The Journey of Massage Therapy – by Peter Roach

by Peter on October 27, 2011

a. The act of traveling from one place to another; a trip.
b. A distance to be traveled or the time required for a trip

Have you ever thought of your massage therapy as a journey? Or for that matter have you ever thought of seeing any of your practitioners as a journey? I didn’t until a treatment with one of my patients the other day.

She said that coming in to see me for treatment was a journey, and one that she looked forward to, despite sometimes feeling beat up after treatment. As we got to talking about this, I found myself thinking that every treatment I do with every patient is a journey. Think about it. When first seeing a new patient I look at gait, posture, and listen to the symptoms. It’s as if this is the starting point at this place and time, the patient and myself here and now. From here it is really is a matter of getting from point A to point B, and how we are going to achieve this, and the journey we will take.

Every patient has their own destination. For most its being pain free. For others it may be to run faster, jump higher, or to complete the Grand Fondo. Others still it may be to carry on into being able to do everything we have and are doing now till the day we die. But EVERY patient I see has a point, a destination of where they are going or want to go.

Of course with each patient it is a different journey. Some patients I have seen for 28 years, and our journey together has been long and great. And with these patients I suspect that the journey will continue for some time after, as we progress through our lives and are presented with different challenges with our body. And at some point these journeys will also come to an end. As with other long standing patients the journey comes to an end, and no longer do I see or hear from the patient. These journeys are tough ones, as relationships are built through the journey, and loosing these contacts becomes somewhat personal. But over the years, we as Massage Therapists learn that patients will come and go, the ebb and flow of life, but never the less, lives have been touched in some way.

Some journeys with patients are shorter, have a defined lifespan. A recent patient came in with chronic lower back pain. She has had this pain for years. But simply looking at her posture and gait revealed some discrepancies that have not been picked up by other health care practitioners she has seen. Explaining to her what I see and what we need to do starts the journey and sets the road map to where and how will will get her pain free. After several treatments, working on each part of the trip to better health, she eventually is pain free. Amazing! But not so amazing. In order to get from point A to point B there is all the little points in between to get there. Miss one or go in a different order, ie: strengthen a muscle before it is stretched, can mean the difference of not getting to the destination.

Our annual journey to Treasure Island

The journey idea is a good one. Whether or not your therapist or yourself is aware of it, the journey begins. Getting to the destination is the difference between a good therapist and a great one.

Another patient commented that I was always 100% there for them. I seemed engaged and present during our treatment. This also is the difference of making the journey to the end. How may practitioners do you see that are totally present? Your GP, your dentist, your surgeon, your massage therapist. All of these practitioners have to be fully engaged in your treatment and treatment plan to be successful. With prevailing winds and such, an airplane is off coarse 70% of the time as it flies to it’s destination. The pilots ensure the appropriate adjustments are made as the journey continues to make sure we arrive where we are suppose to. And so ever practitioner has to make the adjustments for stresses and events  that may alter the treatment coarse.

For some the journey is smooth and easily laid out. For others it can be a long process. One of my patients came to see me a year ago. I could barely touch her, her body in so much pain that it seemed that mere breath would send her home in pain. But the path was clear. Her posture, her gut and digestive functioning had to be addressed. With the help of other practitioners, this woman is doing more now than dreamed possible. I remember her asking me when she would be reaching this point, way back at the beginning. Massage Therapists hate this question. I hate putting time lines on anything as so much can happen between treatments. We are dynamic individuals so each one is different. But after some persistence I said she would be good by July of this year. I was wrong. She was good by August! And what she can achieve now is truly amazing. But of coarse a new destination is set. She wants to be able to achieve this and that, do more, and so we continue to work. The journey continues.

And for still others the journey keeps going, as with Kramer is a Seinfeld episode, it may be to see how long we can go till we run out of gas. I loved this one.

As always, if you have any question, concerns or comments please do not hesitate to contact me.

In Health,

Peter Roach, RMT, CNMT, Laser Therapist

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