So, another “Let’s Talk About” post. This one, because I know that some people don’t respond well to massage therapy, for a variety of reasons (some other autistics are touch-sensitive, my mother bruises easily when it comes to deep massage, etc.). Also, please note that I am talking about massage therapy done by a registered massage therapist, not simply massage applied by a masseur / masseuse. Registered massage therapists (RMT) are trained in physiology and are required to adhere to certain standards to maintain their status as “registered”.
Massage therapy is the assessment and treatment of the soft tissues of the body. Therapeutic massage is used to prevent dysfunction, to relieve pain, to restore or augment function and to promote health.
Massage therapy encompasses a wide range of different techniques which can affect the circulatory, musculoskeletal, nervous, and respiratory systems, and which form the basis of massage therapy treatment. Hydrotherapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, instruction in proper breathing, and assessment and correction of posture are also tools that massage therapists regularly employ in their treatment protocols.
–Newfoundland and Labrador Massage Therapists’ Association (http://www.nlmta.com/aboutmt.asp)
So, just to establish things, I am not touch-sensitive. In fact, I am touch-seeking. (Unlike every other sense….) I adore hugs, especially deep pressure hugs. I much prefer to wrap myself up to sleep, even if it’s hot (I just suffer if I do it and get hot). And I’ve had previous experience with both general massage and massage therapy, specifically deep tissue massage, to deal with the tension that regularly builds up in my neck and shoulders due to stress and my automatic avoidance and psychosomatic reaction (which is another blog post in and of itself). So, I was looking forward to this massage.
The massage therapist I had chosen (on the recommendation of one of my fellow ILRC interns) works just about a 2-3 minute drive (15 minute walk, I’d say) from my house – and from my current place of work. Which is great in and of itself!
Her prices (which she told me when we were booking the appointment) seem to be $40/half hour (which seems to be in line with others’ – my appointments in 2008 / 2009 in Toronto were $75/45 minutes), and the first appointment (in part because of the evaluation) was an hour. A reasonably pleasant hour (which actually turned into a full hour massage, as well as the 45 minutes before that of filling in and discussing the evaluation!); she’s a pleasant conversationalist, likes hugs as well!, and easy to talk to.
She’s also very good at massage. It was concentrated on my shoulders, neck and head (that being where the problems are), and she even used a technique that she advised me I can use myself for tension headaches – fisting my hands (gently) in my hair just at the hairline and rubbing the fisted fingers around the area – and it seems to work! By the time she finished, I was feeling much better.
Some of the tension has come back, of course – that’s inevitable – but nowhere near as much as it was before the appointment. (I got onto the bed, and started to relax at once; my body recognized: “This is a massage bed. I’m getting a massage! Yay!”) And I see her again on Friday (she wants me to have a series of massages, every few days, for about 3-4 more appointments in order to work out the worst of the tension and get me started on proper relaxation) for a 45 minute session. So looking forward to it!
On to the “Let’s Talk About” part….
So, do you like receiving massages? Have you ever received one? Do you ever want to receive one? Do you think it would be too overwhelming for you? What other techniques do you know of to release long-term, packed in tension from muscles and tendons (soft tissue)? (Really want to know this, given the fact that when I was 11, I had an EEG that just read signs of muscle tension, no brainwaves.) Would you recommend a massage or those other techniques to other autistics, or autism parents who would like to know how to help their children? (Note that there’s a question about this on the Asperger’s Advice forum….)