There are many elements that make up a perfect massage session and one of the most important besides technique is the music! I think most people will agree that if the music is distracting or unpleasant it can really put a damper on the relaxation experience.
In the past, I've tried different types of music. Classical, New Age (which includes....Enya-I know...), Mellow indie rock, you name it.
I first noticed a problem with it when a client came and a pleaded with me NOT to play enya. He said "Everyone plays enya these days and I'm sick of it."
In the beginning, I only thought of it as background noise but music is a type of therapy all on it's own. With a little research, I found out that music can stimulate brain wave activity- intense beats can help you stay focused ( so THAT'S why I can take longer walks or stay focused on my work out!). Slower music, like the kind used in a massage session, can create a calm or meditative way of thinking and also help slow heart rate which means slower/deeper breathing!
Other benefits from listening to "massage" music are:
I've stopped exploring different types of music and have stuck with the genre that I KNOW works. My favorite artists to play during a session are Deuter, Dean Evenson, and Liquid mind.
I did a recent poll on a massage therapy group in Facebook and asked other therapists what kind of music they like to play during a session and got a very eclectic mix. Everything from from Bon Iver to classical music to Hawaiian key slack guitar.
Now it's YOUR turn!
What kind of music do you like to relax to?
tell me in the comments section!
The other night driving home from the grocery store, my husband asked me what made me want to be a massage therapist. He said "It's not the usual thing that kids grow up wanting to be." Nope- It's not.
Honestly, When I was about 19 or 20 years old, I was in boring community college trying to find out what I wanted to do with my life and was in the middle of my quarter-life crisis which was taking its toll.
Panic attacks were a daily thing for me and my health had really started to go down hill. I was a chain smoking insomniac with peptic ulcers and a major caffeine habit. It was a mess.
I began working at a very posh day spa in Addison, TX and had the opportunity to meet lots of massage therapists. They all seemed HAPPY and BUSY- massage is the #1 service booked in a spa-of course there are other options such as facials, waxing services, nail services, hair and makeup but massage was where it was at!
I loved the idea of working in a peaceful environment and working one on one with others so I decided to check it out. I was super lucky to find The Asten Center of Natural Therapeutics which was an amazing massage school in Richardson TX. They were in business for over 20 years but closed around six or so years ago. Anyways, I signed up at one of their open houses- that was almost nine years ago and the rest is history.
Being a massage therapist has inspired me to take better care of my health and kick some of my unhealthy habits (especially the smoking one). It's made me smarter- I really excelled in understanding anatomy and physiology and all of the other things we have to know. Being in a career that makes me think on my feet, problem solve, and use good judgement and interpersonal skills has made me sharper and more compassionate and has introduced me to thousands of people that I would have never met otherwise.
I started thinking about my massage friends so I asked my friend Cindy, Co-owner of my fabulous scheduling software, Bodywork Buddy and Owner of Bodywork By Design in Battle Creek, Michigan to tell me about her decision to become a massage therapist and wanted to share it with you.
"That is what I LOVE about the field of massage therapy: there is always something new to learn. Always." Cindy Iwlew
"When I was a kid, I had horrible allergies with constant sinus pain and congestion. My Aunt was actually a massage therapist, and while I had no concept of what that really was or what she did, she showed me some acupressure points I could do on myself. It was Ah-maz-ing.
I still had no real grasp of what my Aunt did for a living. I just knew that she held some kind of secrets about the body that my parents, doctor, and allergist did not know. I worked these sinus points on myself all the time, even after entering my teens, but kind of forgetting all about the fact that my Aunt was a massage therapist.
Flash forward 15 years: an immediate member of my family and household was diagnosed with cancer (Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) at age 29. He’s a career military man, and right from the get-go had the attitude of “we’re gonna fight this, and we’re gonna win”.
His tumor quickly shrank and disappeared, which was pretty amazing given the 50/50 chance the doctor gave him in the beginning. I couldn’t help but think that his mindset had a lot to do with the success of his treatments. (Although I’m sure being young and relatively healthy otherwise played a huge role too!) He’s still cancer free to this day.
Watching that experience made me think about nursing. But I knew that nursing really wasn’t for me... I was more interested in the mind/body connection and the holistic side of things. I had already grown up watching my Dad deal with chronic back pain and endure many surgeries for herniated discs. Some of the surgeries didn’t even help - and I think that may have planted a seed in my mind of the limits of medicine. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying anything bad about Western medicine or saying that massage could have fixed him). But I am saying that through all of that, there was nothing holistic in the treatment of his pain. And it was obvious that back pain was still quite a mystery and guessing game to the medical community.
I started looking into fields that worked with the mind/body connection and was immediately fascinated with acupuncture. But hm... the schools I looked at required a Bachelor’s degree before starting the program for acupuncture. And let’s just be honest here: I’m not a big fan of school in the traditional sense. Some people are made for college. I, however, am not one of those people.
