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Choosing a Massage School

There are any number of reasons why someone may want to enrol in a massage school. It may be a general interest in helping family and friends though bodywork. Alternatively, you may be looking for your first vocational training after leaving school. Or you may be looking for a career change and have decided that the natural therapies industry is where you see yourself in the next few years.

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to study massage, the first question you will need to answer is where and what will I study?

Massage schools

There are a different view regarding what you need to consider before choosing a massage school. For simplicity these views can be split into:
(1) Choose the best school for you or

(2) Choose the most convenient school for you.

Those who support the first view will argue that the better the education you receive then the better the therapist you will be when you finish massage school and, hence, the more likely you will succeed when you begin your career as a massage therapist in Sydney or wherever in Australia you live. Why waste the opportunity to get a good education just to save a little time and/or money?

The supporters of the second view will argue that most massage schools are there to churn out students and the only factor that will have an impact of you succeeding in the massage industry is you. If you have the skills, the talent, the aptitude, the personality and the will to succeed then you will independent of where you study. Most quality education you will recieve either comes from your on the job skill development or specific courses with high quality tutors and massage leaders once you have qualified and have an understanding of where you belong in the massage industry.
If this is point of view is true, then the first massage school you choose should be the one that is most convenient and/or cheapest for you to qualify to the level that you want to.

There is no right or wrong regarding these viewpoint and much will depend on your personal circumstances. Most people will probably settle for a compromise and choose a massage school that they believe offers them the best education given their time and budget constraints.

Regardless of your view, it is worth taking the time checking out the schools in your area and finding out such things as:
– what modalities and modules do they offer?
– when are the classes held?
– how much are the classes?
– are their qualifications recognised by professional associations in Australia?

Most massage schools will offer open days where you can come in and find out specific answers to your questions. Another great way of getting a feel for the school is to book in for a student massage. You will be able to quiz the student therapist about how they feel about the school and also you will get first hand experience of the quality of the bodyworkers that are graduating.

  

If you are particularly time poor, then there are options for doing some study remotely (eg online modules) which can reduce your costs and the travel time required to complete your study.

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Information about some massage schools in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Perth etc is included at http://www.innerwestmassage.com.au/massage-schools.php.

By Richard Lane

What (not) to wear for a massage

If you are visiting a Sydney massage clinic (or having a mobile massage for the first time) as the therapist leaves the room to allow you to undress in private, they will invariably utter the phrase:

take off whatever you are comfortable with.

Those who have had many massages will follow this instruction without a second thought and either take everything off or leave their undies on, depending on their preference and level of comfort with the therapist.

Massage where client prefers not to take everything offFor the less massage savvy though this request does not illict an automatic response and can bring about a sense of unease. If I leave my underwear on does that mean that the therapist will think I’m a prude and not entirely comfortable in their presence? If I take everything off, will the therapist misconstrue my reasons for getting a massage?

The direct answer to these questions are a very simple “NO”. Put bluntly, your therapist simply does not care what you leave on and what you take off. They will make no judgements based on your decision. All they want is for you to be comfortable with your decision and to be able to relax and enjoy the massage.

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Just a couple of asides on this topic though.

Whilst massage strokes are (marginally) easier to perform if the client is not wearing anything, this is of secondary importance to your level of comfort. If you would not be relaxed if you were naked during the massage, then don’t be.

If you prefer to wear bra and knickers during a massage then your therapist will be able to modify their strokes and still provide an effective and relaxing massage. The outcome of the session will be the similar regardless of your decision and preference, so long as you make a decision that you are relaxed with. Never be pressured by a therapist to take off more than you want to (nor accept draping that exposes more of you than you would expect your therapist to see).

If you prefer to wear underwear then inexpensive and basic is best from the therapists point of view.
Ladies, if you are massaged wearing expensive knickers then there is a chance that they may get oil on them. Also, skimpy, lacy and tight undies are hard for the therapist to manoeuvre if they want to massage glutes or hips.
Guys, if you want your quads or hamstrings massaged then wearing boxers that extend three quarters of the way to the knee are a challenge.

Whilst the therapist needs to respect your boundaries, you also need to be mindful of your therapist’s boundaries. Whilst most therapists are comfortable and used to seeing with peoples bodies, a significant proportion prefer that you wear underwear (and will tell to leave your underwear on). As one of my therapists recently put it

My Table. My Rules!

This is their right. Therapists need to be careful, particularly when massaging people of the opposite gender such as male massage for females. The wearing of underwear at least affords some level of protection to the therapist that their massage intentions are not misintrepreted when working around the hips, glutes, quads and adductors.

