13 Things I've Learned in 13 Years as a Massage Therapist

That’s me back in 2006 in my first office at the Woolen Mill in Winooski, Vermont.

That’s me back in 2006 in my first office at the Woolen Mill in Winooski, Vermont.

August 2019 marks 13 years since Emerge Massage Studio, LLC opened its doors! Holy Moly! I spent a little time reflecting on what I’ve learned from having my hands on countless bodies of all different shapes and sizes over the years. Here is a list of some of the things I’ve learned about myself and the massage profession:

Back when I had green hair. Ooh la la!

Back when I had green hair. Ooh la la!

Providing UVM students with some much needed stress relief!

Providing UVM students with some much needed stress relief!

This was taken during my Advanced Ashiatsu Massage training in Connecticut.

This was taken during my Advanced Ashiatsu Massage training in Connecticut.

  1. Massage is not a Luxury:
    When I started Emerge back in 2006, it was super common for people to view massage as a luxury that only the rich and famous could afford. That’s still a pretty common misconception but not as much as it was thirteen years ago. The majority of people that I work with on a monthly basis have regular jobs and lead regular lives. They don’t have maids that clean their mansions or personal chefs that have dinner waiting for them when they come home. They include massage as a part of their budget just like groceries or car maintenance.

  2. Our bodies need to move:
    Sitting isn’t the enemy. Standing isn’t the enemy. Being inactive for long periods of time in any position is the enemy. So if you have a job that keeps you at a desk all day, invest in a standing desk and alternate between standing and sitting. If you stand all day, make sure you take breaks to sit or stretch every hour if possible.

  3. All bodies are welcome:
    Please don’t apologize for anything about yourself. My priority is to create a space where you can feel 100% at ease in your skin while you’re at Emerge. If you are super critical of yourself on a day to day basis, use your time on the massage table to exhale and just be. I don’t care what shape your body is, if you’re hairy, short, tall, etc. Your body is amazing and deserves love and acceptance.

  4. Pressure is subjective:
    Every single person has a different definition of what light, medium and deep pressure means. And that definition can change from one massage to the next. That’s why I check in to find out how the pressure is during every single massage. And some areas need more pressure than others, so please speak up if you need more or less at any time.

  5. I am not a masseuse:
    I am a Massage Therapist. The term masseuse refers to prostitutes who work under the guise of being a massage therapist. The two are distinctly different; please don’t confuse them.

  6. Constantly Quizzing is Distracting:
    I appreciate general curiosity when it comes to what is happening in your body and why I’m working on a particular muscle. That being said, please don’t quiz me on each muscle that I’m working on throughout your massage. I do need to focus on what I’m feeling with my hands (and feet if you’re receiving Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage), so that you can receive my best work.

  7. I have my own massage style:
    I love hearing what you enjoyed most about your massage therapist from your previous home town. However, I am not that massage therapist and I never will be. I will aim to accommodate your preferences, but I won’t (and can’t) mimic another person’s techniques, so please don’t ask.

  8. I am comfortable with silence:
    Please don’t ever feel like you need to fill the silence with chatter. If you enjoy catching up or sharing what is on your mind during your massage, that’s totally fine. But please don’t worry about keeping me entertained by keeping the conversation going. You are in control of your time on the table. Please focus on your needs while you’re receiving your massage.

  9. I love making connections with people in my community:
    One part of my career that I didn’t anticipate when I started out was how much I would enjoy developing so many meaningful connections with such a wide variety of people in my community. The majority of people that I work with come in for massages on a monthly basis. We are vulnerable and share the highs and lows of our lives over the years. I’m so honored by the connections that have formed during my 13 years serving the community as a Massage Therapist.

  10. I am not a teacher:
    I have had lots of people ask me over the years if I would like to teach massage. I gave it a shot and taught infant massage to parents and couples massage to couples for a period of time. It’s really not my thing. I am most comfortable working one on one with people and focusing all of my energy on caring for them during their time at Emerge. It’s simple, and it’s what I’m best at.

  11. I love taking my own advice:
    I have always said that the best way to prevent acute muscular pain is with regularly scheduled massage. It’s all about maintenance. And I don’t tell people to do things that I don’t do myself. I love receiving massage every month and it keeps my body happy and healthy so I can continue providing bodywork week after week.

  12. Stress is constant:
    Life isn’t always stressful, but it comes and goes. Since stress is a constant, combating stress with massage on a regular basis is an extremely important part of a healthy lifestyle. And you don’t have to be stressed or in pain to receive massage. You will always feel better after your massage than when you arrived for your appointment. I promise.

  13. You are the star:
    When you are on the massage table at Emerge, you are the star. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The world may not revolve around you on a daily basis, but it does when you’re here. I love tweaking and adjusting everything to your personal preferences during your massage. Please don’t ever feel like you’re being picky by asking to have the music turned down, or the table heater turned up. I love knowing what I can do to make your massage the very best.

Whew! Okay, that’s thirteen things I’ve learned since starting my massage practice thirteen years ago. A huge and heartfelt thanks to all of you for being a part of this wild ride. Here’s to another thirteen years! Cheers!