Should I Try Massage Therapy?
It wasn't until I started school for massage therapy that I had a massage treatment. It was a condition of starting our program that students had experienced an RMT treatment. Prior to that, I figured I never really needed one. Even though I previously had insurance coverage under my parents and through university, I figured I was young, didn't have any major injuries, and was very active - so massage wasn't for me.
As with many things, you never know until you try. I'm not going to say that my first treatment changed my life, as it wasn't that dramatic, but it did allow me to start seeing the scope of what an RMT can do. Over time, the more treatments I receive and the more people I treat as an RMT, the more I believe that massage should be experienced by everyone at least once.
Do I need massage?
If you are doing all your day to day activities pain free and don't foresee any upcoming changes in activity, then massage probably won't be up high on your priority list. That being said, our bodies are great at adapting and that can mean adapting to different movement patterns if there is some limitation present, even if we aren't aware of the change. For example, I hurt my foot last year and while I am back to running, biking, and hiking no problem, someone pointed out that I had changed the way I run. I didn't feel any pain and I could do the same running mileage as before so I figured I was in the clear. In reality, my injured foot wasn't moving as well as before. So what changed after a treatment? I felt a lot more ease in movement through my foot and my running felt more fluid after getting soft tissue work and joint mobilizations.
An RMT treatment isn't just a preset sequence of massage techniques. You will get assessed on how your body is moving, including checking ranges of motion, and how other external factors (sleep, desk set up, repetitive movements in work or sport) might be playing a part. RMTs can also provide lots of self care exercises and movements. Seeing an RMT can help you understand your body better and can complement other therapies like chiropractors and physiotherapists, which very broadly speaking, will have less focus on soft tissue work.
When should I go?
Don't just base your decision to get massage on whether you have benefit coverage left for the year - chances are if you just come for the sake of getting your money's worth or to take a nap, you won't participate in your treatment as much and won't get the most out of the time spent on the table.
Often people book in when they have a small niggle or ache going on, after injury, feel the sensation of tension building in the body, or find themselves constantly trying to stretch out an area. There's no one specific symptom to look out for and in fact an appointment can help you get a baseline understanding of your body and where to go from today.
I'm not sure I'm comfortable with massage!
A massage treatment can be very different between practitioners as well as depending on what is being addressed. Some practitioners like to give strong, deep manual work, while others use less pressure-based techniques like joint mobilizations, rocking, and stretching. Sometimes you have to try a few different therapists to find the style of treatment that suits you. Also remember that you have a voice in your treatment - never be afraid to communicate with your RMT. We want to work within your comfort and tolerance levels.
Good news if you don't like the idea of lying naked on the treatment table - there's no need to be unclothed during a treatment. Most work can be done over clothes and it is actually easier to transition into different positions and movements if you are clothed. Whatever your level of comfort, you will always be covered by sheets and a blanket while just the current treatment area is uncovered.
If you are curious to learn more about your body, create a game plan on how to keep moving your best, deal with aches or injuries, maintain body
If you have more questions on massage, feel free to email.