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Chronic Pain

  • Blog, Chronic Pain, Kourtney, Wellness

    Massage Anxiety: Learning to Receive…

    massage anxiety learning to receiveMassage Anxiety is normal. Each of us have physical imperfections that make us self-conscious, even in the best of situations. But then, when asked to lie on a table naked for a stranger, well that will really cause the anxiety to come out!

    It wasn’t until I became a Massage Therapist that I learned the proper way to receive a massage, in order to get the full value. As I look back on my behavior on the table as a customer, I realize all of the mistakes I had made. It didn’t ruin the experience, but I had made things harder for my therapist to achieve the goal of the massage. My need to be in control of the moment kept me from reaching a deeply relaxed state.

    Here are my tips for getting the most out of your massage:

    1. Wear what makes YOU comfortable! In most massage practices in the U.S., you will be covered by a sheet or a large towel. The less clothing you’re wearing, the easier it is for the therapist to work; as they will have more options for techniques to use. But, a good therapist can give a quality massage to a fully clothed person. Most people wear their underwear or nothing. For your first massage you should be focusing on learning how to let yourself relax to the therapist’s touch. So, with that in mind, wear what will make you feel the most at ease.
    2. Relax!!!! It’s harder said than done, at first. Focus on your breathing and try to “let go”. The optimal state of your body during a massage is what I call “rag doll”. You’re not a person that can move around and be “helpful”. You’re a rag doll! You’re floppy. If I pick your arm up, I want it to be heavy and loose. If I shake your leg, I want to see it jiggle. If I am holding your wrist, I want your fingers to have a natural relaxed curl. This can be a hard physical state for your mind to let you get to, as most people are concerned with being polite and helpful. But it is totally unnecessary, and even gets in the way of your therapist, if you try to “help”.
    3. Let go of your body anxieties. Your therapist is a trained professional and has seen ALL types of bodies. A couple of basic courtesies: shower the day of the massage, and if you have an active skin infection, rash, or fungal infection, wait until it has been cleared by a doctor to receive massage. That’s really it!
    4. Protecting your “Privates”!   Your private parts are just that, Private. Your therapist will not expose or touch your genitals or breasts. Now, let’s clarify a bit. Your glutes (butt/hip muscles) are a very typical area of tension that is worked during your massage. A trained therapist will work this area by draping the upper leg and tucking the sheet so that only the muscle groups being worked on are exposed, without exposing your genitalia/gluteal crease. However, if there is any part of your body you are uncomfortable with someone touching, just tell your therapist.
    5. Injuries/sensitivities/medications.  Before you begin your massage, let your therapist know if you have had any surgeries, injuries, medications or sensitivities like allergies, or even ticklishness! For instance, knowing that my client has had spinal surgery affects the amount of pressure that I will give to them in that area. If my client has a nut allergy, then I need to use a special lotion for their massage. If my client has an injured shoulder, I will not be stretching that shoulder as far. And if my client has very ticklish feet, then I probably won’t even touch their feet so that they can remain relaxed.
    6. Communication. This is your massage! If you are not enjoying a technique or the pressure that is used, then it is your job as the client to let your therapist know. Mind-reading is a skill that most of us don’t have, so please use your voice and let your therapist know if something doesn’t feel right. There are modalities of massage that are more intense and use a deeper pressure, but your massage should never be painful.

    To sum it all up: undress to your comfort level, breathe deeply and let go, don’t worry about how you look and don’t worry that your therapist will see anything they shouldn’t. Let your therapist in on your medical history and remember to communicate.

    Now get out there and get a massage!

  • Blog, Chronic Pain, Kourtney, Wellness

    Massage Anxiety? Take the first step…

    Massage Anxiety?  Afraid to even try a Professional Massage? When I received my first massage, I was very nervous. Yet, I quickly learned the benefits of a professional massage are so incredible, it’s worth it to let go of the anxiety.

    First, know your fears are common. I remember a flood of questions in my mind. Am I supposed to lay naked on the table? Where exactly are they going to touch me? Are they going to see my butt? What if I can’t relax? What if my armpits stink? Are they going to see my mole?…The big one?!

    Really! These were just a few of the concerns I had before the massage started.
    But once it began, it felt so nice!  I wondered what I had been so anxious about.  Amazing!

    Then my anxiety began to rise again. The therapist tried to move my arms–I moved them for her.  Just trying to be extra helpful, I told myself.  But, I held them so tight, because I wasn’t sure if my armpits were smelly. I held up each finger during the hand massage. I lifted and turned my head for her as she did my neck massage. I held my legs as still as possible so they wouldn’t be wobbling around. And I tried very hard to not be ticklish when she got to my feet, which ended with me almost kicking her in the face!  All of which defeated the purpose of relaxing and receiving the benefits of a massage.

    Yet, it was still great. After my massage, I felt energized! Having someone focus on making my body feel relaxed was a very unique and enjoyable experience. It was no longer scary, and I felt that I had done my part to be helpful.

    With all that said, try not to be nervous! Everyone has had body anxiety at some point. If you think about it, your massage therapist would not have chosen this profession if they were uncomfortable with the differences in people’s bodies.

    So, I kept going.  Over time, I realized how therapeutic a massage is — both mentally and physically. But, it wasn’t until I GAVE my first massage that I realized the proper way to receive a massage…


  • Blog, Chronic Pain, Exercise, Tom

    How do you use a Foam Roller? And, why?

    Foam Rollers are used for self-myofascial release (SMR).  Self-myo what?  Fascia is part of the connective tissues of muscle.  When muscles are over-worked, stressed or even experience trauma, the fascia itself can become inflamed. SMR helps release the tension built-up is fascia.
    Watch how to properly use a Foam Roller… and Enjoy!
    Oh, and we can’t forget the shameless plug for the best foam roller we’ve found… from MyoSource.