IBM benefits include an allowance for massages by registered massage therapists (RMTs), and I try to make the most of it each year. I like getting massages for preventive care. I want to know about bad habits before they warp my posture or worsen into injuries. Massages are also a great way to learn more about muscles, habits, and how the body is structured. They’re relaxing, too, but that’s icing on the cake.
I’ve been having my massages at The Well of Alternative Medicine since 2008. We started going there because we knew Marta, the owner, from krav maga. W- used to get his massages from Marta. I’ve been working with Shelagh Albert for my massages, so she’s used to my asking lots of questions.
It can be difficult to stay awake during a good massage, but I try to pay attention to the kind of feedback that the massage is giving me. In particular, I’m looking for tense muscles and stubborn knots. I often ask Shelagh to recommend some exercises I can do in order to stretch and relax those muscles.
I pay attention to the height of the tables I work on because I spend a lot of the time at the computer, and I don’t want to end up with a tense neck, hunched shoulders, or repetitive strain injury. I asked Shelagh to focus on my neck and shoulders so that we could see if my new work conditions (more work at the office or on client sites instead of at home) affected my posture or neck muscles. She found that I was generally okay, although my upper trapezius was a little tense. She recommended some sideways neck stretches.
I also typically have tight spots in my gluteus. I asked her how much of that might be caused by sitting with crossed legs versus how much might be caused by sitting a lot. Shelagh said that I don’t have any particularly bad habits, but many people who sit a lot have the same issues, and that some stretches would help. I may also see if I can create a makeshift standing desk setup at the office or at the client setup, and streamline so that I’m carrying one laptop (or even no laptop, just lunch!).
I’m pretty good at remembering to stand up and stretch, a side benefit to my habit of drinking plenty of water (around 2.5L per day). If I tack the stretches onto that habit, then they might become part of my routine too.
You can get more out of your massages by using them for physical feedback and behaviour modification. Have fun!
Massage photo © 2009 Nick Webb, Creative Commons Attribution License. Image of trapezius from Gray’s Anatomy lithograph, now public domain.