Whole Wellness: Reasons and Ways to Address Your Health and Longevity
The other day, I asked someone if they receive regular massage. Seems like a pretty normal question for a bodywork therapist, right? Well, afterwords, I realized that what I meant to say was, 'Do you have a massage therapist?'
See the difference? Someone who receives regular massage may visit various spas, support their friend's small business ;) or dabble to try different styles - and that's all great! (There's a but coming, can you tell?)
But...someone who 'has a massage therapist' has a person in their life that knows their health history, how to talk to them, and how to adapt the massage to their needs. A loyal massage or bodywork therapist knows what you like and don't like, can tell if you're in the mood for conversation, and can become easy to disclose important, but sensitive information to - because there's trust built through time and experience. I have developed this with many clients as well as my own massage therapist, and I am very grateful.
As I continue to expand my professional offerings, I think of your complete wellness. There's so much more to you than a body. Below are some reminders of the benefits of regular Thai massage, reasons to develop client/therapist relationship, and suggestions for addressing your wellness as a whole.
As you read, consider these 6 health references: (You may have a different list to refer to, great :))
- Exercise: Your personal practice of physical and mental fitness which include developing strength, flexibility, and balance
- Nutrition: Recognizing and adapting your eating habits to meet your personal needs and sensitivities
- Bodywork: Assisted support in making physical progress, or addressing physical conditions and pain
- Rest: How much and what kind of restoration does your mental and physical body need for integration?
- Relationships: Using your relationships as a reflection of how you treat yourself, your life, and how balanced and secure you feel
- Spirit: Practices that nourish your spirit - laughter, faith, prayer, volunteering, etc.
Benefits of Regular Thai Massage (to name a few):
* Preventative measures. Prevent a headache you don't know you're about to get, so to speak.
* Increased energy and blood circulation. So many conditions and illnesses stem from blockages in energy and blood flow. Not only does it feel good and awakening to have this experience, you're also bringing your body back into balance.
* Emotional and Psychological. Hopefully your massage therapist is someone you can present yourself to honestly on both good and bad days. Maybe you even feel comfortable briefly telling them what's going on in your head and your heart. Use this physical experience to move around those emotions so they don't get stuck and cause stress related dis-ease.
* Increased flexibility and range of motion. Whether you're an athlete or have a chronic illness - someone else moving your body around while you relax will help you achieve movements you simply can't do on your own. This can help improve flexibility where you have limitations, or keep your body moving and doing for longer.
* Pain relief. A good bodywork therpist understands that the location of pain is not necessarily where the problem begins. While they may address it to provide immediate relief, they can also help produce long term improvements by understanding and addressing the source.
* Support. This is big. It can be difficult to maintain positive, healthy changes in our lives when we're not sure why we're doing it. A bodywork therapist can help remind you what you mean to be doing and why it's worth it. We want you to feel healthy on all levels.
Suggestions for creating a complete wellness plan:
Getting the most out of bodywork and other types of therapy relies on addressing your wellness as a whole. Bodywork and massage therapists have various scopes of practice which they should be honest and clear about. Here are some suggestions to help you initiate your complete health and well-being:
* Find 1-3 bodywork therapists you trust and feel you work well together. Building relationship is more than half the equation for success. If someone you're seeing begins talking too much or getting too personal, decide if you'd like to keep seeing them and find a way to tell them that's not your purpose. If you feel they can no longer help you, that's perfectly okay. Maybe they know someone else who can or you have a back-up that you're comfortable seeing.
* Be thorough in your intake and update your therapist as life changes. People often don't realize that we're trained to consider many conditions and contraindications in our practice, not just muscles and pain. For instance, if you experience digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, prostate issues, or childhood trauma - this can be relevant to your massage therapist. That said, be mindful not to become overwhelmed with your history. Relax and enjoy the experience.
* Ask your bodyworker what they suggest you do between appointments to maintain your well-being. Remember, we're not doctors and we don't 'fix'. We can answer this question with respect to our scope of practice and then refer you to other practitioners or make suggestions for you to research on your own. But asking means you're taking initiative to help yourself, which we love :)
* Become comfortable with asking for modifications. As you become familiar with the way your therapist works, ask for specific techniques or styles they use. Treat your session as it is - your session.
* Reschedule your next massage at the end of your appointment. This is not a marketing ploy. What often happens is that people wait until there's a problem to get massage and by that time, not only are we dealing with crisis, but it may take a few days to a week to get in to see them.
* Regular practice! Nothing begets movement better than movement. We should all be doing some form of mindful movement every day. Be disciplined about this - your future self will thank you.
My treatment room with the massage table set up: