How many of you have used Massage Therapy in the past?  In a room full of people, when this question is posed, chances are that a good number of hands will go up, if not most.  Now, how many of you have used Massage Therapy as a reactive means of dealing with an ache or pain that prevents mobility, activity or generally causes discomfort in the body? Once again, odds are the vast majority of hands that were raised with the initial question, will again go up.

It’s a natural response for individuals to seek out therapy or treatment of some sort once they are unable to maintain their normal activity level or simply function with daily activities when some form of discomfort is present.  Whether created by an acute (new) injury, or due to something secondary or chronic (ongoing) that presents itself in the body, we all want to restore our bodies to functioning pain free with our daily lifestyle or in the activities we enjoy doing.  Therefore, using Massage Therapy as a restorative treatment approach or way of relieving discomfort is quite common and an effective form of treatment for getting us back on track.  However, how many individuals choose to use Massage Therapy as a preventative method of steering clear of injury, or maintaining optimal performance with their daily activities or hobbies?

HTIM

Through my 17 years of practice and experience, I can tell you the numbers are far less, and I suppose, for relevant reasons.  If we’re not in pain or discomfort, or not limited in doing everything we want to be doing, why would we spend money on a Massage Therapy treatment if we don’t have to, or feel as though we need it?  Well, there’s a simple analogy to answer this question.  Anyone who owns and drives a car can understand the next point I’m trying to make.

We demand a lot of our bodies on a daily basis, whether we’re sitting behind a computer all day, doing repetitive lifting, or training for the next marathon race, our bodies go through a lot of physical stresses to keep us functioning day after day. 

We trust that each morning, when we head off to work, or the grocery store, or to our local gym, that when we turn the key in the ignition, our car will start and we’ll be on our way.  And 9 times out of 10, it likely will.  Now, this only happens because we provide the required maintenance necessary to keep the car running the way we need it to.  Whether we like it or not, we have to change the oil every 5000-6000km, we have to buy new tires once they show enough wear, we have to top up the fluid levels, and when that engine light comes on, we have to take it in to determine what’s wrong with it.  If this maintenance doesn’t happen, our vehicle becomes unsafe to drive, or unreliable, and problem after problem can start to happen with it.It’s an investment that we choose to make, and we do it, month after month, year after year to keep us getting to those places we need to get to.  As much as I’m not a big fan of comparing our bodies to a vehicle, the similarities are certainly there.

Dave_Kervin

We demand a lot of our bodies on a daily basis, whether we’re sitting behind a computer all day, doing repetitive lifting, or training for the next marathon race, our bodies go through a lot of physical stresses to keep us functioning day after day. Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s not an even balance from what we demand of our bodies, to what we give back to them.  Our body is our functional method of transportation, keeping us moving day after day. Once we begin to lose mobility with a certain function, it can often be a giant snowball effect or chain reaction of physical limitations that arise there after.  Often, a small, nagging problem that we choose to ignore or neglect can result in changes in our body mechanics, creating compensation, therefore altering our ‘normal’, or true movements that keep us moving properly and injury free.  I’m certain that anyone reading this can agree that at some point in their life they’ve neglected to take care of some form of physical discomfort, telling themselves, ‘it will just go away, or get better over time’.  And while this may have some truth to it, (the body will always find ways to adapt when it senses any physical impairment) without giving it the proper direction or guidance, it will generally
compensate in other areas to provide continual function and mobility, and therefore limit us with varying, negative outcomes.  These limitations may not affect us immediately, but at some point down the road, eventually they will.  That chain reaction of neglecting a small, nagging discomfort will almost always, eventually come back to affect our body mechanics in some form or another.  So, in going back to the car performance analogy, the same can be said for the body withrelation to the amount that we use it, and for what purpose we use it for.  If your car is used for a relatively easy commute back and forth to work with minimal stops and starts, and minimal mileage placed on the vehicle, it will generally require less maintenance.  However, if you operate a vehicle for the purpose of racing, or even as a taxi driver, it becomes obvious that your car will require more maintenance since you’re demanding much more from it on a higher and more frequent level.  The same goes for the age of a vehicle.  The older model car, the more we have to put into it to keep it running smooth and safely.

