What should I do?

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Lovessage
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What should I do?

Post by Lovessage » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:47 pm

Hi. I've been practicing massage for about a year now. I've had some ups, and downs. But overall I feel confident in my ability to give a good, therapeutic massage. Not cocky, like oh I'm so great. I have learned to follow my intuition when massaging. I like to massage people's problem areas. The first modality I learned was Thai massage. This rooted me in a very spiritual place when I first started, instead of knowing what muscles I was touching I was thinking of it as "inside energy line 1" or "gb21". I still try to ground myself in this place because this is where I feel comfortable. I have since taken other modalities, such as Swedish, trigger point, sports massage, lymph. And I was planning on taking shiatsu, deep tissue, and therapeutic massage in the intermediate future. I love trigger point.

One thing I have learned in this life is to follow my intuition. Another thing is that one of my purposes in life is to help calm others, help calm their muscles. I feel like I can speak to them. I'm sure other people feel similar.

I have about 500 hours of massage schooling. I never claimed to be done, but I was excited about the possibility of being able to have a real job as a MT. I put probably about 95% of my energy and time into massage. I work front desk at a massage clinic, give my man frequent massages, do free student clinical massages, go to every class, make an effort to have a connection and hear out every person I meet in this field (whether they are a client, teacher, or another therapist).

So last night I had a final in my sports massage class. A few nights before I gave a sports massage and felt very good about it, like I was genuinely helping my partner and like she was genuinely enjoying it. But last night was different. The whole time I could tell that my partner (who is a MT at the clinic I work at) was just flat out not enjoying the massage. It's something I have never experienced before. She was just unhappy with what I was doing. I massage in a very meditative, slow way and I focus (maybe too much?) on energy lines and any trigger points I feel are "closed up" or tight. She wanted me to be more flowy, and said I was massaging her in the wrong spots. Even though I was massaging her in spots that my intuition was telling me needed to be massaged. It is just not my style to glide over areas. I find areas that have problems and I try to break up scar tissue, ect. I'm very careful and I always try to stay connected to the client as much as possible. I know some people carefully guard places that are sensitive and tight and don't like those areas addressed. But this is what I do. I try to address the unaddressed.

Ok. So my question. What is my problem? Am I in the right? Or should I change my entire way of doing massages? She said I had a good touch but that she didn't like the trigger point and wanted my strokes to be more flowy. Should I maybe take a lomi lomi class to balance myself out? Because the only "flowy" stroke class I've ever really taken is Swedish and some deep tissue. I always felt like trigger points where I really shine. I like to try to release them. I know everyone gets a bad review every once in a while, this just really discouraged me because I really respect her opinion as a therapist. I just want to be a good therapist so badly. When I got home I was thinking that maybe I should stop taking classes because I've already been doing this for a year and generated such a bad effect on her. Do I have what it takes? I love massage. But if I'm not good enough or don't have the right energy for it I would rather stop than spend more time beating a dead horse. My teacher had some encouraging words for me, which made me feel better, but I guess I just thought I was farther along my "path" than I thought I maybe am. Are people just lyng when they say they like my massages?

Some side questions...

Did you have to change your personal life to be a more completed therapist? (For example, like a roommate situation, addiction, family matter). I feel like you need to eliminate craziness from your own life if you want to help others. Or at least learn to ignore it?

How do you deal with anticipation for an upcoming massage?

That's all for now. Thanks for reading all that :)

jdcan
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Re: What should I do?

Post by jdcan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:08 pm

Don't let 1 mis-match throw you.
Know that you will always have more to learn.

Clients have preferences, like going into a restaurant. If you are an excellent Chinese cook, don't change because 1 person came in and was disappointed they didn't get pizza. Simply let people know you excel at Chinese, preferably before they walk through your door.

I do have a question about your Trigger Point Therapy. You're going by anatomical knowledge, as opposed to intuition, right?

Lovessage
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Re: What should I do?

Post by Lovessage » Fri Jan 18, 2013 7:28 pm

jdcan wrote: I do have a question about your Trigger Point Therapy. You're going by anatomical knowledge, as opposed to intuition, right?
Yes, I use a mix of both. If I know I'm going over a tender area I use extreme care and delicacy when needed, like on the neck. Never on the spine of course.

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Re: What should I do?

Post by JaeMarie » Fri Jan 18, 2013 9:12 pm

Another thing I'm hearing as I read your post is that it sounds to me like you're working a lot based on what you're feeling and what your intuition is telling you to do, even if it's potentially not the desire of the client?
...said I was massaging her in the wrong spots. Even though I was massaging her in spots that my intuition was telling me needed to be massaged...

