Saturday, 15 September 2012

31 Days Later...

This is the last day I have to post in order to complete the “31 in 31 days challenge.”

Thank you to Eric Brown, R.M.T., for proposing this challenge to the Massage Therapy community. It has been a great experience for me personally and professionally.

I have a feeling that I will continue to use this blog to post more adventures in Massage Therapy, though maybe not on a daily basis. I have received such positive feedback from readers and I really appreciate it. I have also received some wonderful suggestions for future blog posts, and I am grateful to be encouraged with new material

For a very long time I have wanted to write a blog about my experiences as a Registered Massage Therapist. Even if no one read it, and it was just for me. Under the advice I read in Success magazine from Seth Godin he said, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “you should have something interesting to write about your profession everyday. If you have nothing interesting to write about, maybe you should find a new profession.”

The blog idea came up again in the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubinwhere the author wrote a blog post each day for one month. This blog became the start of her best selling book, and a successful franchise.

I knew I wanted to start a blog, but hadn’t put it into action yet. Then Eric Brown came along with his “badass blogger challenge.” I had seen the emails for a few weeks announcing his challenge, but brushed it off for “later.” Then, the day before the challenge was about to start, he posted a 5-minute how-to on how easy it was to set up the blog site (one of my excuses), and he promised a “badass blogger trophy” if we completed  the challenge. He simply wanted us to take action each day. Do something. Move! Challenge accepted.

It was difficult to post each day. I was not lacking in content for the blog, but I was going to be away on three different occasions during the 31 days. I participated in Tough Mudder, Toronto August 18th, 2012, which meant I traveled for the weekend to Barrie to visit family and participate in the event. I was whisked away to Tremblant August 24th-26th, 2012 with my boyfriend and he enforced a “no electronics rule.” I also traveled to Washington DC for a vacation with my mom and dad from August 29th- September 3rd, 2012. I never once missed a blog posting.

Climbing Mont Tremblant, overlooking Tremblant Village
Knowing I would be away, I prepared a few blog posts at a time and was able to schedule them to automatically post on the dates I would be away. No electronics? No problem. I heart Blogger for this feature. While I was in Washington, I woke up early and wrote the blog daily from my mom's laptop in the lobby of the hotel. I must have looked official each morning because one day a lovely woman tried to check-in for breakfast with me haha. I also recruited a guest blogger to cover a post when I knew I was going to be traveling and unable to post. According to Eric, it still counts as a daily post

Abraham Lincoln and I. Washington, DC

I started this blog 31 days ago with a real frustration about myself in the profession of Massage Therapy. It is true that it is what I have always wanted to do thanks to the encouragement of my late Grandmother. On day one of this challenge I was feeling so restless and “stuck.” I was ready to use the blog as a release for my frustrations and expose the truths about Massage Therapy. I am blessed with a gift, and I feel that I am using this gift to the best of my ability, but so what? I feel that I have so much more to contribute and accomplish. Maybe I have a bigger purpose? Maybe there is more money on the table somewhere else? Can I support a family in this profession? Can I maintain a relationship?

By day 31 I realize that yes, I can. It’s not always easy, it could always be worse, and it is always worth it. Writing the blog, and having conversations with those reading my blog, including a wonderful woman who owns Align Massage Therapy, Jana Veltheim, I have come to realize Massage Therapy is where I am meant to be. This may not be forever, but that is not a decision I need to make right now. Right now, I need to wait. I will continue to be the best Massage Therapist I can be, and appreciate the lifestyle I have because of this profession.

I must appreciate that I only have to maintain a 20-25 hour work week to make an exceptional living. I only work a six-hour work day--if I work at all, and I am free to take time off when I want. Because I have the time, I am continuing to pursue my business on the side. I am grateful I have it because it has continued to encourage me to grow personally and professionally, while providing residual income that is there to support me every month, whether I massage or not. I have met the most incredible friends through this business and even gained a few new massage clients. Everyday my side business grows, and one day I will make the decision to quit massage therapy, pursue my business full-time, and have a lot more free time on my hands! What an awesome day to look forward to!

For now, I choose to enjoy each day and focus on the future, continuing to help people achieve their financial, life, and health goals.

