• One Size Does Not Fit All

    One does NOT fit allWhen people find out I’m a massage therapist, they often ask me “simple questions” about how often I recommend getting massage, what type of massage they should get, what stretch they should do, or whether they should put ice or heat on an area of pain they’ve just described. I’m afraid I disappoint them with my answers of “it depends” or “I couldn’t possibly answer that without actually working on you.”

    To help explain, I invite you to walk with me down memory lane…

    If you’re anywhere near my age or older, you’ll remember back in the late 1980s when One Size clothing was all the rage. One size fits all. Make all of your shirts in only one size and sell them to everyone, regardless of their body size or shape. Genius! Unless, of course, you’re the customer. Because let’s face it… in reality, One Size fits no one. I’m 5′ 2″ and those shirts were like dresses on me; they came down to my knees and were so big around there was room to hide a small german shepard in there with me. When I met my 6’4″ husband way back in 1996, I still had a One Size concert tee (Gene Loves Jezebel in case you’re wondering – don’t judge… it was a cool tee 🙂 ), that I sometimes lounged around or slept in. It fit him like a regular T-shirt. So I stand corrected. One Size fits a few people, but very few… I mean, really…how many people do you know who are 6’4″ tall?

    Well, it’s the same idea when it comes to massage (or anything else for that matter). There is no set frequency with which everyone should get massage, stretch, ice an area, use heat, etc. There’s also no one magic technique that will take away everyone’s carpal tunnel pain, headache pain, hip pain, low back pain, etc. You get the idea.

    People with higher levels of stress and those with fewer stress management techniques at their disposal will generally need more frequent massage. Those with chronic pain will need a whole different set of techniques than someone with pain from an acute injury. One person’s back pain will vanish with the application of heat, another’s will worsen.

    So with that in mind, here are a few pointers to help you find a massage therapist that will treat you like an individual. Look for a therapist who:

    • Lists many techniques* on their website or brochure.
    • Speaks of integrative or integrated massage or bodywork (using multiple techniques in the same session to maximize your pain and stress relief)
    • Uses the phrase, “It depends.”
    • Speaks or writes about individualized treatment or sessions.
    • Doesn’t make specific claims about how they can help you until they do a thorough intake and actually massage you.
    • Speaks of working WITH you.
    • Involves you in the treatment process (uses your feedback about the previous session results to inform and guide the current session)

    *This in no way is intended to denigrate those who specialize in a specific technique. Sometimes what you need most is a specific technique, and if that’s the case you want someone who’s fully trained in that technique.

    Just to be clear: Being a technique specialist does not automatically make someone a one-size-fits-all therapist. It simply means they’re specialized.

    I’ve only just scratched the surface of this juicy topic. I could tell you tales for hours about therapists I’ve worked with who tell every single one of their clients the exact same home-care advice (sometimes called “homework”). There are hours more worth of tales based on blanket, sweeping statements therapists have made on professional forums about treating every case of [fill in a reason to get massage] exactly the same way. THESE are the one-size-fits-all therapists I want you to avoid.

    Have you ever been a client of a one-size-fits-all massage therapist? What was the experience like? Please share it in the comments below, so others can learn from your experience.

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