To Glute Or Not To Glute?

When it comes to the gluteal muscles, or “glutes” as they’re commonly referred to, there is a surprising amount of debate among bodyworkers and clients alike as to whether this area of the body should be included in a regular massage session or not. The buttocks have long been an area that, especially in the U.S., have been seen as potentially erotic in nature, with many people growing up knowing that someone touching their behind is an inappropriate gesture unless that person has express consent to do so. Even when entering massage school, many students fill out paperwork that asks them both if they are comfortable having their gluteals worked on as well as whether they are comfortable working on the gluteals of their fellow students. So should the gluteals have a regular place in your massage sessions, or is it best left out?

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Being Able to Say "No"

For massage therapists especially, one very difficult challenge seems to be the ability to say “no” to a given situation if we need to. We are such giving people that it can be extremely difficult for us to tell anyone that we cannot accommodate their request. Many of us would almost rather not practice than have to do that, but the unfortunate reality is that we have to draw boundaries in and around various parts of our lives and keep those boundaries intact. Otherwise, we risk overextending ourselves and burning out. There are many situations that may call for a therapist to say “no.” The following are some common potential situations therapists may run into as well as ways to help therapists find out if they are in such situations and how best to say “no” while still being professional.

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Tips for Using a Foam Roller

To be frankly honest, I don’t really like foam rollers. Too often, I find that clients or friends will injure themselves by either too aggressively using this tool or simply using it incorrectly. (I mean, honestly, who thought it would be a great idea to put foam spikes on a roller?) I would much prefer that they go see a trained massage therapist or bodyworker who can work with their body to gently encourage it to let go of its adhesions rather than forcing it to do something it may not be ready to do. However, some people have to use their foam roller, whether because they cannot go see a massage therapist regularly or because they consider it a necessary part of their self-care routine, and I respect that. With that in mind, then, here are my tips for using a foam roller effectively and safely.

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The Vocabulary of Massage Therapy

When I had to “fire” my first client, it was due to a unique set of circumstances, largely centered around the language used in text communications with me. He spoke of feeling the “love through my touch” and that he wanted me to “engulf and envelope” him with my “soft and sweet sexy hands.” To his credit, he had been a complete gentleman while in his very first session, and may, in fact, have meant nothing but honest and sincere, if awkward, compliments by the words. But the fact that I had been made uncomfortable, even if unintentionally, by that and other text messages he sent, was enough to cause me to refuse to rebook him. The brand new and still fragile relationship of trust and safety between us had been broken.

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A Response to “Worshiping the False Idols of Wellness”

The New York Times published an article on the first of August which struck quite the cord with me, in both a positive and a negative way. Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist in California, was the author of the piece, which can be read here. She has very obviously had some negative experiences with those in the “wellness” community, as is evidenced by her comments about them and some of the practices with which she associates them. I was honestly torn reading this piece. I acknowledge that Dr. Gunter has some good points about people who take advantage of the uneducated looking for simple health and wellness solutions in their lives. However, she also clearly misunderstands the very meaning of wellness itself as well as the intentions of the vast majority of people in the wellness community.

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Trying to Avoid the Term “Toxin”

In recent years, the word “toxin” seems to have become a very handy buzzword for companies selling natural products and remedies. Their wares or techniques are guaranteed to “flush toxins out of the body” or even prevent such “toxins” from entering it in the first place. There are entire Facebook pages and groups dedicated to “detoxes” and “cleanses” and the methods by which they can be accomplished, with everything ranging from drinking nothing but lemon water with a pinch of cayenne pepper for a week, to eating activated charcoal once a month. But what is the real truth about “toxins” and their presence (or absence) in the body, and do you really need to be that concerned with “flushing them out”? More importantly for the content of this post, can massage actually eliminate so-called toxins from your body?

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How Essential Oils Actually Work

Lately, I’ve had several people ask me what the big deal is about essential oils, whether they actually work, and (if they do actually work) how exactly they work. Some people hear about essential oils from friends or family, but may be skeptical because their doctor doesn’t recommend using them and says they are a “quack” remedy. Others may see the benefits of essential oils but want to know how to tell their friends and family about the benefits without seeming like they are snake oil salesmen.

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How Long Should I Take Getting Up From My Massage?

I recently answered an excellent clarification question on Quora:  “When massage therapists complete a massage and say, ‘Take your time getting up,’ do they mean five minutes, or fifteen?” For lots of clients, this is an area of uncertainty. Everyone wants to enjoy the luxurious feeling of a limber, relaxed body after a great massage, but no one wants to be discourteous to their therapist and make them run behind by spending too much time on the table. So what is the proper etiquette to follow once you’ve finished a massage session? Read my response to find out!

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The Therapist's Touch

What separates an amazing therapist from a good therapist, or even from a bad therapist? Undoubtedly, certain characteristics come to mind. Someone who really cares. Someone who shows you the kind of respect that you deserve as a human being. Someone with the energy level and professionalism that helps keep you calm and relaxed. Someone with the intuition that helps them pinpoint and treat your problem effectively. Someone who takes the time to really listen to you and attend to your needs.

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Wasting a Major?

Within the past two weeks, I had two separate conversations, both of which happened to involve my college major as well as my career choice. In both cases, once the other person realized that I had gotten a biology major and then proceeded into massage therapy after graduation, they remarked, "Oh, so you're not using your biology major, then?" Having heard similar comments in the past, it did not strike me as too odd to hear something like that, but by the second instance in as many weeks I realized that there was a general perception about massage therapy in which very little biology was involved. So did I waste my major by choosing to go into massage therapy? As a matter of fact, the biology major was an important step in preparation for this career which deals so closely with the human body.

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