...I know some people carefully guard places that are sensitive and tight and don't like those areas addressed. But this is what I do. I try to address the unaddressed...
I would question how much you're massaging from yourself or for you, and how much is based on what the client wants and needs, and based on their feedback? Are you checking in with them frequently? When I'm doing sports work or more therapeutic/trigger point type work, I'm checking in quite regularly with the client for verification to see if we're on the same page or not. How does the stretch feel? Where in the muscle are they feeling the stretch? Am I on the trigger point? What's the intensity? Is the sensation changing? Do they feel anything else? As I assess an area, if I think I feel something I ask them if they feel anything in that area of tissue. I also ask them to tell me when they feel something in case I miss it, and if they're not speaking up, I check in with them again (because some people aren't very vocal.)

Also, when she says she wants something more "flowy", does she mean that she wants flowing/gliding strokes, or is she talking about the organizational flow of the massage? I've had massages from people before where it felt very random or disorganized. For example one person would be at my left shoulder for a couple minutes then transition to my lower back, then work my right lower back from the left side of the table for a very long time, then go up and hit my neck just a little, then back to my left shoulder, then after some very large connecting strokes pick a seemingly random area to focus on (never asking for feedback.) It felt like she was lost and either making it up as she went along or trying to kill time. Personally, when I'm doing more specific/trigger point work my basic approach is to work general, warm the area, assess, get more specific and treat the area based on the clients feedback, then back out and smooth the area over again before double checking to make sure that the area addressed is relieved. When everything is good, I transition to the next area by reconnecting where I started back with the whole, then warm, assess, get more specific etc all over again. (I hope that makes sense.)

As jdcan pointed out, not every pairing is going to be a workable match. It does seem that there may be a few questions you want to ask yourself though. If every massage was "great" or "perfect", you would have nothing left to learn and no place to grow. Being challenged, not knowing an answer, and questioning yourself are all places where growth, knowledge and experience can come from.

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pueppi
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Re: What should I do?

Post by pueppi » Sat Jan 19, 2013 11:33 am

Lovessage wrote: So last night I had a final in my sports massage class.

The whole time I could tell that my partner (who is a MT at the clinic I work at) was just flat out not enjoying the massage. It's something I have never experienced before. She was just unhappy with what I was doing. I massage in a very meditative, slow way and I focus (maybe too much?) on energy lines and any trigger points I feel are "closed up" or tight. She wanted me to be more flowy, and said I was massaging her in the wrong spots. Even though I was massaging her in spots that my intuition was telling me needed to be massaged. It is just not my style to glide over areas. I find areas that have problems and I try to break up scar tissue, ect. I'm very careful and I always try to stay connected to the client as much as possible. I know some people carefully guard places that are sensitive and tight and don't like those areas addressed. But this is what I do. I try to address the unaddressed.
Did you pass the final?

If so, don't let it stress you and move on. She won't be a client in your practice, and you have many more yea's than nay's regarding your style - from everything you have said here.

jdcan & JaeMarie have given some wonderful advice! :)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through valleys tinkling with bells...
Houston Massage Therapy - Advanced Massage Therapy - Lucas & Lucas, LLC

Levi
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Re: What should I do?

Post by Levi » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:02 pm

Hi Lovessage,
You state that overall you feel confident in your ability to give a good, therapeutic massage. Go with that. Don't second guess yourself. You have invested a year now, so keep going. Many massage therapists do not last long in the profession; they blow out their thumbs or get carpal tunnel problems, can't handle back to back massage work at a busy spa, but don't want to go into business for themselves, etc. Its not for everybody.

Its too bad that one negative massage experience can throw you off, but I know it happens and I get sensitive about stuff like that too. I want everything to be perfect for my partner. But realistically, that's a tough standard, and I have gradually lowered the bar for what I expect. For me, the main thing is just to not hurt anyone in the process of massage. If it turns out to be enjoyable or otherwise beneficial for them, that's great, and we will probably end up doing repeat business or trades.

On another note, when I receive a massage from another massage therapist or student, I always refrain from messing with their "mojo" by suggesting in the middle of the process that they totally reinvent the way they perform massage. Its counter productive. If I am too cold or If they are hurting me, I will pipe up and ask them to add heat or back off the pressure. Or take a momentary time-out to cut their fingernails. Otherwise, I stay quiet and try to work with them non-verbally by controlled breathing or sending spiritual energy to them. If during the massage, they check in with me or ask about pressure, etc. I keep things honest but short.

After the massage is finished and if I am invited to critique their work, I might talk about flow or pace or other possible massage modalities. Even then I would keep the dialogue constructive, kind, and respectful. Hang in there.

randomness0
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Re: What should I do?

