Tag Archives: Massage Therapy and Bodywork

Don’t Let Your Body Shape/Size Keep You From Getting A Massage

So many times I hear people say they won’t get a massage, “until I lose some weight”, “Get in better shape”, “no therapist would want to see my cellulite”.   Poor self image keeps so many people off the massage table, and it really shouldn’t!  NO BODY is PERFECT!  EVERY BODY is PERFECT!  We are all unique and beautiful!

Here is a wonderful article by a long time Massage Therapist that I think you all will enjoy……What People Really Look Like by Dale Favier


How I Came to the Decision to become a Massage Therapist


Thought I might give you a little insight into how I made my choice to become a Licensed Massage Therapist.

It was a very long thought process, about 20+ years……  Upon graduating from high school, I was a bit lost.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  Poor grades in school weighed heavily on my lack of purpose in life.  I didn’t know until I was trying to get my missing credits to graduate high school that I had Dyslexia, a mild enough form that none of my teachers, in 12 years of school, caught it, they just thought I was lazy.

So where did that leave me?  Well, after a few months of this and that, including starting a semester at Monterey Peninsula College, I decided I would try my hand at the US Army.  Well let’s just say my mind was GUNG HO, but my body was NOT.  I was in and out of the hospital in the 2 months I was in basic training, with the flu, sprained knee, and that was when my A-typical Migraines started.  So home they sent me.  I was a little disappointed in myself, but I know now that was not the path for me.

After I came home from my failed attempt at military life, I decided to go to cosmetology school.  Lets just say, I am not hair stylist material.  I ended up meeting my first husband, a US Army officer around that time, and for the next 9 years I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom.  We were stationed in several posts over that time, including Hawaii, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma I had so much fun taking aerobics classes at the YMCA, that I decided to become an aerobics instructor.  And it was a blast!  I had a great time being part of my students health and wellbeing.  I choreographed my own classes in step, floor, and cardio kickboxing style aerobics.  I did that for about 4 years.  But when my husband and I divorced, I found that teaching aerobics does not pay the bills.

For the next few years I had many different jobs….. Waiting tables, bartending, and temp work.  But one day while I was working as a bartender, a friend said that the equine hospital where she worked needed foal sitters, it sounded fun.  I helped out with the sick foals and really felt a pull towards this kind of work, I fell in love with the prospect of working with animals.  I asked about how to be a veterinary technician and they trained me on the job as a vet tech.    So I worked in the equine hospital for about 8 months, and loved it.  But the pay was not that great so I quit to take a job in the warranty department of a flooring company.  That was short lived when my second husband got a job in another town.  But when we moved I found a job in a small animal veterinary practice.  I worked several vet tech jobs over the course of the next 6 yrs, from emergency, to mobile, to multi vet practices.  I worked with some amazing veterinarians, and many different types of animals like horses, dogs, cats, wolves, big cats, guinea pigs, snakes, birds, and many more.  I really enjoyed my time as a veterinary technician.  I knew, however, there wasn’t a whole lot of upward mobility tho, and I felt like something was missing in my life and career.  And I was getting a little too old to be wrestling 100lb playful pooches, and feral cats(but still loved it all).

Most of my life I was giving shoulder, or back rubs to family and friends with aches and pains, and they would always say, “You should be a massage therapist.”  And for years and years I had thought about it.  I always felt massage therapy school would be too expensive.

I decided to start looking into massage therapy schools, and an online course, that was really inexpensive.  But when I received the material, I realized I would have to go to Colorado for several months for the hands on clinical credits(I was living in NJ at the time).  So I started calling around to massage schools near me to see if they would give me the clinical credit.  After many phone calls, I found out that that was not going to be possible.  I spoke with a great registrar at Cortiva Institute Massage Therapy School, and found out that I qualified for government student loans.  Needless to say I enrolled that day……..

