A Fibro Journey
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
I had an incredible light bulb moment!
Sometimes you know things, think you have a great understanding, and than the right expert re-explains that same thing in a slightly different or new way, and BOOM: Amazing new connections are solidified in your brain.
This is exactly what happened while recently listening to a podcast on Fibromyalgia with Ruth Werner. Fair warning this blog post is as much about my own journey to helping you as it is about..... actually helping you.
Fibromyalgia may present as many things including muscle pain. In fact the word Fibromyalgia means Fiber and Muscle Pain. However, did you know that Fibromyalgia is really a central nervous system issue? According to Ruth Werner, those of you with Fibromyalgia are sort of hard wired to detect threat differently. In essence you are kind of like a walking alarm system. That alarm system is there to loudly let you know about things like pain.
This resonated a lot for me, as my mother seems to have an acute sense of hearing. Small noises seem really loud to her, just as little things that do not typically cause discomfort causes her much pain. I have also seen this result in hives, rashes, and and the swelling of eyes on clients.
The biggest AHA Moment for most massage therapists is that what typically works for most clients does not help a person with fibromyalgia. Targeting a knot, and digging in with pressure can make those of you with fibromylagia feel so much worse. Before my mother's diagnosis, I remember practicing some fire cupping on her during school. Fire cupping is completely painless, and at the time I thought my mom, was just being a mom and giving me a hard time. It turns out this painless modality was genuinely hurting her and she hurt for days afterwards. When she got her diagnosis it all made sense!
I have a confession to make. A really strange one coming from a massage therapist.
I HATE TARGETING AND BUSTING MUSCLE KNOTS
I know! Who would have guessed? It took me a few years, until I really had the courage to admit I am not a fan of heavy pressured massage and targeting large knots never really worked well for me. I, instead studied Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage which seemed to have a totally different feel and rules than traditional Swedish. It also supported my new goal of massage that focused on soothing the nervous system.
Yes! Using the slower more repetitive strokes and working with a variety of energy and massage techniques to engage the parasympathetic nervous system became the cornerstone of my massage practice and philosophy. I will save most of this for another blog. The point though is that clients who had fibromyalgia received better results from me, before I even specialized in it. Listening to that post cast was that huge LIGHT-BULB! I naturally work really well with people who have fibromyalgia because I believe it is more important to soothe the nervous system and less important to bulldoze through the hurting muscle! BINGO! EUREKA! It all makes sense now!
I naturally work really well with people who have fibromyalgia because I believe it is more important to soothe the nervous system and less important to bulldoze through the hurting muscle! BINGO! EUREKA! It all makes sense now!
When I specialized in working in this direction, I really catered my intake process to Fibro. It is important to me that you are heard and feel safe and supported when you come in. There is so much that goes into your session before you even get onto a massage table.
Making this connection may seem small but it was huge for me and reignited that passion in helping you to feel better.
I am currently working on really honing in on the skills it takes to soothe your nervous system as much as possible. We know that there is no cure for Fibromylagia, so I can't uninstall your alarm system or even just dismantle it, but I do feel as a massage therapist I can work with you, not only to help manage it, but to turn the volume down so that your alarm system has less of a negative impact on your daily life.
Keep your eyes out for a brand new Summer program just for those of you with Fibromyalgia. It will include a work book to help you really dive in deeply to create the right self-care routines, plenty of information on how to make that happen, a Fibro-Bliss massage oil, and of course lots of massage with a slightly new focus, along with support for the entire journey.
I am so happy that my gifts as a massage therapist can really make a difference for you. I can't wait to help you live a happier more comfortable life!