What does a Massage Therapist do?
Meghan Krupka, LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about what your friendly neighborhood massage therapist is working on to improve their work when they aren’t working on you:) Read below!
Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of your massage therapist is like? Certainly, a majority of our time is spent interacting with and treating you, our clients. In addition, a good massage therapist will also be spending time improving their craft. Staying up to date on current research, and working on your treatment plans!
Holistic healthcare practices have gained significant traction over the last decade. The role of the massage therapist in healthcare is now accepted and integrated into the mainstream. Studies have shown that massage therapy improves a person’s well-being, whether that be physical, mental, or both. Given its growing presence, we believe it is important for you to know a bit more about it. And about how the person who shows up when you search for “a good massage therapist near me” spends their time 🙂
The main event: massage therapy session
The primary job of a massage therapist is to work with and treat you in a session. We use touch and manual manipulation, also commonly called manual therapy. This affects muscles and their surrounding tissues. Clients may come to a massage therapist for a wide range of reasons. Relaxation, pain relief, injury management, stress relief, general wellness. The therapist aims to relieve pain, assist in healing injuries, provide additional bodily circulation, relieve stress and increase relaxation.
Let’s say you have made an appointment with a massage therapist in New York and have arrived at the studio. Your therapist will greet you, and take some time to review your medical history, daily routines & activities. As well as any recent or “out-of-the-norm” events such as injuries. You can also expect an experienced massage therapist to check out your posture and how you move. All of this information allows your therapist to carefully create a plan to best address your pain and chief complaints. Even if you are simply coming in for a maintenance massage, general well-being, or relaxation, you can still expect all the above so we can provide you with an optimal session.
Additional Evaluation Techniques Your Massage Therapist May Use
Depending on the reason for your appointment, your massage therapist may use additional testing techniques to evaluate your condition. These may involve modalities such as kinesiology which tests your relative muscle strength and function. Or looking at specific joints’ range of motion and tissue quality. These all help us to further determine which techniques to use. And which rehabilitative exercises or homework we may want to send you home with so you can continue to reap benefits.
After talking and evaluating, your massage therapist will lay out your treatment plan for you for today’s session and likely for follow up sessions. More often than not, multiple sessions will be needed to fully address your concerns. And for your body to accept and integrate changes. While we are the experts with anatomical knowledge and training, we always want to make sure you agree with and will be comfortable with our proposed approach before we start the massage.
Once the session is complete, your massage therapist will discuss with you how you feel and ask if you notice any improvements. They will also take another look at your posture or re-evaluate muscle and joint conditions to see what’s changed. And they will go over 1-3 at home exercises they think might be beneficial for you in between sessions.
Developing your treatment plan and course of action
Many times during a session, your therapist will find areas on you needing attention that weren’t initially included in the original plan for the massage. This is normal. As current aches and pains lessen, the older underlying roots of it may come to the surface. These can be addressed in future sessions.
Consider making a commitment to stick with it and work through these seemingly unrelated areas of the body. It will make a huge difference in whether or not your present pains stay away for the long term or come back later.
We may also discuss your treatment plan with other healthcare professionals you are working with–orthopedists, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. Or even amongst our own colleagues. This is especially common if you are dealing with chronic pain, a recent surgery or a new injury. This communication is critical to ensuring we are creating the best treatment plan for you and that our work is complementing other beneficial modalities.
For most conditions, plan on 3-6 massage sessions with two weeks or less between sessions. We’ve found that this is the average range of sessions it will take to both have you feel better in the short term and to keep that feeling for the long term.
Staying up to date on research and continuing education
Massage therapists in New York are required to complete a certain number of continuing education units every three years. These additional educational units or certifications help keep us up to date. They also offer the opportunity to learn new modalities. And to talk with other professionals about common conditions we see in clients.
Keeping up with the newest research is also the duty of a good massage therapist. Comprehensive research studies on massage therapy are currently somewhat limited but are growing quickly. We also read literature and research from other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists. Being able to communicate with and understand these other professions is important. And it helps to promote massage therapy as a legitimate and beneficial form of care.
Reviewing research also can go hand-in-hand with crafting your treatment plan. If we come across a promising study that looks at clients with similar conditions, we may be inclined to incorporate a component from the study to benefit you as well.
More than just hands-on
We know that being on the massage table is what you look forward to the most 🙂 We, as licensed massage therapists, do a lot behind the scenes to make sure your massage is as effective as possible. As a highly dynamic and unique structure, the body presents infinite areas for us to study and learn about. We spend a fair amount of our time outside the studio on learning and reviewing cases. So that we can make the most of the time we have with you on the table.
At Bodyworks DW, we offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy. If you see a Bodyworks DW massage therapist in Midtown NYC or the Financial District you can be confident of receiving the highest quality care. Would you like to schedule a professional massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!