By: Daniel J Brownell
© Copyright 2008 Full Throttle Massage, Inc.
The relationship between a client and a massage therapist is built on trust and communication. The client has to learn to trust their therapist. The therapist has to earn the clients trust. This is accomplished through communication, both verbal and non-verbal.
At the beginning of a massage therapy session, an initial interview takes place between the client and therapist. If it's your first time with a particular therapist, this is a critical and important interview. Your therapist will explain his procedures. He will also ask several important questions regarding your health history, physical condition, what type of work that you do, and several other questions that may be pertinent to the outcome of the massage session. With the information the therapist gathers from you, he will start to form a plan of action for the treatment he is going to perform. He will explain the treatment he is planning for you.
This is also the time that you, as a client, will start to form your opinion of the therapist. You will be thinking about what the therapist said. Did he sound knowledgeable? Did you understand everything that was explained? This is a good time to ask your therapist questions. Especially if you don't understand something; if you are apprehensive about the session. A good therapist will listen to your questions, and explain anything about the massage session that you are unsure about. This is where the client/therapist trust starts.
I cannot stress enough the importance of communication; between you and your massage therapist. Once your massage starts, your therapist may not speak very often; depending on the type of massage you requested. If you you are having a "general relaxation massage" you probably don't want to be asked a bunch of questions while you are trying to relax and relieve stress. Occasionally the therapist will check in with you about the amount of pressure he is using. If you want more, or less pressure, don't be afraid to relay your needs to the therapist. Your therapist wants to make your massage as enjoyable for you as possible. He cannot do this if he is not applying the pressure you desire (or to much pressure).
On the other hand, if you are receiving a therapeutic massage, you should expect to be asked a lot of questions while you are on the table. A therapeutic massage requires a lot of communication between you and your therapist. As your therapist discovers "knots" he will ask if they are tender, if the knot causes any pain. He will want to know if the pain radiates to a particular part of your body. These are all questions that will help direct the therapist as to what type of treatment you may need. Again, you will be asked frequently about pressure. If you want more or less pressure, tell your therapist.
So many times a client has said that the last therapist they had did not go deep enough, or went to deep. When I asked the client if they said anything to the therapist, most replied "no." Even the best therapist cannot read your mind. It is up to you to inform your therapist if he is not achieving your desires. A good therapist welcomes the clients input, and makes adjustments accordingly.
Your therapist may ask you many times about pressure, or if you are comfortable. This may get a little annoying for you, but he may be seeing your body react to something he is doing. Massage therapists are trained to watch their clients for certain movements or reactions. This is called body language and is the non-verbal aspect of communication. If your therapist notices that you are tensing up; he is going to ask you if you are OK. Don't be afraid to express your concerns.
If you are not comfortable, you won't be able to relax. This will translate into a mediocre massage. You may not return to that massage therapist, thinking he did a poor job. When in fact, the massage therapist may have missed a signal from you. He continued what he was doing because he had several other clients who liked that particular massage stroke.
Communication in massage therapy is the most important aspect of receiving a good massage. You, as the client, are the key to making your massage an enjoyable and beneficial part of your health care plan. Don't be afraid to express any concerns or ask for more (or less) pressure. Your massage therapist will be more than happy to accommodate you.
At Full Throttle Massage, Inc. we make client/therapist communication our number one priority.
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