Would you like to learn how to incorporate full chest and breast into your wellness massage sequence?
Do you have clients that would benefit from this work? Is it legal in your area? The answer here may surprise you - read on.
Why include chest & breast massage in a full body massage?
After all, we were taught "Stay away from the chest", "it is illegal" "It is or could be considered sexual".
The fact is - breasts are a healthy and normal part of our bodies. Massage can reduce pain and swelling, support range of motion, and promote circulation and relaxation.
Further - It feels wonderful to receive and helps receivers experience innocence in our body that we may not have felt since early childhood. It is non-sexual and it is an excellent and wholesome component of any wellness massage for men and women..
Why not provide our chest and breasts with the same benefits that we give the rest of the body?
Massage of the full chest supports easy breathing, relieves tension, assists with back, neck and shoulder pain, relieves chest tightness and reduces tension in the rib cage, neck and throat. Easy breathing leads to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual stress relief. Massage of the chest is also useful in treating shoulder and neck injuries.
Massage of the breast tissue itself can aid in lymph flow, help relieve congestion and discomfort related to menstrual periods, fibrocystic conditions and lactation.
After open wounds have healed, massage also helps relieve restrictions and scar
tissues post-surgery, including open heart surgery, mastectomy, breast reconstruction, breast reduction and breast augmentations.
In May 2021, my friend, sometimes mentor and colleague Barbara Helynn Heard, LMT announced that she was going to step away from teaching and massage practice to devote more time to living end enjoying life. Barbara is an amazing person and an inspiration. She was one of the first people I met professionally as I contemplated embarking on my Lomi journey and massage career. Her kindness and spirit were and are an inspiration. Barbara had made it a mission of her later career to normalize full chest and breast massage within the context of a therapeutic treatment. She created the first class in Seattle on full chest and breast massage and when she offered me the opportunity to carry on with this teaching, I said yes.
As of May 2021, I have been offering a Full Chest & Breast Massage Class as a 16 hour Continuing Education Class. As well., I offer a 4 hr "Intro" class that is suitable for all schools across the county. In the "intro class, we do not work the chest undraped, it is merely to introduce the concept, answer questions and to help guide students toward the 2 day course if that is what they choose.
BOTH courses are NCBTMB approved as continuing education and the 2 day course is accepted by the State of Washington to satisfy their requirement to work in that State.
I generally offer this course in Boston a few times a year. In addition, I am available to teach it anywhere in the country if you know of a facility that would like to host it, or if you can generate enough student interest.
Also, it is a mixed gender course, open to all Licensed Therapists with a sincere reason to want to learn, and provided it fits or could fit into their current offerings. Every student is vetted, however and not every person is able to be admitted. The proportion of male to female students is very low, similar to that of the therapist population, about 1 in 10. That said, I do my best to keep a ratio along those lines.
Lastly, in recognition of the number of female therapists who may have women only practices, or may wish to learn this material in a single gender environment, I do offer the course in a singe gender version a couple of times a year also.
If you are interested and would like to learn more about the class, please go here
If you would like to more more about the practical benefits, read testimonials, see if it is legal in your area, you may go here
I’ve been devoted to learning, and now teaching this alongside my Hawaiian Lomi work
for the past many years. I would be delighted to introduce you to this wonderful world of healing touch to share with your family, your community, the world !
Again, I am also available to bring this teaching to you, worldwide. If you would like to organize a facility and a small group of students in your area, or at a retreat site, simply email me and I would be happy to talk with you about bring the training to you.
What are your thoughts? Please leave them here !
Is Breast Massage Legal in my State ?
I get asked this question from time to time. Why? because as a massage therapist and as a massage teacher of continuing education, I provide clients with the option of full chest and breast massage within the context of an overall wellness massage. Further, as an NCBTMB approved Massage Instructor, I offer Massage Continuing Education courses in full chest and breast massage.
So the answer to this question is, "it depends". There are a number of misconceptions within massage as in any industry or profession, where ideas or notions are handed down verbally or spring from somewhere, usually someones opinion, and over time some of these ideas morph into things people take as fact. For example in my state, Massachusetts, it is a widely held belief that breast massage is either not legal, or that undraping of the breast is not allowed. As to the the draping, the MA State Laws governing massage do not mention draping - however some local Board's of Health Regulations do.
The point is, if you are curious if it is legal where you live, whether as a client or as a therapist, check with laws, don't rely on heresay.
My friend and colleague, Barbara Heard, had made it her life's mission, prior to retiring from teaching, to normalize full chest and breast massage and to make it legal in all 50 States. She tirelessly collected data from each State Board, wrote into officials where there were gray areas and created a comprehensive list that you can refer to here . If you spot any differences or updates to this information relative to your area, you may email Barbara and I'm sure she will update the page. I also provide a link to it on my website as well as alot of information about the benefits, both physical and emotional.
It is an uphill battle for normalization in the US although these values have shifted, form the 70;s when it was more commonly taught as part of a mainstream curriculum.
