7 Myths About Your Massage Therapist

Just imagine, you’re away on a much-deserved vacation to a tropical island. You and your partner have been looking forward to a heavy dose of rest and relaxation. What’s the first thing that comes to mind for the ultimate stress reliever? A massage, right?

Now, think about another scenario. You’ve been putting in long hours sitting in front of your office computer, the kids have been testing your patience too often with their constant bickering, and the tension in your back and neck are signaling another wicked migraine is headed your way. While you might “like” a massage right then, you likely push through the pain and keep on going.

What’s the difference between the two situations, and what are some of the myths you’ve heard about massage therapists that are keeping you from scheduling an appointment?

1. All massage therapists charge a lot

While fancy, expensive spas with high-end services are trending today, massages are not just reserved for weekend getaways or the rich and famous. Massage therapy provided as an esthetic service can be expensive, but there are many places that provide high-quality medical services without charging a fortune.

  • Massage therapy is becoming more widely accepted as a non-pharmacological option to pain management and injury treatment. In these cases, flat-fee pricing is often implemented and sessions will be specific to the affected area instead of the entire body.
  • While massage therapy is not covered by OHIP, many private insurance programs provide coverage for prescribed massage therapy sessions. Authorized treatments may require a co-pay or limit the number of visits.
  • When massage therapy is required for a work-related condition or injury, the patient may be entitled to WSIB benefits to cover the cost. Treatment guidelines include pre-authorization of services, a therapist who is registered with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, and a written treatment plan. The number of visits allowed will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

2. Massage therapists can’t help relieve migraines or any other chronic pain

People have been suffering unnecessarily because of this myth. The facts are that massage therapy has been proven to manage and in some cases, eliminate pain from migraines and other headaches, low back pain, repetitive stress injuries, frozen shoulder, strains and sprains, tendonitis, osteoarthritis and many other chronic and acute conditions.

By applying pressure to trigger points on the body may interrupt pain signals going to the brain. Therapists are trained to utilize a holistic approach by focusing on the entire body and not just the site of pain. The treatment helps relieve muscle and soft tissue pain plus provides a beneficial, positive impact from human touch.

3. Therapists don’t like to be interrupted, even if it hurts

Proper massage therapy sessions encourage relationship-building communication between the therapist and the client. There may be some discomfort while applying deep pressure to release an extremely knotted area, but generally, that should be temporary. If the massage hurts, your therapist will want to know so he or she can make the necessary adjustments in your treatment. If your therapist is not receptive to reducing pressure, it may be due to inexperience or improper training. You should never feel intense pain during a session. If you do, not only will it be uncomfortable, the effectiveness of the treatment will be diminished. When your body experiences pain, the sympathetic nervous system causes your muscles to tense up. Each time the therapist exerts pressure, you’ll likely become anxious with the anticipation of more pain. If it hurts, speak up.

4. They don’t like hairy patients

You may be self-conscious about unshaven or excess hair on your body, but your massage therapist won’t be concerned. As professionals dedicated to finding your source of pain, therapists are not worried if you shaved your legs before arriving or if you have a hairy chest. Extra lubricant may be applied to reduce pulling on the hair, but your therapist won’t give it another thought and neither should you.

This same principle applies to any other imperfection you’re embarrassed about, such as: cellulite, moles, dry skin, wrinkles, non-pedicured feet or spider veins. Your therapist expects that you’re not perfect and is truly anxious to help ease your discomfort. Be sure to tell him or her about any varicose veins you have before the session begins as even the slightest pressure can cause problems.

5. Your massage therapist is going to be repulsed if you’re overweight

With an increasing number of overweight and obese people in Canada and North America, it’s likely your massage therapist has treated many different body types and sizes. And while you may be concerned about how you look, especially unclothed, your therapist will not care if you have a toned, beautiful, ugly, or flawed body. He or she will not pass judgment, but instead, see a body with muscle and bone that requires treatment.

While we’re on the subject, a full body massage has been found to be most effective when there is limited obstructions of clothing. However, if you’re not comfortable disrobing completely or can’t relax without some clothing, feel free to leave your underwear on. The main purpose of a massage is to be as comfortable as possible, so your therapist will easily work around any clothing you choose to wear.

6. You’ll probably experience bruising if your therapist does a deep tissue massage

This is a dangerous myth and absolutely not true. If you are left with bruises after massage therapy, there is a serious problem. Either your therapist is applying too much or improper pressure or you have a medical condition that causes you to bruise easily. Two types of bruises can occur – subcutaneous, injury occurs just below the skin, and intramuscular, where actual muscle tissue is damaged. Ruptured blood vessels appear as bruises on the surface. People with anemia or other medical conditions should not receive deep tissue massages due to their bruising risk.

7. Massage therapist treatments only offer temporary relief

Massage therapy treatments are meant to provide long-term relief from aches and pains. Your practitioner works hard so you’ll continue to be comfortable long after the massage is finished. Your muscles have a long memory, so you’re at risk for repetitive stress injuries such as craning your neck to see a computer or sitting in one place for extended periods of time. Doing so can cut off nerve pathways and trigger pain in your neck, shoulders and upper back. It’s your massage therapist’s job to re-train your muscles to improve posture and function for long-lasting pain relief.

Massage therapists are healthcare professionals that provide another option for relieving stress and managing pain. Communication is key to building a relationship where you feel comfortable and safe. Be sure to select a therapist that is registered by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. This will ensure they are qualified to provide the best therapeutic effect by acting on the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems. Now that you’re familiar with the true function of a professional massage therapist, it’s time to schedule a consultation and begin your journey toward optimum health and well-being.

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