Massage for Therapists

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If you cannot make it due to sudden changes in your schedule, please pay it forward by giving your massage to a friend! Traveling requires a bit more work and cost. We cannot offer house calls or location requests for massage first appointments. You then have two months from that date to Book and receive your massage s.

The fine print These massages can be rescheduled only once if needed, but no house calls and no refunds once purchased. Angela DeSilva is the founder and resident knitter at We Heart! Massaging in multiple disciplines since , her biggest passions are for sports massage — helping athletes with training and recovery — as well as massage for women going through all stages of pregnancy. In her spare time, she teaches advanced massage education classes and visits all the local restaurants.

All of them! Especially Tacos A Go-Go. More info: Angied. She has been providing bodywork since A no nonsense kind of gal, she likes to coax the tired and ache out of weary muscles. Some readers may not get this joke. Massage reduces inflammation. Um, no. The opposite, if anything. Massage gives you an endorphin rush. Endorphins are a class of neuropeptides that act on the nervous system to reduce pain and increase euphoria. Like relaxation, endorphins are good, but they can only do so much — at best, such an effect would mostly just explain the pleasantness of massage itself.

Massage reduces cortisol.

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Unfortunately, the evidence that massage actually does anything helpful to cortisol production is conflicting and inconclusive at best, and commonly cited research to support it has major flaws. Cortisol levels after a massage do not give a meaningful picture of the organism, and there is no direct relationship between a temporary cortisol reduction and any health benefit. Massage must be good, because insurers pay for it. Follow the money! TThe industry has a long history of insuring the treatments people want ; they get sucked in by the same hype that their clients are sucked in by, for competitive reasons.

And yet, in spite of the popularity of massage, some insurers are starting to notice that it might not be a good value to pay for it. These myths barely scratch the surface: massage therapists say and believe many much more bizarre things, living up to their reputation for flakiness. Brittany goes to the Misogynist And 48 seconds now.

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The title of the book he holds up — Massage Are Bollocks —cracks me up every time I watch it. Massage Are Bollocks But the therapist is a riot, and she effectively lampoons several of the goofier ideas in massage. Proper Opossum Massage This is not a hard thing to test — the principle is science-fair simple. Just compare metabolic waste products with and without massage involved.

Then they measured those substances with and without the subjects receiving basic sports massage. Massage actually slowed down recovery from exercise, as measured by lactic acid levels.

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Read the abstract! In any case, the whole notion that you want or need to get rid of lactic acid in the first place is just bogus. Lactic acid is not the cause of muscle pain at any time except the immediate aftermath of intense exercise and probably not even then. So presenting lactic acid as some kind of metabolic bogeyman that massage can purge from the flesh is wrong on many levels.

Years of sport massage practice have demonstrated that it does not improve recovery and generally leads to soreness. In fact, this study confirms this position as results showed exactly that response. Well, so much for controversy! Massage probably has many interesting physiological effects … but getting rid of acid in your blood is certainly not one of them.

Nor is drinking extra water going to help. Other articles delving into detox myths:. Although much rarer than post-event massage, some athletes also want massage before an event, and some therapists provide that service. The idea is mainly to to stimulate and invigorate — a kind of warmup. For instance:. When I was taught pre-event sports massage in school, I was actually warned to be quite cautious, because it really had the potential to throw an athlete off kilter. Proponents of sports massage are aware that things can go awry. There have been very few studies of pre-event sports massage.

In , a rare example of it had a clear negative conclusion, 73 echoing the findings of a couple earlier ones. Ryan Moran. Good stuff. But the bottom line is simple: massaging before a sprint is extremely unlikely to to be helpful. The massage world is fragmented into dozens or even hundreds of these, depending on how you count. These techniques are proprietary and profit-motivated, and usually championed and promoted by a single entrepreneur who gets treated like a guru and has legions of dedicated followers who tolerate criticism rather poorly.

Both therapists and patients tend to get ripped off by modality empires branded treatment methods.

