Saille Healing Path
Evidence informed information about Massage, Oncology Massage, Manual Lymph Drainage, and Aromatherapy.
And some opinions, but I try to be very clear about those.
And some opinions, but I try to be very clear about those.
I'm often asked about qualifications, education, certification, licensing, and all the rest of the industry terms that are meant to provide the public with a sense of safety and authority; but are often manipulated and used deceptively. I know we get caught up in the philosophy behind holistic care. We don't want it to become "medical" or "sterile." No one really enjoys a hospital stay; so why would we want massage or meditation to feel the same.
It doesn't have to; but don't let that fool you into believing anyone who has taken a weekend course or two should be providing you with professional care. There is a middle ground. We can have standards of education, and regulation of safety; and still provide you (the public) with holistic, peaceful care and therapy. And it's up to you (the public) to require it; to not get sold on the snake oil sales.
So, here's a start; a brief overview of some common terms in massage and some related works.
Licensed: If a person is licensed it means they've met basic qualifications for a license issued by the state. For instance, in the state of TN, a licensed massage therapist has completed a minimum 500 hour massage diploma program and passed an exam designated by the Board of Massage Therapy. The license is actually issued by the Division of Health Related Boards.
It is important to make sure any person who is providing you with bodywork, manual therapy, or manipulating muscle tissue by touch in anyway holds a license in the state they are working. A massage therapist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, chiropractor, etc. You would be surprised how many people working in the health and fitness industry are not required to have a license. Which means, if they are actually touching you to provide therapy (beyond simple posture corrections, say in a yoga pose or exercise), they are working outside their scope of practice and likely are not educated in the necessary anatomy or pathology to make adjustments if something happens. (There are exceptions, such as those who have a Bachelor's Degree in Health Science.) If they're touching you, don't ask if they're trained in their field. Ask if they hold a license from the state you live in. The state requires this license to be on display.
It is illegal for anyone to practice in a state they do not have a license in, even if they hold a license in another state. If they are doing so, they are practicing illegally and unethically. You should avoid them.
Certification: Unfortunately, certification has a WIDE variety of meanings. It actually only indicates that the person took a class and at the end, took a test. But there are no regulations for how long the class had to be or how complicated the test was. For instance, my own certification in Aromatherapy. 14 years ago when I first got "certified" by one of the multi-level marketing companies, I just took a 2 day class with a test at the end. And the instructor went over the test and gave us all the answers prior to "taking" it. In contrast, a couple years later, after some self education and realizing what a poor "certification" that was; I decided to take a better certification class. I found one approved by an independent, professional aromatherapy organization, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. It was a 200 hour course with case studies, homework, a 15 page paper, and 2 proctored exams.
So, my suggestion is, if someone is certified, you actually need to ask "by who?" and then look up that company to know if it was a quality, independent education. It's possible, they have an excellent education on the topic. It's also possible, they took a 5 question quiz.
Massage Continuing Education/Modalities:
This can be another very confusing topic. Licensed Massage Therapists are almost always required by their state boards to do continuing education. How much and when it has to be done varies by state. In TN, it's 25 CE hours every 2 years. Of course, if they don't complete these hours, they are fined, and they have to complete them in the next cycle. But they can still practice, they still have their license. (Below you will find a link to the state's license verification page which allows you to both check if the person has a license in TN and if they've had any infractions on their license, such as not completing continuing education hours.)
There are so many names of massage modalities. So many. It becomes insane to try sorting through them. Essentially, if someone is providing massage, bodywork, manual therapy, intense stretching, etc; they need to be licensed by the state. Don't try sorting through all the hoopla of massage modality names. Most techniques are add-ons to already existing massage techniques and education; so feel free to try varies ones until you discover one that is perfect for you. This is why it is important for the therapist to have the license, which required them to have the basic education requirements. Modalities, or specialties, are taught in just a few days. They do NOT have the time to educate the therapist on basic anatomy, physiology, and pathology. And they're not going to take the time to do so because any MT, PT, OT, etc who is in the class already had all that information and isn't going to pay for a class that spends half the time teaching them what they already learned in school. So, if it is touched on, it's briefly as a review. Though, they will usually spend time in the CE class on specific contraindications to the modality. Which is not the same thing as A&P or pathology.
