Do you offer self-care to your clients? I’ve always been a big proponent of a little homework, and over the years I’ve come up with stretches that seem to help with pain, and that clients will actually follow through with:
And that’s what I’d like to talk about today—how to get clients to actually do self-care. In the world of medicine and physical therapy, this is called “compliance” or “treatment adherence,” and it can often make all the difference to patient outcomes. And still, it’s really hard to get patients to do exercises, take their pills, etc!
What hope do we have if people won’t even take a whole course of antibiotics? As massage therapists, we have a unique opportunity to bring our clients on board. I don’t just give a stretch printed on a piece of paper and see my client out the door. Instead, I relate it back to the massage I just gave: “Remember the tight muscles in your chest and shoulders? Those muscles are important for upper back pain.” We’ve just given the client a great deal of information about their body through massage, and that’s a much better motivator than “because I said so.”
We can also choose to make the homework simple and painless. While a physical therapist needs to get their post-surgical patient back on their feet in 6 weeks of treatment, we’re usually working with chronic pain over much longer periods of time. We can afford to offer gentle, uncomplicated self-care and see how it progresses over the course of a month or two. In other words, we have time that other healthcare professionals don’t, both during individual sessions, and over the course of our relationships with our clients. We can take it slow and easy, and we can encourage our clients to do the same.
This, along with helping clients find ways to incorporate the stretches into their day, can allow us to have a high rate of success. If the stretch is easy, painless, and something that they can do in the break room at their job, they’re much more likely to make it a habit.