And then I came across massage therapy. I went and got my first massage, and it was all over after that. It wasn’t even until I had announced to my family my decision to study massage that they reminded me that my Aunt was a massage therapist! Crazy. I had just tucked that away in my mind and forgot all about it. Makes me wonder what else is in that head of mine that I’m not remembering...
At any rate, it’s kind of funny that I originally stumbled into this with such an interest in mind/body connection and Eastern philosophy, because now, after 14 years in the field - I’m much more into the muscle and tissue aspect of it and less the energetics. But that is what I LOVE about the field of massage therapy: there is always something new to learn. Always."
Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling.
She continues to operate her own private massage practice of 14 years, and has been an associate instructor for Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy since 2007.
I love her story- It's so real and I totally can relate to disliking school in the traditional sense and wanting to see a more holistic health care system.
So, What's your dream job?
Are you doing what you want to do?
Leave me your comments below.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water (ice, steam, cold,or heat) to relieve pain and promote well being.
Ancient civilizations used hydrotherapy widely for relief from illness and to maintain their good health.
You may have experienced hydrotherapy by sitting in the steam room or sauna at the gym, or by taking your nightly bath.
In my massage practice, I make good use of hydrotherapy techniques by incorporating heat to soothe and relax all my clients. My favorite ways to do this are using hot packs and hot towels during the sessions.
Also, I offer a style of massage called Hot Stone Massage. This native american tradition uses heated basalt stones to massage away tension and stress.
Here's a few easy hydrotherapy recipes that you can try at home.
What you'll need:
5-10 drops of essential oil, herbs from the garden, or flower petals (anything you find pleasant will work.
one heat safe bowl
Tea kettle for boiling water
one bath towel
Boil the water and pour it in to the bowl. add your herbs, flowers, and/or essential oils ( I like lavender or eucalyptus)
Position your face over the bowl and cover your head and bowl with the towel.
Steam for 10 minutes.
Milk and Honey bath (from crunchybetty.com)
How to take a milk and honey bath: Pour 1-2 cups of milk (or 1/2 c. full-fat powdered milk) and 1/2 c. honey under running, warm water. Swish around to mix, and hop in.
For full effect, brush your skin lightly and in circular motions with a dry brush or a washcloth before getting in the bathtub.
Oatmeal bath (from crunchybetty.com):
How to take an oatmeal bath: Fill a knee-high nylon or thin sock without holes with 1/2 to 1 c. of oatmeal (not quick cooking or instant). Tie tightly at the top. Place it in your warm bath, with you, and squeeze it softly every so often to release the oatmeal “water.” Before leaving the bathtub, scrub your entire body lightly with the sock. To clean: Over a trash can, turn the sock inside out and scrape all of the oatmeal off the outside, then rinse well with warm water. Wash as normal.
Do you have any homemade recipes for baths or other hydrotherapy treatments?
Post them in the comments section!
I'd love to read them.
Have you ever wanted to extend the blissed out feeling that you have after a massage or thought about ways to make your massage experience better?
Here's a few tips on how to get the most out of your massage sessions.
1. Book your sessions when you know you can have time to recover a bit afterwards. Being stressed during the session about where you have to be afterwards is NO FUN. Make sure to schedule some time after the massage to recover so you're not flying off the massage table to make it to another appointment or obligation.
2. Come in at least once a month. People usually ask me how often they should be getting massage and my advice is this: If you are trying to resolve pain, I say come in once a week until the pain has subsided and then tapper off to every other week and then once a month for maintenance.
If you are just looking for relaxation and rest, then I suggest at least once a month. The benefits of massage are best felt if you get them regularly. If you wait months in between, you'll most likely feel great afterwards but that feeling won't extend in the long term.
3. Turn off your mind ( and your cell phone). Take that hour or hour and a half to turn off and check out. Talking during a session or thinking about your "To Do" list or a ringing phone is hardly relaxing.
4. Speak up. If you're ever uncomfortable during a massage, make sure to let your therapist know so that they can make the correct adjustments to the table, bolstering, temperature of the room, or pressure so that you can have a great experience.
5. Take it off. If you are wearing clothing during your massage it will block the therapists ability to work on problem areas. You will always be covered and your modesty will be protected with a full sheet (and I also use a light weight blanket). I usually suggest that my clients completely undress for my Ashiatsu styled massage to get the full flow of the technique.
6. Relax your muscles. There's no need to assist the therapist in moving (unless requested) or massaging. If you find that it's hard to let go, try taking a few deep breaths and consciously relaxing the area that is being worked on.
7. Come in with a clean body. Taking a warm shower before the session can be a great way to relax that stubborn tension, allowing the therapist to work deeper and get more done in the sessions time. Also washing away dirt from the skin before a massage is a good idea, so that it is not massaged back in to the pores.
