Try massage therapy first for pain!

eastvillagespa-tishaforearmmassageWhen I was 22 (so, awhile ago), I turned my head funny picking a very unlucky penny off the floor.  My neck ached for a couple of weeks so, being right out of college and not having a doctor in my new town, I went to an urgent care clinic for advice. The doctor felt my neck, did some range of motion exercises, and declared that I had arthritis, wrote me a painkiller prescription, and sent me on my way.

Not once did this doctor tell me, an otherwise healthy and active 22 year old woman to consider massage therapy, chiropractic, osteopathic manipulations, or other conservative forms of pain management.  When I did seek out massage on my own and realized how powerful it was, I knew I needed to become a massage therapist to help others.

I’ve been researching the nation’s opioid addiction crisis and wondering why traditional health providers are still not more widely educated on the benefits of conservative measures of pain relief for non-specific pain (i.e. back pain that is not caused by an underlying factor such as cancer) when massage therapy has been proven in multiple studies to be effective in relieving many kinds of pain.  I can almost give the doctor I saw back in 2002 a pass because massage therapy wasn’t as well-researched as it is today, but I feel like with our current information, there are no excuses.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov):

  • From 1991-2013, opioid (Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin) prescriptions rose from 76 to 207 million.
  • From 1990-2010 overdose deaths from prescription opioids tripled (and were more common than deaths from heroin or cocaine).
  • 14.4% of women are prescribed an opioid drug during pregnancy

eastvillagespa-juliemassagecloseupOver 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, 38 million of those need relief from persistent moderate to severe back pain (drugabuse.gov).  Massage therapy has been proven effective in treatment of non-specific chronic low back pain (The Annals of Internal Medicine).

  • 401 patients between the ages of 20 and 65 who had non-specific chronic low back pain for at least 3 months (rating a minimum of 3 out of 10 on a pain scale) received either general relaxation massage, structural (injury-specific) massage, or traditional medical care for 10 weeks.
  • After results measured at 10 weeks after treatment and 26 weeks after treatment, participants who received massage fared significantly better than those who received traditional medical care without massage.
  • There was no statistical difference between those who received general relaxation massage techniques and those who received structural massage techniques.

Massage Therapy Magazine cites several studies showing the efficacy of massage therapy for various types of pain and proposes that massage therapy can be a major player in helping to combat the opioid addiction epidemic by offering a conservative first line of treatment for pain.

While pain medications including opioids certainly have their place in patient care and are necessary for many people, we need to find a way to educate traditional healthcare providers that conservative treatments like massage therapy are effective. One way to start is by discussing massage therapy with your primary care provider.  Last year, 16% of respondents in the American Massage Therapy Association 2015 industry study indicated that they discussed massage with their physician.  If you have had positive benefits from massage, let them know!  We also need to encourage teaching hospitals and massage therapists to continue to conduct sound research to further share what many people who get massage already know: It works!

Ready to try massage? Click here to book with one of our experienced and licensed therapists.

Sources:

Massage Industry Fact Sheet 2015: American Massage Therapy Association https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/economic_industry-fact-sheet.html

Massage Magazine: Can Massage Help Combat the Opioid Epidemic? https://www.massagemag.com/can-massage-help-combat-opioid-epidemic-36842/

National Institute on Drug Abuse https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

The Annals of Internal Medicine: A Comparison of the Effects of Two Types of Massage on Chronic Low Back Pain. 2011. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=747008

Acupressure Explained, by Guest Blogger Jamee Williams, LMT

Jamee Williams, LMT, demonstrates Acupressure on her colleague.

Jamee Williams, LMT, demonstrates Acupressure on her colleague.

Our licensed massage therapist, Jamee, has been incorporating more acupressure techniques into her massage in recent months and her clients are enjoying excellent results.  I’ve had the privilege of experiencing firsthand the great work she can do with acupressure and am thrilled she agreed to share more with our readers.

