Category Archives: Massage Communication

Massage video: How to keep clients from helping with limb movement

It can be hard to work with a massage client’s limbs if they’re trying to help you move them, or if they’re unconsciously holding them in place. Here are a few strategies for dealing with this phenomenon:

I think that communication is key, which brings me to an important point: The word “relax.” This is something that I’ve been commanded to do on more than one occasion as a massage client, and… there’s nothing relaxing about it. It can actually make me feel a little indignant, because I thought I was relaxed!

Instead, I like to focus on the body part, and acknowledge that tension is often unconscious. “See if you can let this shoulder be loose. You might not even know that your muscles here are contracting, and that’s normal.” If it’s impeding your massage, you can try having them consciously contract those muscles before releasing them, allowing your hands to sink in as they do. “Did you feel those muscles let go?” Over time, you can help your clients become more aware of their own chronic contraction. ... continue reading.

How to Get Reviews for Your Massage Business

Getting reviews for your massage business is important. It gives you instant credibility during those crucial first seconds when a client is deciding, “should I explore this therapist’s page further, or should I go back to looking at cat memes?” It lets curious clients see how other people perceive you. Are they praising your ability to deal with pain? Your expertise? These reviews, along with pictures, videos, and autobiographical information, can form a clear picture of who you are and how you operate before a client even steps into your office. In other words, each new client will be your biggest fan before you even meet.

You may have noticed that clients don’t seem to leave a lot of spontaneous reviews. Even the ones who rave about you and send you referrals don’t always hit up Yelp or Facebook to sing your praises. Over time, that can leave you with a strong online presence, but no outside references to back up your credibility. ... continue reading.

For Massage Clients: Your Body is Just Right

Your body is exactly as it should be. It’s perfectly fine for your body to be the way it is, and to do the things a body does.

That means that you can be any shape and size, and that’s how it should be. Your skin can have hair, and stretch marks, and cellulite. Your stomach can make noises, your armpits can be fragrant, and you can snore when you fall asleep. Never apologize for being fully and thoroughly human.

Via Anna, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’re in pain, we want to help you have less of it, and to help you accept it. There is no “should” when it comes to pain, and judging and blaming your own body only makes things worse. What would it be like to work with your painful back or knee, to act in partnership? To accept yourself on good days and bad?

One of the beautiful things about massage is that it’s about the big picture. It’s an hour where we work with you as a whole person. While you might get some extra attention to your stiff shoulder, we won’t pick you apart into pieces. We want you to feel more integrated and connected, and to realize your wholeness on a deep level. ... continue reading.

Fibromyalgia and Massage: How to Help without Hurting

What is fibromyalgia, and how should we deal with it as massage therapists? Should we press directly on tender points, or avoid them? Should we use deeper pressure, or only lighter work?

If you’re completely unfamiliar with this condition, it means widespread pain that isn’t related to injury or overuse. If you’ve got fibromyalgia, a lot of your body hurts, and no one can quite tell you why. There are no lesions on MRI or CT scans, there are no strains or sprains; you just hurt. On top of that, there are other common symptoms: Poor sleep quality, fatigue, memory problems (often described as “brain fog”), and depression. You can read more at this Mayo Clinic article.

Fibromyalgia tends to be cyclical, with many sufferers noticing periods of flare-up and remission. Your clients will have bad weeks and good weeks, and finding out where they are in that cycle can help you determine how to proceed. More on that in a second. ... continue reading.

So Your Massage Client Has an Anxiety Disorder

Clients have many different goals when it comes to bodywork, and a perfectly valid one is the management of their stress/anxiety. What are the different types of psychological disorders you might encounter? What do you need to know about anxiety as a massage therapist?

Credit: Jon Rawlinson, CC BY 2.0
Credit: Jon Rawlinson, CC BY 2.0

This article, “Worrying About Worrying” by Ruth Werner, is a good primer on anxiety disorders and how they affect clients. (If you’re an ABMP member, you can see the full magazine version here).

It addresses what you can do as a massage therapist. You’re not a psychologist, but you can create a supportive, nonjudgmental space for your client to finally just unwind. Massage has pretty robust support in the scientific literature for reducing anxiety in the short- and long-term!

Anxiety vs. Stress

Something interesting about anxiety is that it’s very difficult to disentangle from a concept that we’re all familiar with: stress. “I’m so stressed out from work/school. I’m so stressed I can’t sleep. I’m so stressed that it seems like I can’t ever relax.” “Stress” is just a word that we use as a proxy for that fluttery, clenching feeling in our chest that pops up whenever we expect something to require a lot of mental or emotional resources. ... continue reading.