Most Massage Therapists I come across claim to have discovered Massage Therapy after being in an accident, through sports, or through dance. In these cases, they knew, and their doctors knew the benefits of Massage Therapy. I, however, was extremely skeptical.
I thought Massage Therapy was simply for spas and relaxation. I thought Massage Therapy was an overpriced rubbing of oil, and it's only benefit was skin moisturization and falling asleep on a heated table.
Having spent a fair amount of time in music school on body positioning and functioning to achieve the best sound, then being trained as a Medical Office Assistant, I thought I knew a fair amount about how the body works; both internally and externally. It was not until I was in a terrible job with a terrible boss that a coworker said to me, "this place is so stressful, the only thng that keeps me sane is my weekly massage." I thought, what I wouldn't give for a massage every week! If only I was rich!
I had been seeing a chiropractor regularly for my many aches and pains that came with a desk job. He had been helping me with my daily headaches, low back pain, and neck/shoulder pain. I listened as he told me I had head forward posture and a rotated pelvis, but none of that meant anything to me. I was covered for it by work, and went almost weekly. Then, the same coworker that told me about her massages pointed out that we were also covered for massage, the same as chiropractic. Well, a little relaxation and pampering couldn't hurt me; not with this job, I thought to myself. So, I found a place that offered Massage Therapy close to my home and booked my first appointment ever.
My appointment couldn't come sooner, and I imagined walking into a spa-like environment with Insense burning, water music, and a therapist wearing dreads and flip flops in the dead of winter. My actual experience couldn't have been any different. A male therapist with well-styled hair and facial hair, wearing perfectly suburban clothes and running shoes called my name in the waiting room. He took me to a room filled with awards, posters of muscles and bones, a skeleton, and plenty of exercise equipment.
He asked me a lot of questions about my past medical history and medications, and all sorts of questions about any pain that I had. I told him honestly, even though I had no idea why he needed to know all that if I was just getting a relaxation massage. My own family doctor didn't even ask so many questions. He then proceeded to perform all of these tests on me, and made many of the same observations that my chiropractor had made before. How can he possibly know all this?
During my treatment (note the intentional absence of the words "relaxation experience"), he had me push my leg here and there, breathe into certain painful spots, and focus on activating specific muscle groups. He seemed to know exactly which muscles would be tight and sore, and by the end of the massage (though the actual massage was far from relaxing) I felt better and more relaxed than I had in a long time.
At the end of my treatment, he took the time to explain all of his findings, so I could at last understand what was going on in my body and why I was experiencing the pain that I did. He showed me some great stretches and exercises to do that would help me make some changes at home. I was sold. I booked again in a week. Through Massage Therapy, I not only experienced a big change in my stress levels, but also a huge decrease in my pain.
This was just the first experience of many, when I learned that RMTs know so much more about the body than I could ever imagine - until I went to school. RMTs have to know so much about the human body; even things we can't see with the naked eye. In fact, it was just the other day that I was explaining to someone about the role that blood and chemical mediators play in inflammation and pain!
To make a potentially longer story shorter, RMTs know a lot more than we give them credit for, at least more than I did. While massage has been proven to have a huge impact on stress, using certain specifically selected techniques, Massage Therapy can help with many kinds of pain and dysfunction; as I have experienced first hand. Book with your RMT today to see what can be done about any pain or stress you may be experiencing.