So at the age of 41, I quit my full time job, and went full time to Massage Therapy School!  BEST DECISION EVER!!  I was encouraged by my amazing friend’s and family’s faith in me the whole time.  My “poor me”/negative attitude changed for the better, my depression almost completely disappeared, I was happy, and for the first time in my life I was achieving a 4.0 GPA!  I finished something I started, which was huge for me.  I Graduated Cortiva Institute with a Professional Massage Therapy Diploma, and I received the Faculty Award.   I was actually quite proud of myself, and so were my family and close friends.  They saw the positive change in me, and had always known I had a talent for massage therapy.

Now I spend my time doing what I love!  Helping clients reach their health and wellness goals, working out knotted and tight muscles, reducing stress, and educating them on changing habits to keep muscles from being painful.  

If I had this whole life/career thing to do over again, the only change I would make would be to go to massage therapy school SOONER!

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Massage Therapy Session

Whether you are a new Massage Therapy client, or you’re a long time Massage Therapy client, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Massage Therapy Session.

  1. Make sure you have told your Massage Therapist about any and all medical conditions, and any medications you may be on.  This way your therapist can make sure that there are no contraindications(Reasons you might not be able to get a massage.  See previous blog “Why Massage Therapists ask for Medical History” for more information)
  2. Let your Massage Therapist know what your goals are for the Massage Therapy session.   For example: You want to reduce neck pain, relieve muscle pain, reduce stress, etc…  Your Massage Therapist will discuss your goals with you before, during, and after your session.  Things like chronic pain, or work related stress and such do take time to reverse.  You and  your Massage Therapist will discuss all your goals and together you will come up with a treatment plan.
  3. RELAX!!!  I cannot state this enough.  So what does this mean?  You are probably thinking to yourself, “If I’m on a massage table, I can’t help but be relaxed.”  Ok, yes, most of you are relaxed when you are on the massage table.  However as a Massage Therapist I come across many new, and even long time, Massage Therapy clients who tighten the muscles being worked on, or try to “help” the Massage Therapist move limbs/joints.  Can I just say, it is VERY difficult to massage a flexed/tense muscle.  So, please, if the therapist is wanting to move your arm, leg, or head, just let them.  There are exceptions to the rule… There may be times when the Massage Therapist will ask you to flex a muscle or move a joint/limb in some way.
  4. Communicate with your Massage Therapist.  Let the Massage Therapist know if you need more or less pressure.  If you have asked them to focus on a specific area, and they aren’t quite hitting the right spot, let the Massage Therapist know.  I frequently hear complaints from clients that the last therapist who worked on them didn’t even come close to working the area they requested(usually at the membership spa I work at), this is partly due to the client not speaking up during the session.  If you have to, point directly to the area you want worked.  I want, and welcome, my clients to be an active part of the Massage Therapy session, after all it is YOUR session!

I hope this helps you to get the most out of your Massage Therapy Sessions!

Have you booked your massage yet?

In SWFL Call 239-537-4548


To Tip or Not To Tip (Your Massage Therapist)? That is the Question

Do you tip your massage therapist?  Is it appropriate to tip your massage therapist?  How much should you tip your massage therapist?

The questions stem from working in a membership spa, and in my own private mobile practice.  

Here’s the deal……  Yes PLEASE tip, it is always appropriate to tip your massage therapist!  Here are some guidelines to help you with how much.

  • Membership Spa–  These Spas are popping up all over the country(US).  A little background on membership spas….. If you are a member you are getting a massage at a greatly discounted rate, and the therapist makes commission only.  If they aren’t working on a client, they aren’t getting paid.   The therapist usually gets around 40% of that, so if you are paying $39, the therapist is only getting around $15 per massage hour(depending on how long they have worked there, they could possibly get up to $20. Also if you are not a member and paying full price, the therapist is still only getting commission on the member price!) .  And because massage therapy is a very physically taxing job, about 97% of massage therapists only work around 20 hrs a week.  So in the grand scheme of things, massage therapists that work in membership spas only make about $300-$400 a week.  