  
I have noticed that there is a difference between the massaging in a clinic and providing mobile massage to Sydney homes. When I was working in a clinic, the vast majority of clients would choose to keep their underwear. However, in the home environment a greater proportion take everything off (or probably more accurately, choose not to put anything on if they have a shower prior to the therapist arriving).

Ultimately though whatever decision you make is really neither here or there for the therapist. Be comfortable with your decision and you will be comfortable during the massage.

By Richard Lane

When Massage is not Perfect

Most massage devotees know the benefits that massage brings to them in their life which may be physical, emotional or spiritual (or a combination thereof). Once people find a therapist that they are happy with then they will generally stick with that therapist so that they know that they will get a great bodywork experience each time. They have a good dialogue with their therapist who knows what they do and do not like for their massage session.

However, there are times when circumstances dictate that you may need to see a different masseur such as you are in a different town or your normal therapist is not able to fit you in.

when massage goes wrongNow you are probably comfortable to accept that the massage will probably not be as good as the one you are used to but there are a number of reasons why it may not be the experience you are looking for. For me, these include:

(1) The therapist performs a “cookie-cutter” massage. They just do the massage they normal do and there is no attempt to customise the massage to any requirements you may have let the therapist know. This approach may be ok if you are just having a relaxation massage in a day spa but if you are after any type of remedial massage then there is nothing more annoying than the therapist spending minimal time on parts of the body that you really want to be massaged.

(2) When an hour’s massage includes the time to discuss your requirements and your undressing/dressing time. If you are paying for a massage but end up only getting 45 minutes of hands-on time then you will feel cheated and any relaxation that the massage achieves can dissipate instantly.

(3) Being basted with oil. I really do not like excessive oil and it’s a turn off if the therapist is constantly reaching for the bottle of lubricant to apply more and more oil or lotion. Less is more when it comes to massage, in my view. How can a massage therapist feel the soft tissues and muscles when their hands are skidding over the skin like a skater on ice?

(4) The therapist being a poor time keeper. If you are having (and even enjoying) a “cookie-cutter” massage you realise that the routine the therapist is performing is being curtailed and rushed on one side of the body compared with the other. It may be that your right leg gets 10 minutes of care and attention but, as the clock ticks on, the left side only ends up with a cursory couple of strokes.

(5) A distracted therapist. Answering the phone or door or talking to any other therapist is a no-no for me. I’m paying for you to massage me not plan later appointments (or even worse your social life). Also just going through the motions with the massage and not using your hands to listen to what my body is telling you.

(6) Bad breath.

(7) Incidental contact with other parts of your body other than the massage tools you intend to use. Your stomach bracing against my head as you stroke down my back or your boobs in my face whilst you are working on my chest or stomach is not professional.

(8) Lack of thought with music. I don’t like the radio on during a massage and I don’t like Adele.

  
This is not meant as a critique of the massage profession in general but more a whimsical depiction of some of the more negative experiences I have had during massages and some of the things I specifically do not like. It is not to decry the positive energy I normally get from massage.

However, feel free to add any others you may have in the comments section below…..

By Richard Lane

Important Questions When Booking a Massage

I’ve been running Inner West Mobile Massage in Sydney since 2005 and it still astounds me that a high proportion of phone calls begin with the words

How much do you charge?

or

what are your rates?

Whilst I know that price and costs can be a huge factor in the decision making process but for me, I would want to know something about the type of massage I would be getting and, in particular, something about the skills, experience and training of the therapist who would be putting their hands on body. Yes, price may be a factor but surely though the value of the massage and service is much much more important?

I would want to explain the reasons why I would be wanting a massage such as I need a sports massage or a remedial/deep tissue massage for a sore lower back and then questions I would want to be asking are:

Is the therapist you recommend suitable for my requirements?
What is their level of training?
What is their level of experience?
How long have they worked for you?
etc

Currently we charge $100 for a one hour mobile massage in Sydney. We only use experienced and professional therapists who are registered with health funds and we believe we offer fair value compared with a massage from a therapist of equivalent experience in a clinic (particularly as we are prepared to offer an unconditional guarantee about our services).

Now, the normal response if I answer their question about prices is that the caller will say

Thanks. I’ll call you back

(not that they ever do).

I’m often tempted to ask them what they are expecting our rates to be. Are they used to paying $60 for a one hour massage in a dodgy clinic where the therapists have no formal training and the towels might have been washed last week? Many clinics in the Inner West are in the price range of $80 to $90 so we are more than competitive with them given that there are so many benefits from having a home massage.

  
But for them, $100 is too high to consider.