There are a few massage continuing education classes that teach new massage techniques that are entirely different from what they learned in school; such as Lomi Lomi, a type of Hawaiian massage. In this case, it's still very likely that the CE class only taught the physical massage technique and did not do more than a review of A&P and pathology. So the class is not intended for "new" students. (Again, there are exceptions, but you have to research each one individually to discover that; and I would suggest you ask someone who isn't currently teaching or taking the class for more unbiased information.)
Be safe. Don't compromise. There are therapists out there who are both qualified to safely work on you and will provide you with the holistic care you're looking for. It takes some experimenting. No matter how great a therapist is at their field (massage, physical therapy, chiropractic, energy workers, etc), they can't be the perfect therapist for every single person who walks through the door. It's up to you (the public) to both find a licensed provider (where license is required and needed--energy workers don't need to be licensed, but they also don't do manual therapy; nor do yoga instructors need to be licensed, but they also don't do manual therapy.) and to find a therapist who provides you with the experience you're looking for.
(Estheticians and nail techs are also not trained for manual therapy, in case you need to know this. Skin care and nail care. But not manual therapy, unless they hold two licenses, which some do.)
There are way too many parantheses in this post; but I find them necessary this time. And many of these same issues surround other professions than just massage. For instance, no massage therapist ever should be providing you with manual chiropractic adjustments. This is completely unsafe. Nor does being a massage therapist make us experts at nutrition, skin care, physical therapy exercises, etc. Be discerning, public. Please.
You can start at the TN Dept of Health's website for license verification. If the state requires a license for a particular occupation, you'll find the person listed on this site. You do need to know their last name or you can look them up by license number if you know it and just want to check that it hasn't expired or something. Click here for the link.
Manual Lymph Drainage is useful for a number of reasons and conditions, including:
Manual Lymph Drainage, often referred to as MLD, is not the same thing as lymphatic massage. Lymphatic massage is a gentle massage technique that flows with the lymph system. MLD is an entirely different technique with the very specific purpose of moving lymph fluid through the bodies natural systems.
Corrections to Two Common Myths:
MLD is a very gentle technique, typically using no more pressure than stretching the skin. And we do encourage the fluid to move through the body's natural systems. It provides relief from the pressure, discomfort, and even pain that accompanies a build up of lymphedema and fluid. While MLD will not cure chronic lymphedema, it will help manage the symptoms. For lymphedema related to surgeries, it will greatly assist and reduce recovery time. For those suffering with this discomfort, you will find this technique extremely helpful. And it's provided in a relaxing, care oriented environment.
In addition, many people may find MLD treatments to be of value. It does help the body's natural lymph exchange. Theoretically, this may help influence an increase in white blood cell production to increase the immune system. Also, because this is a gentle technique, people may find it more relaxing than other bodywork modalities. We often feel the need to really "work" the muscle tissue during massage, which can sometimes lead to muscle fatigue and soreness for a short duration after the massage. MLD does not directly work with muscle or connective tissue; we work with fluids, lymph and circulatory primarily. So if a client is not currently in muscle pain, they may enjoy an MLD treatment more and have a sense of rejuvenation after the session.
I (Kat) am trained in the Vodder technique of MLD, generally considered the medically oriented MLD training. While I cannot accept insurance for payment, this is still exactly the same training that Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists attend. So the treatment is the same.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
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I've been studying and practicing oncology massage for about 5 years now. The most prevalent question I get is, "What is it?" (or "how is it different?")
The truth is, it's not a different kind of massage. We still use the same basic techniques taught in Swedish massage. We simply apply them differently.
Oncology Massage is all about learning what's going on in the body during and after oncology treatment and how to apply the techniques without causing potential harm. For instance, no matter how good it use to feel, we do not dig at you. Heavy pressure, and the increased blood in the area it brings, can overtax an already compromised system. Sometimes leading to minor discomfort in the following days; sometimes leading to more serious issues.
