Knowing your Body… and Your Body Worker

Sore knees?   Stretch out your hips.   Plantar fasciaitis?  Roll out those calves!  Chronic headaches?   Open up those shoulders! If we stop and think about how many of us walk around on a daily basis with chronic pain, it’s alarming.  Even more so when we consider the number that will likely go to the doctor, get a prescription for pain meds, treating the symptom but not the cause. And when we consider athletes, we reach a whole new level; in the sense that having tight muscles or a chronic imbalance issue can, over time, begin to cause serious disruption in training and even injury. Over the years, I’ve had many clients who have cleaned up their eating, do a great job at getting in their workouts and make their way toward a trend to sleeping properly but when it comes to massage, for some reason, it still seems to be the common belief that it’s nice but not necessary… a luxury that would be nice, if only… This couldn’t be further from the truth! Massage is not to be grouped in the same category as facials, scrubs and mani/pedis.  Don’t get me wrong, as I am absolutely a tried and true spa girl, through and through, but if any of these services do not belong in this group, it’s body work. Sure, the occasional fluff and fold version of a massage you might at a spa could be grouped this way, but not serious, deep tissue, shiatsu type of work. Unfortunately, it’s not as simply as calling up the local massage place or PT clinic and zipping in for a treatment. In my experience, it takes a long time with the right person to get to know your body and for you to get equally as comfortable knowing their work. For obvious reasons, many a massage therapist at a spa will not work on certain areas of the body, for risk of being sued (I am told), or making the client uncomfortable. Granted, working on the origin of the adductor muscle group (inner thigh- right near the groin) or on the psoas (deep into the abdomen) is not something that the typical spa-goer might want; it’s not relaxing and it can actually be quite painful as these two muscles are examples of some that are often overlooked both in bodywork and self stretching. And as a client, of course, I don’t want any random person working on me who doesn’t know what they’re doing. But to not address the entire body as a whole kinetic chain,  working on every muscle from every last to to the scalp and jaw, is to not look at the big picture. The body can’t be looked at locally.  In other words, if you have a sore knee and the knee is the only thing that is addressed, it’s no different from having a flat tire on your car and wondering why the rest of the car feels wobbly, rather than just that area right around the wheel. I am lucky enough to have found  a body worker who I feel is a true healer.   He’s been working on me for nearly five years, knows which my tighter areas are (hamstrings & psoas!), which are weak (gluts), which get tense from stress (neck) and which are typically always fluid (shoulders). It’s a joint effort, too. It’s not a matter of me lying there, lifeless, getting stretched and poked.   It hurts. It requires pushing though the pain of tight, tangled muscles to let them release and move with ease and smoothness again.   And it requires communication and feedback between the client and the therapist. Anything less is not an option. Even if you’re reading this and thinking it sounds nice but it’s out of budget, or you can’t find the right person- there is a way. I began getting massage as a recent college grad with not much extra cash.. but I was lucky enough to meet a recent massage school graduate who happened to have a natural intuition for the work and so for a very reasonable price, I began my bodywork journey. If it’s not a weekly option, do it once every other, and learn to use self myo fascial release tools on your own between sessions, such as a foam roller or trigger point balls. Hydrate, stretch, roll, do the body work and allow your body to keep itself healthy, strong and fluid. There is no given that walking around in pain has to happen…ever, even if you are a certain age, or have run for a certain number of years or whatever the common misconceptions are. Get your bodywork on!