Some of the best inspiration that I get comes directly from my clients. Since I started writing this blog six months ago, the amount of back and forth with my readers – you – has grown. This communication has been incredibly useful and has helped me grow as a practitioner. So to my readers, those who’ve been with me from the start and those recently joining the conversation, I say thank you.My clients often ask questions. Lots of questions. From time to time a question is asked loud enough, often enough, and by enough of you that it begs to be given a more formal answer. This blog post is just that. I’m answering a question that I get all the time. As more questions like this arise, you can expect me to do the same. But for now, read on and enjoy. The Question:
I have chronic pain and I live in __________. How do I find a deep tissue massage therapist?
Massage Therapy is a fast growing industry, and there are a ton of therapists working in the field. For the most part, the majority of them are great at what they do, but very few are specialized in treating chronic pain and injury. Some may say they treat back pain or sports injuries, but this does not mean they are specialized in treating chronic pain and injury. There are short courses that therapists can take on treating symptoms of back pain or sports related injuries. These are great for introducing a therapist who may want to specialize in treating pain and injury. But it takes thousands of hours of hands on, successful treatments before a therapist truly becomes specialized.
Massage therapists are similar to other health professionals, such as doctors and physical therapists. The majority of them work in the generalized field, while only 5%-10% pursue a specialty. It’s the difference between a general practitioner and an orthopedic surgeon. This makes finding a therapist who is specialized in treating your specific condition kind of like finding a needle in a hay stack. Challenging but not impossible. It will take some work and time on your part, but it is well worth the effort – even if it takes more than a week.
Finding a Therapist. Five Steps.
1. What does your body need?
What are you feeling? How do you want to feel? Have you seen a doctor or physical therapist with little to no results? Have you been told your only options are pain medications, injections or surgery?
Deep tissue massage therapy can help with many common chronic pain ailments:
Pain in the neck, shoulder, back, hips, knees, and feet
Scar tissue removal
And many many more…
2. Who are you looking for?
What kind of specialist? Who can help you get where you’re going? There are many specialties within the field of massage. All of them work for somebody and none of them work for everybody.
I specialize in deep tissue massage with a focus on improving posture by working on the fascial system. I have had success with the majority of my clients. Yet from time to time there are the occasional few for whom my work does not seem to benefit.
Post a request for recommendations through social media sites. Join professional groups for massage therapists via Facebook, Linkedin or Google and ask for recommendations there. Great therapists discuss, support and learn from each other through these groups making them a great resource for referrals.
Be willing to drive a little out of the way. I have multiple clients who regularly drive 45-60 minutes for a session.
4. Pick the top 3 – 5 and research them.
Proactively vet your top five. Before you settle on a therapist, I suggest interviewing them either in person, over the phone or through email. I love it when I am interviewed. I have noticed a greater trust relationship develop between me and the client’s who go through an extensive interview process. Trust is important, you will not find the level of successful treatment without it. If you interview them via email, be patient. Most therapists spend more time in session than on the computer. If they don’t respond within a day or two… call them instead.
Ask them if they have experience successfully treating clients with issues similar to yours. Ask them for references and don’t be afraid to call. Check out their website. Do they write a blog? What type of information do they post? Does it relate to what you are dealing with? Do they have reviews on Yelp or Google? Do any of the reviewers talk about having similar issues treated successfully?
5. Spend at least four to eight sessions with your favorite.
Once you’ve done this and you notice that it doesn’t fit or feel right, spend a few sessions with another. I generally tell my clients to commit to at least four, and even better, eight sessions. By the fourth session, most can feel whether or not the work we are doing is beneficial for them. Best case scenario: you develop a relationship with a therapist for the long-term and you share a journey together. You get to know them, they get to know you, and your process is hyper personal, geared exactly for you.
My 6th and special bonus tip.
When you find that great therapist and they help you move and feel better, pay it forward by telling the world. Tell your friends and family. Post your experience in detail on social media sites. Write them a review on both Yelp and Google – again be detailed about your experience. Offer to be a reference for potential clients. Your therapist relies heavily on word of mouth to survive and thrive as a business and so does the next person in pain who is seeking help.
Note: I wrote this list to help you best find a deep tissue massage therapist for your needs. This is the same advice I regularly give clients when seeking a family or specialty doctor, physical therapist, personal trainer or any other health care provider. Taking the extra time to build and develop a relationship of trust with your health care provider will pay dividends in your long term health and vitality.