Public perception, social norms, which vary from region to region, and the continued confusion in the eyes of the public between legitimate massage and adult services that are labeled as massage or bodywork, bear on the challenge of mainstream acceptance, at least to the point where it can become more about a client's choice.
Breast massage has been regarded at best, as an integrative measure in a holistic alternative therapy, or at worst, as an invasive and abusive undertaking, if offered without informed consent in the hands of a therapist lacking experience or integrity. This is the crux of the issues surrounding breast massage. Breast massage administered by trained massage therapists will be more readily accepted by the (American) public if its medical or emotional rationale are spelled out for clients, and if therapists receive adequate training in its psychological ramifications and the appropriate use of specific techniques.
Barbara's view, and one that I share is that it should be legal and it should be up to the client - it will take grass roots efforts to bring about change in the states that prohibit any touching or undraping of the chest. In Washington State, to use as an example, Barbara was able to almost single handedly reverse the Board decision from making it it illegal to making it legal, provided the therapist has sufficient training and with a client's full informed consent. In other words, Washington State had no mention of draping on their books, but when a proposed law threatened to make it illegal, Barbara was able to get them to reverse their decision provided she create a course to properly train therapists in both how to communicate the work and obtain consent as well as how to perform the work safely and professionally. This is the course that I have taken over since her retirement.
It is my hope that Washington State can serve as a model for every other state in how to handle it properly which is to say, properly train those therapists to perform it for those clients who wish to receive it. It may never gain broad mainstream acceptance but it should be available to those who seek it, denying them that choice simply seems wrong.
If you are a massage therapist and stumbled onto this blog post and are interested in learning more about my Chest & Breast Courses, please go here
If you re a client or a potential client and would like more information, I have a number of blog posts, but you may also check out the resources here
So many things have been a surprise about and during Covid. The surge in Real Estate for one, the reduction in workforce, and the lack of a desire to return.
I guess the world really doesn't need one more article based on either speculation or polling, but I thought I could offer one reason as I have observed in my clients pre and post Covid. In a word its burnout, or job dissatisfaction.
During the imposed lockdown, people got into new habits, had time to reflect, and saw that life could be about more than just work. I have traveled to quite a few countries and I thing Americans have by and large the longest work days / work weeks and the poorest work/life balance. The Puritan work ethic still haunts us, despite being a county largely now made up of non Puritan immigrants. Further the tools we have created and rely upon; the cellphone, the laptop, email, text means that instead of helping us being more productive, they have shackled us to a 24/7 work week expectation. Maybe you know someone who send you a work email at 2 am, on a Saturday. Maybe you are that person, or the one who actually responds. People can't turn it off. I see it every day in my practice. People suffering from burnout or that have no work/life balance.
I myself suffer and resist this every day. Because it is in my nature to work hard, I often feel guilty when I am not working but the truth is I do it anyway, I purposefully leave my phone behind for stretches, take retreat trips and just turn it all off. It is important to compartmentalize.....and make time for everything. At the top of that list should be make time for yourself. And that includes massage. Massage may not be for every person, but chances are if you are here, and reading this, you enjoy massage and its benefits on the mind as well as the body. This is what I do. I don't really do Deep Tissue (spoiler: it's not a thing), I am pretty forgetful when it comes to anatomical names....but what I do offer is profound relaxation, a sense of overall well being and a holistic approach to restoring some balance to my clients.
Whether people can afford to stay home or re adjust their lives is not something for this article. Whether they can I don't know. One thing about the Pandemic is that is was the Great Unequalizer of our time. If you were struggling before, chances are you are still struggling and possibly worse. If you were invested, or had a middle class salary, the Pandemic has possibly left you a bit flush. Just Google how much wealth was created since March 2020 for JUST the richest 3 Americans.
What I do know is regardless of whether they want to, people crave more, and may insist on it in the future: More time off, more benefits, more rewarding tasks.
Getting back to massage and self care - this is what I will say. Over and over and over again. Get a massage, then book another, and another. IT IS NOT A LUXURY, it is a necessity. A $6,000 stove is a luxury, not a necessity and plenty of people feel they can live without one. Investing that money in yourself could provide monthly bodywork for 5 years!
There are so many reasons to seek out bodywork. One of the most common, and saddest is when client's tell me it's the only hour they have that is undisturbed.
Modern life is stressful. It is filled with modern challenges. And it is short. That is certainly one thing that Covid highlighted. We were not designed to all simply be cogs in Adam Smith's wheel. The world is quickly barrelling toward a time when robots and machines will fulfill most tasks and the workforce will continue to diminish, leaving only menial jobs - its already happening. Then what?
I love what I do, and got into this work because I needed to find this balance for myself some years ago. Nothing here is new or groundbreaking info. its all been said before, but I needed to create a new post and this was on my mind.
Lat words? Eat sensibly, get rest, read a book, take a walk in nature and add regular bodywork to your self care regimen.
I look forward to seeing you
Tips on finding the best massage, not just the best massage deal.
A massage is just a massage right? They are all the same, like paper plates, so its best to just find the least expensive right? Is that what you do? How has it worked out?
