In June, 2017 a CBS Sunday Morning “comedy” segment was burning through various massage therapist networks. The premise of the opinion segment was that massage is weird, and brought up many massage misconceptions. Some massage therapists did find it funny; others, it made angry. I certainly didn’t find it funny, but most of all, I’m concerned that a respected network would allow the perpetuation of negative stereotypes and discourage people from trying a legitimate form of therapeutic care.
You can view the segment with comedian Jim Gaffigan on the CBS News website HERE. In case you watched the segment and it made you question the validity of massage therapy or the motives of licensed massage therapists, I’m happy to address some of his commentary here.
“Massages are decadent and weird. They’re always from strangers. We get massages from strangers because we can’t count on the people who love us to touch us.”~Jim Gaffigan
Maybe taking the time out for a massage DOES feel decadent. We have busy lives, we have other financial obligations, and many of us have gotten horrible at self-care. The human race needs to stop shaming people for taking care of themselves. I’ll keep saying it until I don’t need to anymore… What you give to all of your obligations and the people you care about is only as good as what you allow back in. When your body finally gives out, who will take care of all of it then?
Your massage therapist doesn’t have to be a stranger. I personally love meeting my clients ahead of time, and if you want to meet at the office and ask questions before you schedule an appointment, I’m happy to do that. Check out massage therapists at local events when they are offering chair massages, it’s a great way to try out their massage style, meet them, and put a person behind the name.
As much as we might love touch from the people we love, it’s true that often the best we can hope for is the occasional shoulder or foot massage. A licensed massage therapist has studied long hours to learn about muscles and systems of the body, how they all work, and what types of massage work best for particular issues. Not to mention, they learn how not to hurt you and how to avoid areas where they could damage nerves or even bone.
“What do we know about massage therapists? They like to rub strangers for money while they listen to the “Avatar” soundtrack. That’s a red flag. Those are the traits of a serial killer.”~Jim Gaffigan
Most licensed massage therapists are members of a national organization such as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) or Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). These organizations maintain a code of ethics that defines ethical and professional conduct. States have their own laws and rules for licensing massage therapists. You can read Maine’s here, or search for your state’s massage therapy licensing laws. Choosing an individual who has gone through the rigors of schooling and licensing will keep you much safer than going to someone who has not.
More importantly, YOU are in control of your massage. TALK to your massage therapist. Call them ahead of time, ask questions. Ask questions when you get there. Ask them DURING the massage if you don’t understand something they are doing. If you don’t like something they are doing, tell them to stop. If you want the session to end, tell them.
When you come to my office for a massage, you are always appropriately covered with a sheet or blanket. This enables you to fully undress (or undress to your comfort level) for your massage while maintaining modesty. If you have any concerns about undressing, please don’t hesitate to talk to me about it. I leave the room and allow you to undress and get under the covers in privacy. During your massage, I’ll uncover only the part I am working on and leave the rest of you covered.
Many people get into massage therapy because they genuinely want to help people. Massage can increase your mobility, improve your circulation, reduce pain, improve your mood, and help you sleep better. What is weird and decadent about that?