I was in a car accident. Should I get a massage?
Motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), even minor ones, can have profound and long lasting effects on your body. Issues like whiplash, low back pain, headaches, etc. can manifest on a spectrum between annoying soreness to debilitating pain. Have you recently been in a car accident? Are you experiencing symptoms like these? Good news! Massage can help and your auto insurance will pay for it through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage!
What is PIP?
All auto insurance plans in Washington State include PIP coverage*, which pays for the medical expenses associated with a car accident, no matter who caused the accident. This coverage includes massage therapy. PIP plans vary in terms of how much is covered and for how long, but the minimum coverage will be at least $10,000 and for at least 3 years following the accident. PIP covers your whole family and follows you, not your car. So whether you are in your car, driving a rental, or riding as a passenger in another car, you're covered. It will even provide coverage if you are hit by a car while cycling or walking.
What do I need to do?
First, confirm that you have an open PIP claim that hasn't reached it's limits by contacting your auto insurance agent. Second, get a referral (some medical providers call it a prescription) for massage therapy from your doctor. Once you have these things, contact me to set up your first appointment. You'll need to bring your claim number, your auto insurance card, and your referral for massage therapy with you. We'll do an initial exam, taking measurements and finding your current baseline of posture, pain, and function, and we will treat the areas affected by the collision. I will bill your insurance directly, and you don't have to pay for anything.
I got hurt at my job. Should I get a massage?
It can be difficult to get back to work after being injured on the job, but massage therapy can speed your recovery. Continuing to work while injured can lead to more pain and unsafe working conditions. Fortunately, your employer is required to provide worker's compensation medical coverage through Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
What is L&I?
L&I claims will cover massage for injuries that occur while you’re working if deemed beneficial by your doctor. Unlike PIP coverage, which has the goal of returning the insured to their pre-incident condition, L&I coverage is aimed at getting you back to a working condition.
What do I need to do?
If you get injured on the job the first thing to do is report it to your employer. There are some forms you will need to fill out, and you will need to notify the Department of Labor & Industries. You will need to see a doctor for assessment and treatment, and get a referral (some medical providers call it a prescription) for massage therapy. When you have taken care of that, you can contact me to set up your first appointment. You'll need to bring your claim number, your employer information, and your referral for massage therapy with you. We'll do an initial exam, taking measurements and finding your current baseline of posture, pain, and function, and we will treat the areas affected by the incident. I will bill L&I directly, and you don't have to pay for anything. Your L&I claim will automatically cover your first six sessions, and depending upon your progress we can request coverage for additional visits.
What is Visceral Manipulation?
Visceral Manipulation is a method of bodywork that focuses on interacting with the internal organs. At it's core, the effectiveness of any technique is dependent upon the interaction it has with the nervous system, and Visceral Manipulation is an incredibly effective and specific way to do this.
So it's just for people with unhealthy organs?
Not at all! The very foundation of Visceral Manipulation is the idea that the body is capable of healing itself, but sometimes due to trauma, sickness, sedentary lifestyles, etc. our bodies become less efficient in this regard. Instead of a therapist trying to fix you, by waking up these processes we are giving the body the space it needs to restore itself. This is true for organ health as well as any other pain or dysfunction in the body.
How many sessions does it take?
The answer to this, of course, can vary greatly depending on your goals, your condition(s), and your overall health. Three to five sessions is a typical range for when clients will experience significant improvement, but some more complicated or chronic conditions may require more.
What does treatment feel like?
We always follow the lines of tension in the body and treat with the greatest restriction first, even if it seems unrelated to your issue. Often times the body compensates for a loss of mobility in one area by moving differently in another area. The immobile part might not hurt at all, while the created compensation might seem very painful. In this situation, it is necessary to treat the immobilized area in order to have a real and lasting effect on the painful area.
When we know where we will be focusing, we use gentle pressure to assist the organ in strengthening it's own movement pattern, or to help mobilize areas that have become restricted. As the organ mobility and motility improve, the nervous system will continue to incorporate the changes over the next several days.
Is it safe to receive massage during pregnancy?
Yes! Many pregnant clients (and even quite a few massage therapists) worry that the body becomes frail and vulnerable during pregnancy, and this simply isn't true! In fact, regular massage during pregnancy can contribute to shorter and easier labor, fewer complications, healthier babies, and shorter hospital stays.
