It’s a fair question. Nowadays, we tend to use “hippie” to refer largely to earthy people who believe in healing and feel connected to nature, organic produce, and walking around barefoot—and many massage therapists do fit that description.
That being said, there’s often a subtext to this vague hippie notion that can cause folks to lose sight of what massage therapy truly is, instead painting it as a sort of “far out” experience that has to do with energy work or crystals or some form of meditation that makes many people feel uncomfortable.
To be frank, I connected with the potential magic of all of those things a lot as a kid, but as an adult, I’m in the same boat of skepticism and I’ll pass, thank you, that the majority of people feel. I didn’t grow up in a household with much touch-affection, and I like my personal space. I don’t want some random person aligning my spirit, either.
When I enrolled in school for massage therapy, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had received maybe three massages myself, during desperate times of immense stress and bodily pain – but that was as far as my knowledge went.
Obviously, my experience with massage was ultimately positive, but it was truly hard to let my guard down and make an appointment. Thankfully, the therapists I saw were knowledgeable and passionate, and they had both created atmospheres that I still hold onto in my mind. The smells, the soothing music, the comfort, the quiet.
Eventually, it dawned on me that these elements together actually sound remarkably like my own ideal work environment. On top of that, I knew that massage really had helped me, and that I like helping people, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Still, I was completely unsure of how to get from who I was then to who I am now.
The educational process was not easy.
To say my hair was blown back after day one would be an understatement. There was no hippie shit anywhere in sight. Instead, there was talk of bones and human bone structure and the cellular composition of the body and its many systems, and the looming promise of months to come with an absurd amount of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology being crammed into my own brain.
I had no idea how much I was going to learn about the body and how to massage it effectively. Every bone and muscle, every type of pain, multiple forms of massage delivery, common and uncommon issues, and everything from ethics to taxes surrounding massage as a business.
It was a lot – and none of it was even close to the hippie vision of gong-ringing on a mountaintop while burning sage and trying to feel the earth’s vibrations make peace with my chakras.
Licensed, professional massage therapy is about manipulating soft tissue in a strategic way that aims to create a particular, intentional outcome. Whether you’re receiving a Swedish relaxation massage or a session of neuromuscular trigger point therapy, you’ll walk away with more benefit than you could have imagined possible—especially if you underestimate your therapist and what they do.
Massage therapists aren’t just pressing at random or gliding on the skin until your paid time is up; a good massage therapist is caring for your body in a way that (not to sound elitist) no other care professional will.
Our work is an underdog, and I get it. Between the hippie reputation and the personal nature of the experience, it doesn’t surprise me when people look at me sideways when they learn I’m a massage therapist. But I, like many others, have serious knowledge of the body and an arsenal of tools and techniques to help clients feel better than they knew they could.
Chronic pains can become controlled through treatment, eliminating the need for surgery, pain killers, or nerve-blocking shots.
Stress, anxiety, and depression lighten and soften, creating a positive ripple throughout the rest of life.
Better sleep leads to mornings waking up actually feeling refreshed again.
Recovery for sore, aching muscles allows for new heights in athleticism.
— There is a massage for everyone.
I’m continually learning and striving to be better, aiming to serve the most effective massages possible across the board—and while I am certain there is a perfect massage for every body, not every massage therapist may be your match.
Yes, some massage therapists are hippies in a way that might fit a stereotype. And yes, some massage therapists feel very in tune with those concepts of energy work, chakras, crystals, and homeopathic benefits, but at the core of it, the thing that unites us all as professionals is a strong working knowledge of how what we do can help you.
Shop around, find your fit, and allow yourself to be vulnerable for a single hour. An upstanding LMT will make you feel comfortable, listen carefully to your needs, and do their best to improve your health while honoring your trust – hippie or otherwise.
About the author: Muscle Memory Massage
I'm so excited to be here in Cahaba Heights, supporting our community with relaxation, stress relief, and pain mitigation. I lived in Cahaba Heights when I initially moved to Birmingham 4 years ago, and I felt at home for the first time in a long time. Everything from the pretty neighborhoods and beautiful flowers to Doodles and the friendly faces I came to know stuck with me. After learning a LOT in school and being sincerely surprised by the immense benefits provided by massage therapy, I knew there was no where else I'd rather bring my newfound knowledge and skills to than where my Birmingham adventures began. I love it here, and I hope you'll love me being here, as well!
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