Five Session Testimonial – Case Study with Elle

Written by Client Elle in 2017

Session One: Point Holding & Stretching

Focus of today’s session: establishing a starting point.

Previous experience with massage: one session approximately five years ago when pregnant. Made it through about 15 mins [of that massage session] before anxiety from being touched caused me to end the session abruptly.

Found out upon getting on the massage table I had more issues being facing up versus facing down. Mckenna spent roughly 15 minutes walking me through what I would be committing to and possibly experiencing through the 5 sessions scheduled. We discussed possible points of anxiety, positioning, needing to know ahead of time what areas of my body would be touched, how I would prefer to be told where she was about to touch each time she moved to a different body part. To help with anxiety I found her explaining what she was doing, the why behind it and how she would be achieving that calmed many fears.
Throughout I found that harder pressure was more comfortable for me. McKenna asked questions to determine my comfort/pain level with touch and how for my body the muscles would loosen. Much of what we discovered initially is that I was tensing or fighting her movements. She did an excellent job keeping me informed of why it was important to try and relax through breathing and communicate any of my discomforts to make adjustments.  
Much of my tension was around my hips and shoulder blades. She primarily focused on these areas as much of the time was slower movement and more focused on communication to keep me relaxed and my anxiety under control.

Session Two: Assisted Stretching & MFR

Determined from going back and doing a recap from my first session that some of my anxiety was from not being able to see where McKenna was and feeling vulnerable. McKenna suggested using a thicker yoga mat and trying assisted stretching exercises on the floor moving around me. A lot less anxiety with this method.
We went through areas of my body that felt tight or sore and if I had any injury places. We discussed how places on the body can hold memories of injury or soreness, how stretching and massage can help release them, and can at times be physically and mentally comforting. Discussed places on my body that have had surgery and/or injury. Places that I continually feel sore or tight. Discussed an average day and how my job (sitting at a desk for long periods) can contribute and how to combat by using breaks and stretches to loosen certain muscles. Discussed body posture and how that can affect muscles.
Focused on thighs, hamstrings, hip, upper back and shoulder blades as those areas are points of continued soreness. I learned several stretches first by demonstration and then through assistances of what is proper and the best way to stretch out those parts of my body. This massage was more enjoyable for me. I lean more toward athletic and could feel the difference on my body from before we started to when we finished. I had a few reminders throughout the massage to try and not fight or give resistance and allow her to move my limbs more freely to get more natural stretching. The amount of warm up on the muscles was felt because the movements felt more fluid toward the end.

Session Three: Sports Massage

McKenna expressed why she had waited for this to be my third session and I agreed as this would be the one I was most comfortable with but would not have wanted it in the beginning because of the amount of touch to get into the muscles and more direct movement of my body. As well as it being on the massage table and learning what we did on the first session with my anxieties on a table. She communicated well why the table was helpful and gave her an advantage to move my body into the needed positions. I continue to prefer firmer touch and she continually checks in with me throughout asking if the amount of pressure needs to be adjusted or if I feel good with her starting pressure.
I was visibly more relaxed than the previous two sessions. As she went through the exercises I noticed I was not asking as many questions as to what she was doing or the why. I was able to settle into the massage and feel my body movements without tension.
McKenna showed me a great stretch to open up my hips as a runner this is a continued place I feel the most pressure in. She walked me through the stretch and asked where I was feeling it and explained how to make adjustments to it. I was excited and pleased to have something I can do on my own to help myself.
I’m in a place that I’m looking forward to the next massage with McKenna and trust the communication style/dynamic we have established. I feel she understands my anxieties with touch and where on my body or given my placement I feel higher amounts of anxiety, as well as the why behind them and how to make adjustments during for me to become more comfortable.

Session Four: Full Body Relaxation Massage

McKenna communicated we would be pushing my comforts a little with a Swedish massage because of the amount of touching and the movements of touch during. She also communicated that she would be practicing her techniques with keeping me covered while moving around the table and moving between different parts of my body. Her goal was to create the least amount of exposure feeling and movement for me to not focus on the draping being shifted around.
McKenna asked if I had an allergies to the oil she was about to use knowing that I had mentioned skin allergies on the initial interview before starting massages. She also asked if I had a preferred music and scent that would help during the session. I chose my music station and she chose a familiar scent. I was stiff and my body was tense at the beginning but as I focused on the music and Mckenna walking me through the differences in this type of massage to the others I have had in previous sessions I was able to settle in. I listened to her calm voice and the long movements she was doing as well as per deliberate choices with sometimes touching above the drapery and sometimes underneath.
As the massage continued I asked that the touch be a little firmer to help with the anxiety of movement along longer muscles and parts of the body she was working on. She adjusted and asked if the pressure and firmness was where I preferred, which it was and I communicated the appreciation for the check-in and adjustment. When I became tense to change to my upper half she asked if there was something in particular that had me feeling tense as she was sensing my change in body language. I communicated the feeling of needing more coverage, she moved the draping closer to my body and tucked it under me on the sides she was not working on, and this made a drastic change for me and allowed me to settle back into the massage. She also gave me time interval markings of how much time we had completed which helped me feel I was accomplishing my goals as it was communicated at the beginning for me to complete the whole massage if possible. Overall I was satisfied with how she communicated, adjusted when needed, and reading my body language and asking/making suggestions to help me relax during the process.

Session Five: Chair Massage

McKenna communicated for the last session we would be doing a chair massage. She allowed me to find a position that felt the most comfortable to begin with. She advised that if at any time my head or neck became tired I could rest it as well as move any of my limbs if necessary. She would be working around me and I would not be interrupting her if I needed to move. She reassured me she would make adjustments on her end. 

We discussed any new places I was feeling any stiffness, soreness or discomfort. We discussed the areas I had previously felt those things in and agreed to address the areas with new issues first. She shared the different ways she would be moving around me to work on those areas. We also discussed the stretches she had shared with me during my fourth session, if I was doing them, how often, if I felt they were helping, which they had. 

Throughout the chair massage I realized how much she has adapted to me over our sessions with my anxieties and issues with physical touch. I’ve become more relaxed with each session because her consistency with communicating to me what type of massage we will be doing and how that technique is done. I also noticed her explaining during the sessions how it varies from previous session. I’ve noticed how she’s taken small items I’ve asked for such as where she is in location to me and an earlier request to communicated when she is moving from one part of the body to another into consideration and follows through on using that information I provided. I also like that she continually asks small questions to see if she can make adjustments to help when she feels resistance due to my anxiety creeping up. 

I’m very appreciative that McKenna was willing to work with me as I knew going in I was not the typical person for massages. Instead of looking forward to them I had small fears. She helped me relax and enjoy parts of each session. 

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