Two very different clients who came this week point towards an answer.
I always start a massage by asking a client how I can help them today? It's a polite way of asking, What do you want from me? The first client was an Islington guy who liked working out in the gym - he did it 6 days a week and the results were everywhere to see! Such big muscles! Impressive if you are impressed by big muscles. I asked him why he didn't hold back from the gym a few days a week and try something else - some yoga perhaps or stretching? Well, I got a pretty blunt answer to that! Not interested. Fair enough, it is his body. So why had he called me? Lower back pain for the past few days leading to very restricted flexibility. Well, I worked on his iliolumbar ligament and into the erector spinae insertion but a little later found that the QL, or quadratus lumborum, was very tight. It turned out that the man had been lifting heavy crates onto a lorry some days earlier - his injury was not caused by anything he had done in the gym but it was somehow disconcerting for him that all his gym work had not been able to protect him from a lifting injury. Actually it was lifting and twisting that had caused the strain. Some deep-tissue work into the QL got him moving again.
The other client was a Stoke Newington regular who just wanted to relax for an hour, to take his mind off work where things were getting pretty stressful, he said - deadlines, workload, the usual frustrations... His exercise routine was mixed - some cycling, a little weight-training, swimming and yoga. I worked on him with a mixture of massage, stretching and soft-tissue release, breaking down local areas of tight and adhered fibres. But really, I was hard put to find much wrong with this body! I love getting into the flow of a massage on these occasions, combining long strokes with deeper, more focused work. Of course the reason this man was so easy to work on was that he looked after himself so well - a good exercise routine, lots of stretching in his yoga class and - well, I would say this - a once a month massage! As a result his body functioned in the way that he needed it to. He had strength, flexibility, balance - and he was nearly 60. All he wanted from me was maintenance - a bit like taking your beautifully cared for Jaguar in for a routine service.