Massage and self-care: interview with Juan Carlos our new resident masseur

Massage and self-care: interview with Juan Carlos our new resident masseur

Here at La Crisalida Retreats we offer a wide range of different holistic treatments, ranging from relaxing massage to cranio-sacral treatments. We believe massage and holistic treatments can form a key part of our self-care practices.

This month as part of our focus on self-care Tania is delighted to interview our new Resident Masseur Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos, who joined our team in January, lives locally in Altea. In this interview, Juan Carlos tells us something about himself, shares his recommendations for what to do after a massage, gives you some self-massage techniques for you to practice at home, to help relax, plus more tips relating to massage and self-care.

Tania: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you first became interested in massage?

Juan Carlos: I grew up in a city in Ecuador but moved to Spain 16 years ago to seek out new opportunities. A friend introduced me to massage about 6 years ago. At the time I used to train a lot at the gym and was also working as a waiter. Unfortunately, being on my feet all day had resulted in me developing back pain. This was having a very negative impact on my life, as I had to deal with pain on a daily basis whilst also trying to work and worrying about its long-term impact.

My friend offered me my first massage treatment and this led to me becoming more interested in massage, self-care and other forms of body work. However, at that point I was not convinced about the specific benefits of massage and I decided to visit a physiotherapist. After some trips to the physiotherapist I found that my pain was not improving so I decided try massage again. This time, armed with more knowledge about my own body, I was able to experience the unique benefits of both physical and mental relaxation and the power of the mind-body connection. Suddenly, after many years of pain, I started to experience what it felt like to feel good in my body. This made me want to practice self-care in other parts of my life, so I began to improve my diet and take regular exercise.

Tania: So, what inspired you to train to be a masseur?

Juan Carlos: After beginning to get regular treatments, and practice other forms of self-care, I was amazed at how quickly I began to feel better. I knew that like me, a lot of other people suffer from back pain and other forms of physical pain. At that time I was also looking for a change in my life and I thought that I could use my own experience to help share the healing benefits of massage.

Tania: Can you tell me a bit about your training?

Juan Carlos: I did my first training in Swedish massage in Alicante. However, although more simple forms of massage have many benefits, I began to realise that more ‘basic’ massage techniques were not always enough. I therefore started to explore other techniques such as deep tissue massage, cranio-sacral treatments and muscle chain treatments.

As my interest and knowledge grew I sought out some more specialised teachers. This led me to working with Fernando Queipo in Madrid. Fernando uses his osteopathic knowledge to specialise in muscle chain work and cranio-sacral techniques. For me learning these different techniques changed the way I saw the body and the way it is connected. It gave my therapies a new meaning and really opened up the immense depth of different ways we can help our bodies to heal.

Tania: Can you tell me more about fascia and muscle chains?

Juan Carlos: These subjects fascinate me and I could talk about them all day! But in short fascia is interconnective tissue which connects the whole body. Muscle chains are connected muscle groups, which, when out of alignment, can cause tension and pain in the body.

Tania: Having had a treatment with you I was very impressed by the range of different techniques you used. I know here at La Crisalida Retreats you are offering a special muscle pain treatment. Can you tell me a bit more about this treatment?

Juan Carlos: Yes, in a typical session I would assess a client and ask some questions about them and where they experience pain. I will then analyse their posture and how they are moving. Often pain can have more than one origin. Once I have made the assessment I will work with the fascia and release tension in these areas. I will also work with the whole body to help to recuperate blocked areas. Sometimes during the session the client might experience strong sensations in different parts of the body, or emotions and memories might be released.

Tania: Do you have any recommendations for self-care after a massage?

Juan Carlos: Yes, self-care after any massage is very important. Everybody is different and people experience different things after a treatment, some people might feel emotional, as we have released deep tension. Others may feel tired and just want to rest. Some people might feel energised after a massage!

However, after any treatment I would recommend rest, eating something soft and easy to digest and drinking water and herbals teas. We can also continue the self-care benefits by enjoying activities that help us disconnect from stress for example, walking or a quiet yoga practice.

Tania: Can you tell me a bit more about the benefits of having a relaxing massage and what types of massage are best for relaxation?

Juan Carlos: Yes, relaxation is important for well-being as it activates parts of the brain that are linked to wellbeing and promotes health. Metabolically, massage helps to burn fat, regulate hormones, reduce stress and can help with insomnia. Massage also activates anti-aging genes, and helps with mental clarity, cell repair and rejuvenation, blood pressure and glucose in the blood. On a wider level relaxation can help us deal with problems in our lives and give us more energy!

The best types of massage for relaxation are Swedish massage and cranio-sacral treatments.

Tania: What is the best time to have a massage, and how often should we have treatments?

Juan Carlos: Anytime is a good time for a treatment. Ideally, we should have our massage either one-hour before eating, or at least two to three hours after. Everyone is different but depending on what you are looking for, I recommend having a massage once or twice a month.

Tania: What would you recommend thinking about when choosing a therapist, or type of treatment?

Juan Carlos: I would recommend doing some research and thinking about some questions to ask in advance. You could explore what type of treatment you are interested in. For example, are you looking for simple relaxation, or to treat a specific problem? I would ask the therapist about their qualifications and ways of working, and if they have experience of working with fascia. I would also confirm that they can treat the problem that you have. I recommend trying a few different therapists to find someone who works for you. Also, there are many different types of therapies available and sometimes it is good to explore a few different ones. Here at La Crisalida Retreats as well as my treatments, we offer a wide range of other complementary treatments.

Tania: Are there any self-massage techniques that can help me relax?

Juan Carlos: Yes, there are some good self-massage techniques that are simple and effective for you to practice at home. I would recommend using the finger tips without oil around the back of the neck to pull the skin of the upper back upwards and forward to release.

You could also use a tennis ball against your occipital ridge (this is the base of the skull) and sacral area (the top of the back of the hips). You can do this by placing the ball between your back and a wall and using your body weight to lean and roll it up and down any tight areas. Use one ball at a time! I would also recommend using a tennis ball under the feet to release the skin and fascia of the foot – it´s best to try this one sitting down.

There are also many stretches you can do. Personally, I recommend stretching to 60 to 70 per cent of our maximum and staying in the stretch whilst breathing softly and gently. Through these softer stretches we stimulate the brain to relax and release.

Tania: Finally, after a day massaging what do you do to relax?

Juan Carlos: I like to practice mindfulness and paying attention to the here and now. I also enjoy receiving massage and other therapies to help me relax, but also to experience different treatments. To keep up to date in my field I enjoy reading about developments in massage and information about the body. I also love music and play electric guitar. Of course, it is good to have a balance, and when I do not have an early start I enjoy going for a drink with my girlfriend or out with some friends!

Massage for self-care and other holistic treatments at La Crisalida

Here at the retreat we offer a number of different types of holistic therapies and massage for self-care, to support guests on their health and wellbeing journey. Read more about the treatments on offer here.

About the author

Tania is one of our programme team, who loves teaching yoga, mindfulness and other programme activities.