The info contained below is by our expert, Jamee. Enjoy! ~Cassie

Acupressure Explained:

According to Chinese Medicine, qi is the vital life force of the body, which, when flowing freely nurtures, sustains, and heals. The qi is directed throughout the body by 12 channels called meridians. Each of these meridians then direct the qi to their corresponding organ points, and it is at these points that blockage (usually due to trauma of a physical, emotional, or mental nature) or stagnation occurs. It is stated that pain is the manifestation of stagnant or sluggish qi.  Acupressure is the practice of tonifying or depleting excess energy at these points as needed, thus creating a harmonious balance between mind and body, yin and yang.

Acupressure v. Acupuncture:

The practice of acupuncture is 5000 years old and the first needles were made out of stone. Acupressure predates acupuncture and even massage by many generations as one of the first forms of medicine. While acupuncture is derived from acupressure, employing the same points and meridians, acupuncture uses various needling techniques requiring a more extensive clinical education. Acupressure relies solely on finger pressure and is non invasive.  I have over 100 hours of training in acupressure and have spent the last two years adapting my massage technique to best relieve blockages and stimulate the inherent self healing capabilities of each client I work with.

EastVillageSpaAcupressure4What is an acupressure session like?

While acupressure points are potent and can be used singly, there are many possible sequences to choose from so I can personalize your treatment to specific needs. During a treatment, you will remain fully clothed, face up on the massage table, while I perform a sequence connecting different points and meridians along the right and left sides of the body.  I will check in about pressure and encourage you to speak up if you experience any discomfort.

Pressure points are generally tender, but should not cause actual pain. A quiet, relaxed mind and body is essential for the work.  It is just as important for the conscious mind to take a break as it is for me to focus on the work.  My clients report a state of deep relaxation, well-being, and even lucid dreaming.

While I use acupressure in each massage, I am very excited to offer it as a stand alone treatment as the effects of a deeper, more focused application are much more pronounced and treatment possibilities much broader.  Even so, acupressure is much like any other bodywork/self care regimen in that you get out of it what you put into it.  Most imbalances take time to build up, so therefor cannot be permanently eliminated in one session.  As acupressure is cumulative, you can expect relief after the first session, but depending on the nature and severity of the problem being addressed, it may take up to 3-5 treatments to achieve lasting results. At the end of each session, we will work together to develop a self care plan for you, and it is important to carry through on that for optimal results.

EastVillageSpaAcupressureMassage6What can acupressure help?

As acupressure focuses on restoring and maintaining the homeostasis throughout the body and mind, any number of conditions will benefit including, but by no means limited to:

  • swollen joints/arthritis/rheumatism
  • joint and muscle pain
  • tendonitis/bursitis
  • depression and anxiety
  • lethargy/adrenal fatigue
  • insomnia
  • Sexual disorders
  • headaches/chronic migraines
  • chronic conditions that may not be responding to traditional forms of treatment
  • many more!

EastVillageSpaAcupressureMassage5

Thank you for taking time to learn more about Acupressure! Jamee Williams, LMT

Sign me up!

If you wish to schedule an acupressure appointment with Jamee, book a 75 minute Wellness Massage and request Jamee.  In the booking notes online or over the phone, let the receptionist know you wish to have an acupressure session so she can be prepared.  You will want to wear comfortable clothing (like gym or yoga clothes) as you will remain fully clothed.  Jamee is currently our only massage therapist offering this service.

Click here to schedule online (request Jamee from the drop down menu and make a booking note in your 75 minutes Wellness massage that you want acupressure) or call (515) 309-2904 and request acupressure with Jamee

 

Aloha Summer 2016 Specials Coming Soon!

Our long-awaited summer specials announcement is here!  This year we were inspired by island travel, cocktails on the patio, and barefoot afternoons in the grass.  Aloha summer specials are available June through August 2016.  You can book prior to June 1st by calling (515) 309-2904 and after June 1st online or by phone.

