and knowledge to live a better life.
Following on from above - I help you understand your pain and why you shouldn’t be afraid of it. A large, and often, overlooked part of pain treatment is the psychology behind it – understanding why we feel pain, why pain is not always what we think it is and how these beliefs and perceptions can influence our pain experience and recovery.
I also help you look at what is possible from a physical point of view. You want to play a game of football with the grandkids but you have arthritis in your knees – does this mean you shouldn’t run? That you shouldn’t kick a ball? Not necessarily. We may need to do some strengthening exercises. We may have to make some lifestyle modifications. And it may take time. But we can most likely get there.
And the best part, is that once you have learned about pain, and things like the fear/avoidance cycle, you can apply these principles YOURSELF. You can look at your stress levels, sleep patterns etc, and maybe, just maybe, you won’t have a need for someone like me.
3. I listen to you.
Did you know that during an assessment most patients will only talk for 90 seconds before they are interrupted by the clinician?
90 SECONDS. The ad break in your favourite TV show is longer.
Now, I am not having a go at medical professionals. Most of them do an outstanding job with the very limited time they have. And that’s part of the problem, they have a limited amount of time to get to the crux of the issue and decide treatment.
In my clinic I have the luxury of time with you. So rather than just listening about what hurts, I have time to talk to you about your stressful job, your relationship with your OH or kids, how horrible you found lockdown etc. All these small tiny things, that when put together, help understand your experience and what you are feeling. This leads me on to my next, and probably most important, point….
4. I see YOU, the person. Not an injury or condition.
As a therapist, it can be very easy to focus on the injury or condition and forget there’s a person attached. Especially as we tend to live a very medicalised world. But if fixing the injury or condition was that easy, people like me would be out of business. It’s only by looking at what makes you uniquely YOU – your life, your experiences, your feelings - that we can hope to have long term success in helping you.
At the end of the day, I got into this job to help people. To make a difference in their lives.
And I think I do. When people are at their lowest points in life, when they’re feeling frightened and in pain, it is people like me that are there to help get them back to enjoying life.
We are more than just massage therapists.