During the first trimester I only perform abdominal massage with a light touch. This isn't because it isn't safe (the uterus is low and mostly protected by the pelvis in this stage), but because around 85% of miscarriage happens during the first trimester, and even though the massage wouldn't be the cause of it, I don't want to cause anxiety or allow any suspicion of a causal link that isn't accurate.
After the first trimester I use abdominal massage to help establish/strengthen the mental/emotional link between you and your baby, relieve discomfort from sore abdominal muscles or tight skin, and, it just feels good. Baby loves it too! Once the baby is developed enough we can often feel the baby adjusting position and pushing her/his back up against the surface to feel the massage better.
Foot Massage/Pressure Points
Many women (and again, quite a few therapists), have heard about pressure points in the feet and hands that can stimulate the uterus, causing preterm labor. This is a very frightening concept! But thankfully, not very accurate. While there are pressure points in those areas that can be used to stimulate the uterus, and they can even be used to help induce labor, they won't cause a labor to start that isn't ready. Even when labor is your goal, pressure on these points must be very intentional, deep, and sustained. Feet get sore during pregnancy, and it's perfectly safe to have them massaged.
Prenatal massage is very similar to "regular" massage, but once the belly grows too large to be comfortable laying face down (usually by the end of the first trimester, if not sooner), we switch to side-lying massage supported with pillows. It's a very comfortable position, and many women have been able to replicate it at home and finally sleep a full night, pain free.
Prenatal Massage Schedule
Assuming there are no injuries or major imbalances we're focusing on, my recommended schedule for prenatal massage is once per month for the first trimester, twice per month for the second and third trimesters, and once per week for the last month of pregnancy. This schedule works well for most of my clients and helps to maintain comfort, improve physical and emotional health, and reduce stress and anxiety throughout the pregnancy. You can, of course, come at any interval that is best for you and your situation. This schedule is only a guide.
It can be difficult to schedule time to take care of yourself after having a baby, but it is so important! Many clients ask how soon after giving birth they are able to receive another massage, and (barring any medical issues) there really isn't a time that would be too soon. As soon as you are physically able to come, you can come. If you need to bring your baby, you can hold her/him on the table with you during the session. If you need to bring a caregiver with you to watch the baby, that's fine too. They can even stay in the room with us if that makes you more comfortable. The most important thing is to take care of yourself and get a massage. We can make adjustments around any obstacles that might come up.
Do you take my insurance?
I do not bill health insurance companies directly, but if your insurance plan covers massage I can provide you with a superbill (a medical invoice) that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Please contact your insurance company beforehand to ask if they will reimburse you, how much they will reimburse you for, and how many sessions per year they will cover. I cannot guarantee if/how much you will be reimbursed.
I do bill for PIP (auto insurance) and L&I (worker's comp) claims. If you have been injured in an auto or work accident, please contact me for more information if you would like to schedule an appointment for your claim. Your insurance will cover all costs of treatment.
How long are the sessions?
My sessions vary from 15 minutes (Kinesio Taping®) to two hours (usually relaxation massage). If you aren't sure how long of a session to schedule, 60 minutes can be a good starting point. Visceral manipulation sessions are usually thirty minutes, and treatment sessions can be anywhere from thirty minutes to ninety minutes, depending on the issue(s) we're addressing. If you still aren't sure, contact me to discuss your situation and we'll make a plan.
What should I do before and after my massage?
Before your massage
Before your massage you should make sure that you are clean and well hydrated. You should drink plenty of water the day before and the day of your massage. Take a shower to relax and clean off, and please refrain from using any perfumes, colognes, or other heavily scented products. Other than that, you just need to mentally prepare to relax, heal, and change.
If this is your first appointment with me, you will also need to fill out an intake form. Please arrive a few minutes early to complete the form.
After your massage
Take it easy, but don't be sedentary. Movement is one of the best ways to reduce pain and maintain range of motion. It's a good idea to drink plenty of water too. (note: The reason usually given for drinking lots of water after a massage is to prevent headaches and flush out toxins. However, there is no evidence that massage releases toxins, or that drinking more water after a massage will actually prevent headaches. However, most people are chronically dehydrated, so it's a good idea to increase your water intake anyway.)
Days that you aren't getting a massage
Continue drinking enough water and eating well. Exercise within your abilities and comfort levels. Do the stretches and/or movements that I've suggested. Meditate. Breathe. Book another session.
What should I wear during the session?
This partly depends on what type of session you're scheduled for.
When coming for a visceral manipulation session you should be wearing comfortable, loose fitting clothing. Visceral manipulation addresses subtle lines of tension in the body, and restrictive clothing like tight jeans or bras can make it more difficult to assess.
