Natalie Heng – What I love about massage
Natalie Heng is a clinical massage therapist, writer and general life enthusiast. In her spare time she loves running along towpaths, making friends with strangers and narrating audiobooks. She believes if there’s one thing better than a rich chocolate cake, it’s having your joints mobilised by a good shiatsu-style squash on the massage table!
What I love most about being a massage therapist is that I get to affect change in someone else’s body – someone else’s problems – through the silent, respectful and understated power of touch.
I love that as a practice, the mastery of massage lies at an intersection of artistry and science – a good massage isn’t just about technique, it’s about intuition. It fulfils me as both an artist and a pragmatist.
Having a background in science and having spent years as a journalist, I have always had a curiosity for how things work and what makes people tick.
In this sense, massage offers so much to explore: the science of pain and the fascinating interplay between our bodies and our physical and emotional selves; how our brains and central nervous system process mood, trauma and stress.
Perhaps most interesting is how the mental and mechanical challenges of daily living play out in the holding pattens and postures of our bodies, and the opportunity we have as soft tissue therapists to intervene in this feedback loop between posture, pain and brain.
I like understanding how massage works, and how different techniques and approaches can be deployed in a strategic manner to tackle specific areas of pain in the body to get people feeling, moving and living better.
But I also love how massage can be sweet, savoury and weirdly satisfying in a delicious way – for both client and therapist. If there is one good reason to go to a massage therapist, trigger points are that itch that just doesn’t feel the same when you scratch it yourself, and myofascial release is that game-changing sensation your tissues never knew they needed.
To me a good massage in an honest one. It’s free from judgement. It is giving. And it is fulfilling for both the therapist and their client. It is in a way, a meditation – a commitment to those moments in the treatment room, where focus and attention is given, felt, and appreciated.
The body is often where chaos is held, a mess of unresolved things. And massage, is an out.
A conclusion. A resolution to tension in that moment.
Life’s struggles are forced into submission, with the clock reset for those moments and moments after.
Massage is time for recovery, regrouping, before we drift back into our personal lives.
Massage can’t change the external factors that create tension and pain, but it can help us slowly shift, heal and re-calibrate – giving our bodies, and ourselves, a fresh start.