The more we age, the more important it is to allow our bodies the proper care to recover and restore functional movement.

Once again, the same can be said about our bodies.  For example, the more physical demands you place on your body, yes, the healthier it will remain, but it also becomes more important to give back to it and make sure it is getting what it needs for optimal performance andto maintain that health.  In order to repair tissue damage caused by the physical stresses of high levels of activity, the body must have sufficient time to recover and heal, and what better way to provide that assistance in healing or speed up that recovery process than using Massage Therapy.  The more we age, the more important it is to allow our bodies the proper care to recover and restore functional movement.  Over these past 17 years I’ve had the pleasure of working with many athletes, from all different levels, and many clients with all different types of jobs.  I can tell you from experience that those clients/athletes that have caught on to the concept of using Massage Therapy as a pro-active approach, or as an ongoing maintenance approach, see far less injuries or physical limitations throughout their work environment, or out on the field, track, court, water or on the ice, compared to those that only use it when something goes wrong physically for them.  It’s been present in the approach with elite athletes and teams for years in keeping athletes functioning and recovering to the best of their abilities through the use of Massage Therapy as an ongoing treatment modality, and the proof is in the results when you talk to them, or their trainers/coaches, or see their performances and recovery times.

I feel it’s much more of a ‘win/win’ situation when clients choose the approach of using Massage Therapy to prevent discomfort, or a lack of mobility or function before it happens.

There’s certainly been an apparent shift in the use for Massage Therapy over the years, with the ongoing support of Doctors and other health care professionals joining together to recognize the wide range of benefits and results that can be achieved through our great profession, more and more are turning to Massage Therapists to help get them back to functioning at 100% again.  For me it’s been an exciting shift to witness and be a part of.  I’ve not only had clients come to see me after an injury and worked with them through it to get them back to doing everything they want to be doing, but I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing them continue to use Massage Therapy on a regular basis in their life to ensure that they remain injury or pain free.  While I always embrace a challenge at work with doing my best to get to the root of an injury or cause of pain for a client, and work with them to restore them to full, pain free functioning, I feel it’s much more of a ‘win/win’ situation when clients choose the approach of using Massage Therapy to prevent discomfort, or a lack of mobility or function before it happens.   I have clients that I see once every 4-6 weeks, and it’s always great when they come in the room, smile, and say, ‘nothing major to report, everything feels great, let’s keep it that way’.  They have caught on and understand the importance of giving back to their bodies on a regular basis. I’ve also worked with athletes that have chosen to get a jump on their training plans for their upcoming competitive season and decided that the pro-active approach to treatment is the way to go for them.  It’s been gratifying to have them report that following that competitive season, they had far less injuries, recovered faster, and often out performed their teammates at early season training camps by simply making sure their bodies were rested and functioning the way they needed them to, day after day through the grueling testing demands of their particular sport.  There’s no better feeling as a therapist to hear these reports, and see these results.  Our bodies will fail us from time to time, and injuries will occur, but there are ways of minimizing the impact of these injuries or frequency of them.  It’s with shifting our mindset from using Massage Therapy not only as a restorative or reactive approach, but using it to be pro-active as a preventative method.

THIM

The point I’m trying to make is this, and it’s been my professional model for years now…………..You have to give back to
the body what you demand of it.  And it’s my job, as a Registered Massage Therapist not only to provide a service to people that allows them to keep active, continue working, and continue living pain free, but it’s also my job to educate and promote the pro-active approach to using Massage Therapy.  As Massage Therapists, our drive, our desire to be in this great profession is met with an equal goal to maintain or restore the daily living activities, work demands, or hobbies that our clients wish to pursue, day after day, for as long as they possibly can.  Ultimately, we’re always happy to see our clients in for treatment, but it’s when that treatment is to maintain a healthy, pain free lifestyle that it ends up more of the desired outcome for both therapist and client. In short, go see your Massage Therapist!  Don’t wait until something physically fails you before you take action, take action now!  Choose the pro-active approach, prevent injuries before they happen.
Carpe Diem!

Dave Kervin, RMT, SMT(cc), ART Provider
Trent Health in Motion
Trent University
Peterborough, ON
705-741-4758