The massage technique isn’t as important as an understanding of what a patient needs.

I get a ton, ton, ton of questions from budding massage therapists about continuing education. In addition to coaching and massage therapy, I’m also an educator, and students often ask me if I can guide them in a direction to do what I do.

Incidentally, I also get questions from my clients that pertain to past massage practitioners that they might have had and why I am so fundamentally different.

One thing that I know that makes me different at Brooklyn body mechanic is an understanding of sport and an understanding of movement in general.

This knowledge goes beyond what you’d find in an ordinary massage curriculum.

My massage modality is a hodgepodge

But seriously, massage schools, depending on what state you’re in, provide between 500 to 1000 hours of training (which includes practical and didactic). Some states require NO training or licensure, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

What this means that continuing education, after graduating, is ultimately what separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. By no means am I disparaging basic massage school training. The knowledge one gets there is crucial to conducting a safe massage session:

  • General anatomy and physiology
  • Pathologies
  • Basic assessments
  • A deep understanding of contraindications (i.e. when you are out of scope or in over your head and need to refer out).

All that said, I think massage therapists by and large get too caught up in using continuing education to learn different techniques, as opposed to deepening knowledge outside of the box.

The reality is that, oftentimes, massage techniques are nothing more than specific “hand things” (or feet, or elbows…you get the idea) with someone’s name attached to it.

There’s often nothing special about it.

Seriously…massage therapists aren’t Goku…

There is no special massage technique

We don’t have super secret special techniques. Soryy.

Let’s use active release (ART) as an example. ART is essentially “pin and stretch”, people get ART mainly so they can:

1. Get into the ART database of practitioners.

2. Have ART in their credentials and…

3. Use the term ART without having their pants sued off. This is why I can use pin and stretch modalities but CAN’t call it ART…it’s trademarked.

I could extend this to things like Trigger Point, Myofascial Release (MFR), etc.

The only technique I would argue is special is possibly DermoNeuro Modulating (DNM), although Diane Jacobs, the person who came up with it, would probably argue there’s nothing special about that either.

Where I’m going with this is that the massage technique isn’t as important as an understanding of what a patient needs.

Read. That. Sentence. Again. Please.

And that’s where I’m different, in that my niche is specifically athletics, or athletes, or people who are just active rnd training hard. As such, between my background in strength and conditioning, my background and movement, and even my background in sports psychology and leadership, I’m able to really get to the root of what people need for their movement and activities of daily living.

To use myself as an example, when I was competing in powerlifting, I was going to massage school at the time and people would always release my pecs because they assumed that my slight internal rotation at the shoulder was something that needed to be “fixed”. Well, the thing is, as a powerlifter, I wanted that functional tightness, which they didn’t understand because they didn’t understand movement or sport.

Here’s where I’m going with this:

A lot of times, the effectiveness of my treatments are not dictated by what technique I’m using, but rather by the ability getting to the root of what somebody needs by asking questions about their sport and understanding specific movements.

Crossfitter? Oh, well, you’re definitely gonna be doing more overhead work than horizontal pushing and pulling. So how is the shoulder mobility?

Powerliftier? Oh, you might need functional range in a sumo deadlift stance, or thoracic mobility.

I could run the gamut of whether you need flexibility, mobility, or strength depending on what sport or what activity you’re doing.

What’s more likely to be tight for a cyclist or a runner, as opposed to someone who’s doing Strongman? Things like that.

Largely, I don’t care about fancy techniques and modalities and my clients don’t really care about them either. They want to know that I have the skill set to get them out of pain, get them mobile, and improve their functional level of strength…

So that is all independent of a technique.

To be frank, a lot of my “technique” is a hodgepodge of stuff. I know it sounds bad, but it’s a hodgepodge that I basically string together in order to construct what you need. I am not dogmatic about sticking to any specific hand technique or any specific protocol when you come to see me. I’m free-form in terms of getting you the massage that you need based on what you require for your sport and activities of daily living, period. End of story.

This is all a roundabout way to answer the question both for people who want to work with me or for people who want to work like me. Don’t get so caught up in the techniques or modalities, but rather ask: “what is needed here and what is the intent of the session?”

Largely, I don’t care about fancy techniques and modalities and my clients don’t really care about them either. They want to know that I have the skill set to get them out of pain, get them mobile, and improve their functional level of strength…

And I do that not because I have all sorts of fancy letters after my name (even though I do), nor because I learned someone else’s technique. I take what I have learned outside of massage and apply it.I listen deeply and seek to have understanding of the needs and what is being asked of me.

I don’t shoehorn my approach.

Don't showhorn massage approaches

What is it that you want?

And how can I take my skill set and apply that towards whatever activity or sport you’re doing?

Listen, when it comes to techniques and protocols,I feel like there’s a different cert or whatever coming out every week, but there’s really nothing new under the sun.

It’s how you apply what you know, within your niche.

That’s where I stand out: being able to simply recognize different patterns and act on them.

This isn’t to say I haven’t been influenced by different methods, traditions, and schools of thought in the world of massage and bodywork. I still am a sucker for learning and I have a large running list of continuing education I want to tackle.

But…I have found that my background in movement and my continuing education in strength and conditioning, as well as psychology, has lent itself well, if not more so than other more superficial stuff.

Just a thought.