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See Modality Empires: The trouble with the toxic tradition of ego-driven, trademarked treatment methods in massage therapy, chiropractic, and physiotherapy. Is there any evidence that any of them actually work better than ordinary Swedish massage? They are all unproven and mostly based on shoddy, self-serving clinical reasoning.

For now, and maybe forever, we can only judge these methods on the basis of the the strength of their defining idea. What can it do that supposedly other techniques cannot? Even if it is distinctive, is the big idea any better than a pet theory? Most are not. The history of medicine is littered with pet theory corpses.

Most treatment ideas do not work out null hypothesis , even really good ones. Next: the bankruptcy of the big idea that is the beating heart of many massage methods, probably most of them. Structuralist techniques are all fixated to some degree on straightening or improving your meat, because they believe that you are crooked or unbalanced in some way. This notion is easy to sell, but the entire school of thought has little merit. It is debatable at best — and debunked nonsense at worst.

This is another topic I have covered in great detail in another article: Your Back Is Not Out of Alignment: Debunking the obsession with alignment, posture, and other biomechanical bogeymen as major causes of pain. There are dozens of lines of evidence showing that structural treatment concepts of all kinds have failed to deliver the goods over the decades see the structuralism article. The results were the same, showing clearly that a typical selection of structuralist massage techniques was not one stitch more effective than simple relaxation massage.

A course of relaxation massage, using techniques commonly taught in massage schools and widely used in practice, had effects similar to those of structural massage, a more specialized technique. All that pretension! All those assumptions and lovely-sounding structural theories. It all added up to … nothing. They could have done relaxation massage instead and their patients would have been just as well off. These results make typical so-called advanced massage really look bad, and they make the popular modality empires and structuralism as a paradigm look ridiculous.

The technique gurus push and sell the idea that their methods are dramatically more effective than humble Swedish techniques. The gap between the pretension and the carefully measured results is a nasty condemnation of a huge chunk of an industry, of at least half of all massage the way it is actually being practiced probably much more. Not good! So the imperfect evidence shows that massage can maybe help low back pain, and yet the world has certainly not been saved from back pain. Because there are many kinds of both massage and back pain.

Results of therapy vary widely with the skills of therapists, and with the specific kinds of back pain brought to them. And so, on average :. I have a theory about what massage has going for it. Modest relief. Temporary relief. Inconsistent relief. They certainly describe a real phenomenon — sore, stiff, aching spots in muscles — but their true identity is unclear, and the science of trigger points is incomplete at best.

Trigger points may respond to massage, and that is certainly my impression from three decades of rubbing my own trigger points and trying to help other people with theirs. It has rarely been directly tested and it has never been done well and never for back pain specifically, which is probably of the greatest interest. Dial up even a mild cynical impulse, and the evidence collectively looks more like a damning failure to produce any clearly good news.

But, done with humility, informed consent, and some caution, it can be a safe, cheap experimental treatment that is at least pleasing. Nothing in massage is more satisfying than a good trigger point rub: it is the ultimate example of whatever it is that makes people crave massage. The phenomenon is common and particularly tends to crop up as painful complications of many other kinds of painful problems. And so many such problems seem to be at least partially helped simply by rubbing muscles in the area, creating some illusion that all problems are muscular problems. Back pain is the classic example.

If this theory is correct, or even half-right, it would go a long way to explain the strong appeal of massage — maybe it actually can take the edge off a great variety of problems — but also its inability to work miracles. If trigger points are the main reason massage seems at least a little bit helpful in so many cases, they are also the reason that the results are so unpredictable. The best ways to treat trigger points are simply unknown, and it may be next to impossible. All trigger point therapy is guess work.


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Therapists have greatly variable education, skill, and luck in this process. Even when you have found them, we have no idea if they can actually be treated by any well-known method, none of which has ever been clearly shown to be effective. There are many kinds of treatments for trigger points, and not one of them is much more than an educated guess. And every patient seems to respond differently for instance, some patients have clear cravings for brutal intensities of treatment that would cripple another patient.

