This is the elaboration on 200-word editorial for Hawaii Wellness Magazine, distributed as paper copies on all islands:
Aloha, everyone! I hope the New Year finds you happy, prosperous, and healthy. As we turn to massage and bodywork to make us relaxed and thus happier and healthier – oh, it feels so good to have those kinks out! – we start looking for a competent massage therapist.
Some states classify licensed massage professionals as: technicians (with less than 500 hrs of training – this would be a graduate of most massage schools), therapists (500-1000 hrs of training), and holistic practitioners (more than 1000 hrs of training.)
Please note that training and experience are different things. For example, if a doctor does not get enough medical school but goes out and practices for 20 yrs, maybe they will be good at what they do, or maybe not. But I sure would bet more on the doctor who has more training.
Massage and bodywork is something that has to be learned as well as practiced. Like anything, it is also a gift - some people have "good hands" and some do not. Furthermore, I will dare say that in my opinion, it is a lifestyle. A massage therapist who is not living an exemplary lifestyle is not a good candidate to put their hands on you. When people lie on the table, they are vulnerable and open, and the therapist has to have integrity and think positive and loving thoughts. But that is another post.
A good-hearted person with “good hands” and little training could provide a relaxing hour. However, the full benefit of massage comes with extensive training. A well-trained therapist can perform orthopedic massage and pain management. That's why bodywork is called bodywork - it produces definite positive and lasting effect on the body. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome, computer syndrome, frozen shoulder, and thoracic outlet syndrome benefit from releasing tight connective tissue, not to mention the daily "commuter knots", "carrying the baby knots," "typing knots," "too much sports" knots and so on.
Therapeutic massage can definitely make the recipient feel better. It can be a comfortable treatment, and it can sometimes be painful, if the work is done to release the knots. However, that pain should be felt as welcome release, not as a torture. If it feels like a torture, then it is too much. It is a bad idea to have a wrestling match between the client and the therapist. If the client flinches and gets all tight in order to prevent further pain, then the whole purpose of massage is defeated. In my experience, sometimes it feels like a torture for a second, and then everything relaxes. By the end, the client should feel relaxed and happy.
This is a dance on a fine line, knowing when to pursue and when to let go, how deep to go in, how long to stay. Proper action requires good training, a lot of experience, a lot of meditation practice, good intuition and listening skills, and a truly caring heart for the client.
I hope you find the massage therapist that is just right for you and receive the care you need. I would be happy to answer any additional questions. Check out my blog and essays on http://HumanRemodeling.com.
Milica Barjaktarovic L.M.T. #8348
Holistic practitioner on North Shore, Haleiwa and Waialua area, Oahu, Hawaii