This is my first blog 🙂 so I thought it would be a good idea to tell you all why I chose to start my journey as massage therapist, a journey that has evolved over the last 17 years to become a passion and to some extent a healing ministry.
It gets to that time in life when you need a career change due to burnout, life changes or just financial reason. Mine was triggered by a circumstances in my life. A career in the Medical field in the early 2000 was lucrative and promising but I did not have the time for years in school. Nursing was big but it would take 3 years to be what I wanted. Massage therapy was just getting more recognized, took shorter to train and MAYBE would serve my purpose of helping others in pain.
You see, I come from Kenya. Traditional methods of pain relief and medicine were well known although not being practiced as much due to the introduction of western medicine. My grandfather was a big believer in traditional medicine. He used herbs to treat his aches and pains (though he really never complained of anything). He would take herbs when he got a cold, he’d use different herbs to give to my grandma who had a ‘sensitive stomach’. They hardly went to the doctor. An auntie who lived nearby came to see my grandma regularly to massage her abdomen with oils and herbs when she was not well. This aunt would massage women with difficult pregnancies and even help to turn breach babies in-utero.
My 90 year old mother shared a story when she was growing up about an ‘uncle’ who would massage the children when they hurt themselves. They would be taken to him kicking and screaming and come back smiling after he had massaged and adjusted their ribs or shoulders or other part of their bodies. He worked on every one in the community.
When I was growing up, we worked on the farm tilling, planting, harvesting etc. Everything we did by hand. My mother often would have her shoulders or back hurt and would ask us children to massage her by first using a hot towel then with coconut or castor oil. We would then rub in Vicks vapor rub. My dad worked construction. Going up and down the buildings installing roofing etc. There were no power equipment then. Everything was by hand. Dad did not complain of any pain,but he constantly used some form of pain relief rub. Or he’d have heat up water and massage his knees or shoulders with the hot towel.
I kind of knew what massage was about, pain relief. But you did not go to school to train, you learned from the person doing it in the community as an apprentice or you just had the ‘hands’ or ‘gift’ or calling for it. Moving to the United states massage therapy was not my first choice of career change, but I saw a lot of advertisements for massage therapy colleges and jobs and I needed a license to practise. I almost scorning the fact that you have to go to school for such an art. The first school I visited seemed to be interested in training massage therapists to work in the spa industry. I did more research looking for schools that would offer massage therapy for pain relief. and found the different schools that focussed in North Carolina, the then Medical Arts Massage School in Raleigh. I moved from Maryland to North Carolina.
Medical Arts as we called it was founded by a physical therapist who had an interest in training massage therapist in trigger point therapy for pain relief. He was what I would call the first generation Trigger Point therapists having been trained by Dr. Janet Travel who first used Trigger Point therapy to relieve Myofascial pain. I was intrigued by the techniques I learnt. The anatomy and physiology involved in the whole curriculum was almost like going to Medical School. I learned to palpate muscles I had no idea existed in my body. I could recognize patterns in the body that were associated with certain muscular pain or disfunction. Thinking back about my mother’s shoulder pain, it was easy to recognize what muscle I would need to work on to give her relief and every time I worked on a classmate, I’d wish I was working on my Mom to give her relief.
I graduated from massage school and realized that my Journey into this world of body soft tissue – MUSCLES had just began. Over the 17 years I have been a massage therapist, I have touched thousands of bodies with different issues. Each body I touch teaches me something new, some give me more challenges than others. Challenges that tell me that I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg in this ever evolving field. I have worked with clients/patients who have had not relief from medication but have told me they sleep better after getting a massage. Some clients have come to me seeking the impossible from me, but we have walked and worked together to find solutions to their pain. Many times I have taken specific continuing classes to find solutions to the pain of a client just to find that after gaining that skill more clients seek out the treatment and then the next challenge comes.