Massage therapy is a healing art. As such, those you pursue massage therapy as a profession tend to be considerate people by nature. However, we all have blind spots when it comes to our daily actions, especially if those actions are routine. As a therapist, you may have elements of your routine on autopilot that can be detrimental to your health or your clients’ experiences on the massage table. Here are some common mistakes many therapists make without thinking.
Common Mistakes Massage Therapists Make
If you find yourself stepping away from the massage table to check your phone or get supplies, it can be distracting for both you and your client. Try keeping your phone off during massage sessions and assembling everything you’ll need for your massage session ahead of time. If you let people know on your voicemail that you are probably in a massage session but you’ll call back as soon as it’s over, your clients will understand and appreciate this.
Uncomfortable Massage Space
As a therapist, you are constantly active during a massage. You may not notice ambient noises or a chill in the air the way your client would. Before you take your client into session, check your space for:
- Temperature – Remember that your client will tend to feel colder than you due to lack of activity while receiving massage. Make sure the room is warm enough and/or you have a blanket nearby in case your client begins to feel cold.
- Noise – You may have grown used to the noises of your office, but your clients may find this especially distracting during their massage. Spend some time quietly in the massage room and see how many sounds to you hear. Are there cars going by? Sounds of other therapists in adjacent rooms? Sounds of the receptionist or lobby conversation? If any of these are present, consider playing ambient music to create a more pleasant wash of sound.
- Smell – Your massage room should have a pleasant but not overwhelming smell. Essential oils diffusers are a nice way to fill the air with pleasant and beneficial scents. Avoid wearing perfumes or using products and smells with artificial fragrance.
Communicating Too Much or Too Little
It’s important to communicate with your client so that they are comfortable. However, casual conversations or too much checking in is distracting. Let your clients know ahead of time that they should tell you if the pressure is too light or too hard, if they get hot or cold, or if they are uncomfortable in any way. Try asking a question or two about their comfort a few minutes into the massage, just to get them comfortable with communicating. Don’t keep asking, especially if they seem relaxed and comfortable. However, if you notice your client seems uncomfortable, give them suggestions to put them at ease (eg, “Would you like a blanket?” or “Would you like a little less pressure?”)
Not Being Present With Your Client
Above all, you should aim to be present with your client and yourself during the massage. This means paying attention to the way their tissues feel, their breathing, and any other signs of their process on the massage table. Make sure to take time on each stroke – never rush, especially on deep tissue work.
Not Being Present With Yourself
You should also be paying attention to yourself. Like your client, you should be comfortable at all times during the massage and breathing deeply. If you find yourself tense or straining during your sessions, work on ways to improve your common strokes that are easier. Make sure you aren’t overusing your thumbs. Using your body weight differently can do wonders. In between sessions and at the end of the day, do simple stretches and self-massage.