Let’s talk more about massage tools and some of the benefits for you and your clients.
First of all, massage tools are not our enemies. I have seen therapists discouraging others from using tools saying that
“massage guns will never replace massage therapists”. That is true. But that does not mean there is not an opportunity there for massage therapists to learn how to use them professionally. And the more massage tools the public gets their hands on and use at home, the more they will see the benefits of massage therapy and seek professional services.
It is important to note that massage therapy isn’t confined to us just using our hands in Florida. Chapter 480 (11) of Florida Statutes defines “massage therapy” as
(11) “Massage therapy” means the manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body with the hand, foot, knee, arm, or elbow, regardless of whether such manipulation is aided by hydrotherapy, including colonic irrigation, or thermal therapy; any electrical or mechanical device; or the application to the human body of a chemical or herbal preparation.
There are many electrical and mechanical tools that, when used properly, can safely and effectively manipulate the soft tissues of the human body.
Let’s look at a few massage tools you may be interested in learning more about using, personally or professionally. Some of these tools will have introductory continuing education courses available soon on FloridaMassage.com for the upcoming license renewal.
Percussion Massage Gun or Percussion Massage Tools
In the last five years, massage guns have become incredibly popular with therapists and the public. There are so many options – some really good, some really bad. I have reviewed several on my other website, Massage & Bloggywork. Make sure you invest in a good one. Contact me if you want suggestions.
Percussion massage guns have many benefits, and I have written several articles on the benefits of these tools. If you need something quick, powerful, and effective for self-care, mobile/chair massage, or to address a stubborn muscle group that just will not relax – a percussion massage gun may be what you need.
IASTM or Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization
IASTM is not bamboo massage. And it isn’t gua sha either. However, you could say those are both earlier relatives of IASTM.
With IASTM, the therapist applies pressure to a chosen metal tool and glides across the tissue in a scraping fashion. A lubricant allows the tools to glide across the skin when and where needed.
These tools and techniques can reduce scar tissue and adhesions and help increase mobility and decrease pain.
If your thumbs need a break, this may be a course and topic to look more into this renewal. There are some very expensive IASTM courses and tools that will set you back hundreds or thousands of dollars. However, there are also a growing number of affordable classes and tools hitting the market in the past couple of years.
Cupping has been around for thousands of years. It had a breakthrough year during the Rio Olympics when the media talked endlessly about the “bruises” on some of the athletes. Its interest hasn’t waned.
There are so many different types of cups. There is glass, silicone, plastic, or vacuum cupping. There are even app-controlled cups now.
And then there are different types of cupping. There is TCM-based cupping where cups may be left in one spot for a period of time, and then there is dynamic cupping where cups are also moved around a targeted area lifting tissues and closer to replicating myofascial massage.
Before you learn about glass or fire cupping, be sure to check your massage malpractice insurance coverage. The chances it is a covered benefit is around zero. The good news is that there are many other safe and effective cups you can use and still work within your coverage guidelines.
If you attend any sporting event, you are bound to see some colorful kinesiology taping. Kinesiology taping has actually been around since the early 70s.
You may think kinesiology taping is all about movement and support. While that is a part of it, it really goes deeper (or more superficial – depending on how you look at it) and is thought to inhibit nociceptors, or pain pathways, in the muscles, skin, and joint structures. This means it can help decrease pain and muscle tension and spasms by quieting the nerve or pain pathways.
Interested in the benefits for you and your client using your feet and gravity? With ashiatsu and shiatsu, the therapist uses their feet and gravity to provide a deep, therapeutic, professional, and relaxing massage.
Remember the Florida statute I started this article with? Massage therapy can be the manipulation of the soft tissues with the hand, foot, knee, arm, or elbow. Most of us just learned the hand, arm, elbow, and thumb techniques in massage school. It turns out that the answer to some of our client’s pain relief and pressure on our hands may have been right below us the whole time!
Some barefoot practitioners use bars suspended from the ceiling, while other courses teach floor techniques that can be performed on a mat or shiatsu table. Good balance and coordination are prerequisites for this modality.
Here is our introductory ashiatsu course.
It is okay if the idea of using your feet to massage is not appealing. Ashiatsu isn’t for everyone.
One of my favorite continuing education courses ever was learning how to give a massage using only your forearms. I could not believe how much I learned and the pressure I took off my hands by attending that training. And it felt so good!
I am surprised there are not more courses on forearm massage. If you have the opportunity to take one, I highly recommend it.
Florida requires a few hours of hydrotherapy as part of their core 500 hours. But there is so much more to hydrotherapy. We had “hydrotherapy day” when I went to massage school 20+ years ago. There were baths, showers, wraps, ice, hot packs, colonics, and more. A single day on this subject is not enough.
Florida is nearly surrounded by water. People come just to look at it. It is calming, peaceful, awe-inspiring, and healing. Take some time to really learn about the benefits of hydrotherapy.
Did you know there is a National Foam Rolling Day? It is May 11th – celebrate accordingly this year.
Many people are aware of the positive benefits of foam rolling. However, it can be intimidating to try something new when you are unsure of what areas to focus on and how to do it. I have found many clients are very open to going over a few quick foam rolling exercises after their appointment and then using it as self-care between appointments. Many are so thankful for the added and on demand pain relief between appointments. Not once has anyone said, “I use this tool now and no longer need my monthly massage appointment”.
What is your favorite massage tool?
What massage tools or techniques do you want to learn more about using? Let me know below.