There are a great many people who believe that massage is something you get as a treat now and then to pamper yourself. I would like to challenge those of you who feel this way to look at it as something that can be so much more.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog series about the benefits of massage therapy. I focused on benefits for the body and mind, as well as on benefits of prenatal massage, postpartum massage, and infant massage. In the series I mention several times that the benefits are more prevalent in those who receive regular massage. This means coming in more than just once, and developing a schedule of massages. If you want to read more about some of the specific benefits of receiving regular massage, please refer to one of the above posts, as I won't really be talking about specific benefits in this post. Today I want to talk a little bit more about developing a good treatment plan to incorporate massage therapy into your routine in order to reap more of those benefits.
Why create a treatment plan?
Everyone has stress, and everyone has someplace where they hold their stress in their body. We also all have certain habits and postures that aren't great for us. No one has perfect posture all the time. When you get used to holding yourself a certain way, your body creates imbalances in order to compensate. What that means is that everyone can benefit from a massage. That being said, not everyone has the same needs for massage. That is why it is a great idea to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to fit your own, individual needs.
When you go in for regular massages without developing a treatment plan, if you are seeing the same massage therapist each time, they will eventually learn things about your body and develop ways to work with you. By having a treatment plan consultation, you sit down and outline what you need, and the massage therapist can spend a fair amount of time looking at your body and way of movement to pinpoint where you have imbalances and what kind of work will help. This means that you can get to work on the actual problem areas right away.
Unless you are treating yourself or being treated to a day of pampering, most people seek a massage therapist when it gets to be so bad that they can't stand it anymore. Coming in for regular treatments is a great way to ensure that you never make it to that point.
How do I develop a treatment plan?
You can develop a treatment plan by sitting down for a consultation with a professional massage therapist. Every massage therapist is different and will have a different kind of evaluation process.
At Women's Massage Therapy, you can schedule a 30 minute, no obligation treatment planning session for free. At your free consultation, you will fill out a basic health history form just like you would at any other initial session. You will also fill out a treatment goals form. Your massage therapist will have a packet of information for you, as well as a postural assessment chart like the one shown to the right, and a treatment plan form.
Once you fill out the health history and treatment goals, your massage therapist will read what you wrote and discuss it with you. It is always best to be completely honest to work toward your best treatment plan. Massage Therapists are bound by HIPPA, so like with a doctor or therapist, you can be assured that anything you discuss with your massage therapist will stay between you.
After discussing your health history, goals, and talking a bit about lifestyle and habits, your massage therapist will do a full postural assessment. It is best if you wear tight fitting clothes like you might wear to yoga or the gym. That way, your massage therapist can see your structure and note any imbalances. She may use her hands to feel things like if your hips or shoulders are uneven, or if your head is turned slightly to one side. She will look at your body from the front, back, and both sides and take notes about where you have postural imbalances.
Next your massage therapist will ask you to lie down on the table fully clothed, and will look for things like if one leg reaches further than the other, or if your body tilts to one side. She will do some compression and rocking strokes to determine where your body is holding things, and see how easily it releases.
Once you are done with all of that, your massage therapist will sit down with you, discuss her findings, and present your optimal treatment plan. This will outline what kind of treatment she feels would benefit you most, and how often would be best to receive treatment. Everyone is different and will have different needs. On that note, everyone also has different time and monetary restrictions. Your massage therapist will be respectful of this and work with you to develop a plan to fit your needs and your lifestyle. It is up to you whether or not you decide to follow the treatment plan, and you are more than welcome to make any changes you need to.
After your initial consultation, you will get a welcome packet that includes a discount for your first session. If you are new to the practice, I highly recommend you try out the first treatment before committing to one of the discount series that may be offered to you just to make sure that you like the treatment style.
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.