I will be sharing my collection of self-care ideas and techniques in upcoming blogs. I have slowly acquired these tips wherever they presented themselves over the last 30 years. And they came from everywhere – therapist friends, clients, Physical Therapists, reading health articles, continuing education classes, and more. My goal is to speed up YOUR learning curve, so it doesn’t take you 30 years to learn ways to get out of pain and feel great!
You may wonder how I got all my information.
Today’s blog is my story of 30 years of listening and learning from thousands of massage clients, so many great stories and tips they passed on to me, which I benefited from. In addition, I learned from reading health and fitness articles, going to my Physical Therapy sessions, and listening to client feedback. I took hundreds of classroom hours of Continuing Education, including college-level Anatomy, Physiology, and Kinesiology. It was a long, slow collection of priceless self-care information that I can now share with you!
30 years ago …
In the early years of my massage career, I learned that most clients I worked on knew almost nothing about Self-Care. Still, many clients today also do not know what they can do to get out of pain and feel better.
When I first started doing massage, I was in the same situation. I knew very little about self-care.
And, like my future clients, I had my share of aches and pains. I had not had more than a handful of massages at that time. And, I had heard almost nothing about the things I could do to relieve pain and improve my well-being other than anti-inflammatories.
Soon this would all change.
When I began working as a massage therapist at the Four Seasons Resort and Spa, Maui, I met a great therapist who lived in the same neighborhood as me. We began trading messages every week, and we became good friends.
Giving me a massage every week, he reminded me that I should stretch my quads (muscles on the front of the upper legs) if I wanted to get rid of my low back pain. Every week he would say the same thing to me. Again and again.
Truthfully, it sounded ridiculous to me. I could not connect the dots: how was stretching my quads on the front of my legs going to help the pain I had in my back?
… finally, I began to stretch my quads. And, guess what? The pain in my back (sacroiliac joints) went away. That was a very long time ago, and because I continue to stretch and exercise, my back has been in great shape ever since. Thirty years later! And no more anti-inflammatories! Stretching quads for low back pain is one tip I pass on to clients every other massage!
That was my BIG AH-HA moment!
It was my first epiphany on how stretching could eliminate pain. After that, I became a dedicated student of self-care. I wanted to know what else I could do for myself and to help others.
I did not want the pain to curtail the fun and enjoyment of life!
When my wife and I had the opportunity to work out with a trainer at an affordable price, we jumped at it! We knew that a pain-free body and good health always come with a time and money price tag. We worked out for about a year with him. It was like going to school. We learned a great foundation of strength-building, maintenance, and stretching exercises.
At that time, I also subscribed to a couple of good fitness magazines and read them cover to cover. I scoured them for tips and ideas on keeping fit and staying healthy. My goal became – fit and active without drugs until my last breaths – perhaps into my 90s or beyond.
It was working. My wife and I both felt better.
We saw the value of taking care of our bodies in a whole new way.
During those years, I also learned the benefit of seeing a Physical Therapist! What an invaluable member to have on your health care team! The PTs gave me more detailed exercises and stretches to add to my existing routine, which helped me feel even better.
Imagine, as a massage therapist, your wrist starts to hurt. Next, your PT gives you just two small exercises you can do anywhere a couple of times a day that takes that pain away. Wow! I was amazed and thrilled.
The PTs gave me even more great tips to pass on to my clients.
Yes, I still visit a PT and get their ideas and tips. Whenever I feel I need their assessment and a bit of help or some new ideas, I go to the PT. I can then add some new exercises or stretches from the PT to my other strength-building exercises and stretches. This gives me more info to pass on to clients with similar challenges.
Now, sometimes it is in reverse. My clients tell me a technique or idea from their Physical Therapist who helped them. Then, I try that out, often adding it to my routine and passing it on to other clients. The ideas can come from almost everywhere!
I have also gotten loads of helpful info from my many hours of Continuing Education classes. Each class, whether it was in Craniosacral Massage or Anatomy, Physiology, and Kinesiology at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa (2 years ago!), gave me an in-depth understanding of how we can better take care of ourselves.
Since those early days many years ago, I have been a passionate student and practitioner of self-care.
If a client expresses interest in knowing some self-care ideas, I offer them two or three stretches or exercises I have found to help manage the pain they are having. If clients are not interested in self-care homework, they just get a great massage, and I stay quiet.
My clients have often told me that receiving a massage can decrease their pain by 50%.
This tells me that if a person continues to have regular massage, their progress could be immense. With regular massage and a self-care regime, many of my clients are often 100% out of pain. But, and I am the first to warn people, feeling good will require some time and some money. I know that from my own experience.
And I understand we don’t always have time or money. We have busy lives. Sometimes we have new babies, new jobs, just bought a house, or we’re moving. Many times it feels like there is no time for ourselves. But, these super busy times eventually pass. Once those overwhelming days are past, we can all find at least 10 minutes a day to help ourselves feel better.
My self-care suggestion often is to start with 10 minutes a day to stretch around a particular joint or body part. Just get used to doing something-anything at first. Once there is some pain relief, the motivation goes WAY up. Believe me, when that happens, you will want to know what else you can do.
With great satisfaction,
I can look back over my lengthy 30+ year massage therapy career, which is still going strong, and recall so many great clients who trusted me to try a stretch or exercise after leaving my clinic. In that way, they began their great life adventure of learning methods to stay active, fit, AND pain-FREE without drugs.
I am excited to share these many ideas and concepts that have helped me and thousands of massage clients through my blogs.
I will only write about techniques and ideas that I have tried and used to benefit my health. I have also suggested to clients and listened as they reported how these same things had helped them.
My philosophy is that life should be lived to the fullest.
To do that, we must feel as good as possible, hopefully great!
We are created for movement, adventure, and action! Nothing is holding us back except the lack of information or motivation. I will offer the information, and quite often, pain inspires and motivates us to action.
However you get started, the path towards optimum health and happiness is not difficult. Maybe 20 to 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week once you are in full swing?
You just need to be willing to put down the device, turn off the distraction, and get moving!! It’s fun!! I hope you will join me.