Category Archives: Massage Therapists

What is Firm Swedish?

The other night at work an Esthetician asked me “What is Firm Swedish?”

One of my massage therapist coworkers was in the break room with us at the time and turned to hear my response…

I began to try and explain that it is a Swedish Massage with a firmer pressure, then I said “ok, realistically it is a gentle  Deep Tissue because Deep Tissues by definition is accessing the deeper layers of the muscles instead of just the superficial ones and I have no idea why we even bother muddying the waters with all the various terms we use.”

My coworkers eyes widened and she said “You are right, Swedish is gentle and relaxing, its not supposed to be firm pressure.”

Firm Swedish is for people wanting more of a Deep Tissue therapeutic effect without the pain or discomfort often associated with Deep Tissue massage

In all honestly there is not a lot of difference between the stokes, moves, and methods that I would use during a Firm Swedish Massage and the ones that I would use for someone asking for Deep Tissue.

In fact many of the Firm Swedish massages that I do end up being Deep Tissue work and some of the Deep Tissue work that I do ends up being more of a Firm Swedish depending on the need and tolerance level of my client.

Pressure is subjective!

We then discussed how all these words “Firm” “Deep” “Light” and “Medium”  are all subjective and vary widely  from not only the clients but the therapists as well.

One client’s idea of medium pressure is another client’s idea of deep, some say light when they really want medium, and some say light when they want feather light pressure.

My idea of light may be too light for some or too heavy handed for others, each persons perception of pressure is different and each therapists idea of pressure is different.

I find its easier if the client says something like “I want results but I don’t want to be put in pain” or “really go to town on those shoulders” or “please no elbows” to give me a better idea of what it is they are seeking. Communication is always the key to getting the massage experience that you desire.

Deep Tissue Massage Does not have to be painful!

If you search the internet about Deep Tissue massage you will find that page after page all state “Deep Tissue does not have to be painful to be effective.”

Unfortunately many people believe in the “no pain no gain” concept, this includes many Massage Therapists.

The idea that you have to tolerate a painful session because “you really need this” is not correct. If you are wincing, flinching, or tensing up then your muscles are not going to be able to relax and it may be counter productive to the goal of getting your muscles to loosen up.

Of course there will be people who will argue that point and say that the muscles will feel better after two or three days because of the painful deep pressure, that too is valid in the fact that eventually the muscle will tire and weaken and the result will be less tension due to the muscle exhaustion.

That being said there have been cases of injuries from Deep Tissue massage, there is a point where too much is too much. There is  also a condition called Rhabdomyolysis or Rhabdo for short that can result from muscle crush injuries.

Muscles store myoglobin, when too much myoglobin is released into the body it can become toxic when it reaches the kidneys. This is one of the main reasons why you should drink plenty of water following a massage to help flush that away.

Release of Myoglobin from massage has been found in a study to reduce the pain and discomfort of myofascial pain syndromes with surprisingly positive results:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3462906

A positive correlation was found between the degree of muscle tension and pain, and the increase in plasma myoglobin concentration. After repeated massage treatment a gradual decline in the increase in plasma myoglobin concentration could be demonstrated parallel to a reduction in the muscle tension and pain.

So  there is definitely benefit to getting Deep Tissue massage for people with muscle pain, the same can be said for Firm Swedish which is simply another form of Deep Tissue therapy.

We can honestly only go so deep

There are times when we get a client who wants the deepest, hardest, and most painful massage that we can possibly give them.

For whatever reason that client feels the need to have it hurt, whether it is because they believe it will be more effective or because they cannot quite feel how much pressure is actually being given I am not sure.

When a client is clearly seeking a sensation of pain we do our best to try and use pressure points to provide them the sensation they seek without causing damage to the muscles  tissues and bony structure, however, there are times when we simply cannot go any harder or any deeper.

In closing, to sum things up…

Firm Swedish is simply a more gentle form of Deep Tissue Massage. Deep Tissue Massage does not have to be painful to be effective.  Areas that are more tense may be a bit painful but it should be a “good hurt” and not a “bad hurt” or overly painful experience.

