Like the gardener or carpenter who uses the slow time of year to mend and look after his/her tools, we can use this time to do the same for our main tool, our body. Whether it is a chronically tight back, sore shoulder or painfully stiff neck, when it hurts it is asking for help, and if it just feels stiff and doesn’t hurt yet, it’s the perfect time for preventive care.
People whose jobs constantly call for repetitive movements are especially in danger of developing problems down the road if they don’t heed their body’s signals and take early action by receiving timely and skilled bodywork. Examples would be waiters balancing heavy trays over one shoulder, often always on the same side while tilting their heads, musicians holding a guitar for hours, always having one hand raised and the wrist tweaked to press down on the strings, or carpenters using the same tool with the same hand. You get the idea.
A good approach, and also the least expensive and most efficient way of maintaining smooth functioning of the body is to start taking good care of it early. That means don’t wait until you need to take painkillers in order to function.
Doing so would be comparable to hearing a strange screeching sound coming from the engine of your car and just turning up the volume of the radio to drown it out, without looking after the cause. In the case of the body, ignoring pain means an ever-increasing chance of irreversible injury, which is going to be expensive one way or another. While surgery can take a long time and healing can be difficult, putting us out of work for the duration, tight muscles that are just starting to affect the joints or compress nerves are relatively easy to take care of for someone who knows what they are doing. Finding someone knowledgeable, skilled and professional is very important so look for their credentials.
Here are some guidelines on how to find a good therapist:
• Look for someone who is licensed and certified. That could include a licensed massage therapist (LMT), a certified rolfer/structural alignment therapist or shiatsu practitioner with a state and city license. Either way, those two licenses should be displayed in the treatment room, and they should be current.
• Find someone you like and are comfortable with.
• Ask if they can help you with your specific issue. If they are unsure, ask if they know someone who can.
• While recommendations from friends can be a great way to get you started, like a lot of things, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others. It is best to find out what works for you. Perhaps, rather than signing up for a string of treatments right away, just try one session and go from there.
I would suggest, though, that once you find someone you are comfortable with, don’t just get one session and then wait until you are hurting again. Instead, give the work a chance to sink in by getting a succession of treatments spread out over a period of time, or try a monthly or bi-weekly session for a while. You might just be amazed at the results you are getting for a relatively small investment.
Rates are generally dependent on the length of treatment, with 60 or 90 minutes being the most common. Some therapists offer introductory and/or reduced rates for locals, ongoing clients (once a month or more frequent visits) or for prepaid packages of multiple sessions.
The essential thing is to give value to your body, which performs countless functions for you throughout the day, rain or shine. It is the vehicle that enables you to live in this world, to interact with others, to do your life’s work, to make a difference. It’s so easy to forget about the body when it functions smoothly, and to take it for granted, or to get irritated when it fails.
But a little bit of gratitude goes a long way. Give back to vehicle body before things go wrong. The days are long gone when getting regular massages was considered an indulgence reserved for the rich. These days, as wellness and health consciousness have become mainstream, and skilled therapists can be found much more readily, it is easier than ever before to ensure the longevity of the vessel body that carries us through life. Make a commitment today, or renew one made in the past, to take good care of yours.
Ata Susanne Morse has been a certified massage therapist since 1996. She has a private practice — Massage and Bodywork — in Moab, 435-260-2874; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.