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What A Massage Therapist Can Tell About Your Body

When Sherlock Holmes first met Dr Watson, his first observation was, ‘You’ve been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’ To which Dr Watson replied ‘How on Earth did you know that?’

Well, massage therapists are just like Sherlock Holmes. In fact, massage therapists are even better, because they have the ability to observe  – and also – of course – to touch.

Add to this their training and extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology and your body really doesn’t stand a chance of hiding much at all during your massage.

Ali Saoirse from Ripple Massage
Ali Saoirse Massage Therapist Ripple

1. You Are Dehydrated

If you don’t drink the recommended eight glasses of water per day- it’s pretty easy for us to tell.

Dehydrated bodies have dry, flaky skin that ‘drinks’ our massage oil like the thirsty little raisins that they are. Parched bodies also have tender trigger points especially in the upper back area. 

A good massage therapist will notice this and may gently suggest you drink more water at the end of your massage.

2. You Are Chained To Your Desk

Tight glutes and legs, that tell-tale forward roll of your shoulders and a weak lower back are all signs that you sit at a desk all day staring – most likely – at a PC screen.

If this sounds familiar, regular massages will certainly help and Ripple can deliver them right to your office while you remain seated and fully clothed. More on a massage in your office here.

3. You Are Super Stressed

At times you are so stressed out about being stressed out, that you can’t even remember why you’re stressed out and that too stresses you out.

When our a therapist arrives, it’s often quite obvious if the person is on edge and agitated.

At other times however there are no outward signs – but, during the introductory chat, anxious clients will often give us information that indicates stress and worry are at play.

When the massage begins all the signs are there. Our poor muscles become taut and tense during stressful times, especially so in the shoulders, neck and head.

Constant muscle tension causes aches and pains too so there are usually some tender areas as well.

Stress is a silent killer and finding ways to reduce it should be at the very top of your ‘to-do’ list. Some easy tips on how to ease stress are here.

4. Your Bra Is Too Small

We can see where your bra strap has been cutting into your shoulders and we can feel where those poor muscles have tightened as a reaction to the pressure.

Take the opportunity to be properly fitted next time you purchase a bra – your shape and posture will benefit and your back and shoulders will love it too.

5. Taxi, Truck Or Bus?

You drive for a living – that’s for sure – and you spend many hours a day behind the wheel.

That far-forward posture is a dead giveaway as are the hunched shoulders.

6. You're Blue

Often times clients are open about their mental health and will mention that having regular massages forms part of their journey back to health. At other times they say nothing at all – and that’s okay of course.

Clients who are feeling blue are usually noticeably sad and sullen; they might also become confused, distracted or even emotional.

Our role is to hold the space and to bring a few hours of peace and relaxation while they recover, an hour of holiday on the table. If you have ongoing sadness or are triggered, please don’t hesitate to call Lifeline.

7. You Have A New Injury

The heat and inflammation from a recent injury are easy to see and feel during a massage. The same can be said for the of an old injury too.

Lucky for you there is remedial massage. Remedial massage is the Chuck Norris of massages and it’s what you ask for when you need a massage that is therapeutic and targeted to heal specific health issues including muscle problems and old / new injuries, too.

8. You Have Traveled

If you have recently traveled, it’s as easy to spot. There are tan-lines and maybe some sun burn.

There’s a cute Kabbalah bracelet around your wrist – from Jerusalem perhaps? Your hair is braided Jamaican style or perhaps there are traces of that gorgeous Henna tattoo you had in Dubai last month.

Out of all the world’s travelers however, recent backpackers are the easiest to spot.

The weight of that backpack has unmistakably cut across their shoulder blades and the muscles in their scapula have tightened in response to that pressure. As soon as we notice this, we set to work with some deeper work in that area.

9.You Have Lower Back Pain

It’s been estimated that around 4 out of 5 people will suffer from some degree of lower back pain at some point in their lives.

In 2014–15, an estimated 3.7 million Australians had chronic back problems – that’s approximately one person in every six.

We usually know if you are a ‘one in six’, even if you don’t say so.

Your posture or the fact that you one hip sitting higher than the other for example, are clues that point to a certain tightness in the lower back. 

10. You Should Get That Mole Checked Out

Massage therapists can play an important role in early skin cancer detection.

When we notice that something is amiss, like a bright red or oddly shaped mole we urge you to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Massage therapists can play an important role in early skin cancer detection.

