Friday, October 30, 2015

What I Am Learning In My Alexander Technique Lessons So Far

I am still new and have only taken a few lessons in the Alexander Technique.  As a musician, it has made a big difference in how I do during band rehearsals.  It teaches you how to move in a way that is primal and natural to babies.  Much of the tools we are taught in self care just trades one dysfunction for another, due to over stressing areas of the body that shouldn't be compensating in the first place.  Alexander Technique does not do that, since it is about inhibition.

I lave learned that holding our heads still creates neck tension and pain.  Our spines are made to move.  I have also learned that our pinky and ring finger are stronger for griping, than our thumb and index finger.  I learned that leading with the pinky side of the hand feels more natural, doesn't feel like I am trying and less likely to lead to injury.

I have also learned that sitting with my back completely straight kicks in over strains the back.  Having a natural poise has nothing to do with posture. 

If you are suffering from repetitive stress injuries, you can keep getting therapy until the cows come home, but if you continue to move in a way that hurts your body, the treatments will not last.

Make sure you have a well rounded approach to your treatments and self care.

While reading books on it does not substitute lessons and doesn't teach you what you need to know, it can still help to learn about the philosophy and decide if it's something  that you want to do.  A couple of books recommended by the teacher that I see:

"Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique, Second Edition" by Micheal Gelb
http://amzn.to/1Wlc2Ud

"What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body: The Application of Body Mapping to Music/G6518" by Barbara Conable
http://amzn.to/1ScNl6z

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What to look for when seeking a massage therapist

When many people are looking for a massage therapist, many of them think "one size fits all".  The truth is, that we are all different enough from one another for each experience to be unique.

Are you looking for a general full body feel good massage?  Do you like it gentle?  Do you like firm pressure?  Or do you like to feel beat up afterward?  Some massage therapists will tailor the pressure and some won't, so these are good questions to ask your therapist.

Are you looking for something more specific, such as pre natal, going through chemotherapy, traumatic injuries, repetitive stress injuries?  These are all topics that require continuing education.  If you have a specific goal in mind, you will want to make sure that your massage therapist has specific training in what you need.  Did you know that if you are going through chemotherapy, that even a gentle, light touch massage can cause harm, if the massage therapist is NOT trained in oncology massage?  Did you know that there are certain areas of the body that a pregnant woman should NOT be massaged?  Did you know that there are certain pain conditions that a regular massage can make worse, if the person is not a pain relief specialist?

Where do we find the right therapist?  Google and word of mouth can both be your friend.   If you are considering Groupon, you do not know who or what kind of massage that you are getting.  Massage is a personal experience, so knowing who and what you are getting is very important.  If you wonder about what the spas and massage franchises are like, that is a similar situation.  Even if you have been there multiple times and request the same therapist, you are not guaranteed that same therapist.  If you ask the front desk for something specific like "deep tissue massage" "oncology massage" "reiki", etc., they may not always know who to put you with or the right person may not be available and you could get surprised when you show up.  If you are considering something more specific such as seeing a specialist, many of us run our own business.  If you find our website online, make sure that you read every word on the website and call or e-mail us with any questions that you might have.  Many of us take a lot of continuing education and our treatments may not always come anywhere close to what a traditional massage is like and not all specialists offer traditional massage.

When calling a massage therapist, do so without set expectations.  We cannot help anyone who already knows which technique or modality to use on them.  If the person specializes in your particular situation, hear them out.  They may offer something that works even better for you than what you originally thought you had in mind.

Last, but not least.  While it is important to make sure you know who and what you are getting, it is also important to keep an open mind.  Do NOT get so emotionally attached to one therapist or one type of therapy that you would never consider other therapists or other therapies.  The most healthy people out there see multiple people for multiple things.  If you are seeing someone who refers you out, that means you need to consider going.  If that is not right for you, then research what is.  Either way, you were referred out for a good reason.  Also, choosing the gender of your massage therapist is no different than choosing the gender of your physical therapist or chiropractor.  Again, keep an open mind.