Not that we are biased but receiving massage is wonderful ….. or should be wonderful. However occasionally there are times when the massage therapist is not tuned in to the desires and needs of the massage recipient. Sometimes an hour on the table can seem last an eternity. Fortunately these times are the exception and not the rule. This article lists a few of the things that we don’t particularly enjoy when receiving a massage.
1. When an hour is not an hour.
The clock starts ticking when I am on the table ready for my massage. I have paid for an hour’s massage and believe that the massage should last for that hour. Whilst time taken to take to records is obviously of immense importance it should not take an inordinate amount of time and should not eat into the time that your hands are on working on me.
The worst experience I had was
- arriving for a massage
- having an overly detailed case note interview
- therapist took a significant length of time returning to the room after I had undressed
- therapist used a hot poultice on my back for over ten minutes in the middle of the massage and left the room while it was ‘doing it’s work’, with no explanation
- Being back in my car less an hour after getting out of my car. Any good work done was instantly undone by the feeling of being ‘ripped off’ – there would have been less than 40 minutes of hands-on massage.
However going significantly over time can be just as detrimental. You should not assume that extra time is to my benefit as I may have a pressing commitment. Leaping from the table and having to rush around after a massage is not optimal for stress relief (although it’s probably better to let the therapist know prior to the start of the massage that you need to finish by a certain time). Similarly starting late (particularly without acknowledgement) is likely to get my blood boiling – not conducive to a relaxing experience.
2. Being basted like the proverbial pig
Almost without fail, beginner massage therapists use too much oil. How is it possible to do any deep work when your hands are slipping and sliding across my skin at a million miles an hour? When it comes to oil and lubrication and working the deep layers of muscle, less is more.
If the massage has been at a clinic or studio then there can be nothing worse than having to put your clothes on greasy, oily skin. Similarly excessive oil in the hair is not a pleasant feeling.
My one exception to this is for a Kahuna massage – the flowing nature of the strokes require being basted, at least I know it’s going to happen and most Kahuna studios offer you the option of a shower after the massage.
3. Please listen to me.
If my right forearm is the reason I am seeing you then at least do me the courtesy of spending some time on my right forearm. If I have come in for a remedial massage then please treat the session as remedial and attempt to remedy the part(s) of my body that require remedying. I am aware that it is unreasonable for you to fix
- my aching right foot,
- my strained left calf,
- my tight quadriceps,
- that annoying problem in my right hip that
- leads into my lower/mid back and
- of course fix up my neck/shoulder problems from spending too much time in front of the computer
all within the confines of one hour. However, I expect you to tailor the massage to focus on the problem areas and not just do the massage routine that you always do.
4. Please respect me.
If you are working very deeply or wish to try a particular stretch then by all means check in to make sure that all is well with a “how’s the pressure there?” or something similar. However if I wish to enjoy the massage in silence then please respect that. If I want to talk then I’ll lead the conversation and ask you a question. Please do not volunteer information unrelated to my body (or introduce me to your own paradigms). Even if I start out by being chatty, this may be how I unwind so don’t take it as a cue to enter into a lively debate.
Constantly forcing me to focus on my breathe is another bug-bear of mine. I’m not on your table to do a yoga class. A little can be ok if it’s focussed, relevant and an aid to my relaxation but not too much please. Similarly releasing trigger points by checking in on pain levels and telling me to let you know when the pain has subsided is appropriate in moderation, particularly with respect to any problem areas I have asked you to work on.
But with every single muscle …….pullleeeesssseeee.
5. Your massage intentions are critical
I’m a massage therapist, I understand something about muscles and the body. Sometimes when I’m receiving a massage I can’t help wondering
“what is the point of that stroke?”
Massage is so much more than just rubbing and polishing skin. Is there a point to your squeezing, prodding and poking with respect to the origin and insertion of the muscle? Please do not rub mindlessly as the best massages are when you are focussed on me and me alone – what are you feeling and discovering within my body. A fellow therapist once said to me that
“there are too many massage therapists who don’t have hands”.
Listen to your hands and work appropriately. Don’t be worrying about what you want for dinner tonight.
6. How was that garlic curry you had last night?
Talking of dinner, please remember that breathing your recycled air may not be the appropriate route to optimal relaxation. Similarly any strong scents (including smokers breathe) can be extremely off-putting.
It goes without saying that coughing and sniffing are no-nos as well.
Nothing in particular against her and her celtic melodies – I’m just over it and have been for a long time.
Sorry I just don’t get it. Pummelling, pounding and beating (or whatever the technical names are) are not conducive to a relaxing experience. Yes it has it’s place in a sports massage but I don’t want to be brought back to my senses by having the living daylights shaken out of me. Tapotement when it is done very very well is at best tolerable.
9. Please be aware this is my time
Answering the phone, leaving the room to attend to some personal matter, etc is not appropriate. This is my time and my time alone and you need to be focused on my needs. So please be professional and attend to me solely when I am the one paying you.
Please do not hesitate to contact Richard if you have any questions to any information presented on this blog. Any information, advice, recommendations, statements or otherwise contained herein, or in any other communication made by or attributed to Richard Lane, whether oral or in writing, is not intended to replace or to be a substitute for medical advice trained by a trained physician or healthcare practitioner.