Special thank you to my guest bloggers: Mark Perry, Melanie Stewart, and Bianca Wahab for contributing to my challenge. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experiences surrounding me and Massage Therapy

Thank you all for reading and supporting me. It has meant so much to me to hear that I have inspired you to start your own blog, or that you can relate to me and now you feel you are not alone. With your encouragement, I look forward to posting again in the near future. 


Krista Dicks, B.A., R.M.T., C.L.T., E.T.T., Firework. 

Catherine and I emerging from "Mud Mile" at Tough Mudder, Toronto. 

Friday, 14 September 2012


Earning a Massage Therapy diploma has been described as the equivalent of First Year Med School. 

The program I graduated from was eighteen months in total. It can be three years if you take the summers off. We didn’t take summers off, and we had approximately two weeks off at Christmas. We were at school six days a week between class and our student clinic on Saturdays.

It's more than just giving a good massage; it’s knowing how the body works inside and out. Understanding how everything is connected and the effect a massage can have on someone at the cellular level. This is not something everyone realizes, even those interested in becoming Massage Therapists.

Sixteen students started in my class. Twelve graduated with a diploma (There would have been thirteen, but one of them walked out during the final exam). Ten passed the Ontario Board Exams and became Registered Massage Therapists, and Nine are practicing today.

We had over 2200 hours of Theory, and practical courses. We also worked on the general public public. This included a student clinic at the school, shadowing an R.M.T. in his/her practice, and an outreach program where we volunteered our time at office health and wellness events or race weekends. We were eager to get as much hands-on time as we could.

Courses included: Anatomy, Physiology, Ethics, Remedial Exercise, Pathology, Assessment, Kinesiology, Treatments, Neuroanatomy, Massage Techniques and Advanced Massage Techniques, Nutrition, and many more. You had to maintain a 70% average.

By the end of the program we were a small, close group of students that ate, slept, and breathed massage therapy. I carried cue cards for studying on the bus, and when it was slow at work. We supported each other through countless emotional experiences and drama, but we had fun too...a LOT of fun! By the end of the program, I was the winner of “most likely to throw buckets, most likely to bite her classmates, best abs, best looking in scrubs, most likely to have silk sheets, best cartoonist, and most like Jesus award.” I guess you had to be there. lol

We practiced Massage Therapy techniques on one another, as it is the best way to receive feedback. We each experienced when we went too far, and it’s important that we found out on each other rather than finding out on a client.

I appreciate when clients recognize the amount of knowledge we have accumulated through our training. It is also mandatory that we continue to upgrade our skills by learning new techniques or participating in seminars, workshops etc.

We also have yearly Registration dues in order to maintain good standings with The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO), and we must present proof of liability insurance. 
The CMTO supervises the profession of Massage Therapy to ensure that it remains in good standing with the general public, and it will protect the public if a Massage Therapist is in violation of any of the regulations. The CMTO are also there to help educate the public that Massage Therapists are recognized in the medical community as health care practitioners.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Chiropractic Care and Massage Therapy: A Perfect Couple

Hello everyone,

Thank you to Krista Dicks for inviting me to do a guest blog. Krista and I have been colleagues and have been co-treating patients for a while now. She also happens to be my Massage Therapist too!

Friends, family and patients who have aches and pains will often ask me, "Is this a chiropractic problem or something massage can deal with?" The answer in most cases is BOTH will help. Chiropractic care and massage therapy are very complementary to each other. I have the pleasure of being both a Chiropractor and a Registered Massage Therapist, so I see first hand how well the two work together.

The scope of practice for Chiropractors and Registered Massage Therapy is often misunderstood. Most people think a chiropractor just “cracks joints” and RMTs can only massage tight muscles. This is very far from the truth. There is so much more to both professions. Chiropractors use adjustments or manipulations as one part of their treatment plan along with other techniques such as soft tissue therapy, light muscle massage, modalities, acupuncture, orthotics, and exercise prescription. Likewise, RMTs will use traditional swedish massage techniques along with lymphatic techniques, joint mobilizations, trigger work, breathing and stretching techniques. Both practitioners are well equipped to treat a wide range of injuries and should not be limited to the general belief that joint problems are for Chiropractors and muscle problems are for Massage Therapists.