8. Take care of your health. Massage is a great way to take care of yourself but having other self care rituals or routines such as regular exercise, healthy diet, and sleep will make all the difference. Massage therapy can inspire us to take better care of ourselves- by tuning in to our physical body, we can be more aware of how to take care of it better.
So, What are your tips on how to get the most from a massage session?
I'd love to hear from you!
Leave me a comment, if you'd like.
Thanks for reading!
Booking a Massage can be Overwhelming! There are so many Options and Styles to Choose From.
In this blog I will explain some of the most popular massages out there, so when your faced with the challenge of choosing the perfect one from a spa menu You won't have to think twice!
The First one, Of course is the famous Swedish Massage. Swedish Massage is the Basic. This is the massage you should choose if you're a newbie and are experiencing massage for the first time or you just want a relaxing, soothing session.
Deep Tissue massage is a big favorite and the second most requested massage after Swedish. Deep tissue may sound painful, but it should never hurt! Therapists work slowly and use their expert palpation skills to address the deeper muscles. Sometimes they use special techniques such as myofacial release and trigger point therapy. This is the one to get if you want your "knots" worked out.
Of course, I MUST talk about Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy!
This is a super deep, but painless massage that is pretty unique- I LOVE this style and decided to specialize in it last summer after years ( I mean YEARS!) of lusting after this training-I made it happen and I am so glad I am able to offer this style to my clients. Here's my description on my site.
In this massage, the therapist uses their feet to deliver a deep, comfortable, wave of pressure. It feels like heaven! Sometimes it's called back walking, or barefoot massage- some of us love to call it body surfing :) It's great for decompression of the spine and Athletes love it for the AMAZING leg and glute work! check out deepfeet.com
A great massage for muscle and joint pain is Hot Stone Massage. In this massage, Therapists use heated Basalt stones as tools during the massage. I recently came across something called Thermal palms which is an alternative to stones and I'm seriously thinking about ordering them!
Thai massage is another style that you may see offered at a spa or massage center. Thai massage is a totally different experience! It's done on a mat on the floor- you as the client are fully clothed and there's no oil or lotion used. The massage consists of stretching and compression. I offer a style called ASHI-THAI where we combine ashiatsu and thai techniques and it's done on the massage table instead of a mat. It's pretty awesome!
The last massage I'll explain is Aromatherapy massage. This is usually a Swedish or deep tissue massage with an specific oil that either you choose or an aromatherapist formulates for you. If you're getting a massage at a spa, the therapist will let you smell a few options and let you choose your favorite based on the smell. I recently took some classes with the owner and registered aromatherapist of Flower road where I learned so much about the art of clinical aromatherapy! read my blog post about it here. I hope to get a massage from her soon! It's on my to-do list because I know I'm in for a completely different experience with her oils and training!
There are so many massage styles out there- this is just a short list to help you know more about what is out there. I never turn down a chance to try a different massage:) I think I'm what they call a "massage junkie."
What's your favorite massage style??
Let me know under the comment section.
I've noticed that first time massage clients can come in with lots of anxiety and It's totally natural to be nervous about something new . A Massage can be a pretty intimidating thing for many people and I'd like to share a few tips and pointers with you to help ease the uncertainty of receiving a professional massage for the first time.
1. Your only Job as a client is to RELAX!
Yep, that's it. Breath in, Breath out, relax, take a nap & zone out. I love how helpful clients try to be, but this is your hour to just veg. No need to worry about conversation or anticipate anyone else s needs but your own. It's your quiet time. Isn't that a load off? :)
2. Speak up if the pressure is not right.
If it's hurting, it's too much! If it's irritatingly soft, it's to light. Massage therapists want to know and love this kind of feed back. We want you to LOVE your experience and will make adjustments to fit your comfort.
3. There's no need to worry about your appearance. Massage therapists are professionals and they do not judge you by your physical appearance. When we work, we are focused on adhesion's in the tissues, tension knots , and making sure your massage is addressing your specific goals. You will be covered or "draped" during the session and your modesty is always considered and protected.
4. You will be asked for your health history. Many clients are surprised by an intake form on their first visit. These questions are asked to determine if you have any conditions that contraindicate massage or that we need to be aware of to ensure a safe session.
5. Not all massages or massage therapists are the same. Make sure to establish your specific goals or what you want to get out of your massage session before you schedule with a new therapist. Be sure to discuss this with them before you come in to make sure you get the right massage for you.
Some therapists specialize in relaxation based massage only where others may be more clinical in their application.
Licensed Massage therapists are professionals and will never offer you illegal services. Make sure to ask for their license number if it's not posted in the office or on their business cards.
I hope these pointers have helped to demystify massage therapy and have taken away any apprehensions.
Were you nervous the first time you got a massage treatment?