Maui Glow Facial: 60 minutes, $85 M-F(Weekday Special Price), $90 Sat

While you’ll feel like you’re relaxing on an island, the hard-working extracts of hibiscus flowers and fruits like pineapple will help to hydrate and brighten your skin while providing powerful antioxidant support.  This is an ideal facial for summer skin damage.

Patio Fiesta Massage: 60 minutes, $85 M-F(Weekday Special Price), $90 Sat

Celebrate summer with this fun and relaxing full body massage that includes the added benefits of agave nectar massage oil, a citrus scrub for your back, followed by a hydrating avocado back mask to nourish hard-to-reach skin on your back while your therapist massages your legs.  This massage pairs perfectly with a day spent relaxing on the patio!

Farmhouse Fresh hydrating and refreshing “Guac Star” avocado mask

Flip Flop Foot Massage: 50 Minutes, $65 M-F(Weekday Special Price), $70 Sat

Standing at music festivals, running races, or walking at the fair can stress your soles!  This indulgent foot massage includes a coconut milk towel wrap, citrus grass scrub, and fresh melon foot massage that incorporates elements of deep tissue, reflexology, and hot stone massage.

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Farmhouse Fresh Citrus Grass Scrub

 

Book YOUR Aloha spa getaway by calling (515) 309-2904 before June 1st or booking online after June 1st.  Services are available June 1 through August 31, 2016.  We can’t wait!

Caring for the Caregiver: Teresa’s Story

A question we’re frequently asked is “How often do you get a massage?” or “Who does your massages?”  I decided to ask our team to share stories of how massage and complementary medicine have impacted them personally.  Our massage therapist, Teresa, was the first to share her story.  Stay tuned for more stories in the series!

From Teresa:

Teresa, a massage therapist at East Village Spa, provides a craniosacral massage to Kelly.

Teresa, a massage therapist at East Village Spa, provides a craniosacral massage to Kelly.

For the past 5 + years, I have been a dedicated client/recipient of myofascial/deep tissue massage and chiropractic adjustments.  I believe I would not be able to sustain a career in massage therapy without receiving this therapy myself.

For years before moving back to Iowa, I sought help through massage and chiropractors, with some success, but I would describe it more as hit-and-miss. When I moved back to Iowa, I learned about myofascial massage methods used with deep tissue with the help of a knowledgeable, skilled and gifted therapist, James Kozuki. I began regular sessions, and we have been able to peel back the layers of restrictions and “stuck” tissue that had resulted from soft tissue trauma I sustained many, many years ago, not to mention any other sprains, strains and “normal” tension (like pregnancy) that were layered on top!
In those early-in-life accidents, I had been jarred, whip-lashed, bruised and twisted up (no broken bones) and as the years went by, stiffness and soreness in my neck and low back became more pronounced.  Now, with the help of massage therapy and chiropractic care, I can turn my head in all directions without pain or stiffness, and my low back is better than ever.  I am forever grateful for the gifts of massage therapists (and gifted chiropractors, too), especially when you find one that fits exactly what you need!
****
Thank you to Teresa for sharing her story! To learn about our massage therapists, our services, or to schedule an appointment online, click here!

What kind of massage should I book?

People always want to know which massage is the best.  It is a great question and not always the easiest to answer until we get to know someone a bit, but I hope this post helps you to sort through our four most popular massage styles to find one that suits you best!

THE EV SIGNATURE MASSAGE:

EV Signature Massage East Village Spa

This is our most popular massage for a reason: It is easy to customize for many preferences.  Our Signature Massage is usually full body, but can include more focused work on a specific area of tension.  Your massage therapist can vary your pressure from light to firm throughout the session based on your needs and preferences.  He or she will also incorporate a few warm stones on the back and feet (not to be mistaken with a hot stone massage, the stones are used for only about 5-10% of the treatment time in the Signature massage).

Your therapist will often blend some essential oils into your massage cream based on your health intake and he or she will also use a warm honey mask on your back with hot towels to soften skin (and the towels feel amazing).

If this massage was a vacation it would be: A trip to Colorado to take in some nature, great food, light hiking, and a visit with an old friend.

