So, what type of massage do you do?
I am often asked this question by prospective clients and my standard reply is:
I do exactly your type of massage
But actually this is a question with more than one answer.
First of all, I have not been trained to do a particular style of massage like only Swedish or deep tissue or sports massage.
In South Africa the two-year diploma in therapeutic massage required to register with the Allied Health Professions Council of SA, teaches you a wide variety of massage techniques from which you select the most effective and appropriate for the person on the massage table.
After speaking to the client and assessing the situation, together you set treatment goals and develop a treatment plan accordingly.
No two treatments are alike. In short my style depends entirely on you, and your needs!
But there is more to it.
The other answer to the question of what type of massage I do is a more philosophical one and it starts with how the question is phrased.
Instead of asking about the type or style of massage I do, rather ask:
The reply to this question will tell you a lot more about what you can expect from the treatment and from a particular therapist.
Every therapist’s approach to massage is based on a worldview, by the way s/he thinks about health and wellbeing, by the training s/he had received and in particular by an understanding of the relationship between body and mind.
It forms the core of how s/he relates to you and your needs.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO MASSAGE
There exist two basic approaches to massage.
The metaphysical approach, often referred to as holistic massage, which emphasises a vitalistic or spiritual aspect of humans which differentiates them from the natural world. They work with body, mind and spirit or energy.
The other approach to massage is the postural / structural / biomechanical one based on a reductionist and materialistic approach of Western medicine. Body and mind is separate but linked.
SO, WHAT IS MY APPROACH TO MASSAGE?
However a third approach is fast gaining a foothold in the world of therapeutic massage and that is the one that best explains my own approach.
It has its origin in the latest findings in pain science, neurobiology and biochemistry which is giving as a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between body and brain and mind.
It has forced us to rethink the dualistic mind-body approach while at the same time offering us an alternative to the approach of esoteric and modern day vitalism.
It has shifted the focus of massage from a mechanical treatment of the body as the origin of the pain response, to working with the client via the nervous system to alleviate pain and discomfort.
In a future blog post we can talk more about the philosophical differences among the three approaches and why I work the way I do but for now let me just explain my approach to massage this way:
Instead of fixating on fixing body structures and posture:
So what type of massage do I do? I do exactly your kind of massage.
Body-mind or mind-body? If you are struggling with physical and mental pain and feel that the dominant health paradigm’s dualistic approach to mind and body seems inadequate to explain anything, I want to talk to you. Join me under the tree in my garden for a cup of rooibos tea and let’s talk massage and SomaSense!