Breasts and Belly – Part One – Breast Massage

When was the last time you included a breast massage in your regular massage appointment?
 
While some women assume breasts will be included in a full body massage, most American women are more protective of these sensitive areas and in general there is still significant stigma attached to breast massage.
 
Consider these nine reasons why you might want to ask about breast massage the next time you see your therapist:
  • Massage assists in general recovery after cancer surgery and treatment.
  •  Helps prevent hardening after breast enhancement (capsular contracture).
  •  Improves breast health through better lymphatic drainage and blood circulation.
  •  Relieves breast tenderness where cancer has been ruled out.
  •  Lessens breast scarring.
  •  Relieves engorged breasts during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
  •  Reduces PMS tenderness.
  •  Opens the chest and eases breathing where posture is poor.
  •  Encourages breast self-examination and a positive relationship with ones own breasts.

Breast massage should always be done with respect and mindfulness. Your massage therapist will discuss with you how the session will proceed and will ask for separate written consent. She will use sufficient draping and will check in often with you to make sure you are comfortable. Male therapists might want to refer their female clients to a trusted female associate.
 
After chatting with your therapist, you may decide to make breast massage a regular part of your health care.

Is Massage Beneficial for PTSD?

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.53.03 PMThere is no simple answer to this question because each individual experiences PTSD differently so the massage therapist’s approach must be very flexible and possibly supervised.

Here are some of the more common symptoms of PTSD:
The National Center for PTSD states there are four types of symptoms.

1.    Reliving the traumatic event
– Caused by a ‘trigger’ (a sound, sight or smell)

Nightmares
Flashbacks

2.    Avoidance of environments that may remind the individual of the event
Avoid talking or thinking about it
Avoid people or places that are reminders of what happened

3.    Hyper arousal
Feeling jittery
Easily become irritated or angry
Easily startled
Insomnia

4.    Negative changes in feelings and beliefs
Difficulty maintaining personal or professional relationships
Dissociation from the event
Feelings of guilt, shame, unworthiness, humiliation
Feeling out of control

Knowing about the symptoms is merely a starting place. As massage therapists, we must learn how to help effectively so the client feels safe and trusts us. Work with another clinician to gain insight into PTSD and mentorship.

Six ways massage can help:
1. Gentle touch can give the client a more positive sense of self
2. Stress relief; decreased anxiety/worry
3. Creates a place of safety for the client
4. Decreases physical pain and tension
5. Gives the client control
6. Improves breathing and sleeping patterns

As long as the client knows he/she can stop the session at any time and as long as the therapist works slowly and gently after a thorough intake, massage has been shown to greatly improve the symptoms of PTSD, when used in conjunction with professional help from a doctor and counselor. Perhaps you know someone with PTSD who could benefit from massage.