If this massage was a flavor of ice cream it would be: Neapolitan or cookies and cream

THE ATHLETIC EDGE MASSAGE:

athleticedge

All of the therapists who offer the Athletic Edge massage at our spa have extensive training in deep tissue techniques or sports massage, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and/or assisted stretching.  You don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from this service, it is for anyone with a busy lifestyle, injury, or chronic aches and pains.

Don’t book the Athletic Edge massage if you want to drift off to sleep, but when you want to feel like you and your therapist really accomplished something.  This massage is generally not full body, but is focused on a few areas of pain or injury.   Your therapist will incorporate a variety of techniques and possibly even stretches, products to warm or cool muscles to reduce inflammation, and might ask you to participate by engaging muscles or assisting with a stretch.

If this massage was a vacation it would be: RAGBRAI, a ski trip, or a week off work spent remodeling your kitchen.

If this massage was a flavor of ice cream it would be: A frozen fruit and protein smoothie or rocky road

TWO FEET DEEP BAREFOOT BARS MASSAGE:

TwoFeetDeepMassageEastVillageSpa1

If you love firm pressure, but still want a full body massage that lets your mind drift away, this is a good choice.  Your massage therapist will stand on the table and use bars overhead for balance as she massages you with her feet.  Unlike a traditional deep pressure massage that uses hard surfaces like the therapist’s elbows or knuckles, the feet are softer and spread pressure evenly over a broader surface.  Your therapist isn’t “Walking” on your back, but rather using her feet to provide a massage that includes flowing and targeted strokes. This is a great choice for people with a more dense musculature or people who like to feel like the pressure is firm, but don’t like to feel sore the next day.

If this massage was a vacation it would be: A trip to Thailand or Bali

If this massage was a flavor of ice cream it would be: Dark chocolate chili pepper or Cherry Garcia

HEAVENLY HOT STONE MASSAGE:

The therapist uses a variety of different shaped warm jade stones as an extension of their hands to relax tense muscles.

We call this massage “Heavenly” for a reason.  This is our most relaxing massage.  Your therapist uses warm jade stones of different shapes and sizes to provide a massage that is extremely relaxing and boosts circulation.  He or she will use a combination of long, flowing strokes and quicker, focused techniques with the stones to increase blood flow while warming and relaxing the muscles.  While this treatment doesn’t use heavy pressure, the heat of the stones works deep to relax the muscles for the muscles.

If this massage was a vacation it would be: Relaxing on a beautiful beach with a cocktail and a great book.

If this massage was an ice cream flavor it would be: Mango sorbet or a hot fudge sundae with a toasted marshmallow

Ready to schedule your massage? Click here to book online at East Village Spa!

The “Spa Newbie” gets her first professional massage!

Our Intern Alyssa has I have only had two massages before receiving our summer special, the one-hour “Massage on the Rocks” treatment with our therapist Tiffany.  Both of Alyssa’s previous massages were done by students so this was her first professional treatment.  She had the “tough” job of getting her first REAL massage and writing about it for her internship.  Here’s what she thought:

Massage on the Rocks Products

Massage on the Rocks Products

I had only had two massages before getting the Massage on the Rocks at East Village Spa (a one-hour full body massage that incorporates warm and cool stones, Farmhouse Fresh Agave Nectar, and Farmhouse Fresh Watermelon Basil Vodkatini back scrub).

This massage was different from the others because I have only gone to massage schools where I didn’t feel a professional mannerism. I felt at ease with my Massage Therapist, Tiffany.  In the first few minutes she checked with me to make sure that the pressure was just right.  I had a knot underneath my shoulder blade for quite some time.  She used more pressure in that area to work it out.  She also used hot and cold stones which was definitely my favorite part.

The atmosphere at the spa is very relaxing. I felt completely comfortable just resting quietly and not having to speak.  They allow you to get undressed at your own comfort level and  I had no problem doing so. I am the type of person who always thinks of what I need to be doing next. I don’t know that I could fully shut my mind off but it was the closest thing to peace I have had in a long time.  At one point I believe I fell asleep.  I want to go back for another one just thinking about it!

