A love letter to massage
I first discovered massage when I didn't know what else to do. I was recovering from a severe hamstring injury after my last contract as a dancer and I couldn't train or move in the way that I wanted to. My lack of a creative outlet was really affecting my overall motivation and mental health. I've always found the human body fascinating, especially the musculoskeletal system, and so along with the physical aspect sports massage therapy seemed like an ideal course. I learnt everything I could about the mechanism of my injury and discovered a real creative release in working on bodies and their pathways.
That's how I see massage therapy, it's so creative. Each and every body is so different, in terms of: posture, balance, size, training, definition, and history. Finding out the possible reasons for a client's pain or imbalance and discovering different pathways to easing tension. A massage treatment is never the same twice.
That's why I'm so excited to return to massage work this week! As performers, we are unsure of when we might see a stage again so having a creative outlet within massage is a blessing for me. I've made it through the endless days of lockdown and it finally feels like I am emerging into the light. Preparation is key, of course in terms of safety but also in being ready to actually deliver an hour long massage!
That brings me onto another reason why I love my work in massage. It is so physical. I am using my whole body and I find that I really get into a flow when I give a massage. There is a certain push and pull that you develop with the client and their body, it is very minimal but I feel it on an almost electrical level. When I can really get into that flow, I'm using my forearms and elbows and my whole body weight to apply and adjust pressure.
I started out in massage with just my massage couch, some lotion and my car, delivering a mobile massage service around SW London. I grew mainly through word of mouth and thanks to some brilliant friends in the performing arts industry and a boyfriend involved in the ultimate frisbee world, word got around in some very specific circles of my new skills! If you have no idea what ultimate frisbee involves, lets just say there's lots of sprinting up and down a field, sudden changes of direction and laying out to catch the frisbee. Safe to say I helped to treat lots of painful knees, the odd twisted ankle and very tight glutes and hamstrings.
Fast forward a little and I started working with West Norwood Therapies (WNT), treating the people of West Norwood and Windrush triathlon club. A wonderful collective of women, when I first joined we had massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, facial therapies, hypno-birthing and yoga. I've seen that grow and fluctuate with additions of tai chi, qigong, reflexology, reiki, and sound baths but unfortunately with some subtractions as well. Due to Coronavirus we have sadly had to let go of the bigger studio room at WNT and therefore halved our team and said goodbye to our range of classes. With a bit of reshuffling of the schedule I am so excited to start afresh with our little community, now offering sports massage, deep tissue massage, cranio-sacral therapy, acupuncture, and reflexology. I am still so grateful to Jennie and WNT for giving me my first placement in a clinic setting.
In the world of massage and soft tissue therapy, there is constant learning and discovery. I am learning from every experience and each new client with a slightly different issue. It drives me to want to know more, discover new techniques, listen to a client's back story and individual preferences. What works for one person might not work for another. It is very personal in that way. I learn from my clients, to make the best possible experience for them.
It's all about the individual. That's why I especially love massaging dancers and performers. I can relate to their frustration of pain or inability following an injury. If I can be the person to help alleviate their physical pain, whilst empathising with their emotional pain, then I feel like I can help them grow and progress properly. It's not just about the symptoms of pain, usually it goes much deeper than that. By connecting with someone and understanding where they're coming from, what their idea of normal functionality is, then the way to recovery can be set a lot clearer and be a lot easier to follow. I know I've been frustrated countless times when a health professional has told me that I have great 90º flexibility in my leg. It may be great for the average public, but it's not great for me when I kick my leg to my face for a living!
Since qualifying I've also had the chance to work in an Osteopathic clinic for a year as the resident sports massage therapist. Working in such a clinical setting really taught me a lot about record keeping and note taking, I'm way too fussy about my writing looking neat - there's no time in a massage appointment when the next client is waiting outside! I'm now looking forward to working with a Physio clinic at Kings Gym, Mitcham. This is the next step in my massage journey and I'm so excited to keep growing and learning. I can't wait until we are allowed to attend professional development workshops again to learn some new techniques and broaden my knowledge on the human body.
If you are looking for some relief from muscle tension, a niggling injury, or improving your overall performance, please get in touch. I currently offer my mobile service in SW17 and surrounding postcodes, West Norwood Therapies and Kings Gym, Mitcham. Any enquiries or questions you might have for me just email email@example.com. I'm also on Facebook @sportsmassagesos and Instagram @sportsmassagesos.