    • So now we get to the nitty gritty, how and what to tip.  Here is the general rule, you tip on the non-member price!  Let me make it easy for you, If you pay $39 and the non-member price is $78, you tip on the $78.(If you are unhappy with your massage you should at least tip 10%, but also let your therapist know why you were unhappy.  But don’t tell your therapist it was an amazing massage and tip $5, that will make your therapist sad!)  So find out what the Non-member price is and tip accordingly.  The front desk staff will gladly tell you what the average tip is for the service you received.  But here is the average on a $78 massage. (tips are rounded to the nearest dollar)

      • 10%  $8

      • 15%  $12

      • 20%  $16

      • 25%  $20

  • Regular Spa/ Day spa–  This is an easy one, these spas also pay commission only to their therapists, however the prices are higher and therefore so is the commission.  So tip accordingly.  Some spas automatically add a gratuity, but you have the option to tip more if you’d like, just let them know.

  • Private Practitioner–  Here’s where it gets tricky.  If you are going to an office that your massage therapist rents/owns,or even to their home, absolutely tip!  If your therapist comes to you, I personally, tell my clients it’s up to them!  But 99.9% of the time, a tip is given.

Holiday bonus tips are also a great way to show your therapist how much you appreciate them!

What it basically boils down to is yes, a tip is always appropriate, and always appreciated!

Thank you in advance, from all of us Massage Therapists, for your generosity!

Why Do Massage Therapists Ask For Medical History?

I would like to take some time to talk about why Massage Therapist/Spas ask for your Medical History.   I currently work in a membership spa, and am in the process of building a private mobile massage therapy practice, and I get a few clients not wanting to fill out the Medical History part of the intake form.  It’s mostly because they feel it is an invasion of privacy.  I would like to state for the record, it is absolutely NOT an invasion of privacy, and it is ABSOLUTELY necessary!

There are certain conditions, and even medications, that can make all massage, or just certain modalities, contraindicated*.  It can be a local contraindication, such as a bruise, minor surgery site, a rash, acute** inflammation, etc… But there are certain conditions that are systemically contraindicated, and can exacerbated by massage.  Certain medications can be contraindicated for massage, or just certain types of massage.

Your Massage Therapist is only thinking of your health and wellness when asking for a medical history.  We abide by strict client confidentiality codes, and will only share your information with your permission(via HIPAA).  We may want to consult with your healthcare provider, or they may wish to consult with us, in order to provide you with the best treatment plan possible to reach your health and wellness goals.

So PLEASE take the time and fill out the Medical History forms as completely as possible, your Therapist will thank you.  You will commonly have to update your Medical History form every 6-12 months, but if your health status changes for any reason before that, please let your therapist know.

I welcome any comments or questions!  So please feel free to lend me your input.

*Contraindicated- A condition in which massage is inappropriate and should be avoided.     **Acute- A condition that developed very quickly and severely or has been present for 1 to 3 days.

What to Expect at Your Very First Massage Therapy Session

I have had a request to aim this particular blog post toward those of you who have NEVER had massage therapy before.  I know that there are a few of you out there, and I am hoping to ease your mind and get you on the path to total mind & body health.  I know some of you may have some preconceived notions of massage.

First off let’s clarify, we use the term Massage Therapist, not masseuse.  Even if you are in France a Massage Therapist is called a Massotherapeute.  And we do not work in “parlors”!  We work in studios, spas, doctor/chiropractic offices, or even in your home.  Ok that’s out of the way.

Now, what can you expect from the first phone call to the massage therapy session itself.

1) First contact!  The therapist will ask you a few question about what you are looking for, relaxation, muscle pain relief, any specific areas you need targeted.  Then they will ask you briefly about your medical history.  Despite what you may think, your medical history is very important.  There are certain conditions and medications that can determine what type of massage you can have, or could prevent you from being a massage therapy recipient.  Depending on your history your therapist may ask for a physician release before taking you on as a client.  For instance if you happen to be on blood thinners you would not be able to get a deep tissue massage, you may be able to receive a light Swedish Massage however.  Remember always consult with your healthcare provider before starting, stopping, or adding any new therapies to your healthcare regimen.

