There is a growing body of research pertaining to the effects of various forms of foot massage—including reflexology—on anxiety, depression, immune system response, nausea, pain, and stress. A general review of the literature between the years 1999–2007 found that foot work is demonstrating significant outcomes within a broad spectrum of populations, from postsurgical patients to people with cancer to middle-aged women to hospitalized patients.1
When your massage therapist sees you for the first time, it is likely that he or she may take a medical history. Over time, as you become more familiar with your massage therapist, there may be issues affecting your body that are not covered by the medical history or cannot be identified until your therapist has worked with your tissues. You may even have completely forgotten about some physical or emotional trauma that occurred long ago.
Children with special needs are both a reward and a challenge to treat. While these children may bring a host of issues to your treatment room—loss of movement control, speech difficulties, or even incontinence—it’s also their unique needs that inspire therapists, stimulating their creativity and therapeutic approach, with successful client growth often being the end result. Here are 11 elements that have been tried and true in my work with special needs children, and a young girl named Sophie, in particular.
Problems affecting your clients today may have more to do with how they were positioned in utero or aspects of their early childhood development than their stress, bad ergonomics, or lack of self-care as adults. Somatic issues triggered early in life—whether caused by injuries or learning to stand too soon—can have lasting effects on the body. Discovering if there are childhood origins for your clients’ musculoskeletal issues will help you as a massage therapist understand and unwind their patterns of chronic pain and rigidity.
If your client has given birth by Cesarean section (C-section), she has scars that need to heal. The surface scar, unless there are physical complications such as infection, will heal automatically. Deeper scarring, both physical and emotional, may take more work and conscious effort from both you and your client. To recover from a C-section, and to prepare for subsequent pregnancy and birth, your client needs to heal on all levels—from deep-tissue healing to releasing emotions related to the surgery. Your job as a bodyworker is to facilitate and nurture her through this process.
Vimala McClure first recognized the value of massage for babies when she was working in an orphanage in India in the early 1970s. Babies with few other advantages in this world were lulled into sleep each night with a massage before bedtime.
If you’ve strained one of your fibularis tendons, the pain in your ankle will let you know something is wrong, but you’ll probably have a hard time identifying the fibularis as a source of the trouble.
Massage therapists typically see more of a client’s skin than the client does. That fact alone carries with it a responsibility to be educated about some common and not-so-common skin conditions. A well-trained massage therapist will know what creams or lotions might best soothe a rash or what conditions to avoid touching altogether. You could even be the sentinel who discovers and alerts a client to a potentially life-threatening illness.
Close to 800,000 people in the United States will have a joint replaced this year. Osteoarthritis is the main—but not the only—reason. Joint replacements have become so common that most massage therapists can expect to see clients who are in various stages of recovery from this procedure. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s risk-free, and a person who has had a joint repaired has a significant chance of complications that impact bodywork choices in both the near and long-term.
Every now and then we all need a special treat. Here are some of my favorite indulgences, and I'll go out on a limb to suggest that I'm probably not alone on some of these:
--A big piece of cake (dark chocolate, with raspberry preserves oozing
between the layers).
--An evening with a silly movie or two--as mind-numbing as possible, please.
--Shoe shopping--OK, any shopping. I'm not picky.
In the words of the old song, "One of these things is not like the others ..."