Frequently asked questions
WHAT TO EXPECT
WHERE DO WE START?
Every client will complete the health history form before we begin. I want to understand your unique situation, be sure that it is safe for you to receive massage, and that I am the best provider for you to see right now. From there, we will discuss a treatment approach and plan that will address your goals and preferences.
At every step of the way, your safety, comfort, and consent are crucial. I view massage therapy as a healthcare service, and our professional ethics require that I describe the treatment beforehand, explain how it will help you, and ask for your permission to continue. If, during our discussion at the beginning of the session, either of us decides that this treatment is not appropriate for you right now, you will not be charged for your appointment.
HOW DOES MASSAGE WORK?
Therapeutic touch has been a part of medical care for centuries, yet our understanding of how it works is still evolving. Massage is a complex interaction between two complex human beings. It involves numerous organs/systems (most prominently the skin and nervous tissue) and is influenced by our expectations, language, therapeutic relationship, the clinical environment, and more!
Our task is to determine which factors are most important for you, and then set to work on
It is tempting to create a simple story out of all that complexity. That's why you often see pain attributed to single causes, and massage resolving that cause- it's "releasing adhesions", it's "flushing toxins", it's "eliminating trigger points", it's "realigning structure", etc. These strategies all rely on the therapist identifying a flaw in the tissues, and then providing a fix for it, like a mechanic fixing a car. Those explanations can seem very tidy and appealing, and while many patients have been helped by that approach, it has significant shortcomings. To put it very bluntly, a human being is not like a car.
, it is not always possible to identify specific anatomical structures that are causing
A better approach is provided using the "biopsychosocial" model, which describes the complex factors that influence the experiences of pain, restriction, and stress. In this modern model, the therapist doesn't work on you - manipulating your tissues into some version of "ideal." Instead of being an "operator", the therapist is an "interactor." Instead of fixing, our goal is to gently find the edges of comfort and then to build calm, resilience, strength, and adaptation there.
More information on these topics is available by following the links above, or on the Resources for Clients page.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
We have some options here, depending on the nature of the treatment and your preferences. For a relaxation-style massage, you will be on the massage table and covered by a sheet throughout the session. Many people will undress to their underwear - women's breasts will be covered by the sheet and blanket, so bras are not necessary, but can be worn.
For an interactive massage, there is movement and repositioning throughout the session. In this case, draping with a sheet is less practical, so a good option is to wear shorts and underwear. Women wear sports bras and (optionally) a tank top or other loose-fitting shirt.
As always, your comfort and modesty is my priority, so please wear what is comfortable to you.
I HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION. IS IT SAFE FOR ME TO GET MASSAGE?
Maybe. There are a few conditions that make massage unsafe, such as systemic infections and some skin diseases. Conditions such as blood clots or hemophilia contraindicate all but the lightest touch. Massage is also inappropriate whenever medical treatment for a serious condition is needed. In such cases, we will do my best to connect you to appropriate health services.
If you have questions about your medical conditions, please contact me before your appointment. If there is any doubt, we will consult your doctor to make sure that massage is right for you.
CAN YOU FIX MY ______?
In some cases, yes, but the power of massage therapy to "fix" things is often overstated. (You may have seen claims like "100% Pain-free Guarantee in just ten sessions!") Massage does not cure pain problems the way that antibiotics cure infections or orthopedists fix broken bones. Massage can desensitize irritated nerves, unload overstressed tissues, and provide comfort and calm. Often, that is all that is needed for you to overcome a painful problem and return to your life.
In other cases, it makes sense to consider additional ways to help reduce distress and disability. Many clients benefit from learning more about how pain works and what they can do to help themselves. I've spent a lot of time researching and collecting resources, and can provide individualized self-care materials for you. (That's the "Pain Care" part of Portland Massage and Pain Care.)
Finally, it is worth mentioning that some amount of pain may be unavoidable. So instead of measuring our success simply by the elimination of pain, it often is more useful to prioritize a return to the activities and relationships that make your life meaningful.
CAN I STILL GET MASSAGE IF I'M ______?
As stated above, I may deny treatment when massage is unsafe. However, I do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, weight, age, or disability.
My office is on the first floor (no stairs) and I have a sturdy, hydraulic lift table. I will make reasonable accommodations for accessibility. For clients under the age of 18, I require parent/guardian be present during the entire treatment.