After getting the Massage on the Rocks I would like to try the Two Feet Deep or Athletic Edge Sports massage next.  It would be fun to compare different techniques and finding the best fit for me.

Envious of Alyssa’s great massage?  You can book your OWN Massage on the Rocks through the end of August.  Just click here to go to our online scheduler.  Stay tuned for Alyssa’s last “Spa Newbie” post coming soon…next she tries a Shellac manicure!

Top 5 reasons an honest health intake is important

We know it can feel like we’re inundated with paperwork and forms these days, so we really do empathize when our clients groan about having to fill out a health or skin care history. These forms were developed by our employees to help them get the information they need to give you an amazing service.  If you’d like a preview of our health history form, click here.   We keep all health information confidential and do not share it unless we have your written consent to do so.  Here are 5 of the main reasons we require a health history or skin care history before your service:

5. We need to know what products to use.  If you are booking a facial, our estheticians have many options for cleansers, toners, masks, scrubs, moisturizers, serums and more. The information on your skin care intake in addition to their assessment of your skin guides their choices.  If you are investing time and money in your facial, you deserve a wonderful service customized for you.  If you are scheduling a massage, we need to know if you have any allergies or sensitivities so we can select the best massage cream or oil.

East Village Spa Products

4. We might need to modify a service based on health concerns or preferences.  Certain medications require a change in pressure or technique due to a risk of bruising or tissue damage.  For example, some medications make skin more sensitive to waxing and can cause skin tears.  Some health conditions contradict exposure to heat so we might suggest changing your Hot Stone massage to a Sports or Signature service so as not to to exacerbate symptoms or cause burns. Some symptoms might seem harmless, but could indicate a serious problem like an infection or blood clot requiring medical attention.

3. We need to know which techniques to use.  There are literally hundreds of styles of massage therapy.  Many of our therapists have over 1000 hours of initial training and are required to take continuing education regularly, so our technique “tool boxes” are far bigger than what you can tell by looking at our brochure.  Letting your therapist know injuries you have, areas of pain, and pressure preferences will make a world of difference in the effectiveness of your service.  Just because you had a light and relaxing massage with a therapist once, doesn’t mean he or she isn’t able to give a good injury-specific focused treatment another visit or visa versa.  You just have to let us know exactly what you need so we can raid our massage “tool box” for the best techniques to for you.

massagetechniques

2. Some of your answers clue us in to ways we can go above and beyond for you!  Have allergies or a headache? We can add a cold compress to your face rest to help relieve the pressure.  Work long hours standing on a cement floor? We an add a cooling mint foot cream instead of the regular massage cream.  Under an incredible amount of stress and struggling to calm your mind before your massage? Your therapist can add a couple of drops of lavender oil into your massage cream and have you do some breathing exercises. We can even re-position to an incline or side-lying position for recent abdominal surgeries or breast tenderness. The possibilities are endless, but we can’t help you if we don’t know what you need our help with!

1. Your current concerns may be caused by issues you wouldn’t have suspected.  A thorough intake could lead to underlying causes of current issues you may not have thought of.  An old surgery or injury may be contributing to current pain in a completely different area of the body.  Your current skincare regimen could have unintended side-effects you didn’t know about that could be causing dry patches or clogged pores.  Your favorite hobbies may be taking a toll on your body over time. All of this information will help us to provide the best results possible for a better treatment value.

clues

If we don’t have the information we need,  your service provider will need to take time out of your treatment to ask questions and you won’t be able to relax as fully.  If you come a few minutes early to complete your form, it will give you a time to decompress and shake off the day, relax with some hot tea or water, and focus on your treatment goals so you can be sure you are getting the best value for your time spent at the spa and a the best service and recommendations from your expert provider.

 

Get to Know Justin Behanish!