Whatever it is you are seeking from your massage experience it is best to communicate your needs, concerns, and areas that you want to address as well as areas that are more sensitive to you so that we can offer you the massage experience and effect that you are seeking.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Smart aka Kristeen Kish

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

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Regarding the Massage Envy Allegations

The recent news about Massage Envy has shaken the entire industry

As Massage Therapists we go through extensive background checks and are required to take ethics courses to prevent misconduct in the work place.

We have worked hard to over come the stereo types and educate others about the dangers of elicit Massage Parlors and Human Trafficking and to set ourselves apart from that element.

The recent news about the allegations at Massage Envy and the way that those allegations were handled leaves the entire industry, not just the chain spas, with another obstacle to over come.

First and foremost I want to say , if you are sexually assaulted during a massage MAKE SOME NOISE!

I understand you are laying naked under the covers and feeling vulnerable, find your voice!

Yell “STOP!” or “GET OUT OF MY ROOM NOW!” Or even simply “HELP!” The walls are thin enough that the clients and therapist in the next rooms will hear you and I for one would politely excuse myself from the client I am working on to come to your assistance as would many other therapists.

Always remember that you are not alone and if you are being victimized forget about being quiet and polite, make some noise!

What changes need to be made in our industry to ensure client safety?

With all the stringent background checks, licensing requirements, and ethics training  one might ask how this even occurs at all, and that is a question that I have been asking myself over the past few days.

What I have come to realize is that a background check only assures you that the individual has not been caught and convicted of committing any crimes, that does not mean that they have not committed any and gotten away with it.

Which leaves us with WHY? Why have these incidents gone unreported or under reported? Why were these individuals simply fired and allowed to move on to other locations with an active license?

We can do better and protect other clients by making sure that these situation get fully reported and investigated.

Predators exist in all walks of life

We have all heard of Ministers, Doctors, and Nurses sexually assaulting parishioners and patients.

I once worked in an Assisted Living facility that had to deal with a predatory Nursing Assistant who was stealing patients jewelry, credit cards, and even their identities and I was horrified to see the lengths the company would go to protect itself, not the patient. The thought that that Nursing Assistant might still have a valid license to continue preying upon the elderly haunts me to this day.

This is exactly where the problem lies, if these predators go unreported and are quietly removed from their jobs they simply move on to another location where they can continue to victimize others until one day someone, somewhere will finally get up the courage to call the police and start an investigation.

Sexual assaults are even more complicated

Most sexual assaults go unreported by the victims. That means that the ones we are actually hearing about now are only the tip of the iceberg.

Victims of sexual assault are less likely to report right away because their initial response is to get away, which is why many of those who did complain called the company days or even weeks later to report the incidents and did not do so at the time the assault occurred.

A victim of sexual assault is dealing with many thoughts and emotions, feelings of being violated, guilt or shame for not yelling or making a scene, fear, and shock.

The fact that many of these victims were not taken seriously because they waited to make their complaint is concerning to me, victims of sexual assault often times need to get up the courage to even talk about it. All allegations of abuse no matter how long the victim took to come forward need to be taken seriously.

Another thing that complicates such allegations in this industry is that some allegations of sexual misconduct are in some cases simple misunderstandings such as the client not knowing that a glute massage is not a sexual act but a therapeutic treatment for low back pain. In that situation a therapist may find themselves being accused of sexual misconduct when nothing sexual was intended at all. That being said a therapist should always get a clients consent before working in areas such as the glutes or upper pectoral muscles.

What has prompted me to write about this today?

Yesterday at one of my places of employment all male staff members were pulled aside for a meeting which consisted of mostly telling them to be more conservative in everything that they do, from draping procedures to therapeutic services.

Later I spoke with the owner about this and asked her:

“Is every receptionist trained in how to handle such allegations, what to do, who to call, and when to call the police? Because this isn’t just about the men knowing what not to do, its about all of the staff knowing what to do should such a situation occur.”

Do we even have a protocol in place to deal with these kinds of allegations? If not, why not? All massage establishments should have a clear protocol in place when such a complaint is made and depending on the severity of the complaint when to involve the police.