Post by randomness0 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:16 pm

Hi,

As others have said that it is probably just a mismatch and there is no reason to radically change your style on the basis of one session that wasn't a success in your mind. Studying lomi-lomi to learn more flowing strokes/style is probably not appropriate if it is not you.

However, it is always good to be mindful of clients requirements and try to meet them as best you can within your massage paradigm. But if you try to be what you are not then you will probably end up satisfying no-one.

Having said that if I booked in for a sports massage and the therapist massaged (in your words)
in a very meditative, slow way and I focus (maybe too much?) on energy lines and any trigger points I feel are "closed up" or tight
have to admit I probably wouldn't enjoy it. Not convinced for me that there is necessarily a correlation between energy lines and muscles needing release during a sports massage. Also trigger point work is very much a personal taste and it can be relatively easy to overdo it during a session if the client has not specifically requested it upfront. I've had clients comment during a massage along the lines of "oh - I didn't know I was going to get acupressure" which I tend to intrepret as direction to stop doing it, even though I think that I'm only introducing a little trigger point work within a massage - a cue for me to focus more on muscle lengthening/broadening strokes (which to me is probably synonymous with sports massage).

As mentioned above always work within your massage paradigm but it is always a good idea to expand and challenge your paradigm through further education and study - by the way have you ever checked out any of the Art Riggs deep tissue stuff, he works slowly and methodically (and I find it can be quite meditative) but also the strokes are gliding? Might be worth just having a look at some youtube videos of his.

Richard

gemini6
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Re: What should I do?

Post by gemini6 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:49 pm

Every person is different so communication is key so that you understand what they like and want. There should be no reason why you are doubting yourself if this is the first time someone made suggestions about your massage techniques.

It helps to take more cues from your client, reading what they are enjoying and what areas are not so enjoyable to them. :smt001
[b]Great resource for finding the best portable massage table. http://portable-massage-table-reviews.com[/b]

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Breathe and laugh

Post by holley » Wed Feb 13, 2013 9:13 pm

The feedback listed in response to your question is as impressive as your seeking to enrich the service you provide.

Once a man come in for a massage and was extremely discomforted to find I was male but he decided to go thru with it (he had a gift certificate for Valantine's Day from his wife). Thought, with my good intentions, trainings and skills, his feelings would shift and so blundered on. It was excruciating and nearly traumatic for both of us.

Hope I've learned. At the first sign treatment is being: resisted/disliked/uncomfortable, communication is essential and responding to the concerns/feedback of celebrant is what makes us therapists, I believe.
'Every Day is a god, each day a goddess and holiness pours forth in time."

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tranquilspirit2006
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Re: What should I do?

Post by tranquilspirit2006 » Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:28 pm

Keep doing massage, if you love it. I know it's upsetting when someone doesn't like your massage, but not ever MT and client is a good fit. You will find people that love your massage and people that don't and you just have to tell yourself, there are different styles and different people and not all mesh. I can do a decent, basic deep tissue but my real strength lies in giving just a good ol' totally relaxing melt 'em Swedish and I know that. If someone wants very deep, therapeutic work, they won't like my style. And I have no problem referring people to a couple of MTs I know that specialize in that kind of work. People who like your style will find you and you will find clients who like your style, it just works that way.

Just be careful that you are doing your work within what the client has asked for and not just what you feel they should have. I think I do more relaxing Swedish with some pressure, simply because that's what I prefer when I'm on the table. I've had people hurt me (and keep on hurting me even when I told them) doing some very deep work because "Oh, you need it!" Ok, but I'm paying for this and that's not what I want. I don't mind pressure but I don't like elbows in my back. That hurts me. I appreciate and return to, the MTs that listen to me.
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ponopono
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Re: What should I do?

Post by ponopono » Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:53 pm

Lovessage wrote:Should I maybe take a lomi lomi class to balance myself out? Because the only "flowy" stroke class I've ever really taken is Swedish and some deep tissue.
Lovessage wrote:Some side questions...

Did you have to change your personal life to be a more completed therapist? (For example, like a roommate situation, addiction, family matter). I feel like you need to eliminate craziness from your own life if you want to help others. Or at least learn to ignore it?
These are both good reasons to consider Lomi Lomi. If you're not sure you've had enough exposure to "flowy" styles to know if there's one that suits you, it's a great place to find your answer. Perhaps more importantly, you may also get some insight into your side question.

For the ancient Hawaiians, a prerequisite for becoming a lomi practitioner, or healer, was that that you had to be completely at peace with yourself, your family, your community, and the earth. The concepts involved are integral to any Lomi Lomi training to this day. The specific approach can vary quite a bit between different teachers and lomi styles, and it's hard to know ahead of time which of the training choices are the best match for you. From what I've seen, many of those who return to repeat or advance their lomi training are there more for the second reason than the first.

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