When we notice that something is amiss, like a bright red or oddly shaped mole we urge you to get it checked out as soon as possible.

11. You Text A Lot

Every now and then a client will come along with a very sensitive neck and shoulder area.

When they ask us to be gentle, we begin to wonder just how much time they spend texting.

Why? Well, think of your posture while you text. That downward position with your chin almost on your chest causes the neck muscles, tendons and ligaments to strain has they hold the weight of your 5kg head.

What Your Massage Therapist Doesn’t Care About

Are You Body Conscious?

For most of us therapists, our definition of a beautiful body is different to the one the beauty industry has.

So this will sound a little bit hippy, but we see each body as beautiful, not just the ones that conform to a beauty industry standard.

The reason is that we know just how amazing each body is. How the web of muscles work together to give you movement, how the skeleton moves and how each part interacts with your brain and affects your mood, feelings and thoughts, how your body’s systems work to cleanse, nourish and nurture you, even when you might not take much care of yourself.

We are massage therapists because we love the difference we can make to your life, even if it’s just for an hour.

For most of us, there is no better high than getting a client come in stressed, unhappy or sad, and an hour or two later sending them away feeling at least a little bit better about the world.

You Feel You Are Too Heavy?

Usually we won’t notice.

Even if you are very large, what we are thinking is how we can best help you and make you feel comfortable.

If you are larger, the only thought that is usually running through our heads is helping you get comfortable on the table, putting you at ease if you are self-conscious and making sure we give you the massage you want.

So if generally you stress about those extra kilos, the hour or two you spend on the massage table is the one place where you can, like Elsa, let it go.

Are You Self Conscious About Stretch Marks?

Or scars, or cellulite or anything else you perceive as body imperfections. Instead we use these as clues as to what might be going on in the muscles of your body.

So if we see a fresh scar, we may ask you about it, just so that we don’t massage over it, or do more damage to an existing injury. With stretch marks, we may notice these, but perhaps only to use essential oils that can help minimize these.

Many of us are Mums and have similar markings on our bodies under our uniforms, and know that stretch marks are often the signatures our kids leave on our bodies after giving birth.

Does Your Skin Suck Up The Oil?

If we are using lots of oil, that is a pretty good indication that you are dehydrated and need to drink more water.

You know when your therapist suggests at the end of the massage to drink lots of water?

We don’t do that because we are channeling your mother (usually we have kids of our own to nag already) but because we are genuinely concerned for your health and have noticed you need to hydrate.

Also, massage is a really powerful treatment for the body and will naturally move any toxins that are sitting in your lymphatic system. The water will help flush them out. Without it, you may have a headache the next day.

Do You Find It Difficult To Give Up Control?

With those clients who simply won’t let their bodies go, won’t let us move their arms, legs or head without trying to “help” us, or who steadfastly stay conscious and fully present the whole time, we try hard to assist them to just surrender.

For some clients this can be the most scary and difficult part of the massage.

Giving up can be one of the most challenging things a human being can do.

Often it will indicate to us perhaps some past trauma, an underlying anxiety or a level of deep distrust a client has that is reflected in their body.

As a massage therapist, we are only concerned with helping you relax and will often have a few tricks up our sleeve to make this happen.

A Few Requests

Our job is to make you happy, and a happy client is usually a relaxed one that has allowed us to work our magic.

  1. Don’t be shy about telling us what you would like. If we are massaging too soft or hard, or if there is an area that you would really love us to spend more time on, let us know. Clairvoyance is not a skill taught at massage school.

  2. Please don’t call us masseuses or where we work a massage parlor. These terms are usually associated with sex workers *smile*

  3. On that topic, we aren’t sex workers, so if its any sort of “relief” or just a “sensual massage” you are after (and yes we have heard every euphemism) then please go direct to the person who can help you. Look for adult services in the yellow pages or ask your concierge

  4. Please be reasonably clean (enough said)

  5. We don’t care if you shave or not. But stubble can hurt our hands so don’t be offended if we don’t massage any parts with stubble a lot.

  6. Would you show up a for a job interview late and get a good reception? Please be courteous and be there early so we can get you on our table on time, and if you are late, don’t be surprised if we cut your treatment short so we don’t inconvenience our next client.

  7. Thanks! Our aim is to give you massage or beauty treatment you are after, not the one we want to give. This is not McDonalds, we don’t do set routines. All of our massages are personalised to you. So please let us know during the massage if there is anything you would like changed. Our aim is to make you happy.


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