Justin has been a Full Time therapist at East Village Spa since 2013 and has been voted Des Moines’ Best Massage Therapist in 2014 AND 2015!  Not only is he a great therapist with years of experience, his enthusiasm for knowledge and learning about new treatments and massage techniques, he’s also a mentor and trainer for his colleagues at the spa.  Justin is popular with both clients seeking sports massage and injury relief, but he’s also awesome at providing a quiet relaxation massage.

How long have you been in the industry and what are your licenses?

I graduated from the College of Massage and the Healing Arts and became an LMT in 2006. I’ve also taken coursework at DMACC.

What are your specialties?

I’m most known for therapeutic and sports massage, but I give a great relaxation massage too. I’ve taken advanced training in myofascial therapy, Thai massage, sports massage, medical massage, and deep tissue techniques.

Why did you choose this field?

Honestly, I studied massage on a whim and it worked out really well.

Describe your style in 3 words or phrases:

Flow, range-of-motion, versatile

What is your favorite spa service to give?

Sports massage sessions. I enjoy the problem solving that comes with figuring out what a client needs to get back to doing what they like to do. It allows me to combine a variety of techniques and tailor sessions to a client’s individual needs.

What is your favorite spa service to receive?

“Two Feet Deep” Barefoot Bars. It is far more relaxing than I would have guessed before experiencing it for myself. The broad steady pressure of the foot is actually relaxing and I usually find myself struggling not to fall asleep in the middle of the session. The nature of the work allows for a flow and experience that manages to be uniquely relaxing, tet effective and familiar at the same time. I recommend it for people who want to try something a bit different.

What is your favorite spa retail product?

Rapid Fire, a locally made pain relief spray.

What do you do in your free time?

Brazilian martial arts like Jiu Jitsu, cooking, snowboarding, and spending time with my dog.

What are your favorite home care tips for clients?

One of my favorite suggestions for people who have foot pain is to keep a 1 liter bottle of water in the freezer.  When your feet hurt, sit down and roll the bottom of your foot over the bottle.  This will help reduce pain and swelling.  You can also do the same thing with a golf ball.  The texture provides a nice foot massage.

Why should clients visit YOU?

Of course, Justin was is too modest to answer this one…so I (Cassie) will! Justin is a problem solver. His clients adore him and he genuinely cares for them. He’ll even ask me to check up on regulars who haven’t been in for awhile or who have been going through a rough patch. He’s a good role model for his colleagues and we’re lucky to have him on our team!

What are Justin’s clients saying about him?

“Justin is the best sports massage therapist ever! He keeps me on the road and the trails so I can train for and complete my ultra marathons.”

“Justin provides a great massage experience. He takes the time to explain the service and asks if there are any areas he should concentrate on. He asks about pressure. I drive downtown from West Des Moines and have referred people to Justin. He is great!”

“Justin is so professional and I have never had a better massage!”

Want to schedule a massage and find out why Justin was voted the best?  Click here to book online! If you wish to make a specific request to see Justin, please select “Specific Therapist” and his name from the drop down menu.

 

Tips to get the most benefit from each massage

There is nothing better than waking up on the day you have a massage scheduled and knowing you are about to get a big dose of much needed relaxation and TLC.  I talked to long time massage therapist, Justin Behanish, for his tips on how to get the most benefit out of your massage before, during, and after your treatment.

Before:

  • Finish work or get any home projects or stressful tasks out of the way
  • Get in your workout
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a light meal, it is hard to relax with a full (or empty) stomach and your muscles will respond better to the work if they aren’t dehydrated.
  • Find a way to make things easy for after your treatment so the rest of your day can run on “cruise control.”  For example, set up a healthy meal in the crock pot in the morning so you can get home after your massage and dinner is ready!

During:

  • Speak up!  No massage therapist is a mind reader and our favorite clients are the ones who will honestly give us feedback when we ask if the pressure or temperature need adjusted.
  • Take some slow deep breaths and try to think of nothing but how your body is feeling.  Take time to just enjoy how good the massage feels!

