I am a massage therapist in Kreuzberg. Like many small business owners, I have a sign on my building with my business name, phone number, and website address. Although the sign clearly states that massages are booked by appointment only, I still get the occasional drop-in.
Early one morning, two young men rang my doorbell. Just the night before, one of the men had tripped, fallen, and hurt himself. He held his hand to the back of his neck, clearly in pain, while his friend stood nearby for support. He begged to be seen immediately.
Massage is one of the world’s best pain relief remedies. So why did I say no?
I love massage. For me, it is a whole body experience. Massage is the physical act of kneading muscles and moving joints. It is also the emotional connection to the inner self. I learned to appreciate this holistic duality in learning massage, in classes from Big Sur, California to Bali, Indonesia. The Esalen Institute, where I first learned the Esalen massage technique, sees the mind-body-spirit-heart connection as vital to our understanding of wellness. Understandably, this is what I believe too.
Still, as an experienced massage therapist, I understand why many see only the physical part.
This month, for example, the Winter Olympic games will start in PyeongChang. The minor and major aches and pains of being world-class athletes will be rubbed out (literally) by skilled massage therapists. They will work just as tirelessly behind the scenes to keep athletes at their best as the athletes themselves.
You can also see massage therapists on the sports field. During the final match against France of the Euro 2016, football star Cristiano Ronaldo suffered a serious injury. The team’s professional massage therapists were among those quickly on the field.
No, therapeutic massage cannot prevent all injuries. But before, during, and after injury, massage is essential to maintaining well-being.
But is massage the right choice for the body in all cases and at all times?
Is massage right for you? Yes! But we know in our gut that massage is not the right answer in all cases at all times.
Why not? Because a massage from a poorly trained or wrongly informed massage therapist could worsen recent ruptures and tears of muscles and tendons. Because broken bones, burns, and open wounds need a different kind of care. Because chronic health conditions could lead to a crisis that even an experienced massage therapist cannot handle.
Yes, there will be some times when massage is not right for you. And that is why it is important that you share your reasons for making a massage appointment.
These are just some of the reasons that people call me to book a massage. They are all fine reasons too! But the severity of the situation may mean that a different professional is needed, such as a medical doctor or an occupational therapist.
You are welcome to let me know what you are experiencing, whether before, during, or after the massage. I can then make sure that I am right for both the physical and emotional part of your massage therapy needs.
I said no to the young man in pain on my doorstep, because what he said of his accident showed that he needed to see a medical professional first. Massage was the wrong choice for that moment, yes. But when he later needs that massage, I will be available for him.