Style of Massage
First and foremost, decide your goal for this session and clearly convey that to your therapist. In general, there are two choices:
· Integrative Massage: This style of massage is geared toward relaxation and renewal. If you feel overworked and exhausted, this would be a great choice.
· Precision Neuromuscular Therapy (PNMT): PNMT addresses specific muscular discomfort in a very targeted and goal orientated manner. If your main concern is a specific discomfort, PNMT is the right choice for you.
In an Integrated Massage session, your therapist can address any area of concern, while still leaving time to address the rest of the body. In PNMT, the whole session will focus on muscles that relate to the presenting problem.
While all of our therapists can do either approach, many of the staff have extensive training in PNMT. Be sure to state what you prefer; more general relaxation or targeted pain relief.
What to Wear or Bring
Most importantly, we want you to be comfortable. For Integrative Massage, remove only as much clothing as you are comfortable. Our draping techniques are quite functional, leaving only the body part we are treating exposed. If you are having a PNMT session, men will leave on shorts, women will have a pair of shorts and a sports bra. We also provide hospital gowns for women, which work well for either style.
Please also tell your therapist if the temperature is comfortable. Your body temperature may drop by the end of the session, necessitating an additional cover.
If you would like different music, or anything in the environment needs to change, please tell the therapist.
Working With Tender Areas
For those of you who wish to have specific problem areas addressed, there are a lot of misconceptions about the appropriate amount of pressure for massage. There are two major ones:
· More is better! Many people believe that once a tightened area is discovered, the strategy is to get in there and ‘get it’. Not only is this oversimplified and mechanistic, it is incorrect physiologically. The fact is, overly aggressive therapy does not work and often causes unintended backlash or rebound pain.
· The therapist must sense what I feel. Often clients assume that if a therapist is pressing what seems to be quite hard (the keyword is seems; eight times that pressure in the same muscle on the opposite side of the body often barely registers as tender), they know the amount of discomfort being produced and are doing that intentionally. This is incorrect; we cannot know what your experience is unless you tell us. While the therapist may be aware that an area feels like a problem, they cannot know how it feels to you. You must give them constant feedback. This cannot be overstated.
For addressing specific areas of discomfort, our job is to discover and diffuse these restricted areas. What then is the proper amount of pressure? First, if we are on the correct area, you should have strong sense that this is an important area of restriction. If we feel something and you don’t, you are usually correct. Tell the therapist.
When you do sense that this area is compellingly tender, watch your reaction carefully. As long as you can dispassionately ‘witness’ the discomfort, the pressure is perfect. The moment you tighten or protect in any way, the capacity for real change ceases. At this point, many people say, “Go ahead, I can take it. Do what you need to do to get rid of that.” Unfortunately, this not only does not work, it can backfire. The physiology behind this is complex and fascinating; suffice it to say that you need to stay within a level of comfort to create real and lasting change.
What to Expect After Your Session
After any effective intervention, there is a certain rebalancing as your body adjusts. Just exactly how your body will respond is very individual. Here are some common responses:
1. You may leave our office feeling physically energized and yet internally quiet. Be active; but be careful not to overdo!
2. You may feel tired after your session. This is often most true if you have been over-stressed and overworked. If possible, rest and limit activity.
3. Post-treatment soreness can happen if there has been a build-up of tension in the area worked. This soreness should only last for 24-36 hours and be tender to the touch, but not with movement. The best way to prevent post-treatment soreness is to be moderately active after a session, muscle contraction and stretching infuse the tissue with fluid exchange. Speaking of fluids, be sure to drink plenty of water after your session!
4. You may experience a state of hyperawareness; both mentally and physically. Paying close attention to internal stimuli results in a greater sensitivity to external stimuli as well. Enjoy!