Sunday, April 13, 2014

Defining Deep Tissue Massage

I've been defining massage modalities lately for our new front desk staff to better match the client to an appropriately trained therapist. If you call up the clinic and ask to schedule a massage, one of the first questions will be, "Do you want Relaxation or Deep Tissue?" Another way to ask the same thing would be, "Do you have a problem that needs to be fixed?" Once we find out that you are in problem-solving mode, a bunch of other questions should follow, but usually don't. What results is two lists of indistinguishable, interchangeable therapists- those who do "Deep Tissue" and those who don't. 

To make things clearer for everyone, I like to explain it by sub-dividing "Deep Tissue" into 3 categories: Aggressive, Conservative, and Moderate. 


http://www.wwezone.org/wwe-legend/triple-h-hits-elbow-drop/
Aggressive Deep Tissue Massage would be for mostly healthy people who are large, bulky, dense, muscular, and/or have a high pain tolerance. Aggressive pressure is appropriate because they don't have contra-indications or injuries. Of course, female clients get this too, but my examples are primarily superhero types- those who feel no pain. Even a "Relaxing" massage on these dudes would be a LOT of work. These folks can be recognized by the frequent use of phrases like, "You can go deeper" and "You can't hurt me."




http://www.rmpix.com/?page_id=257
Conservative Deep Tissue Massage is the opposite. It takes plenty of know how, but does not require brute strength. I call it "Profound Tissue Massage," patent pending,  because it deeply affects the tissues, but it's not necessarily deep pressure that gets the job done. Conservative massage would be in cases of injury or when there's a complicated combination of issues going on. BB King is a great example here because he had repetitive stress from guitar playing (several hours a day for 70+ years), was diabetic, in his 90's, and his posture for playing the guitar put everything out of balance. It takes a knowledgeable, intuitive, thoughtful therapist with advanced training, to help solve those combined issues. Patients like him might have contra-indications for massage in some areas and be fine to receive massage in others. 




Lastly, I have Moderate Deep Tissue Massage. As you can guess, that's everyone in between Aggressive and Conservative. It takes some strength and some know-how. Most massage clients coming in monthly or more on their Wellness Plan would fit into this category. They have problems to solve, but they are typical issues that don't require as much muscle power or brain power from the therapist.  These are your folks who slept wrong and have a kink in the neck or they took a long car trip and have shoulder tension and low back pain. Hopefully, we can give them significant relief in one or two sessions and can also provide them with some relaxation at the same time. 






After distinguishing which level of "Deep Tissue Massage" is needed, the challenge is to find the LMT with appropriate training and experience. Nobody really cares what fancy name brand techniques I do- they just know that I get the results they need. That's the important part. 

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