There’s a big discussion in our community about depth. How much is enough? Too much? Does everyone need it? Is it something people just think they need but they really don’t need? Who gets to decide how much depth to apply? Can we really know how much pressure we’re giving?
There’s been a lot of recent information about pain and fascia. I have always taken a skeptical approach when I read about things that are new and upcoming. Here’s what it comes down to:
- Fascia is fascinating. That’s undeniable. The human condition in general will marvel you if you allow it.
- Fascia cannot and should not be “broken up,” “stretched,” or any other manipulation.
- Fascia is there to hold us together. The fabric that makes up fascia is unlike anything in the world.
With most of our industry being led by the Fascia Era (That’s a term I lovingly created to depict the time in which we all thought fascia was the answer to every human misnomer.) and new research coming out saying otherwise, where do we fit?
Massage Therapy is still the leading management option of stress. Stress continues to be one of the most detrimental factors to our health. These two facts alone make the case for our necessity and our value in the Free World.
Massage Therapy is still revered as a viable option for pain relief. If it works, don’t fix it? Massage Therapy is often the answer for many folks to their pain relief. If we know that our body has the capacity to fix itself, why not provide the optimal environment for the body to do its’ job?
What is pain? And what causes pain? Much of the newest research is pointing to the nerves. When I think about this, I can’t help to say…duh! We know that our nerves are the communication from our tissue to our cognitive brain. So why wouldn’t nerves be the answer to pain relief? Especially that pain that seems to come from ‘nowhere.’
Some things to keep in mind regarding the nervous system:
- We have an ancient nervous system & a new and improved, upgraded version.
- The ancient nervous system is responsible for our urges and our responses.
- The new, upgraded version is responsible for our logic and reasoning skills.
- They work together and sometimes work against each other.
- Sometimes we experience things that feel like anxiety or that we should fight or run away. And sometimes that’s simply our nervous system remembering that we have that capability. (It’s a bit more detailed then that but hopefully you get the idea). We have this joke, “is this a bear attack? or just my nervous system?” hah!
Many industry leaders are making the case of lighter pressure techniques being equally effective and easier on the therapists body. Curiosity will always consume me so I started delving in and took a few classes. The results kept coming back that it seemed to help. I kept asking myself, where does deep pressure come in? And why do people still crave deep work?
I think the one piece that we will possibly see more of in the future is sensation. That is one element that many have not fully discussed in this conversation. What does sensation cause in the brain? And how does that contribute to healing? And maybe that’s why people are still craving depth?
As a curious mom, the autism epidemic is on my radar. Sensory input is something that we acknowledge but mostly when something isn’t “normal.” We see sensory seeking or sensory avoidant kids. If I’m being truly honest, I wonder at times if I’m a bit sensory seeking myself. I find myself drawn to things that I can touch, feel, hear, smell, see, etc. This brings me a sense of harmony and peace.
I’m curious about the relations between sensation and the nervous system. I’d love to see the autism research work with the massage industry in a collaborative way. I’d love to see more of the massage industry embracing the nervous system as a large piece of our contribution to healing.
This begs the question, are people seeking depth in their massage? Or simply sensation?
As a massage therapist, I encourage you to continue this journey of exploration and curiosity. Remain open to possibilities and loose the ego of the “healer.” As a continuing education provider, I invite you into my class so that we can explore the wonderment of being exactly where we are..right now in our understanding of the massage therapy.
Sara Newberry, LMT has been practicing massage therapy since 2007 and solely barefoot massage since 2011. She has a passion for massage therapy and specifically massage therapists finding their success in happiness and in business.