By this time I have gone through many reps of asking others to undress to comfort level before the massage treatment begins. As a young male massage therapist I wanted to share some of my insights on how females react to this scenario and how I judge (in a judge "free zone" of course) their comfort level towards me.
In my experience, most females in their mid 30's-50's range prefer not to be touched or seen partially disrobed by a male therapist. As a result, they would most likely request the female therapists.
I may be absolutely wrong about this, but it seems to me that some women may either be insecure about their body, had a negative experience from a male therapist or that it just feels "weird".
I'd like to unpack the latter because of its ambiguity. I often wonder what makes getting massaged by a male therapist weird. Below, I wrote down some points to hopefully persuade "female preferred" clients to not feel so weird about male therapists.
1. Massage Therapists are licensed professionals established by the state, so any misconduct may lead to termination of license. Having a moment of suggesting anything sexual is not worth the risk of losing a license.
2. We tend to view the body in terms of soft tissue such as fascia, muscles, tendons and ligaments and really pay no mind if your nails haven't been done yet.
3. The areas you may be most concerned about will never be undraped. The client also has the power to suggest to only focus on specific segments of the body.
4. Massage Therapists are bound by professional ethics to maintain client confidentiality. So no discussion of your treatment or health history to others will be happening. Even if a client happens to run into us in a public space, we cannot mention anything about the massage treatment unless it was first brought up by the client.
5. We have gone through plenty of background checks from the state and workplace in order to practice massage therapy. So most of us are decent, respectful law abiding citizens looking to make a living just like everyone else.
As I continue to embrace a growth mindset, I have decided to venture into the world of fascia and its role in human function. I am excited to spend the next few months learning new principles, strategies and techniques so I can benefit the lives of others.
Fascial Manipulation(r) is a manual therapy which aim to interpret the passage of compensation from one segment to another and the evolution from an initial segmental disturbance to a more generalized dysfunction. As a human body engineer, one of Stecco's targets has always been simplification. That is the only way to well understand the complex behaviours of nature and correctly approach it. The outcome of this 35 years research and study process is the elaboration of a model for the entire human fascial system that correlates dysfunctional movement and pain giving special regards to evidence-based investigations and studies.
Fascial Manipulation(r) is a method for evaluate, diagnose and treat musculoskeletal non-specific pain.
Fascial Manipulation(r) has been developed by Luigi Stecco, an Italian physiotherapist from the north of Italy. This method has evolved over the last 35 years through study and practice in the treatment of a vast caseload of musculoskeletal problems.
"Your outer world is a reflection of your inner world."
It seems that most people who are concerned about their external appearance focus on external solutions. However, thinking holistically, the external body is a direct reflection of your internal health.
In regards to the physical body, the digestive system can be viewed as the internal skin which again serves to protect us from pathogens, absorb nutrients and filter out toxins. If you truly value your health it would be wise to make sure you ingest food that will promote and maintain a healthy gut. (check out this video about the human microbiome.)
Food products that are not serving your health needs to thrive and be vital could possibly damage your internal digestive tract. Impairment of this system will reduce the ability to adequately absorb nutrients and lessen the filtering capabilities to release toxins. As a result, someone may develop allergies, food intolerance, and chronic fatigue simply because of the wrong food choices along with chronic stress.
Lastly, the notion of your outer world being a reflection of the inner, also applies to our mental and emotional health. If negative emotions like worry, anxiety and depression have the ability to impair our health physically then why not think about the power of the alternative? Positive emotions such as happiness, gratitude and love are shown in scientific literature and spirituality to heal and increase the quality and longevity of ones life.
I know this information is nothing new but my hope is that it served as a gentle reminder to inspire you to make a change for the better. .
1. Drink more water
2. Eat real food and avoid processed junk
3. Emphasize an attitude of gratitude
4. Make sleep a priority
5. Increase daily physical activity
Are you spending your days with bombarding thoughts clouding the mind and ultimately leading to mental distress?
Anxiety, worry and depression is becoming more prevalent and I would like to bring to your attention a solution that has been practiced throughout ancient times.
The art of mindfulness meditation has been practiced in most ancient cultures to reconnect with the heavens and the earth. The notion of self-cultivation was highly valued in east asian cultures, as it led to respect for oneself and others. Realizing that we are a part of nature and not separate, is a great first step in becoming a more health conscious being.
What does it mean to have a lifestyle habit of mindfulness practice?
It seems to me that most people assume that having a meditation practice involves sitting in a double lotus and completely shutting off your mind. Thinking this way often leads to an unsustainable practice.
All it takes is to disconnect from your devices and worries and bring your awareness internally to something simple like your breath or the beat of your heart. The harder you try to think your way out of your thoughts the more it will persist, so learn to let go.
Let the thoughts come but don't attach or identify yourself to them. You are simply being "awareness". If you find yourself in a mental bind, take 5 minutes to sit in a quiet space and establish a body-felt sense. The more this practice becomes a daily habit, you will find that you can meditate for longer durations.
