April 26, 2013


Massage therapists take a big risk every time they do a house call – it is the time they are most likely to be injured on the job. Not by doing a massage but from lifting and carrying massage tables.
Anyone who has negotiated the front steps and the doorway only to find a long staircase inside knows the pain – Carrying a bulky table, even with the best body mechanics in the world, doesn’t negate the risk. Eventually table-wrangling will get you.
Therapists can mitigate their risks. For instance, I have always carried the lightest table on the market – it has aluminum legs that reduce weight by about 10 pounds over the standard wooden tables.

Many therapists learn early in their careers that the nice, expensive table their school recommended is also the heaviest and bulkiest to carry. One day a sharp-eyed classmate pointed out to our little study group that our teacher kept an aluminum-legged table in the car. Guess which type we bought.

Also, I use those funny-looking straps on the table cover. FYI, the long one goes over the opposite shoulder, the short one over the front pocket is for the arm closest to the table and – this is the one many people forget to use – the short handle on the upper inside of the table cover is used by the opposite arm. You may not be able to run through an airport with it, but at least the weight is distributed enough to reduce the risk of wrecking the quadratus lumborum.

Carrying the case with the long strap on the same side as the table – while ignoring the other straps leads to lumbar and flexor injuries.

Not much has changed in the technology of carrying cases in the past 10 years until recently. In the past, cases could be bought with optional “skates” little skateboard attachments that strapped on a table and allowed a therapist to scoot it along. These skates became nightmares when you got to stairs. They added to the weight and you had to take them off and leave them at the bottom of the stairs where someone in the house could trip over them.

Now I notice that manufacturers are adding built-in wheels like the ones that come on suitcases. These new covers make the transition from floor to stairs with very little added weight. I love the scooter cases.

Best of all, there are those rare clients who have a massage room in their home. This is massage therapist nirvana. They have their own tables; linens and a few even have an electric (yeaa!) table.

April 19, 2013

Pick Your Part

A full-body massage is the best in my book. You get your aches and pains rubbed away, your brain has the opportunity to tune into every part in the massage sequence, and the relaxation response is brought from background to foreground.
This massage therapist has always been a fan of the full massage, but sometimes people want all of their massage time spent on the parts that hurt – The back and neck, the hands and feet, the scalp.
I am accommodating, of course, but I always mention the good reasons for a full massage – and offer it as an option available whenever they request it.
Most often it turns out that the subject of the massage slowly learns to trust me, and as that trust builds, I find out why they want a focused massage only. Sometimes it is just practicality – they are having a half-hour session and want the most relief for their achy parts.
Part of that practicality is newness as well. For people new to massage, a half-hour seems less invasive and creepy than getting relaxed by a stranger.
I do hear the occasional horror story – someone has been relaxing during a massage, slowly drifting away when suddenly the therapist climbs up on the table and walks on them.
No, I don’t do that, I explain. If I ever had a reason to do that, I would ask and discuss it first, I say. It would be totally up to the person getting the massage. No, I wouldn’t take offense if told no.
That said, often the client will start getting full-body massages. The client is, of course, coming in to relax.

April 8, 2013

Get Online with It: Face the Facts

I had a very good feeling about the practitioner I was learning about online – the picture, the story, the information fit what I was looking for in a massage therapist.

So I went to my first appointment – and I couldn’t believe my eyes – the person I expected to meet had aged 20 years since I looked at the photo online. I didn’t quite know what to do. I definitely didn’t say anything.

Is it na├»ve to expect the picture online to look like the person you meet? This wasn’t a dating site. I was looking for a good massage. Before this I didn’t think age was an issue in a massage therapist.

Just for yucks I went back to the website afterwards. The picture I saw did have a few clues that it was an old shot – the hairstyle was out of date ‘80s, the focus was fuzzy, the clothes style much gone by.

Still, I did not know what to do, if anything about the discrepancy. But I felt bad, that as a fellow massage therapist, I had said nothing during the first session.

I went back for another session, and this time I got my scriblets together and decided to bring it up.

“Gee, you do such a great massage. I was surprised that you use such an old picture on your site. Perhaps it is time to update.”
Nothing like jumping right into the lake.
A long, frigid and deafening silence followed my remark.

“Oh you noticed that, did you,” the therapist said.

That went so well. After I drove away I parked at a convenience store to have a little private cringe. Old portrait photos online apparently are in the same category as comb-overs. Never to be noticed or mentioned. All I can say is fellow therapists, don’t let this happen to you.