What is Tricia’s Massage Style?

Photograph of Tricia Griffith

Tricia, Licensed Massage Therapist

If you haven’t been in to Birch Tree Wellness for a massage yet, maybe you’re wondering if my massage style is right for you. Here’s a little bit of information about how I approach each massage.

What Do You Need in a Massage?

The first thing I want to know is, what are you looking for? Are you in pain, and don’t care so much about relaxing as long as the pain stops? Are you feeling physically fine but mentally drained? I can adjust each session as needed to address what you need that day.

Massage for Pain Relief

Before we start the appointment, we’ll chat about where your pain is and how it is affecting you. I want to try to get a feel for the source of your pain before we even start the massage. I’ll find out if you want full body work, or just a focus on the pain area, as well as if you prefer deeper or lighter pressure.

Occasionally, massage is not a good idea, and I want to make sure I’m not going to hurt you more. It’s important to know if you have any disc/spinal injuries, recent acute injuries such as fractures, or surgery. I may ask you about how the pain affects your range of motion and general movement. Are there times where it’s worse or better? Do you remember any specific incident that led to the pain?

Pain Relief is Relaxing

photo of a shoulder massage

Each massage begins with gentle Swedish massage. These are the long, slow strokes that help calm the nervous system and relax your muscles. Starting out with lighter pressure warms your muscles up. If I just dove right in to deep pressure, you’d leave your massage hurting more than when you arrived.

I believe that even a therapeutic massage can be relaxing. This is why as I start working on your problem areas, I incorporate relaxing strokes and gentle, but firm pressure. Occasionally, a hot stone may help loosen up a tight muscle. I may stretch your arms/shoulders, neck or legs/hips. Stretches or heat can help reduce how much deep work is needed to get cranky muscles to let go.

I’m a big believer that massage doesn’t have to hurt to work. I know there’s some amount of “good hurt”, but if you’re holding your breath, it’s probably too much. Don’t hesitate to let me know if it hurts too much. For the most part, I employ gentle techniques to get your muscles to release.

Science!

photograph of a person receiving a scalp/neck massage

Among my favorites is a “positional release” technique. This gets all “science-y.” If you have a sore neck, I target a specific tight neck muscle, and slightly move your head in the direction that muscle is trying to pull it. Then, I’ll hold it there for around 30 seconds. This sends signals to the muscle telling it that it’s done it’s job and successfully moved your head… good muscle! The muscle then lets go (and stops hurting). Science! (Magic!)

In other science news, you may also notice I don’t necessarily start right where it hurts. This is because many times a muscle hurts because it’s over-stretched, meaning the muscle that does the opposite action is tight and has been pulling it out of whack (a technical term). For example, if your upper back and shoulders hurt, it’s often because your shoulders are curled forward and your pecs are tight, over stretching those back muscles and making them sad and painful.

Checking In

If we’re working on a specific problem during your massage, I may check in with you periodically. It helps to know if what I’m doing is making a difference. I may also ask you to do something, such as resist against my push, or test your range of motion.

My “default setting” for massage is generally a medium to deep pressure without beating you up. I find this to be an effective amount of pressure, and most people find it comfortable. I can always back off or press harder as needed, don’t be afraid to let me know. That being said, the type of massage where it’s all elbows and painful deep pressure is really not my style. If you want to be beat up during your massage, I’ll help you find someone who likes to work that hard on you.

Just Shut Off My Brain

photo of a woman with hands on her head

If pain is less of an issue, but mentally you’ve just had it, I can still help. Massage is an excellent way to help manage chronic stress, anxiety or depression. For those of you who just need a mental break, we’ll slow down the massage and go back to those nice, relaxing Swedish massage roots. I often incorporate Reiki or just a gentle, soothing intent into the massage.

Massage decreases stress hormones and increases positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin. By keeping the pressure around a medium to light level, and not doing anything too painful, we can give your brain a break. Sometimes, that’s all we need to reset and get going forward again.

Quiet, Please

Lastly, in generally I try to follow a “Don’t speak unless spoken to” rule during your appointment. I believe that not having to worry about carrying on a conversation improves your massage experience. Several chatty clients have tried out being quiet during their massage and commented that it seemed like the massage lasted longer. That being said, if you just need to vent for a while, that’s okay, too!

Don’t Hesitate to Ask

Feel free to email me at tricia@birchtreewellnessmassage.com or message on Facebook if you want to talk about your massage needs, or have questions about my massage style. I look forward to meeting you!

That Knot in Your Stomach

Constipation. It happens to the best of us. No one likes to talk about it.
But wait, there’s hope! Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your massage therapist about it! When most people think of massage, they think of their aching back, tired feet, or stiff neck. They don’t often think about their neglected tummy.┬áStress, diet, or the side effects of many medications can lead to constipation and its related discomforts.
belly-2354_1920The thought of baring our stomach to a massage therapist might have its own share of discomfort. It’s the part of our body least protected by sturdy bones, or for many of us, strong muscles. We instinctively curl inward towards a fetal position when feeling stressed, in danger, or defensive, protecting our center.
However, if you’re having constipation, abdominal massage can do wonders to help you get things moving again. Gentle abdominal massage in a clockwise direction, following the direction of your intestinal tract, helps to relax abdominal muscles and stimulate the movement of digested food through your system. It’s also a lot more pleasant than harsh laxatives, particularly if you already take a lot of medications.
Along with aiding in digestion, abdominal massage may be of benefit to people with chronic lower back pain. When stomach muscles are tense and shortened, whether from stress or postural changes, this tends to have a stretching, stressing effect on the muscles in our lower back. By lengthening and relaxing abdominal muscles, we take the strain off the lower back.
buddha-242206_1920You don’t need to be self conscious about your belly. A professional massage therapist is not going to judge you or your body. They are thinking about the muscles underneath, how they are held, and what they can do to help them back into the proper tone and ease your discomfort. We see all kinds of bodies during the course of our practice, and we kind of think they’re all a miracle of chemistry, cells and maybe a little magic that makes you a beautiful human being.
So, at your next massage appointment, don’t be afraid to mention constipation or suggest to your therapist that you might like to add abdominal massage to your massage routine. You’ll be glad you did!