Now, maybe I am being a little harsh, and those who are on a limited budget may begin to ask the type of questions I would expect, if our price fell within their price range and, for them, there is no point wasting time on discussion. But I suspect that these are exception and the majority of these callers just equate value to price. The quality doesn’t matter, all they want is a cheap massage.

Sorry, unfortunately cheap massage is not our business. Great value massage is.

Swearing and Pain Relief

Many massage therapists will tell you that massage should not be painful and “no pain – no gain” should not apply to bodywork. If they are causing you pain then you should let them know so that they can back off their pressure or change the massage “tool” they are using or work elsewhere to try to achieve their objective.

However, there are occasions when the therapist does need to cause a little (or significant) pain to release a restriction or tight muscle through deep tissue techniques. Sometimes you have to go one step back to go two steps forward and this is approach is often employed physiotherapists who do soft tissue work.

pain relief during massageThe pain can be intense albeit often only for a short time whilst the therapist is doing their stuff. (Am speaking from recent experience for a hamstring problem which has had my therapist well and truly getting stuck into my glutes which is only good when he finishes).

Makes you feel like letting fly with words and expletives that you wouldn’t normally use in public.

Well, researchers have found that swearing can have a positive impact on pain tolerance so long as swearing is not part of your everyday vocabulary (1).

In the study, participants were asked to place their hand into room temperature water for three minutes to act as a baseline. They then had to place it in water at 5°C for as long as possible whilst repeating either a specific swear word or a specific non-swear word.

The results from the research were that people who did not swear very often in daily life could keep their hands in the cold water for about 140 seconds when they were permitted to swear. This was about as twice as long as the time when they used the specific non-swear word.

However, for those people who stated that swearing was part of their daily speech, they could only keep their hands in the cold water for about 120 seconds when they used the allowed swear word.

  
The researchers concluded from the study that swearing can be an effective form of short term pain reliever if used in moderation by providing a type of “stress-induced analgesia”. If swearing is part of your normal vernacular though this can water down their emotional benefits.

So the next time your therapist is getting well and truly stuck into some soft tissues and it hurts, don’t be shy. Feel free to let fly with the words you wouldn’t be using in polite company and give yourself some natural and free pain relief with no side-effects (other than maybe a little post-massage embarrassment).

Will you feel better for it? ******* oath you will!

(1) R. Stephens, C. Umland. “Swearing as a Response to Pain – Effect of Daily Swearing Frequency”. The Journal of Pain. Vol 12 Issue 12. Pages 1274-1281. Dec 2011

By Richard Lane

Massage and Back Pain
– Research Findings

There are many reasons why people book in for a mobile massage in Sydney with us. It can be purely to de-stress and wind down. It can be as a reward for working hard. It can be part of a sportsman training regime to include a regular sports massage. However, the majority of people that we see are suffering from physical discomfort and they are looking for remedial therapy to help them reduce the pain and tightness they are experiencing.

Massage for back pain reliefNeck /shoulder pain and headaches are probably the top of the list for the reason why people book in for a remedial massage and many people know that massage is a great way to deal with these problems. The next most popular reason for getting a remedial or deep tissue massage is for lower back pain and there is some good news that recent research has found that massage may very help is dealing with the pain and suffering that lower back pain can cause.

When suffering from lower back pain many people seek out medications from their doctor to treat the pain. Others try exercise regimes from physiotherapist. However, a significant proportion of experiencing and secondly as a form of preventative maintenance once they are relatively pain-free. Researchers set out to ascertain whether massage compared favourably against usual medical intervention for treating lower back pain.

In the study (1), carried out by researchers from the Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, the study participants were randomly assigned to receive either a relaxation massage, a structural (remedial/deep tissue) massage or usual medical care without massage. Their symptoms had been assessed and also recorded was the impact of the back pain on their daily life.

Those in the massage groups had a one hour session weekly for 10 weeks.

The symptoms of those in the study were recorded after completing the massage program, at six months and finally a year after they initially began the massage.

The results obtained were encouraging for the massage industry. After the 10 week assessment, the researchers found that those who had received massage had lower levels of pain and they were able to perform daily tasks better than those who had only received the usual medical care. These results were similar regardless of which type of massage they received, be it relaxation or structural.

Whilst the benefits did not remain after one year, there was still a significant difference with the results obtained after 6 months and so it may be reasonable to conclude that massage can be an effective treatment for those who are suffering from lower back pain.

(1) Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. “A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial.” Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):1-9.

