Do you want my unedited opinion on starting massage therapy school? I don’t know if this is going to be popular amongst everyone but I am going to give it to you. Massage is an excellent, excellent tool to help people with many things. Unfortunately it’s not everything that it’s advertised and a lot of the things that they place in the training are for lack of a better word, not true. Massage, after spending two decades doing natural healthcare and truly becoming one of the world’s experts on helping people get healthy, I’ve sorted through what really works and what doesn’t really work, the hard science behind it and come down to what I think is a lot of truth.
There was a great study done by a doctor named Hubbard in San Diego who was doing surgery on people. I actually got a chance to talk to him and he told me personally about his research. He would slice through the stomach muscles of patients to get in to do internal surgery. Then he would come back and he would check the scar tissue. What he found was that in a healthy muscle, if you cut through the muscle with a scalpel, within six weeks of having done so, the muscle would have healed so well that it was impossible under a microscope to even see where the cut took place. This really cuts right to the chase on the concept of scar tissue inside a muscle and makes you ask what the hell is massage doing anyway?
On the flip side, and I know that when gotten deep tissue massage, when I’ve had problems, I have had temporary improvements from it and I also believe there have been times where I have had permanent improvements as well. Here’s what I think we do know from the hard research that’s been done. In the center of every muscle is what is called an intrafusal muscle fiber. It’s a special muscle fiber that literally works as the on-off switch to the muscle. From my understanding it’s also the same part that gets stretched when somebody checks a reflex in a muscle when they hit you with a little hammer.
I know that all of this may not seem directly related to you when you are planning on going to a massage therapy school but the deeper you understand this before you start school, the more you’ll be able to know if this is really what you want to go into.
Well what happens is for a variety of reasons and I think bones getting pinched on the nerves is one of them, the intrafusal muscle fiber, can go into a spasm which causes the entire muscle to spasm. I believe the real benefit of the massage is two-fold. One of them is that as you’re working the muscle itself during a massage, when you apply pressure to an intrafusal muscle fiber, that intrafusal muscle will relax. When that intrafusal muscle fiber relaxes, it sends a message to your spinal cord and back to the muscle telling the entire muscle to relax.
The real benefits I think you could do for someone after going to massage therapy school are as follows.
The first one is that you can get in and through applying pressure to different part of the muscles, actually find those intrafusal muscle fibers and by applying pressure to them actually stretch them out when they are spasmed. When you do this it’s going to relax the intrafusal muscle fiber. It’s going to send a signal through the nerve to the spinal cord back out to the muscle which is going to cause the entire muscle to relax. I believe this is the people who come in with the tight sore muscles that you work on for an hour and then the soreness instantly goes away.
The other big benefit of working as a massage therapist is that when you go in the muscles are surrounded with a thin fibrous wrapping. This wrapping is called fascia. Normally when muscles move around the fascia surrounding one muscle slides on the fascia surrounding another muscle, just like two hot dogs wrapped in their casings, the two casings will slide against each other. The problem is is when there is an injury or an inflammation or spasms this fascia tends to form little fibrous adhesions from one layer to another. I remember seeing this when we were dissecting in school and I would see the two layers would have literally spider webs stuck between them. I believe by doing real deep tissue and fascial type of work and probably just from any deep rubbing of a muscle you do, you start to separate one muscle from another muscle. These could become so stuck that I literally have heard actually heard sounds that you could hear with your ear as you are separating one layer from another.
Now as far as all the esoteric, spiritual, energy healing, mental parts of the massage therapy, I know when you have one person trying to take care of another person there’s a tremendous amount of healing that takes place just within that. Beyond that any of the very specific spiritual or mental techniques they teach in massage school, do they work? I don’t know maybe they do maybe they don’t. Do they work any better than just really listening to your patient, taking good care of them and loving them? I really doubt if it makes that big of a difference. In fact some of them might actually be harmful.
You wanted to hear my unfiltered opinion and and that’s it. I’m sure I ascended a few people along the way. If after reading this you still want to go to massage therapy school, give me your email address and I’ll send you the notes that I wrote on how to pick a good school, statistics about the different schools, what our students have said about them and lots of information and a whole process you can go through by asking the schools the right questions and asking yourself the right questions to figure out what school is best for you. Put your email address in the box.