The majority of massage and bodywork techniques are most effective with the client completely unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. After the intake process I will leave the room while you undress to your level of comfort and get under the covers on the table. Only the area of your body we are currently treating will be uncovered. If you have any question, please ask!
What parts of my body will be massaged?
A typical full-body session can include your back, arms, hands, glutes, legs, feet, abdomen, shoulders, chest, neck, face, and/or head. Treatment sessions are more focused and will only include the structures that are dysfunctional and other areas that may be contributing to the dysfunction. If you need extra focus on any of these areas, or if you need any areas to be avoided, just let me know during the intake process.
What are the benefits of massage therapy?
When looking at scientific research on general massage, the benefit that stands out above all others is, surprisingly, reducing anxiety and depression.
Massage therapy sessions can also play a role in relieving chronic muscle tension and pain, increasing joint range of motion, reducing mental and physical fatigue and stress, promoting faster healing of injured muscule and connective tissue, improving posture, and reducing blood pressure. Massage and bodywork is also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration, and create an overall sense of well-being.
What kind of music will play during the session?
Short answer: whatever you want! I usually have some good options including calm solo piano, ethereal spa/relaxation, new age with a gentle beat, or even electronic/world/dance music. If there's something that you want to listen to, please let me know or bring it in!
What is Kinesio Taping®?
Kinesio Taping® is a therapeutic taping technique that can be used to assist weak muscles, relax tight muscles, improve range of motion, correct postural deviations, increase circulation, and reduce inflammation.
Who is it for?
Many people have seen Kinesio Tape® on athletes in the Olympics, but Kinesio Tape® is an incredibly versatile modality and can be helpful for all types of people and activity levels. It might be a good option for you if you: are an athlete, work at a desk, have a physically demanding job, drive a lot, are pregnant or the parent of a baby or young child, are a child, have been in a car accident, have been injured or have an area of swelling, have a hard time maintaining good posture, and many more conditions and situations.
How does it work?
Kinesio Tape® is a thin cotton material designed to mimic the thickness and elasticity of human skin and connective tissue. The back is coated with a heat-activated hypoallergenic medical-grade acrylic adhesive, applied in a wave pattern (like a very large fingerprint).
The Kinesio Tape® stimulates the nerves in the connective tissues and muscles, which helps the muscles function in a healthier, more efficient way. The shape of the tape, where it is put on, the direction the tension is applied, and how much tension is in the tape will affect the tape's function and produce different results.
The tape also has a lifting effect on the skin which increases local circulation, and can be directed to improve lymphatic drainage, which can speed injury recovery and reduce swelling and bruising.
The tape can stay on for about a week. It is waterproof and you can shower and swim with it.
What is cupping?
Cupping therapy, also known as myofascial decompression (MFD), uses glass, plastic, or rubber cups to create a lifting effect on the skin, connective tissue, and muscles (almost the opposite of most massage techniques!). This type of treatment is commonly referred to as a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and while that is true, some form of cupping is found in the traditional medicine practices of many different cultures.
How is it done?
The style of cupping I practice generally starts with some light-pressure gliding, where I move them over large areas of the body. This brings movement to the blood and connective tissue and helps to soften and prepare the area for static cupping. Once I have warmed up the area I will apply one or more cups with more pressure, guided as always by client comfort and feedback, in the areas where I feel decreased mobility in the tissue, and leave them in place for five to fifteen minutes. Once they are in place I will treat another part of the body while I wait. Then I will remove the cups, reassess the tissue, and do some more gliding to kickstart and assist lymphatic drainage from the area. Some therapists claim this removes toxins from the body, releases stagnant Qi, or pulls apart adhesions in the fascia. While I don't think these explanations are accurate or backed up by research, I can tell you is that any novel sensation can have a big impact on the nervous system and it's perception of pain and safety.
Does it leave bruises?
Cupping does leave marks, but they aren't bruises. Bruises are caused by trauma and broken vessels, where as these marks involve no trauma. After treatment, the surface of the skin may feel sensitive for a few minutes, but there is no lasting discomfort, and, almost always, there is a significant decrease in pain and an increase in range of motion.
Depending on the person and the health of the tissues, the marks can range from slightly pink to dark purple. They generally fade in three to four days for most people. Gliding cupping causes some temporary redness, but no circular marks, so if you are unwilling to have these marks, you can still try gliding cupping to experience some of the benefits.