Massage therapists are trained to observe the body in ways you might not have realized
People who are studying to be a massage therapist are learning to pay attention to the specific details about a client’s body. The client will generally say whether they are having any particular problems or pain, but it’s the therapist’s job to notice and intuit the rest of the information, to provide a restorative and healing treatment.
Here are some things that a massage therapist can pick up about a client, equipped with knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as the various functions of the body and the flow of energy. Some of them may surprise you, or make it seem like a massage therapist has special powers!
If you’re dehydrated
Your tissues feel different when you’re not drinking enough water—especially in the upper back.
If you’ve been someplace cold
Lots of people will hunch their shoulders up around their ears if they’re chilly, which causes stress in the neck and the tops of the shoulders.
If you suffer from lower back pain
When you lie down on your stomach, an indicator of lower back pain is if one hip is higher than the other. This means your hips are out of alignment, which is something a massage therapist can adjust in the course of a session.
If you have a suspicious spot on your skin
The therapist might urge you to have a doctor take a look at a spot that you can’t see in the mirror, to rule out skin cancer.
If you recently went on a trip
Lots of people twist themselves up on long car rides or in cramped airplane seats, and your body will reflect this, hours or even days later. Massage therapists can also tell if your neck looks like you tried to sleep without a pillow.
If you have any old injuries
If you broke a bone when you were younger, the massage therapist is likely going to be able to tell this, because of the way your muscles and joints healed.
If you’re having an allergy flare-up
The signal is if your lymph nodes are tender, or if your eyes, forehead, cheeks, or jaw are inflamed.
If your bag is too heavyIf you’re carrying a bag with a strap that goes across one or both of your shoulder blades, the massage therapist will notice if weight in the bag is causing tightness in your muscles. The same is true for bra straps that are too tight.
If you’re stressed out
Maybe you’re chatting nervously or sweating. Maybe you have halitosis. Maybe you’re sweating on the massage table. All of these can be signs that you’re under stress. Don’t be self-conscious—that’s why you’re getting a massage.
Whether you’re using a good pillow
Your neck needs to be supported at a good angle when you sleep—so that it’s aligned with your spine. If you’re using a pillow that’s too hard, soft, fluffy or flat, it can cause problems in your cervical spine.
If your hormones are in flux
There are hormonal trigger points in the lower back that feel different when a woman is menstruating.
If you work at a computer
People who are behind a monitor all day have a few telltale signs: your back might ache, your shoulders might be hunched forward, and you might complain of headaches that could be a result of eye strain.
If you’re constipated
Massage therapists can tell this from the firmness of the abdomen, but they can also help to get your energy flowing and your system moving again.
If you text all day long
Sore shoulders are something you’d have if you’re bent towards your smartphone, typing, for much of the day.
If you sit with your legs crossed
This puts pressure on the hip flexors, and can be the cause of pain in the back of the legs or in the lower back.
Many of these are things to be aware of, because it’s easy to make lifestyle tweaks that will improve your physicality. A massage therapist can serve as a kind of check-up of self-care, with regards to sleep, work, stress, eating, and drinking. It’s an amazing profession in that way!
This article is part of the Salter School’s weekly blog. In addition to a professional program in massage therapy, we offer programs in medical assisting and medical billing and coding. Reach out to us today for more information!