Lastly, the art of mindfulness leads to a more aware and conscious state throughout your entire day. Imagine being more focused during your workouts, class or work. How much more productive will you be if your mind is sharp and ready for the task at hand all the time?
If you value your health and establish a mindfulness practice on a daily basis you will not only see improvements in your overall health markers but also your overall mental and emotional state as well.
So instead of numbing your physical, mental or emotional pain with alcohol, sugar or retail shopping, please give meditation a try.
Your health holds a lot of value as it enables us to experience a quality of life that is fulfilling and meaningful. For those who prioritize health and wellness in order to prevent disease and dysfunction, you most likely have a community of healthcare professionals for support.
We all typically have a primary care physician and will seek out specialists depending on what needs to be addressed. However, there is another realm of health care professionals who are ready to serve which can be categorized as alternative medicine. This includes but not limited to chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, homeopathy, etc.
Most of these options are not covered under your insurance and require you to pay out of pocket. To me, you’re going to pay for your health one way or the other, either to treat or to prevent disease.
I would choose the latter as I would rather increase the quality of my life and remain independent until the day I transition into the spiritual realm.
A couple things to think about that could spark your motivational fire.
Proximity is power so surround yourself with others who prioritize exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and you will begin to adapt to healthier attitudes and behaviors.
Knowledge isn't power, it's potential power. Just because you read books and research about the best ways to live healthy and happy doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be healthier and happier. Take immediate action and start applying the knowledge to support your wellbeing.
It has been my experience that people often come into a treatment with pre-conceived notions and expectations that may either improve or inhibit its effectiveness. I have pondered on this phenomenon for quite a while and came across some interesting ideas on how we can influence our own reality.
I put together a couple of excerpts that expand on this idea below.
Placebo effect - Also called the placebo response. A remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo -- a fake treatment, an inactive substance like sugar, distilled water, or saline solution -- can sometimes improve a patient's condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful.
“Placebo effects are often considered unworthy and illegitimate. They are thought to be unscientific and caused by bias and prejudice. This attitude obscures a core truth of medicine: medicine's goal is to heal, which can include cure, control of disease, and symptom relief or provision of comfort. When no cure is available — an inevitable occurrence at some points — medicine's ultimate mission is to relieve unnecessary suffering..."
“Supportive and attentive health care (preferably with effective medications, but even without) legitimately creates a “therapeutic bias” in patients toward hope and an experience of relief and reprieve. Research suggests that distinct neurobiologic mechanisms are activated...”
“Empathic health care creates a cognitive–affective–sensory orientation, tapping into conscious and nonconscious mechanisms that can predispose patients toward reduced symptom severity and lessened reactivity to underlying pathophysiology. Or to borrow terms from the behavioral social sciences, healing interactions “frame,” “anchor,” or “nudge” patients toward shifts in their perceptions of their symptoms and illness, making them less disturbed or perturbed. This shift is part of medicine's moral imperative to relieve unnecessary suffering in a manner consistent with trust and transparency.”
-Placebo Effects in Medicine Ted J. Kaptchuk
The idea that communication and the power of suggestion coming from the practitioner can determine the outcome of the patient seems to trend in more research. In fact, more evidence is coming out about the effectiveness of placebos and nocebos (belief that a treatment will not work from both the practitioner and/or patient)
Below is a paraphrased excerpt from the book, Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton about how our minds influence our very own biochemistry.
“You, have 50 trillion cells inside of you
You’re a skin covered petri dishes with a culture medium called blood!
Your brain responds to the world and then sends chemistry into the blood!
And it adjusts the culture medium based on what you just saw, what you just experienced
So as you feel and interact with the world, if you feel angry, you release different chemistry in your blood.
If you feel happy, you release different chemistry in your blood. If you feel fear, you got different chemistry in your blood?
The chemistry shifts the fate of the cells, so in essence, you’re a cell biologist!
But more truthfully, you are a self-biologist
You are creating your own biology by the way you are responding to the environment
And it works simply like this: Environment has the signals, the nervous system; the brain picks up the signals in a process called perception!
That’s how you perceive the world! And when you perceive the world then that information goes and is handled by the processing of your mind
What did I just respond to? What just happened? Your mind creates a story about what’s happening and then what does your mind do? Well your mind, responding to the perception then causes the release of the chemistry of the brain and that chemistry controls the behavior and genetics of your cells
As you change your mind, you change your biology
Okay, cool except for this interesting part
Then you still say first, if my mind was creating this I wouldn’t of created this, I would have created something better than this
You’re creating your life whether it was your beliefs or other people’s beliefs that you are creating with.
Well what’s that mean?
Well, the function of the mind, is to create coherence between your beliefs and your reality
But if you believe life is hard, well guess what, life is hard
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company had a very famous phrase which summed all this up when he said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
It seems to me that most people with chronic conditions will hold onto the belief of their condition and ultimately identify with it. According to the content I put together, the belief of your current state will continue to manifest until you shift your mindset/perception and seek an alternative path.
