All posts by Massage Sloth

How I Interview New Massage Clients

The first ever intake you have with a massage client can set the tone for your entire therapeutic relationship. How can you open up lines of communication and get plenty of useful information to boot? Here’s how I go about it:

One thing you’ll notice is that I’m… really thorough. My initial interview can take about 5-10 minutes, and that’s completely on purpose. I want that client to get on the table with no questions about whether its okay for them to speak up, or whether they can ask for changes to be made. I want them to feel like they had a chance to really explain what their unique needs are, and to know that I heard them.

And, I want them to feel like the expert in the room. Sure, I know a lot about bodies in general, but they’ve known their body for their whole life! What can I do to let them know that I value them as a source of information? That I don’t have psychic hands, and that I need their feedback? I’ll talk more about this in a future video about communication on the table, but I’d love to hear how you go about it. How do you empower your clients and let them know that they’re in the driver’s seat? ... continue reading.

Massage Video: Full Back Massage Routine

This week I demonstrate my general back massage routine:

I did something a little different with this video. I start with my usual lengthy explanation as I show techniques, but I also include a real-time demonstration (with obligatory relaxing music) afterward. What do you think of this format? What’s your typical back routine like, and is there anything you’d add to mine? Tell us about it in the comments!

P.S. I’ve got a video on scapula mobilization ready for next week, so keep an eye out!

Massage Video: Deep Tissue Massage Basics (Working with the Whole Body)

This week’s video is another deep tissue basics tutorial: How to work with the body as a whole.

One thing I love about massage is how it can make me feel more deeply connected to my body—and, as a client, an occasional frustration I have is leaving a session feeling cut into pieces, or treated like a flat surface.

In this video, I emphasize four ways of highlighting the interconnectedness of the body, hopefully in ways that are easily integrated into any modality. Let me know what you think, and what you’d like to see in the future!

Massage Tutorial: Serratus Anterior (and its friends)

Does your massage client have rib pain? Would you like to work with the thoracic region more thoroughly? Here’s how I go about it.

Something that I hope to demonstrate with this video is an approach that was years in the making—instead of working on specific muscles, or stripping longitudinally or transversely, I’ve started to embrace the torso as a whole. By hooking in and dragging the thoracic region in different directions, purposely changing the shape of the client’s body, I’m able to work with the many muscles that criss-cross the region while acknowledging the holistic three-dimensionality of the upper body.

Let me restate that in a way that’s less weird: I’ve found clinical value in working more broadly with the thoracic muscles. I used to isolate them, stripping and compressing muscles that I thought were responsible for low back pain, or chest pain. By broadening my approach and moving beyond origin and insertion, I find that my clients get a better sense of how their torso is put together, and they tend to stand up with tangible results: Being able to breathe easier and stand taller. Even if these are temporary (and they are), that change demonstrates that such things are possible. It lets the client know that touch and movement are capable of making them more comfortable in their own body. ... continue reading.

Massage Video: 8 tips for working with low back pain

I hope I’m not alone when I say that I’ve had more than one client stand up with more low back pain than they started with. I reduced the frequency of this over the years, but it took a lot of fiddling and small changes. More importantly, I found that some clients would respond well to a change, while it would do nothing for others.

So, I kept expanding my toolbox!  Here are my 8 tips for working with clients with low back pain:

I’ve got the pillow-under-the-abdomen trick in there (along with a playlet about how to explain it to the client), along with my favorite new toy: The unbelievably huge bolster for under the knees while the client is supine. Both prone and supine positions can exaggerate the normal lumbar lordosis; add in some pressure, and it can create an unpleasant environment for the low back. Both the abdomen pillow and the giganti-bolster bring the client into slight trunk flexion, which seems to be less provocative over the course of an hour. ... continue reading.