Set Realistic Goals
It may sound silly to set goals for your massage, but it’s actually quite important! Let’s start with the standard encounter that every massage therapist has run into. A new client walks into the room and says: “I want a full body relaxation massage, but if you could focus on this kink (points next to shoulder blade), and my lower back always hurts, and I really like deep tissue, so lots of pressure…” This doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, and in fact these are all issues that can be effectively addressed by massage. The problem is that it can’t all happen at once.
Let’s break it down: this client has just expressed five concerns that they want addressed.
- They want to relax.
- They want a full body massage.
- They have a kink in the neck/back area.
- They suffer from chronic low back pain.
- They want a deep tissue massage.
Addressing all of these issues at once would make for a very disjointed massage experience.
So how do we address this grocery list of issues in one session? The truth is, we don’t. We pick one or two, and make that our goal for this session. This is similar to the way we lay out our clients’ exercise and nutrition programs. We focus on a goal, achieve it, and then move onto the next one! This efficient approach gets our clients to their ultimate goals faster, and in the massage world ensures each area of concern is addressed thoroughly. Who doesn’t love efficiency!?
Understand your Treatment
Using the same example from above, let’s take a closer look at the client’s wants/needs. What the client doesn’t realize is some of the things they want actually contradict one another.
Let’s start with the first thing: the client wanted to relax — but they want a deep tissue massage. Relaxation massage involves different types of strokes, used with light to lightly-moderate pressure. It’s used for stimulation, blood flow, and to improve circulation, and helping aid the 12 systems of the body. “Deep tissue” massage has a reputation of being uncomfortable, even a painful experience. There is something called ‘Law of Generalization’, and it’s the theory that when a client receives work that is too rough or too deep, the body’s experience is identical to that of receiving trauma, and the muscles in that area, and even the whole body, contract as a defense mechanism. A body that is repetitively contracting, and is in “defense mode”, is going to have a hard time relaxing. Don’t cheat yourself! Save the deep tissue work for another day and allow yourself the 60 minutes of relaxation you deserve.
Some massage objectives go really well together; for instance, a full body massage is great to mix with a relaxation massage and can easily be integrated into one session. Things can get complicated, though, when a specific orthopedic injury or chronic condition is thrown into the mix.
To best relieve a client with an issue like this, the massage should be focused on the specific problem. There are specific muscles that are out of tune, and need to be adjusted. When those muscles are worked on, there are secondary muscles that need to be addressed in order to support the changes that are being addressed in the primary muscles that are causing the problem. For example, tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow is an injury to specific muscles in the arm and forearm. Spending time on the legs or back is not going to address this problem.
Keep these concepts in mind the next time you get a massage and you’re sure to get your money’s worth!
Introducing Kimberly Hall, our new massage therapist in Plymouth!