So if both Chiros and RMTs can help you, the question becomes: Who should you see for an injury? Most people would think one or the other. I would suggest seeing both practitioners. Most health care plans will provide coverage for both therapies allowing for greater care and fast recovery from your injury. And even if you are not injured, but simply experience mild strain because of long days at the office or lots of stress, you can still benefit from both chiropractic care and massage therapy. Regular maintenance visits will help maintain proper function of the body and nervous system and help manage your stress! As a general rule of thumb, for wellness, I would recommend a chiropractic visit once a month and a massage every 1-3 months.

It is truly a gift and blessing to be able to do what I do. I hope my amateur blogger entry was informative. I hope this inspires all of you to call your favorite therapist and book your next massage and chiropractic appointment.

Have a healthy and happy day,

Melanie Stewart

Melanie is also my Chirpractor :) 
Visit Dr. Melanie Stewart at Kent Chiro Med 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

B's Blog

Guest Blogger: Bianca Wahab

Beautiful Bianca
If you don’t know Krista (and have been reading her blogs), I’m positive you can gather by now that she is an inspirational woman!! If you haven’t, well, we need to chat.

I have known Krista for a few years now, and can tell you she is one of the MOST inspirational women I know. Even though she works so hard as an RMT, which is demanding enough in itself, she finds time to volunteer (her and Mark run Bingo night at a local retirement residence - how FREAKING CUTE is that!!!) and takes on numerous other projects and hobbies. Not only that, she has always been an amazing friend.

Recently I became an Independent Consultant with Arbonne--an amazing company that creates pure, safe and beneficial beauty and skin care products.  I told Krista about my new venture and she was immediately 100% behind me. So much so, she even offered to host an event for me in hopes of me reaching my next goal within the business. When I saw Krista was doing a blog challenge, I immediately knew I had to write something for her. Not just to blab about myself, but to help her achieve her goals, like she is with mine.

Overall, Krista inspires me to be a better person. Sometimes it's her stories of visiting a local farm that takes in abandoned animals, which she also supports financially. Sometimes it's how she picks up a penny she finds on the sidewalk and says, "This is where I’m supposed to be at this moment!" There is so much goodness in this woman, I don’t know how she doesn’t self combust! It is sometimes difficult to see the positive in everything, and not just focus on oneself, but Krista does it with ease and grace.

I wanted to write this to help Krista complete her blogging challenge, but also to say thank you to her. Thank you, Krista, for your determination and perseverance. Thank you for your endless positivity. Thank you for introducing me to Cold Stone Creamery. Thank you for calming me down while waiting for a massively delayed flight - even when you had to endure that as well. Thank you for snagging those cheap tickets to Wicked. Thank you for inspiring me to do better in all that I do, particularly Arbonne.

And most importantly . . .

Thank you for being you, Krista,
 . . Because a friend like Krista, is hard to find.

Krista says: Thanks B :) 

I happily support Arbonne as their quality products are vegan :) 

Learn more about ArbonneYou can also email Bianca 
Want to try the products for yourself? Come to my brunch party and support B!
Sunday Sept 16th, 2012. Email me to get the details

2 more ways Bianca is fabulous:
Hartby and Leone Magazine

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Understanding the needs of your client, and respecting those needs, is one of the best ways a Massage Therapist can help to build a regular client base.

Disrespecting those needs, or “doing what you feel is best” is not going to fly.

Every Massage Therapist can tell you the story of the monster truck sized man who whimpers with even a hint of pressure, or the petite Asian woman who will pound the table and say, “harder!”

It is usually the monster truck man who will say “Oh, I can handle a lot of pressure” ...until you bring him to tears because, as a good therapist, you tried to give the client what they thought they needed. Key word “thought.”

Many clients receiving a massage for the first time, or have had a few massages, expect that a massage is not “good” unless it is deep, they feel worked on, and they feel sore the next day. It is not easy to explain to a client that deeper, is not always better.

If the muscle is not responding well to deep pressure, then it will guard and resist the pressure applied. It is possible that the muscle can bruise, feel sore the next day, and possibly have some limited range of motion. Pushing past these barriers is not going to help the muscle. A great Massage Therapist will explain this to the client, and even though it can be difficult to not give the client what they want, it will look better on you and the profession for doing so.

Some clients may have experienced a massage where they did feel “beat-up” afterwards and had to seriously think about trying massage therapy again.

It is common for a client to ask for deep pressure, but then they look at me (5’5”, slim build, 125lbs) with some uncertainty that I will be able to deliver the pressure they want. It is always nice to prove them otherwise.

