When the massage therapist has an aching back

July 9, 2014  |  no comments yet

It happens.  Of course it happens.

Clients have told us they’re surprised that Chris and I experience illness and even muscle spasm.

Healing touch is special. Bodywork can be utilized as health care, palliative care, personal service, pleasant diversion, and a “calling” (for both client and practitioner). That sometimes leads people to think it has spiritual qualities and that bodyworkers are exempt from certain challenges.

Nope. Every human is as vulnerable as the next. We can create the conditions that foster robust health and wellness. But other factors count, too. As far as I can tell, health and wellness result from combination of genetics, environment, choices, and luck. T

his summer I’ve been growing food with about a dozen people on 1/4 acre. I can feel myself getting stronger and happier from all the benefits of gardening, including the food. Sometimes I do more garden work than my body prefers.

Yesterday morning I wasn’t working hard. I leaned over to pick up a cleaning brush and I felt a sharp pain in my right low-back (in a deep hip/trunk extensor) and struggled to stand up. I stood still and breathed.  Slowly, I made sure I could walk. It hurt, but I could. Chris did some gentle bodywork for me, techniques called dermoneuromodulation (DNM), much gentler than massage, so as not to alarm my irritated nerve. I cancelled strenuous activities for the next several days.

My back is starting to feel better. I can tell I need to keep moving to avoid stiffening up, but very carefully to avoid aggravating the injury.

Giving and receiving healing touch brings benefits including general relaxation, specific relief, improved well-being, and increased parasympathetic nervous system activity. But doing bodywork does not imbue anyone with supernatural powers. It does not offer those who receive it magical fixes.

Doing bodywork for others motivates me to take care of myself. I usually stay active, eat well, rest, and choose activities that make me feel good, including receiving massage. I do this because I enjoy these activities themselves as well as their benefits. I do this because it has integrity with the services I offer clients. I’m a client as well as a practitioner.

My back will heal from this episode. I imagine my back and other parts will hurt again. Because for all animals, that’s what it means to have a nervous system. Having a nervous system also means that touch can be soothing and healing.