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  • Why Your Massage Therapist Isn’t a Healer but You Are


    Massage can be healingI’ve been a massage therapist for 12 years, and in that time I’ve had countless clients refer to me as a healer. I’m always flattered, but I must demur; I don’t have any sort of preternatural abilities. Neither does any other massage therapist that I know.
    What I (and they) do have is:

    • Education – Massage therapists go to school to learn anatomy and physiology, especially as it relates to the muscles and the stress response. After school, the best therapists will take as many continuing education classes as they can. We can never know everything there is to know; continued learning is essential to our continued growth as therapists.
    • Personal experience – I spent most of my life prior to massage school being a stressed out mess. I tried just about every suggestion that friends, family, and self-help gurus had to offer. I found what worked consistently, what worked occasionally, and what didn’t work for me at all. While every therapist’s personal experience will be different, it was usually their search for a solution to a personal issue that led them to massage school in the first place.
    • Professional experience – Any therapist who’s been in business for 12 years will have seen hundreds of clients and learned fairly early that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. It’s this individuality that leads us to learn a whole host of techniques so that we have enough tools in our massage toolbox to be able to help most of the clients who show up on our table.

    But you! You have the real key to healing. You see, every body has an innate ability to heal itself and yours is no different. Granted, there are some conditions and some types of damage that are considered irreversible, but that’s another blog post entirely.

    So back to your healing ability. When we’re healthy, this natural ability is what keeps us from catching every bit of crud going around. However, pile some stress on the body and/or mind and that ability gets derailed as the body deals with the effects of that stress. The more stress you have, and the longer you have it, the more this natural ability is impeded.

    However, when you start to take care of yourself this ability starts to come back on line. Taking care of yourself involves more than just eating right and getting enough sleep, although those are important. It also involves reducing, managing, and relieving your stresses.

    To reduce stress: take necessary steps to make changes in your life that will result in you being subjected to less stress. This can be anything from reducing your current commitments and not taking on additional ones to changing jobs, changing relationships, or changing your expectations of others. Only you know what your biggest stressors are, and the more willing you are to do what’s needed to reduce those stressors, the more effective your internal healing ability will be. The power to make these changes lies with you. Some of those changes may be scary and uncomfortable and will probably increase your stress in the short term. However, the long term gain is soooo worth it. Been there. Done that. Trust me.

    To relieve stress: you need to mitigate the effects of the stress that you’ve already experienced. Some popular ways to relieve stress are meditation, laughter, deep breathing, yoga, and massage. When you relieve some of your stress, your body’s natural ability to heal itself is able to begin functioning better.

    To manage your stress: find the right combination of stress reduction and stress relief for your  life. This will be different for everyone, so please don’t stress yourself out if you don’t take the same stress management path that your neighbor does.

    We all have the ability to heal ourselves, but we all need a little help along the way as well. Your massage therapist will be there to help facilitate that healing by helping you relax and by reducing your pain (which is a stress to your body) so that you can access that natural ability and heal yourself. You can keep the pain, and it’s ensuing stress, at bay by doing any “homework” your massage therapist recommends, like heat/ice applications or stretching.  The more control you take over the amount of stress in your life, the faster that natural healing ability will come back online and the more effective it will be.