Massage, Rolfing and Life Experiences
Updated: Jun 23, 2019
I've been doing this thing called bodywork for over 27 years. Over the years I've seen many massage therapists and female Rolfers™ struggling to stay in a profession that they love, but their body is setting limits on what they can do; carpal tunnel, worn out thumbs, thoracic outlet syndrome, back issues and tons of other things that we know how to work on other clients. But when you're livelihood depends on performing 5-6 or more massages a day on clients, with muscles that feel like cement, coming in looking for MORE pressure, we sometimes push beyond our body's limits and end up just like them!
So after coming to this realization, you start to look into other types of massage that are easier on your body like cupping, esthetics, energy work, etc. And don't get me wrong, there are many types of bodywork out there that are really effective! And there's nothing wrong with learning to work SMARTER. But... I find that many therapists are settling for something that they really don't want to do because they can't continue to physically do the work they once did, especially if its deep tissue or a deeper type of bodywork.
I ran into this dilemma 17 years ago and knew I had to figure something out or my body wasn’t going to last. I was 4'10", 86 pounds and working on 300-pound clients that told me I gave them the best, deep tissue massage they ever had. But I was waking up every night with numb hands. I knew how to work from the core, but there's only so much repetitive movement and pressure that a small petite body can consistently produce over ten years! I started climbing up on to my table and just walking on clients's backs without lubrication. Then I saw someone in a massage trade magazine teaching other massage therapists to do something called Ashiatsu. I signed up and never looked back!
Ashiatsu barefoot massage training not only saved my massage career but it transformed into something MORE. Eventually, I sought out a Rolfing® Structural Integrator to address the body issues that I couldn't get resolved with massage therapy. After the Rolfing 10 series, I was in love again with something called fascia. So, back to school I went for the next 3 years.
The whole time I was training at the Dr. Ida Rolf® Institute I would hear, "Ida Rolf would never have let you into the institute if she was alive." It seems she judged therapists ability to do the work by the size of their hands. I had to push through the training using my hands, but as soon as I got home, I was training my feet to work without lubrication and engaging the fascia. Over the next ten years, I would navigate this path of having one foot in the massage world and one foot in Rolfing® Structural Integration world.
Eventually, I realized that no matter what I called my sessions, that I was a Rolfer™, fascia was my medium, and there was no going back! I finally had the opportunity to go back for my Advanced Rolfing® Certification, and I received permission from my instructors to bring my ashiatsu portable bars and use my feet in my advanced classes. It was scary, exhilarating, humbling but SUCH an amazing learning experience!
If there's one thing my experience has taught me, it is to let go of what you think you can and cannot do! Open your mind to the possibilities of barefoot massage. 👣 You'll find that the foot is a tool to be used just like our hands and elbows, and in some ways, it's BETTER. With proper training, commitment to learning, you'll find that the sky is the limit!
I have been a barefoot instructor for 11 years now. I love teaching barefoot massage to other massage therapists and giving them encouragement and hope. There are tons of people struggling with chronic pain and health issues. And while massage therapists may be a dime a dozen, GREAT massage therapists are difficult to find. Instructing massage therapists is just one of the ways I can contribute and share my experience and knowledge with the public. And it challenges me to continue my professional growth and expertise!
The Center for Barefoot Massage is an awesome place to start or revisit your barefoot journey. We are committed to providing quality LIVE continuing education to massage therapists and refuse to dumb down our curriculum in this online-learning crazed world. Your clients deserve better and so do you! Step up your massage and take it to the next level.