Massage Oil and the French Model
by Lisa Poole on Tuesday, February 16, 2016
The other day a person called and was full of questions. What did I charge, what were my hours, what services did I offer, what was I trained in and so on. Then the questions changed. Do you know about this XYZ treatment? I saw a video on Youtube. What about this ZYX? I read it on WebMD. Oh and what about this ABC that I saw online…. They had my head spinning. I can only imagine what the Average Joe who is looking for massage help feels like. There is sooooo much information on the web. How can you tell what is good and what is bad? Like the TV commercial “How do you know he is a French model?….The internet.”
Since I finished school I have taken several classes and done a lot of reading and research. I have become skeptical of some of the claims that I originally believed. Don’t misunderstand, I do believe massage is a wonderful addition to living a healthy life. It can relieve your pain and make you feel better and less stressed. Some of the claims that have yet to be proven as scientific fact: massage will…. detoxify you, release endorphins, lowers cortisol, increases circulation or boost your immunity. These claims are not based on clinical evidence. They have been repeated over and over enough that people take it as fact. You can find lots of blogs, post and even articles in massage magazines written as they are facts. Unfortunately, when you look at the studies they are too small and inconclusive to prove them.
Then there are the variety of techniques out there and many claims that their specialty will give the results every client needs. These claims are also being made with little or no evidence. I could say I have seen many clients with neck and shoulder pain that are better after they see me and I perform my “Peaceful Strength Technique”. I could then create a class, and with lots of good marketing and a trademark, my technique becomes the “it” class to take with every client wanting the Peaceful Strength performed on them (again the French model). This is not just a massage issue it is also seen in many other fields; especially the fitness industry.
To prove a claim scientifically and back it up you need case studies, randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis. To run studies like this takes time and MONEY. Massage therapy as health care is a pretty new practice when compared to most medical sciences. Many providers have seen many anecdotal situations but the scientific study of massage and its benefits has been very limited.
So, to get back to my call of a million questions….
Every body is unique. How it responds to touch will be different than another. Some require firmer pressure with a slow stretch and glide. Others react well to a very light touch with hardly any movement. Most of the time to create a sense of relief and relaxation a combination is required. Someone may require several visits in shorter time and others react well with less frequent visits.
Does it really matter what “technique” is used to make you feel better? Or do you just want to feel better?
I have taken a variety of classes and learned many techniques that benefit my clients. I read and research much but will never claim one technique will fix you. I will always be a skeptical thinker. Science changes quickly. As an example: years ago it was believed that foam rolling the IT band was the way to go for self-care of runners knee. Through experiments, research and reviews it is no longer the case. Things change.
As a therapist and an open-minded individual, you must be able to keep up with the change. Admit to what is no longer a good process or even what was never a proven theory (massage and toxins…uggg) and never believe someone is a French model unless you have physically seen them on the runways of Paris. As my Dad always said, “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.”.