2) The therapist may email you release forms, or have you arrive a bit early for your first session, to fill them out.  These are just so that the therapist has written permission to work on you and a written record of your medical history.  Please make sure you fill out as accurately as possible.

3) Before you even get on the massage therapy table(it’s not a bed), the therapist will consult with you about what your goals are for the session, and what your long-term goals are regarding massage therapy.  The therapist may check the range of motion if you are having problems in a joint area, or your neck, for example.  Make yourself clear, on what you are looking for, it makes it much easier for the therapist to do their job, and help you reach your massage therapy goals.  The therapist at this time will go over the plan for the session and ask if there are any areas you want avoided, for instance if you are ticklish on the bottom of your feet and would prefer not having your feet worked on, let the therapist know.

4) The therapist will explain the draping technique.  The therapist will only undrape the part of the body they are working on at the time.  WE DO NOT UNDRAPE THE GROIN AREA, OR THE FEMALE BREAST TISSUE(in some states this is done, if the client agrees, in order to work the chest muscles).  You may leave your underwear on, ladies it is easier for the therapist to work on your back and shoulders if your bra is removed.  Just to clarify, you probably show more skin at the beach.   The therapist will leave the room to let you undress and get on the table under the covers.

5) While on the table the therapist should ask you about pressure, too much?, too little?, let the therapist know if you need more or less, they won’t be offended.  If the therapist DOES NOT ask you about pressure and you need more or less PLEASE SPEAK UP, the goal is your comfort!

6) At the end of your session the therapist will leave the room so you may get dressed.  Get up slowly, sit up before you stand up, you may be a bit groggy.

7) Once you are dressed your therapist may go over a treatment plan, recommendations on frequency of massage, and give you some water to drink.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO DRINK LOTS OF WATER IT WILL HELP TO FLUSH ANY TOXINS THAT HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM YOUR BODY TISSUES

It is perfectly ok, and invited, to ask questions before, during, and after your session!!  So don’t be afraid to ask the why’s and what’s of your therapy session.  As a massage therapist I encourage my clients to be proactive in their health and wellness!

So go out and book your massage therapy session today!  (please read my previous blog about how to find the right therapist https://korenlesterlmt.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/how-to-find-the-right-massage-therapist/)


If you are in SW Florida call me to book an appointment today!  (239)537-4548  25% off your first session(new clients only, first session only, may be rescheduled once)!  I provide professional massage therapy in your home or office!  http://www.korenlesterlmt.massageplanet.com/

Be Well!

Massage Therapy and Depression

Let me start this post by saying, I am NOT a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, I am posting this from a massage therapy standpoint, and from personal experience with depression.  


According to the Mayo Clinic, the definition of Depression is “A medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can cause physical symptoms, too.

Also called major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living.

More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or other treatment.”      http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175

I suffer from depression, I was at one point on medication for it.  Over the years I have been on many different kinds of antidepressants that did help, however the side effects were not great.   When I started massage therapy school I was not on my antidepressants(due to financial issues and no health insurance) and I was suffering for it.  I ended up in a position where I was getting almost daily massage therapy(one of the best parts of massage therapy school).  I personally didn’t notice right away that my symptoms of depression were subsiding because I was so absorbed in the learning process*.  It was my mom who noticed that my Facebook post were becoming less negative, and much more positive and hopeful, and our phone calls where much more upbeat.  It was after massage therapy school that I really did notice the difference.  Now, I have to admit, once massage therapy school was over I was not, and am not getting massage therapy as frequently as I would like, however I have started making it higher on my priority list.  I do notice bouts of depression here and there, not nearly as bad as before, and that’s when I realize I am overdue for a massage.

So here is what the Mayo Clinic has to say about Alternative Therapies for Depression:

“Mind-body connections
The connection between mind and body has been studied for centuries. Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners believe the mind and body must be in harmony for you to stay healthy.

