"This is how I treat this client." - A reminder to not get stuck in a treatment routine.
Updated: Aug 20
I recently have started learning some techniques from a practitioner who treats patients with a Japanese style of acupuncture. I was initial interested in this style because I know it is known to be a more gentle style than traditional Chinese acupuncture. What I wasn't expecting is I've found this style can help me now with my massage clients. I have one more year of schooling, so i can't use needles in my own practice, but I can use some of the techniques with a tool called a Tei Shin, or even just with my hands.
I have a client who I have been seeing for around 2 years, she has come in once a week for that entire time and also gets treated by a physical therapist (my husband) before her massage. In the past two weeks I have incorporated the new techniques with this client and they have reported major changes.
This client has had a chronic tight back and shoulder areas that never seems to completely release. This client also has very tight legs and hips, but we usually just focus on her back since that is what actually bothers her. The Japanese technique I learned starts with opening the Stomach and Spleen meridians on the lower legs. This is to balance the Qi and get the blood moving. Starting at the root of the problem. Most people know if you have an injured ankle it can start to cause problems with the opposite knee, or hip. Then that will go back to the other side of the body and affect the shoulder. This is the same idea from an Eastern perspective, to move the Qi and Blood would be the base of most imbalances in the body.
For the past two weeks of her coming in, I have spent much more time working on her legs, and a smaller amount of time working on her back. She has come back reporting that she feels much better and that the results of my massage have lasted longer than usual.
What's interesting is I was trained in massage school to do something similar. This was over 10 years ago and I have somewhat moved away from this practice. We were taught to start massaging a clients legs first. With the same idea to get the leg meridians opened up and the Qi moving so that when you start working on the back or trunk of the body, the blood and Qi you get moving in that area has somewhere to go and doesn't just get stuck in another area of the body.
I think this is a good reminder that even when the patients chief complaint is one thing, they may actually need work done in a different area of the body in order to get to the root of the problem. As a massage therapist I think we sometimes get in the routine of letting the client tell us what they want, we need to remember that we are the ones with training, and we just may know what the client needs better than the client does.