Remember, that within the entire biopsychosocial model of health, you’re the one in control of deciding which path to lead. As you embark on your new healing journey, you can take the responsibility and full advantage of all the possibilities you have from your family, friends and community to optimize your life within the spectrum of health and wellness.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. -Wayne Dyer
It seems that most people strive for perfection and unfortunately become discouraged during the process. We treasure our physical bodies and look to enhance it in order to fulfill a need of significance and belonging in our society..
In regards to function, most people wish to maintain full range of motion and pain free movement. As we all know, everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. In spite of this, seeking a false sense of structure or form to the body will most likely lead to further disappointments.
Each body will have much different proportions of "building materials" within their connective tissue which ultimately leads to various body types. In addition to our genetic coding, the environment plays a significant role in our development and the story we create for ourselves. Our biography truly becomes our biology.
I would like to conclude by sharing a brief excerpt about this topic from the book Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers.
"It is very important to note here that there is no virtue involved in having a symmetrical, balanced structure. Everyone has a story, and good stories always involve some imbalance. Without doubt the most interesting and accomplished people with whom we have had the pleasure and challenge to work have had strongly asymmetrical structures, and live far from their optimal postures. In contrast, some people with naturally balanced structures face few internal contradictions, and as a result can be bland and less involved. Assisting someone with a strongly challenged structure out of their pattern toward a more balanced pattern does not make them less interesting , though perhaps it will allow them to be more peaceful or less neurotic or to carry less pain. Just, at this juncture, let us be clear that we are not assigning any ultimate moral advantage to being straight and balanced. Each person's story, with so many factors involved, has to unfold and resolve, again and again over the arc of a life. It is our privilege as structural therapists to be present for, and midwives to, the birth of additional meaning within the individual's story."
Massage services are becoming more streamlined in our society and it seems to me that people are becoming more comfortable receiving treatment to help relieve nagging symptoms.
If you are new to massage therapy it may be quite scary to come in for a session with pre-conceived notions that are not in line with what the therapists has in mind.
*Massage Therapists are licensed professionals with a code of ethics and standard of care.
Most people come in for a massage to relax and unwind after a stressful day. In addition to the stress, most people have a specific area where a certain group of tense or rigid muscles are held together causing discomfort.
Clients tend to be left pleasantly surprised after a session when nagging symptoms go away. In fact, the purpose of a massage treatment is to relieve those chronic upsets and the relaxation is simply an added bonus.
So Massage Therapy is indeed a science and an art. The schooling involved in obtaining a license requires extensive knowledge in anatomy & physiology, kinesiology and therapeutic soft tissue treatments to relieve pain and postural imbalances.
My job is to educate and facilitate a structured individualized strength training program using fitness equipment such as free weights and specialized devices. .
My job is to offer an evidence based perspective in exercise and nutrition to help you facilitate your own health and wellness journey.
My job is not to put together a mash up of hardcore exercises leaving you tired and sore for days.
That's not personal training it's simply paid punishment.
Hiring someone to direct a workout that exceeds way beyond the individual's ability threshold just to fulfill a media influenced expectation is irresponsible and unsafe.
The goal is to train smarter, not harder.
Personal Trainers are well versed in educating others about resistance training, heart rate training, program design, recovery methods and nutrition. Our service is to facilitate positive change towards your health and fitness goals using our knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and kinesiology.
If you want an effective resistance training routine all you have to do is break down human movement into planes of motion. The upper body can either push or pull things in a horizontal or vertical plane (figure 1).
This gives you 4 options to perform exercises to initiate some serious gains in muscle and fat loss.
As for the lower body you can perform a squat, deadlift or lunge variation either picking something up from the floor (bottom up) or decelerating gravity (top down).
In addition to the 4 upper body options you can now include 3 lower body options to complete a full body resistance workout.
The next step is to determine the intensity and volume of your program. This really depends on your goals but for the average person looking to lose fat and build muscle a 3 x 10 program should suffice.
Your thought process to determine intensity should consist of you asking yourself, “at 10 reps do I feel challenged?” Challenged = (7 or 8 out of 10 max )
Using your own biofeedback system you can adjust the dials (Fig. 3) on either the weight or the amount of reps and sets to individualize your training.
Lastly, the most effective program that will give you results will be the one you consistently do.
So on the Sustainability/Effort curve (Fig. 4) you want to have just the right amount of both. If you pick exercises that are too easy (little effort) but highly sustainable...well, results will either not happen at all or will take a very long time.
Oh yea, about that good ol’e “core”, just remember that if the butt aint movin’ , the core aint groovin.” Your core will improve with these exercises so don’t worry. Master the big lifts and then talk to me about isolating the core and building bigger biceps.
My perspective on health and wellness trends