Mind-body techniques that may be tried to ease depression symptoms include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage therapy

As with dietary supplements, take care in using these techniques. Although they may pose less of a risk, relying solely on these therapies is not enough to treat depression.”  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/DS00175/DSECTION=alternative-medicine

What type of massage therapy modalities are recommended?  For most regular Swedish Massage at a pressure that is comfortable can be helpful, some prefer Deep Tissue Massage, and others may choose Cranial Sacral.  What I guess I am trying to say is find the massage modality, and the massage therapist, that works for you.  Noticeable effects won’t happen overnight, my personal preference is weekly or every other week massage therapy sessions, but you will need to find what works for you.  Once again consult with your physician or healthcare professional before starting and/or stopping any therapies!

I welcome all feedback!  Be well!

*Massage Therapy School is not a bunch of people just learning to give a massage, we learn Anatomy(bones, bony landmarks, muscles, muscle attachments, and what each muscle does), Physiology(how the systems of our body’s work, why, and the effects massage therapy has on them), Pathology, Business, and Ethics, and it’s not exactly easy.

How to find the Right Massage Therapist


There are a few things you should know before you invest in a long-term client/LMT relationship.

1.  Does the state you live in require a Therapist to be Licensed/Certified?

If so make sure your therapists license is current.  Some states require yearly renewal, other’s every 2 years.  Each state will also have a set amount of continuing education credits that each therapist is required to take in order to renew the licence or certification.  These CEU’s are to keep the therapist up to date on training in the massage field and on the rules/regulations that each state has in place.  Here in Florida, a Licensed Massage Therapist is required to have their Florida LMT number on business cards, any type of media, on display at any place they are currently employed as a massage therapist, and can be asked to show their license to any who would like to verify.  You may also go to your states website, or call, to find out if they require licensure/certification, and to see if there are any complaints or investigations against any prospective therapist.

2.  Does your prospective therapist carry liability insurance?

Some states require a Licensed/Certified Massage Therapist to carry liability insurance, some do not.  However it is my belief that liability insurance is a must.

3.  What types of massage modalities does the therapist practice, or have certifications in?

If you are looking for something specific, ask.  There are many different massage modalities, some require certifications, others just expand on the therapists skills.  Not all therapists practice all modalities.

4.  Do you feel comfortable with your massage therapist?

Here is the BIG one!  It is very important to feel comfortable, and at ease with your Massage Therapist.  Here are the questions to ask yourself 1) Is my massage therapist communicating with me?  Do they ask about your goals for your session, about pressure, are they focusing on what you asked them to focus on?  2)  Is my massage therapist listening to me?  A proper massage therapist will not only listen to your verbal request, but also what your muscles and tissues are saying to their touch.  3) Do I generally feel comfortable with my massage therapist?  Everyone has energy that they put off, and not all energies work well together.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like there is a connection/compatibility, or you are just not meshing with someone.  It’s perfectly natural not to “click” with every person you meet, but it is of the utmost importance you “click” with someone who will be working on you in an intimate manner, be it a Physician, Dentist, Massage Therapist, etc…

It’s perfectly ok to ask for a consultation before choosing to have a Massage Therapist work on you, if the therapist says no, then find another!

Good luck in your search for a Massage Therapist, I hope this information was helpful.  If you have anything to add I would love your input!

Fitness & Massage Therapy

As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I see people from many walks of life, and I really enjoy being able to work-on and help each and every one of them.  My biggest group of clients would definitely fall under the Active/Athlete category.  I see amateur/semipro golfers & tennis players, runners, cyclists, personal trainers, yoga/fitness instructors, and of course, mostly, the average person trying to stay in shape by working out.   Massage can and does play a vital role in recovery.   Massage can speed up healing and recovery between workouts, as well as assisting in creating a state of mental calmness, helping ease stress, tension, and anxiety.(I will talk about the mental and emotional advantages of massage in more detail in a later blog)

So if your total body fitness routine doesn’t already include regular weekly or even twice weekly massage, I invite you to read this article from Massage Magazine, and then book your massage therapy sessions today!