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It's Not Just Sticking An Elbow Into A Tight Spot, You Know

I've been a massage therapist for about six or seven years, and it's one of the very best things I've ever done.

The only thing that rivals it is sitting onstage, playing principal flute in an orchestra (which I've also done).

orchestra musicians

They actually have a lot in common, you know. They both deal with nuance, subtlety, paying attention, and being in the moment. And they deal with vibration. For the record, I'm not talking about the "woo" kind of vibration (that may be a real thing, but I don't know), I'm talking about literal vibration. Playing a musical instrument is all about vibrations: making sure you're playing in tune, the correct notes, the right dynamic (loudness), and making sure the instrument is working correctly.

Massage therapy is about vibration, too, but in a different way.

When clients ask me how I know what's going on with their muscles, I've told them that muscles vibrate much like musical instruments. When I'm in the middle of the orchestra playing Dvorak's New World Symphony during a tutti (everybody playing) passage, I can tell by the way the flute feels on my fingertips if my F# key is leaking. I can feel it in my right hand ring finger, even if the surrounding sound is too loud for me to hear myself.

Flutist, playing an F#

When a client has a muscle that is tight, or injured, or swollen, that muscle fiber doesn't vibrate the same way a healthy muscle does. It might feel so tightly strung it's not moving (tight), or it feels reactive and erratic (injured), or puffy and bloated (swollen). I'm not always right,