Communication and The Perfect Massage

I know we have discussed this before

Communication is the KEY to the perfect massage! It begins the moment you bring your client back to the room and it starts with three simple questions:

What areas would you like to focus on?

They will begin with the areas that bother them the most and then talk about the areas that are also giving them some trouble and then maybe mention areas they enjoy such as feet or scalp, this is your starting point, remember these key focus areas, they are your main focus during this massage session, all other areas are side quests.

What level of pressure do you prefer?

Here they may tell you they prefer medium but you can do harder if you feel that you need to, key word, if you feel that you need to. They are honestly hoping to avoid pain, so try to use techniques that can achieve the most success with minimal discomfort.

Or they may tell you they like it as hard as you can go, which may not be accurate, sometimes they think they can handle that until you really apply some pressure, always check in with the pressure and ask them if they would like more or less pressure, especially if you notice any signs of discomfort.

Sometimes I get people who are there for a Deep Tissue massage, and this is where some of my coworkers have been getting the most complaints lately. One of them who is new in the field recently asked me how I avoid getting complaints on my deep tissues, so let me first explain some of the complaints my coworkers have been getting on their Deep Tissue techniques to explain the problem here:

Complaint #1 The therapist did not use enough lotion, the massage did not have enough glide. It sounds like the client wanted what we often refer to as a Firm Swedish/Deep Tissue, which is really Swedish just a bit deeper, so more flow, less focus on the deep tissue.

That client would have been right up my alley because that’s more my speed, The therapist actually did everything correctly Deep Tissue massage usually uses less lotion and is more targeted work with less glide, the client was booked for the wrong service and should have been booked for a Firm Swedish Deep Tissue.

Complaint #2 (And I laughed so hard when I heard this one!!!) The massage strokes were too sloooowwwwww! Deep Tissue strokes are slower and with purpose to sink deeper into the layers of muscle tissue, truth be told most of my massage strokes are slow. Fast is usually more of a Sports Massage modality. Again the therapist did nothing wrong and honestly I don’t know how she and this client could have come to some understanding in this situation.

Most of the time when it comes to complaints about Deep Tissue massage it is either that it was too deep or not deep enough, this is where getting a good idea of their expectations and communication is most important.

So when my coworker asked me how I communicate with my Deep Tissue clients I told her I simply ask them “How Deep do you like your Deep?” Deep Tissue means many things to people, for some people it can mean “Elbows in Deep” or it can mean “Firm Hands Deep” and from the start I want to know which deep this client is expecting before I touch them. If I know their base level of expectation I can adjust from there once we get started.

That brings us to my third and final question before the session begins, and most important.

“Do you have any medical conditions that I should be aware of?”

Now I know that some of you reading this are thinking that they have already filled out a medical waiver form, well in some places they don’t fill one out or don’t have to, or they failed to mention things that they thought were not important. You would be surprised how many things people will share with their massage therapists that they wont even tell their own doctor.

During this time they may tell me about a car accident several years ago or some hip pain, cervical spine issues, or other minor problems they may be having that could be important factors in how I will tailor the session to their individual needs.

Communication During the Session

It is important during the session to check in from time to time, for example, if I have been working on a stubborn area of muscle tension I may check in and ask if the pressure is still ok.

When changing to a different area of the body I often ask if they would like the same level of pressure on the legs that they wanted on the back, sometimes people have different sensitivities on the extremities.

After I turn the client over I ask them how they are doing and if the table heat is alright before I begin working on the other side.

You cant please all of the people all of the time, but with good communication you will be able to please most of the people most of the time.

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Kristeen Anne Smart (Formerly Kish) CAMTC CMT