Let me begin with explaining why I do this, why I’m a Massage Therapist. I’ve been a pretty active person most of my life—running, martial arts, weight training—so I’ve had my share of injuries, aches and pains. In my 20’s, I experienced my first massage session with an elderly lady that had the ability to find the root of my issues. I found this to be remarkable because the root was not necessarily where the pain was. Over the next few decades, I experienced massage therapy from many therapists; some that were really good, and some that left me wondering why they were in the field at all.
Instead of pursuing a career in healthcare, I went into information technology…go figure, right? In 2010, after a 2 ½ year period of high stress projects, my body started breaking down. That’s when I knew it was time for a change; and thus began my journey of exploring the direction I would take. In the end, Massage Therapy was the perfect fit because I knew the benefits that I’d experienced, and pursuing more advanced soft tissue therapy modalities has made me a better and more effective therapist. My goal is to take dysfunctional tissue and make it as functional as possible. Personally, I see myself as a Soft Tissue Specialist because I have made it my life’s work to understand soft tissue, and how it is affected by movement and injury, in order to help restore it.
There are several modalities in massage therapy; some of the most common are Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, and Trigger Point Therapy. These, and others, are beneficial to improving the quality and tone of muscle tissue, improving circulation, for improved range-of-motion, and relieving stress, just to name a few of the benefits.
I use an integrative approach to therapy, which means that I may employ one or all of the above modalities during a clients treatment session, in addition to more advanced modalities, such as Active Release Techniques®, or simply ART. ART is a patented soft tissue technique that treats problems with soft tissue that may be causing pain, and/or limiting range of motion. There are times when I may exclusively use ART, if I believe it to be the best course of action. In addition, I may also use Redcord during a treatment session, when appropriate.
A question that I am often asked is, “how often should I get a massage?” The answer to this depends on varying factors; overall health, stress levels, active/sedentary lifestyle, chronic issues, etc. As an example, if a client comes in presenting with decreased range of motion caused by an injury that is beyond the acute stage, I may need to see them 2-5 times. To get beyond this issue, it is best to receive treatment every 2-3 days, or twice a week, whenever possible. The number of sessions will depend on how the client’s body responds to the therapy…some have tissue that responds quickly, and for some it takes longer. Everyone’s body is different.
For someone that is in good overall health, and does not have any blaring issues, then maintenance of tissue health is the desired goal. I would recommend massage 1-2 times per month, at a minimum of 60-minute sessions; however, 90-120 minutes may be more beneficial for active clients, or those who are prone to chronic issues.
The human body is amazing, created to move us fabulously about our world. In this seemingly simple grand function, there are many complex smaller functionalities that work together to move us. When one breaks down, there is an adverse effect to how we move, and integrative soft tissue therapy, by an experienced massage therapist, can be just what you need to return to function.
Gilbert Peña, Jr. is a Licensed Massage Therapist by the State of Georgia Board of Massage Therapy, a Certified Active Release Techniques® Provider, and a certified Redcord Active Specialist. In addition to treating clients at One on One Physical Therapy, Atlanta, Gil also has his private practice, Restore 2 Function Therapies, in Woodstock, GA, located inside the Crossfit Garage on Hwy 92. Gil can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.