Updated: Nov 6, 2019
One thing that caught me off guard shortly after starting massage school was how common the term “healing” would present itself in the world of massage. This can range from using a fairly harmless phrase like “healing hands” to folks with massage licenses straight up claiming that they are a healer - Lance Pyburn, licensed massage therapist, healer, energy magician, etc.
Needless to say this messaging does not resonate with me. I have problems with it for two main reasons:
professional integrity - I don’t think it is factual or evidence based in any way to claim that as a massage therapist, I will be a healer. I am honest about the fact that I was hesitant to pursue a career in massage, and one main reason is that I wanted a career of integrity. I believe claims that someone is a direct healer can confuse folks as to what the true evidence based benefits of massage are.
client empathy - my bigger issue with this messaging is the potential negative impact it can have on a client who truly believes their massage therapist can heal them, but the therapist is ultimately not able to “heal” their problem.
So as someone who is naturally curious, and maybe just a little bit of a glutton for finding misconceptions in the world to champion, I started to pay attention to my conversations with both my classmates, instructors, and friends/family about massage. I’ve learned that misconceptions like interchanging the world “healer” with “massage therapist” definitely exist out there.
Another misconception is the thought that the deeper the pressure, the better the healing, or tension release, a massage can have. I’ve heard folks in clinic ask to be “beaten up,” and say “no such thing as too much pressure,” or “you can’t hurt me!” I am definitely guilty of the “it hurts so good” mentality and don’t think there is anything wrong with slight discomfort for overall gain with body work, but I do think there is a limit. I have a lot of sympathy for this misconception because when you think about it, most folks get massages at spas who typically offer Swedish and Deep Tissue. Unfortunately the descriptions of these massages are “relaxing and normal” and “like the first but DEEPER,” our instant gratification brains will always choose the “deeper” option. The co-founder of the massage school I attend explores this concept more in depth in this article if you are interested in checking it out!
The truth is that folks in the scientific community have proven that more pressure on soft tissue (aka deep tissue massage) cannot compare to the tension release caused by the central nervous system. This means while there are definitely benefits to deep tissue massage, they are not on the same level of the benefits you receive when you simply calm down.
I know what you’re thinking “Why in the world would you write about a stat that proves massage can’t compare with a relaxing nap in terms of benefits to your body?” And I have two answers for that question. My honest answer is that I’m going to do my best to be evidence based and authentic even when discussing my business, and that means sharing information freely. My sassy answer is “When in the past have you have you been able to mentally will tension out of your muscles?” You might have super powers and be able to do that, or maybe you’re like me and have trouble simply relaxing and turning off your brain when you lay down :). Whatever the issue is, we have most likely all had problems with relaxing to allow our bodies to heal themselves at some point in our lives.
I take Schleip’s (researcher in the link I shared above) point that our central nervous system can provide more soft tissue benefits than pressure as a sign that our bodies are the healers, not the massage therapist. Unfortunately as I stated above, folks have trouble relaxing and letting our bodies work on themselves, and that is where the massage therapist comes in.
Massage therapists provide the following physical benefits and help facilitate the body's natural healing abilities by:
improving the circulation to muscles which can help relieve pain
reducing stress levels and symptoms of depression/anxiety through human touch
promoting relaxation for better sleep
boosting immunity by increasing white blood cell count
decreasing the frequency and severity of tension headaches.
In addition to these physical benefits, massage also has the ability to enable a person’s ability to relax and allow their subconscious to initiate activities within their body - like having their nervous system release tension. This means that anything from essential oil therapy to crystals has a place in the world of massage because they can and are being used to enable natural healing in a client’s body. More to come from me in future posts about the power of self actualization because it fascinates me!
As the icon and legend Dolly Parton once sang ”all healing has to start with you,” but a massage therapist can help - I added that last part in case you couldn’t tell. I don't think a massage therapist is a direct healer, but I do believe that intentional massage and body work can facilitate natural healing within the body.
If you’d like to work with me, I would love to help facilitate your body's natural ability to heal itself through massage and body work. I plan on being fully certified and ready to work with clients by October of 2019, and will be putting more information on the website soon about massage offerings and pricing.
In the meantime, BraveNewLove will be offering the following discounts while the business is getting started:
1st massage (post certification) is half off as a gift from BraveNewLove
Half off next massage per each referral
Half off gift certificates can be claimed up to the date of attaining my license (expected by Oct 1st 2019). The certificates can be redeemed for a year after my licensing date for half off of your massage services. Simply let me know how many half off gift certificates you would like to reserve before October 1st 2019.*
If you’d be interested in any of these offers, reach out to me directly at Lance@bravenewlove.com.
*Max of 5 half off gift certificates per individual. Unused reserved gift certificates will not result in a charge to clients.