Any good quality general massage is probably bettert than bad trigger point therapy. There is plenty of overlap between decent trigger point therapy and an ordinary pleasant massage. Countless known and unknown factors influence the outcome of any massage — far too many. The result is a weird mix of genuine potential with therapeutic unpredictability and mediocrity.

Massage is a profoundly valuable service regardless of what specific effects it does or does not have on pain, tissues, or pathologies. A pleasant, relaxing experience may have any number of minor therapeutic benefits, such as bringing your blood pressure down. However, the subtler benefits of massage extend well beyond that, into the territory of emotional and psychological benefits that are virtually impossible to define or measure — and surprisingly potent. Recently, after a long interval without massage, I got a brief chair treatment. Such relief! Any massage therapist who has been working for more than a month has observed the curious way that touch provokes introspection, insight, and inspiration.

Intense and novel sensations can be a catalyst for personal growth. Above all, massage reminds us what it feels like to feel good … and we often badly need that reminder. Whether it is the actual goal of therapy, or just an intriguing side effect, the sensations of massage can change our sense of ourselves, how it feels to be in our own skin, and perhaps bump us out of some other sensory rut 84 — and that, in turn, may give us some leverage on our emotional ruts.


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The sensory experience may have complex effects on emotions and cognition. And personal growth and emotional maturation probably have some clinical relevance to recovery and healing see Pain Relief from Personal Growth: Treating tough pain problems with the pursuit of emotional intelligence, life balance, and peacefulness. Sloth Cuddles Cat The power of touch is strong in these two: a sloth lovingly, thoroughly grooms a cat.

The road to intellectual dishonesty is paved with good intentions. When I worked as a therapist, there were times when — confession! Sometimes it seemed okay because the atmosphere of experimental treatment was thick already, with a desperate patient who had low expectations and was pretty much there to try anything. After all, if patients were my experimental research subjects, shouldn't I have been paying them?

And many are unwary and have no idea that what they are doing is unethical. Such therapists are mostly ignorant of how science works, and actually hostile towards the idea of evidence-based care. If scientifically unsupportable practices are surprisingly common medical massage therapists, they are close to universal among barely-trained and untrained bodyworkers. And that is why most people still go to a doctor or physiotherapist when they have an obvious injury.

Does it work for what? What kind of massage therapy? How do we even define the benefits?

Training massage therapists to work in oncology.

Is modest, unreliable, temporary relief from muscle pain a significant enough benefit to base a profession on? Good massage therapists are the ones with more training and a bigger toolkit. They do what they can with the tools they judge to be the most useful, and they candidly discuss risks, benefits, evidence, and controversies. Meanwhile, bad massage therapists oversell a narrow selection of less effective and mostly faith-based options, and generally lack the training or critical thinking skills to recognize their own limitations.

This is no different in principle than any other health care profession. If you found this article useful please support independent science journalism with a donation. See the donation page for more information and options. I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player.

My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications , or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter. I wish I could agree. There are many reasons why massage therapists get this wrong. And note that she is describing the sort of things she used to buy into literally. Laura Allen is a self-described reformed flake. We took turns lying down on the classroom tables, closing our eyes, and running our hands over the bodies of our supine partners and then experiencing them doing the same to us.

We also went on to do Reiki II, which was optional. That was where we learned how to do distance healing. Yes, I actually believed that you could be in Alaska, and that I could be sitting in my North Carolina home sending you a healing. The owner of the school collected and sold crystals, and used them for healing purposes.

I ended up amassing quite a collection of my own, using them to do chakra balances on people, performing psychic surgery with them, and any number of woo procedures. I also purchased magnetic pads for my massage table. I attended homeopathy workshops. Massage for Therapists will be of interest to student and qualified physiotherapists and sports therapists, as well as occupational therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, nurses, complementary therapists and beauty therapists.

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