Friday, October 25, 2013

Conflicting Opinions: Why I Question Everything I Learn Through YouTube

Learning massage is not a static thing. I'm constantly researching new techniques, perpetually attempting to hone the old techniques I already know. Every year I'm required to attain at least 12 CEU's (continuing education units) to remain licensed and certified. The problem with massage is that you can't just read about those techniques. You have to see them before you can perform them. The best way to do this is to take a class with a certified instructor who knows what the hell she/he is doing. And for those 12 CEU's I WILL be required to find and pay that instructor so that they might give me a piece of paper that says I shelled out the dough and passed the class. That class will probably set me back a week's worth of pay, so that instructor better be damn good. Grumble.

If I were a rich woman, I would take a class every couple months. There are so many modalities that I'm dying to learn. Lymphatic Drainage, Table Top Thai, Reflexology, are only a few. I am not a rich woman, so I rely on the next best thing, educational videos. If things are really tight, I'll resort to the cheapest method I know, otherwise known as YouTube-How-To. It's not a method I particularly care for, however, and I'll tell you why: anyone can make a YouTube video. You could be a 20 year vet or fresh out of massage school. You could be some loser with a can of Wesson Oil and no certification other than, "Well, my girl says I rub her shoulders real good. Real good, if you know what I mean." Anyone can say they're a massage therapist and make an instructional video. Anyone. How would I know if they're lying unless they specifically give out credentials I can check?

Even when they give out their bona fides, there's no guarantee that the information they give is 100% accurate. Take these two instructors:

In the first video, massage therapist Athena Jezik suggests around 0:14 that working the sacrum for a prenatal massage is contraindicated (i.e. stay the hell away). Working around the sacrum is okay, she says, but in general, it's best not to touch it at all.

Now watch the second video. Skip ahead to 5:22 where LMT Heather Maynard says, "You can use firm to very firm pressure on the sacrum." Not "around the sacrum". Not "very light pressure on the sacrum." Firm pressure on the sacrum is A-OK. Hmm...

Both of these women are licensed professionals. Maynard has co-authored a book called Home Pregnancy Massage. Jezik has been an LMT since the mid 70's. They know what they're doing, and they know what works for them. Unfortunately, what works for them isn't necessarily going to work for me or my clients, and I have to be careful which techniques I use from either one of them. If these two were teaching me face to face, I could ask, "Well, I heard Maynard say this. What's up with that?" or "Jezik said no way to that. Can you explain why she's wrong?" I could email the quandary, and eventually I will ask for their take on the conflicting advice, but there's no guarantee they will get back to me on that or that I'd get a satisfactory answer. At least in person they could see me scowling in frustration. Frowny face emoticon over instant message just isn't the same.

Guess I'll have to make do with a Fancy Bear Meme.

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