By Richard Lane

Why I Enjoy Doing Mobile Massage

Being a mobile massage therapist is not for everyone. It is relatively easy to come up with a list of the disadvantages and problems associated with mobile massage therapy. These include:
– Having to work out of business hours, often late into the night
– Trying to find a carparking space close enough to the house or unit where you will be working
– Carrying heavy massage table/towels/equipment around often up multiple flights of stairs
– Working in isolation from other therapists/professionals
– Never quite knowing what type of premises you will be massaging in and how easy it will be to set up your table. Will there be enough room? Will it be cold or hot? Will it be noisy? Will there be other people around?
– Are there are personal security risks (particularly relevant for female massage therapists)

Yet despite these negative factors, I have been a mobile massage therapist in Sydney for over 7 years and still enjoy and prefer plying my trade in this way compared with being in a clinic.

So what are the advantages that outweigh the negative?

Advantages of Mobile MassageThere are a number of reasons why I prefer providing a mobile massage service in Sydney compared with working in a clinic. Some of these relate to advantages to the client; some relate to advantages to me.

For many people who are working full time or are constrained as to when they can get to see a massage therapist then there are significant advantages of having a home massage in Sydney. These benefits are covered at http://www.innerwestmassage.com.au/benefits.php.

Whilst there is a great deal of job satisfaction with being able to provide such a service, an additional benefit that I often feel is that there is more synergy with a home massage. The fact that someone is prepared to let a stranger into their home, then take off their clothes and permit this stranger to rub oil into their body provides a powerful message from the client to the therapist that there is trust. This element of trust is greater than in a clinic which can be, well, clinical.

Mobile massage clients are nice people to work with.

This is not to say that clients in clinics are not nice to work with but, for me, seeing people in their home provides that greater level of personal trust and permission to provide bodywork.

From my point of view as a mobile therapist the advantages include:
– no overheads. If you are paying rent at a clinic then there is a requirement to make sure that there is someone on your table as much as possible. No client means no money coming in to cover the money coming out. Whilst it is true that no body on the table for a mobile therapist means no money coming in, at least there is no money going out.
– I choose my hours. Yes I work what some may consider to be anti-social hours, late into the evening and weekends. But this suits me and my lifestyle at the moment. Being in a clinic and needing to be available at specific times is a constraint.
– physical demands are less. Although I have to lug my gear around, the physical demands on the body are less than if I was doing back to back to back… massages in a clinic. When I am providing mobile massage service then I am able to get a break when I am travelling between locations.
– you get to work in different and interesting locations. Not all massages are in homes. I’ve massaged in garages, outside, in theatres, on film-sets, hotels rooms of varying standards, etc.
– providing couples massage with another therapist is a pleasant experience.

  
I can’t say that I will be a mobile therapist indefinitely but I have been for the past years and have no yearning to go back into a clinic. I enjoy massage and I enjoy massaging clients in their homes.

By Richard Lane

3 hour massage offer

Please Note: This offer is no longer available – if you are interested in receiving a 3 hour massage then please call and we can discuss price/time etc.

Recently there was an online discussion about the merits or otherwise of giving and receiving a three hour massage. This as a result of someone getting rave reviews for three + hour massages that he was providing to his clients.

Whilst I have provided lengthy massages when I was based in a clinic, I have never given a 3 hour massage as a mobile massage and would be interested in trying to some to see
(a) if there is a demand for such experiences and
(b) whether I’m physically up to it!

So as a marketing exercise I would like to offer a couple of 3 hour massages for the price of 90 minutes hour (ie $130 which would also be covered under health funds if you could claim for remedial massage).

(now for the small print)
This offer is:
– made by Richard Lane and the 3 hour massage offer is not available for any other therapist who work with Inner West Mobile Massage.
– 3 hour massages are only available Monday to Friday during business hours. This offer is not available for evening/weekend appointments.
– suitable for someone who has deep tissue/remedial or sports massage on a (semi) regular basis. If you have not had a massage in a while then it is possible that a 3 hour session may be a little too strenous for the body. Also please be conscious of any massage contraindications that may impact on the suitability of receiving an extended massage (eg pregnancy, specific injuries or conditions, etc)
– initially available for one male and one female client who respond according to the instructions below (will add in the comment as and when booking is made with a male or female client).
– available for locations within the map below.


View 3 hour massage offer region in a larger map

If you wish to book a 3 hour massage or would like any more information then either send an email to richard@innerwestmassage.com.au with your location, contact details and times that may be suitable. As this is an offer with Richard Lane directly then we ask that you do not phone the Inner West Mobile Massage number directly.

Please Note: This offer is no longer available – if you are interested in receiving a 3 hour massage then please call and we can discuss price/time etc.

By Richard Lane

Sports Massage Does Work!