It is the matter in which the allegations against Massage Envy were handled that is the most serious issue, such as why were the predators not reported to the police or the state boards? Why were they allowed to continue preying on other women? Why do some of these predators still have active licenses to perform massage services?

What needs to happen to protect our clients?

Retraining the male staff members is not only unnecessary but discriminatory. We ALL took the ethics classes, we ALL were fully background checked, and we ALL know right from wrong. This has nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the therapist, a predator is a predator and they need to be weeded out of our industry through the proper channels and brought to justice.

I am all for a nationwide protocol and reporting system, that being said I am also aware that there are people who might make reports out of retaliation or spite that may be unfounded, so each case should be taken case by case.

Every company should have a protocol in place with specific instructions on who to contact in the company, such as the manager on duty or owners, and when to contact the police. This should also apply to cases where the therapist is the victim of a sexual assault, that too goes sadly unreported as well.

Reporting to the state boards

The following link will give you information of the various massage boards by state, most states have their own licensing board that you can contact to look up someones license or make a complaint about a therapist. https://www.abmp.com/practitioners/state-requirements

In Closing…

As a Massage Therapist who is also a survivor of sexual abuse I take this situation very seriously and very personally. I look forward to an open dialog with my peers about how to prevent future sexual assaults in the massage industry.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Anne Smart aka Kristeen Anne Kish

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

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Looking Forward to The World Massage Festival 2018

World Massage Festival 2018

The 2018 World Massage Festival will be held in Las Vegas at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino.

World Massage Festival 2018

For those who have never attended a World Massage Festival, this is an opportunity to learn new skills and modalities from some of the biggest names in the field.

The festival includes up to 24 hours of hands on continued education in a number of specialties including Oncology, Geriatric Massage, Bamboo Fusion, Orthopedic Massage, and Native American Energy Work, and man many more .

Their Mission Statement:

To honor those who built the bridges for our profession,
to educate the general public about massage, to educate therapists
about different types of massage and to have fun.

Reasons why you should attend…

A chance to network with Massage Therapists from around the world and learn from some of the leaders in the industry at a remarkably low cost.  No organizational memberships needed! You do not have to be a member of any massage organizations to attend and you are welcome to bring a guest for the festivities.

The “Early Bird Special” before Dec 31st is only $350 and can be made in four payments, after that the cost is only $400. Most of these courses if taken alone can cost more than cost for this entire festival.

There will be drawings for various prizes including a Trip to Hawaii and a 2018 Kia Rio as well as scholarships for upcoming World Massage Festivals.

Vendors will be there displaying all of the tools of the trade and some that you may have never seen or heard of before. The vending hall is a plethora of amazing items and service!

Classes fill up fast!

To ensure that you get into the classes of your choice you need to sign up as early as possible because the classes do fill up fast. You can take up to 24 hours of continued education, however, some of the class schedules conflict with one another so choose the one that you want the most and work other classes into the schedule around it.

This year I was inspired by several of my clients to take an Oncology Massage course and that is what I have chosen this year for my focus class.

The course will be taught by Christine Courtney who owns and operates her own massage school in Ireland and teaches internationally in several countries.

That class will be all day for the first two days of the festival which left me one last day to decide on another course.

I chose for my last day of the event a Pre and Post Event Russian Sports Massage class with Oleg Bouimer, who has worked with NHL, NFL, and NBA athletes.  I have been curious about Russian Sports Massage for a while now and I am excited for the opportunity to learn this modality.

Choosing your course is not easy as there are many wonderful course and modalities to choose from!

So many classes to choose from including: Hands free Ashiatsu, Activated Isolated Stretching, Lomi Lomi, Manchurian Acupressure, Thai Reflexology, Ethics, and various Sports Massage Modalities.

With so much to choose from it is difficult to choose between them, but you cannot go wrong with any of the choices, so even if you cannot get into your favorite class because it is full there are so many amazing classes to attend!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Anne Smart aka Kristeen Anne Kish

CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist

 

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