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Massage vs. Bodywork – Is There a Difference? Part 2

by on Oct.29, 2012, under Fitness

Now, I can hear many people saying, “she was sick for three days and you say GREAT?”

Oh, yes. My next words to her were, “you didn’t want to keep that inside you, did you? Who knows how that would have manifested?”

Yes, purifying of the body can be intensely uncomfortable, but for me, three days of discomfort sure beats a week, two, or more depending on what the cause of the congestion was and how it would possibly have manifested later on if she had suppressed it with drugs. I feel good that I could assist her in releasing it.

Now, it’s possible she didn’t do as I had suggested afterwards — drink plenty (maybe a liter or more, depending on time of day) of room temperature or even hot water, preferably with some lemon juice (kidney/liver purifier) added. This assists any freed-up toxins (which is what causes the pain during/after the session) to go down and out their natural channels of elimination. If the toxins overwhelm the system, the body will eliminate them however it can. The ideal thing is to assist the process. One can do this by skin brushing, hot and cold showers, and plenty of hot water with lemon or other freshly made juices.

Now to the first complaint: One thing I’ve experienced going to various massage therapists is that they go too deep too fast. They “grind” their clients. What happens when they do this is the tissue will retract from the contact. It’s as though you went to touch a person’s face. If you move slowly, they’ll be aware of your hand coming towards them and even though they may be wary, they wont necessarily withdraw. If you do it quickly, they will automatically react by pulling away or defensively blocking your hand. The tissue does the same thing.

So, what’s the answer? SLOW DOWN and bring more awareness to what you are doing. By slowing down and bringing awareness to the hands, thumbs, knuckles and elbows, and what one is feeling, the practitioner can go deeper into the tissue without the client feeling as though one was being “rough” with them or “beating them up.” Then again, the therapist also needs to notice what is deep. There have been times when I could not go below the surface because the client was in extreme pain; whereas at other times, I can sink into many layers of tissue and the client sighs with relief.

What to do? First of all, be aware of who you are working with. Have them breathe deeply into the area in which you are working. You may also, lighten your touch or use a different modality — palms instead of knuckles or thumbs. In addition, realize, the tension doesn’t have to be and probably will not be taken care of within the time frame you’ve set. It didn’t take an hour to build, did it? Make another appointment so the work can continue.

Another thing to understand is this: There are indeed times for extremely deep work where there will be pain and even bruising afterwards. The question would be, “What is the outcome being achieved?” Is this what the practitioner is looking for and can the client understand this and the reason for it? Communication is the key, here.

As for the client: If you are not used to moving much — i.e. through conscious exercise — or moving the area where the pain is, expect there to be some soreness afterwards. It’s like going to the gym after not having ever been, or not for a long time. You’re going to feel sore. Whether you move your muscles or the therapist does, it doesn’t matter. What can you do? Again, plenty of room-temperature (or even warmer) water with lemon juice and Epson salt baths and movement! Move your body in different ways as in yoga or qigong.

Bruising: Often when there is stagnant chi or energy, there may be large or small areas of bruised tissue after a session. Most people consider this as broken blood vessels.

My experience has shown that these bruises are toxins being brought to the surface so that they can be released. Most people will feel a freedom in that area as the color diminishes.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the healers do a form of bodywork called Gua Sha which, as Dr. Jerry Alan Johnson says in his book Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy, focuses on external surface tissue scraping. It is commonly used for promoting Qi (chee) and Blood circulation, removing toxins, clearing Heat, cooling Blood, removing stagnation, and dissolving masses.

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