In recent years there seems to be have a move towards more evidence based practise for a range of practitioners. This is not a bad thing for the massage industry as many of the more spurious claims that are made can be challenged and dismissed. However, one of the problems that massage faces is that there is a dearth of quality research available.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case which include a lack of money when compared with the amount of funds available for pharmaceutical trials and also a fundamental problem with much of the research in the natural therapies domain in that designing standard treatment protocols is extremely difficult when most therapists’ practice is based on tailoring a treatment to an individual client’s needs at the time.

A 2012 study into the benefits of sports massage has attempted to redress the issue of quality massage research with findings that are encouraging for the industry.

Sports massage SydneyAfter a water skiing injury a researcher at McMaster University, Canada, Mark Tarnopolsky, found that massage therapy provided a significant amount of pain relief and he decided that he wanted to understand the underlying mechanism whereby massage aided his recovery.

Along with some colleagues, Tarnolpolsky decided to investigate why massage can reduce pain and the results (for massage therapists and for sports people) were encouraging (1).

For the study, 11 males were exercised to such an extent that they were affected by exercise-induced muscle damage after working out on an upright bicycle. One of their legs was then massaged for 10 minutes. The researchers took muscle biopsy samples from the participants’ vastus lateralis muscles at various times:
– at baseline
– immediately after the massage
– after 2.5 hours of recovery.

The results were extremely encouraging. There is strong support for the hypothesis that exercise can activate the genes which are associated with repair and inflammation and it was no surprise that the researchers observed there was significantly more indicators of cell repair and also inflammation in the biopsy samples post-exercise when compared with the pre-exercise measurements.

However, there was a clear distinction between the study participants’ legs that had been massaged and had not been.

They found that the legs which had received the 10 minutes of sports massage had:
– reduced the amount of exercise induced muscle inflammation by diminishing the activity of a protein, NF-kB
– increased by about 30% a gene that helps muscle cells build mitochondria, PGC-1
– modified levels of other proteins with similar roles in the body.

  
Although this is only one study and the massage protocol may not be relevant for all sports people, it does provide evidence supporting the use of massage therapy to reduce pain and encourage muscle repair. Further work would need to be carried out to assess the optimum pressure, length of massage and the commencement time after exercise.

But there are few who would argue that getting a massage to reduce pain from sport is a preferable alternative to anti-inflammatory medications.

(1) J. D. Crane, D. I Ogborn et al “Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signalling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage”. Science Translational Medicine 4, 119ra13 (2012).

By Richard Lane

Is it you who does the massage?

It is hard to succeed as a male massage therapist in Sydney. The demand for massages from males is significantly less than it is for females even for the best male massage therapists.

Men prefer to book massages from females and a reason often given is that they are “uncomfortable” being touched by another man. Male massage for women in Sydney is also less common, more because of a cross-gender touch considerations (although having said that, the majority of the clients I see are female). Men are uncomfortable with a male massage therapist providing bodywork to their wife, for example, even though the majority of my clients are females (and some men specifically book a guy to massage their wife).

male massage therapist given female sports massage

Whilst the demand for massage from masseurs is less than for masseuses that does not mean that it is impossible for a male to succeed. If you search clinics and for mobile massage in Sydney, then it is immediately apparent that there is an abundant supply of men providing remedial and therapeutic massage so there must be some demand there.

I have been working as therapist in Sydney for a few years now and, although I have and still regularly face the bias against male massage therapists, I have survived long enough to carve out a career. Once you realise that you have to target people who are more concerned with the quality of the massage rather than the gender of the therapist (or those who are specifically after a male massage therapist) then you have a chance.

If you imagine that you will be working in a swanky Sydney day spa giving relaxing massages to the beautiful people then you will be in for disappointment. People who are after a sports, deep tissue and remedial massage will much more likely be your customers.

Having said that I understand the favouritism that exists towards, I still bristle and take umbrage when someone rings up our mobile massage business and asks

“Is it you who does the massage?

There is no preamble, there are no niceties. There is no “Hi, my name is …. and do you mind me asking is it you who does the massage?” Instead they just immediately fire away with the question as their opening salvo.

I don’t know why it bothers me and annoys me but it does.

Maybe they are not expecting a male to answer their call and they struggle to find a polite way of asking the question they are really asking which is

  

Can I book a massage with a female?

I really do not have a problem with someone wishing to book a massage and their preference is to see a female. I’m a big boy, I wear big boy pants. I accept that is the way of the massage world. I have been providing massage in Sydney for long enough.

But

“Is it you who does the massage?

bugs me.

However, if you do specifically prefer to receive bodywork from a male massage therapist then please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0421 410057.

By Richard Lane


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