JustinBehanish_East_Village_Spa_Massage

After:

  • Do things to help continue to relax your muscles and mind like light stretches, reading a book, or relaxing with a cozy blanket.
  • Relax in a hot bath with aromatherapy or bath salts from Kneipp, or try tiger balm on any areas your therapist worked deep before you go to bed to keep muscles loose and reduce the likelihood of soreness the next day.
A soak in a warm tub to keep muscles warm and loose is perfect to extend the benefits of your massage.

A soak in a warm tub to keep muscles warm and loose is perfect to extend the benefits of your massage.

Gender Roles and Massage

I debated whether I should even discuss the topic of massage therapist gender on this blog, but I think we have enough questions and comments that it seems to at least warrant brief acknowledgement.  As a therapist of over 9 years and a massage educator, I work with massage therapists who are men and women.  Of course, a majority of licensed massage therapist ARE women, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t an ideal profession for men as well.

Many industry leaders, authors, and pioneers are men. 50% of the 2015 Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Inductees are men.  Men with a natural caring nature, or those who come from sports, engineering, science, or medical backgrounds are often drawn to massage as a profession or a career change.  I know two male doctors in Des Moines who also have a massage therapy license!  There are even men in the area who have created a niche as prenatal therapists because of their great respect for the pregnancy process.

That being said, discrimination goes both ways.  While the vast majority of clients who have gender requests ask for a female therapist, we do have clients without a good understanding of massage techniques or body mechanics who don’t believe women can provide enough pressure (definitely false!) or who see men as more “scientific” or “medical” which drives our science-minded female therapists crazy!

It is  quite rare we have someone request a therapist of a specific gender due to past history or religion (for example, I have taken courses with an Orthodox Jewish married couple who could only work with same-gendered classmates, clients, and instructors per their religious beliefs).

Mostly, I think people have body image issues or subscribe to outdated assumptions about gender and career roles, or aren’t 100% clear about the therapeutic nature of massage.  We’re constantly told by society how we should act or look as men or women and it is hard to tune that out.  I understand that no matter how many times your massage therapist works to assure you that he or she is not judging (or even noticing your “imperfections”) because your therapist is focused more on how well you and your muscles are relaxing, it is hard to believe if you aren’t a massage therapist.  At one point or another, all of our massage therapists were massage clients with no understanding of massage therapy at all!

It also surprises people to learn that when a guest discriminates against a male colleagues for non-medical or non-religious reasons, that male therapist’s female colleagues feel sad, as though they were chosen not for their skill as therapists, but only because of their gender.  A strongly stated gender preference (that is not attributed to religion or past history) also raises a therapists’ concern that perhaps a guest doesn’t fully understand that massage is strictly therapeutic and perhaps the guest is confused about the nature of their treatment.

All of this being said, we do respect our guest’s choices and certainly don’t require an explanation if you state a gender preference in your massage therapist, but I wanted to at least give you this post as “food for thought” because so often a client calls in desperate pain and we CAN help…but the therapist open is not the preferred gender so the client decides to wait a couple more days in pain until the therapist of their preferred gender is available.  Or perhaps a client’s health issue could be better solved by a therapists with specialized training in that area, but the client would rather see a therapist who is less skilled with that particular condition (and therefore not get the desired result) solely on the basis of gender.

A client just sent this nice message to me the other day and I thought I’d pass it along:

“Never really thought much about a male LMT, but Justin is AMAZING! Really, I haven’t had a bad massage at your spa but Justin made a lot of aches and pains melt away and did a number of great stretches that really worked my hip. I’m so glad I made it in! Already made my recovery appointment as well! Thank you & big thanks to Justin as well.”

We have male clients that see male and female therapists and female clients that see male and female therapists.  Most of our clients do not have a preference and trust that all of our therapists are highly skilled, ethical, and well-educated people who love their careers and are looking forward to helping you feel your best!

Justin and Mallory wowed the "Women who Wine" group with chair massages in 2014

Justin and Mallory wowed the “Women who Wine” group with chair massages in 2014