During massage some people are amazed at the accuracy that some therapists seem to know where problem spots are on their body. They might think that the masseuse can see things with their hands. Massage therapists who are muscle whisperers have developed their skill over long periods of practice. The art and skill of a massage therapist can take years to develop but when a therapist completes several thousand massage sessions a much deeper understanding of the body through the hands becomes apparent. Clinic experience enables a therapist to notice that each person is palpably different and that muscle and fascia can respond differently.
Over time the spectrum of muscle behaviour and tone becomes known and eventually they can estimate muscle response problems within a 1 to 10 range. Because this tactile awareness comes from the touch sense many highly sought after practitioners in Asia are often visually blind.
Some patients complain of tightness and pain which often corresponds with tight, stiff and dense qualities of muscle which the therapist can feel. The muscle’s response to a massage technique also provides feedback as some muscle readily relaxes the moment firm pressure is applied whilst others are unresponsive to extended and vigorous work. Massage therapists can feel areas weakened by injury and also respond to tenderness from injuries still on the mend. A good therapist is drawn to alleviating pain by measured techniques that releases tightness and knotting. Therapists know they have induced a therapeutic effect by feeling hardened knots dissolve and tightness soften. Experienced therapists are able to apply the right “sweet spot” pressure between too soft and ineffective or excessively hard, guarding reactions. Shiatsu and Tui Na massage therapists are trained to become aware of localised temperature changes such as coldness which can indicate limited blood flow and soft hollow areas indicating tonal weakness. Other therapists may have their focus on moving of lymphatic fluids through various pathways involving very subtle palpatory skill.