Category Archives: Massage Communication

Video: Massage for Fibromyalgia (With Interview and Demonstration!)

If you’ve worked on more than one client with fibromyalgia, you know that this isn’t a matter of saying, “if the client has X symptom, do Y technique.” It’s more a matter of knowing what questions to ask, which alterations might help, and knowing when to err on the side of caution.

The most important question, in my opinion, is “have you ever been hurt by a massage?” This is something that I ask anyone who is medically vulnerable or who has pervasive pain, and the answer is often “yes.” From there I want to find out more about how and why. While it’s often a matter of too much pressure or too much digging, it can also have to do with improper positioning, or even quirks of the client’s unique body. The only way to avoid repeating these past mistakes is to ask! ... continue reading.

Massage Technique Video: The Sacrum Shaker (SI Joint Mobilization)

Today I share with you my weirdest massage technique: The Sacrum Shaker.

The technique itself isn’t hard, and there’s really no wrong way to do it; when I was contemplating making a video about this, I realized that the most important aspect would be demonstrating how to communicate it. How can we work near the tailbone while being certain that the client is on board? How can we introduce big dynamic movements while being sure that we’re not disrupting the client’s state of zen?

As always, the answer is open communication within the context of a therapeutic relationship. This starts from the very first moment you meet a client, or even before (for instance, does your website answer some of their questions and allay their fears?). By the time I’m talking to the client about implementing specific moves, I want to have already opened highway-wide lanes of communication. ... continue reading.

Massage Tutorial Video: Talking to Clients On the Table

New video! This week we’re talking about talking. More specifically, what can you do to maximize your time with a client on the table? Especially in a time-crunch environment, finding little nooks and crannies to fit client education into can be invaluable.

I find this especially useful when I’m dealing with areas of heightened sensitivity. If a client comes in with a painful sacroiliac area and sciatica symptoms, for instance, I try to talk them through the treatment as I deliver it. I want them to know what I’m trying to achieve with my slow steamrolling, and I ask them to let me know their experience. Does it feel like we’re in a relevant area? Do you feel this referring pain anywhere else? As I gather information, I can also deliver some, telling them about their posterior pelvis and where relevant muscles attach. When you live with chronic pain, learning more about it can be a relief in itself! ... continue reading.

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?

P.S. I’ll have two new shirt designs for sale tomorrow! Check out my Twitter or Instagram if you’d like a preview 🙂

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.

Another big change was less emphasis on the QL region. I found that lots of pinpoint work on the quadratus lumborum, even if it felt good to the client while on the table, could have a rebound effect once they stood up. Once I started thinking more about the pelvis, I started having better outcomes.

Let me know what you think, and about tips and tricks of your own!