We also learn to handle many of the other situations that can arise during and after cancer care: how to alter massage during radiation therapy, how to handle long term ports, knowing the pain sometimes can't be described, and more. We learn all these things, we learn how to handle the complexity of many things going on at once, and we learn how to modify the massage for them.
I know what you're going to say (because I've already heard it a million times). "Well, so many things in life can cause the same amount of pressure and increased blood flow. The massage isn't doing anything that isn't really being done."
First, massage tends to be much more localized than many of your other examples. Second, those other things often need to be avoided as much as possible as well. There's no reason to pile on.
And the truth is, we can have an amazing massage session that is both relaxing and relieves muscle tension without "digging" at you. Open yourself up to a different experience that is just as wonderful. You won't regret it.
Why even bother with receiving massage as part of your care during and after oncology treatment? It's a good question. I could sit here and list off some of the proven and theoretical benefits of oncology massage. But you can also just click on my Oncology Massage page to get those. I've had it posted for a while now and I've written articles about it in local publications. It does help with several of the side effects; but there are other medications and techniques that help with a lot of those as well. (I highly recommend meditation at home. If you want a VERY helpful, and inexpensive technique for self help, this is extremely beneficial. Contact me if you don't know how to meditate. I'll give you some resources.)
You can come see me for all of those reasons. They are good reasons. You can also come see me because you're worth my time and effort. You deserve to have a person (me or someone else) whose focus is devoted to your care and health. Yes, you have doctors and other healthcare providers who do this as well. But they have a great number of other obligations, which result in distractions; distractions I just don't share. It places me in a unique, and wonderful, place of focusing all my effort on the task of caring for you. And you deserve to provide yourself with that care.
All people actually deserve this. Think of the other people in your life, and then tell me you don't think they deserve dedicated focus to their care and health. You immediately think, yes they do. And so do you. I'm happy to provide this for others as well; but my training has put me in a exceptional place to provide this for people living with cancer.
This shouldn't be a side thought. It shouldn't be prioritized after so many other things like work, or even family. We've been socialized somehow to believe our obligations outside of ourselves are priority one; the others we interact with come first. And certainly we do have a responsibility to others. But at the same priority level, we have a responsibility and obligation to ourselves. And just like some of us need accountability to exercise (by scheduling with a trainer or paying for a class that makes us feel like we "have" to go), we also sometimes need that accountability to provide ourselves with self-care. Call it whatever you would like: stress management, relaxation, side effect(s) reduction, etc.
The reason to schedule Oncology Massage is to provide yourself with my focus and dedicated care to your continued well being.
“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.” -Lord Chesterfield
Okay, so this is a little bit of a rant. But stick with me. We all have words and phrases we can’t stand. Mine is multitasking. I can’t stand it. First, we can’t actually do it. Research proves we don’t really multitask. We’re not doing more than one thing at a time. Our brains are very good at switching between tasks, but we don’t actually process more than one at a time. The most common and accepted example nowadays being - driving while texting. You can’t do it. You’re either driving or you’re texting; and the lapse it takes to switch between them is enough to cause serious problems.
But I’ve disliked the word much longer than driving while texting has been common. The term multitasking has been littering resumes and job descriptions for way too long. It caters to a culture of overwork and stress. It attempts to glamorize a person’s willingness to take on more tasks than should be expected of them. We constantly perpetrate a notion of accepting stress; to the point of giving the persona of enjoying it.
Instead of multi-tasking, prioritize.
(Which actually suggests you’re just REALLY good at knowing which tasks to ignore for the time being.)
One of the other phrases I dislike is “It must be nice.” So often, when someone suggests they enjoyed a relaxing day off, mention a planned vacation, or, in my particular field, say they are going to get a massage a normal response is “it must be nice.” (Usually stated with a particular tone of voice I’m betting you can hear in your head right now.) Yes, it’s nice. . .and it’s also necessary for our health to enjoy life and take breaks.
1. Can People Really Multitask?http://ergonomics.about.com/od/ergonomicbasics/f/can_people_multitask.htm