After any massage, even if it was fairly light to moderate pressure, it can be very common for the client to feel sore up to 48 hours after a massage. This is not usually because of something the Massage Therapist did, but how the body is reacting to the massage. It’s just like after you exercise, the muscles may feel a bit tight and sore, but you are proud of yourself because that feeling means you actually worked out! Telling your clients ahead of time that they might feel sore, and that drinking water and having a hot bath with epsom salts can reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness, will mean less angry clients storming into your clinic accusing you of malpractice.

Finally, as a Massage Therapist, if you reach your capacity for pressure with a client, but you know that another R.M.T. can give them the type of depth they really want, please refer them. 

Ask the client if they could have used more pressure in the massage? If the answer is yes, admit that you are at your limits physically, but you know a great therapist who would be able to give them the type of massage they are looking for. You are not doing anyone a favour if you continue to keep them as your client. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Research and Massage Therapy

Photo from: Research and Marketing Strategies (RMS)

There is a growing amount of research accessible to the general population and physicians on the topic of Massage Therapy.

These studies are helping to give credibility to the profession of Massage Therapy. It helps us be recognized as knowledgeable health care practitioners who are capable of so much more than just a relaxation massage or tension release.

Although the client will feel better physically, reporting their muscles are more relaxed at the end of a massage than the beginning, there is so much more going on in the body that will continue to help the client feel better long after the massage is over. The massage itself is only “skin-deep”.

There are so many examples of the many health benefits of massage, and many you can look up with credible resources. It really is fascinating that a massage can have a greater impact on the overall health and wellness of an individual. Pick anything: depression, anxiety, weight-loss, improved memory, etc., and I am sure you will find a study that shows how a massage can help. Search PubMed for examples 

I have already mentioned in a previous post on Neo Massage that massage therapy encouraged weight gain in pre-term infants. How does massage encourage weight gain? In short, when the body is relaxed, the “rest and digest” nervous system, or parasympathetic nervous system, is activated. A relaxed digestive system will facilitate better absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. This increased absorption of nutrients will be used as needed in the body of a pre-term infant to grow healthy and strong. Pretty neat, right? You can see more of these amazing examples on the website for The Touch Research Institute (TRI) founded by Tiffany Fields.   
I have been very fortunate to contribute to the ongoing research in the field of Massage Therapy with my first publication: Massage Therapy Techniques as Pain Management for Erythromelalgia 
Being published for research was not something I had planned on when I began my Massage Therapy career, and I had a lot of help and support to complete this daunting task. I am grateful for the experience and I hope it will help educate those with Erythromelalgia and medical professionals who seek complementary therapies for this rare disease.

There are many Massage Therapists locally and globally participating in research everyday. Please consider supporting further research into the benefits of Massage Therapy. As a complementary therapy, and with enough research behind it, I believe massage can be as effective as pharmaceuticals for treating some of the worst diseases and illnesses many suffer from today. 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Les Perks

There are so many great perks to being a Registered Massage Therapist. In no particular order, I will salute a few.

I am my own boss. I am self-employed and therefore I get to set my own hours and decide where I want to work. I want to book time off? Done!

My days are not nine to five (thank God), and I almost always enjoy traveling in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic.

A massage therapist cannot work an eight-hour workday. I typically work six hours a day and see approximately five clients.

I am typically busiest on evenings and weekends. Therefore, when I go to the grocery store on a Wednesday morning, it’s as if they opened it just for me! The same goes for the mall, going to the gym, and getting a haircut etc.

Have you ever wished that your keyboard would turn into a fluffy pillow while you nap at work? A massage therapist always has access to comfy massage tables, pillows and blankets to nap on... not to mention soft lighting and relaxing music. Yes, I have been so tired some days that I have taken a nap at work if I have a large break between clients, and I did not get in any trouble for doing it!

I have access to a massage therapist in my workplace. So if I need someone to quickly squeeze a tight trapezius muscle, or stretch out a scalene, I can just ask.

Most of my clients are very happy to see me, as I am happy to see them.

There are typically fifteen minutes between clients to change over the sheets on the massage table. There is not usually a “dinner” break scheduled, so I eat small bites such as veggies and dip, yogurt, or fruit. This keeps me in good shape because there is absolutely no time to sit down to a full meal.

I work in a low stress environment.

I know I have missed a lot, so please share some of your perks about being an R.M.T.

Have a great day at work!