(this is a repost of another article I wrote with a different title)
I was moved to write this post after looking at my ad-words and seeing that the most often used phrase that people search and click on is "massage deals near me" or something similar. Somewhere further down the list is "best massage therapist near me".
I know that for some people money is tight, and many view massage as an indulgence, but here is the problem - Let's say you have saved up, you money is hard earned and you are ready to book your "treat". You go onto a deal site, look for the cheapest massage you can find 'cause hey "a massage is a massage" and you leave disappointed that it was such a mediocre experience. What do you expect? If someone is offering you something that should cost $150 or $200 or more for $65, honestly, do you really think you are going to get that elevated experience? This is not to put down therapists who do heavy discounting, or those who use these deals as a way to meet new clients, but it has been my experience that the Group-on type client will just go from therapist to therapist, carrying his or her dissatisfaction with them to the next therapist, never landing on anyone they return to, but more importantly never discovering the experience they have been looking for.
It's a value proposition. Some clients would think nothing of spending $300 on a hair cut or color, $75,000 on a new car, $500 on shoes - but a massage ? Self care? Something that is experienced but can't be shared? Get the cheapest. NO. Many don't see the value in it and that is a shame - if this is you, you are missing out.
Having said that, an expensive price doesn't always equate to a better massage either. It is a mistake to assume that just because the massage is being offered at a luxury hotel or spa that you are getting a top therapist. The most expensive hotels and luxury spas hire the same therapists that the mass franchise chains do. And sadly they get paid the same. So if you are paying $300 for your upscale experience, the therapist is still likely only getting $35 plus tips. The principal difference being that it is a beautiful setting with wonderful amenities usually, but not always. No extra care is put on the quality of the therapists.
So what do you do? Look for an independent therapist or smaller company. . Someone whose website resonates with what you are looking for. Look for someone that will take a thorough intake, listen to your needs, and refer you out if they don't feel they are the best match. Look at their offerings? Are they all over the map or do they seem to specialize. Look closely at sites that are too generic or broad - Deep tissue, Swedish Relaxation, Sports, Injury & Pain Management, Emotional Well being, Stress Management. I mix a variety of modalities to create a unique experience just for you" is the most over used phrase in bodywork. Massage is a big word and it means many things to many people. Its difficult to specialize in deep or rehab work as well as relaxation, stress management and emotional well being. They are at opposite ends of a spectrum.
Next time you are ready to book a massage - try this experiment - Just once, look, really look for a therapist that stands out, look for the best fit, not the cheapest. I realize "the best" is subjective, but do a little homework, and search for someone, not based on price and book that one. Then see how you feel. AND - let me know here in the comments how it turns out.
Esalen Healing Arts
Perched on the bluff above the ocean, and nestled beside the healing waters of Esalen’s renowned natural hot springs, a deeply nourishing massage experience was born on California's Big Sur Coastline.
In my experience with Lomi Lomi, having studied under Kahunas in both Hawaii and Germany, I can see similarities with this work when I first experienced and undertook training in Esalen massage. Emerging in the 70's from a movement of free thinkers, part of the Esalen allure is freedom and the outdoors - although it is equally wonderful indoors.
Pioneered at Esalen Institute in California, Esalen massage is a well-respected integration of bodywork and psychology. While nudity is often associated with Esalen, its purpose and requirements are often misunderstood.
A variation on conventional Swedish massage, but in my opinion, also borrowing from Lomi Lomi, Esalen Institute has trained bodyworkers in their unique, psycho-spiritual massage approach for several decades. While many valuable aspects of Esalen massage have been studied and incorporated into bodywork practices across the nation, one native element remains controversial – nudity. Although the clothing optional custom at Esalen Institute is believed to enhance participating individuals’ personal experiences, bringing this routine into the outside world of bodywork poses a great ethical challenge. I write more about this in the link below
Esalen Massage® is best described as the meeting and merging of form, energy, structure, and soul. With its nurturing contact, long strokes, and detailed attention to the whole body, an Esalen Massage provides a state of deep relaxation and healing. The strokes are long and slow and flowing. Gentle, graceful, nurturing. Much as Lomi Lomi has been modernly translated to mean "loving touch" it is the same for Esalen, which based on my training and experience, borrows heavily from Temple style Lomi - although this is not noted in the literature, it is easy for me to see and as well tracking the movements of the early developers / practitioners of what came to be known as Esalen - their time spent in Hawaii, how could it not influence them?
Early on Esalen was often practiced with the receiver being undraped, and at times the giver as well, owing to the naturist aspects of the Esalen Retreat Center, the massage area being proximate to the hot springs and the idea that often this massage was exchanged (in other words giver and receiver took turns). Cultural shifts have left this simple practice seeming to be out of place in the US in the 2020s - It is not appropriate for most professional massage settings, but there is a certain utopian quality to this that can be appreciated.
Like much of my work, it is designed to enhance awareness and balance and achieves therapeutic effects without deep-tissue techniques.
I am extremely pleased to be able to offer this healing experience to you here in Boston. If you have experienced Esalen before, please let me know when you book, as we can go over the options best suited to you. Learn More
A Really Good Massage Blog
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.