A few weeks ago, a friend of mine wrote a great blog post on what she will and what she will not do when you come for a massage. I loved it and instantly wished all businesses everywhere would write up similar lists. Her point was that we all have different styles, techniques, and personalities. We all have different ideas about what makes for a good massage, and it can be hard to drop your hard-earned money on a new massage therapist without knowing what he or she is about.
So here are a couple of lists to tell you a bit about how I work in hopes of helping you figure out whether I’m the right massage therapist for you. If you want to tell me more about you and what you’re looking for in a massage therapist, I’d love to hear from you.
When you come for a massage, I WILL:
I will ask you how you are feeling and what you want to work on, and I will listen.
I will come up with an action plan for your massage based on what you tell me, allotting extra time to your unique aches and pains, and I will tell you before you get on the table what that plan is to make sure it sounds good to you.
I will combine relaxation massage — warming, flowy, kneading strokes — with specific work on your areas of concern. Even if you come in for a specific injury, my love of overall soothing is going to come into play. I want my massage to leave you feeling relaxed and extravagantly comfortable in your own skin. I’m just a sucker for that kind of thing.
I will ask you how the table set-up feels before starting your massage, and I really want to know! Pillows just a little bit off? Head cradle not quite right? I will adjust the set-up, give you blankets, troubleshoot all the little things for as long as it takes, until you feel comfortable on the table.
I will listen to you if you speak up during your massage. Pressure not quite right? Music too loud or fan blowing on you? I try to avoid these things right out of the gate and to notice them on my own, but nobody’s perfect. If you tell me something’s not right, I’ll do my best to fix it. And I’ll check in with you to make sure it’s truly fixed.
I will give you your allotted session time. If you show up for your appointment on time, whatever time we spend talking about what you want to work on, and whatever time it takes you to get settled on the table will not cut into your massage time (alas, this promise cannot be kept if you are late for your appointment).
I will use whatever tools and continuing education I’ve got to give you the best massage for you — no up-charges for deep tissue, prenatal, myocardial, or any other technique.
I will likely give you suggestions for self-care between massages. This may include self-massage, stretches, or simply bringing awareness to the way you hold your body. I am passionate about self-care, and I want you to feel good every day, not just when you come in for a massage.
I will be present, and I will be nice to you. I will give you a good massage.
When you come for a massage, I will NOT
I will not judge you. This one is really, really important. I don’t mind if you need to leave all your clothes on or if you take everything off (you will always be properly covered with cozy sheets). I’m not going to judge you if you haven’t been exercising/stretching/taking care of yourself. If I’ve given you self-care tips and you’ve completely forgotten or ignored them, I will not be disappointed in you. And I will never judge your body. I’m here to help you feel better. Shame has no place on my massage table.
I will not initiate conversation during your massage. Sometimes questions come up — patterns of tension might prompt me to ask if you hold your baby on your right hip all day, and I am likely to check in about pressure — so I might say brief, massage-related things to you during your massage. And if you have questions, I’ll answer them no problem. But, left to my own devices, I typically work pretty quietly.
I will not use deep pressure without warming up your tissues. I love deep work, but my belief is that it should be approached slowly and evenly and that superficial tissues should be warmed up before we try to reach deeper layers. I do not believe in a “no pain, no gain” approach to massage, and adequately warming up tissues allows me to work deeply without hurting you.
I will not claim to be the best at every technique. I’m great at a lot of things — stress-relief, headaches, and prenatal massage for instance. I can work wonders with many aches and pains and injuries. As much as I’d like to be the best at every modality ever, I humbly admit that I’m probably not the super-best sports massage or trigger point therapist in town. I’m not any kind of expert in PNF techniques. I can incorporate these things into your massage competently, but I will not claim to be a master of them. If you are looking for a specific technique, I will be honest about my skill level, and I will do my best to help you find a great therapist if I don’t think I’m the right fit.
I will not tell you that your shoulders are bad or that you have the worst knots ever or that anything is wrong with you. I’ll listen to your woes and complaints with compassion and sympathy, but I won’t add to the list of ailments or treat you like something is wrong with you.
I think that covers the basics.
These lists are not entirely comprehensive — there is always more to say — but I hope they tell you a little bit more about my priorities as a massage therapist and how I will approach working with you. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or things that haven’t been addressed here. Or go ahead and book your session if I sound like a good fit for you.