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Sins of a Massage Therapist.

This morning I am aching after a 7-hour journey through the night to get home and now desperately want a massage. I know if I just book one from someone I’ve not seen before I may be disappointed as I am particular about what I like so I am waiting till Monday when I have one booked with a good therapist I see regularly so I know I will have a good experience.

During my training we were told all massage is good and even a bad massage is nice – its lovely to have touch but sometimes this doesn’t always go to plan.

I have had a lot of massages before deciding to become a therapist and then through my training. It has made me very fussy about who I see. There have been some awful experiences.

Below are a few things to avoid and be aware of to make sure your client fully enjoys the experience and want to re-book with you.

Good consultations – Always start with a good consultation – get to know your client before getting them on the couch. Once their face is in the cradle it is hard to communicate with them so get all the information before they lie down. Make sure there are no areas that have to be avoided or where they might like more attention.

Temperature – Remember your client is led mostly naked on your coach and you are dressed and moving. Think about them staying warm. I once had a lava shell massage, it was amazing in the area the therapist was working but when she moved from that area it quickly became cold. She had put a towel over the area but it wasn’t enough. I could feel goose bumps on my skin but he didn’t notice or care I’m not sure which. Also the floor was tiled so when the massage was finished and I stood up my feet were freezing – all I wanted was to go home and have hot bath to warm up.

Keep them dry – Using too much oil can leave residue on the skin and then onto your clients clothes. If you do apply too much (accidents happen) simply place a towel over the area and apply gentle pressure to help remove some. Make sure towels are clean and dry too – one massage I had the towel felt damp. I’m not sure if this was due to the oils or it hadn’t been dried properly. It made me feel it was unclean though – perhaps it had been used on a previous client???

Fresh breath – Yes – it happened. Nice massage but any time they spoke I got a waft of whatever strong food they had at lunch. Didn’t make me want to relax. I always keep chewing gums on hand for after food and try and keep strong smelling foods to the evening.

Clean and deodorised – I think this is a given but wanted to include it anyway. If your seeing a lot of clients you can get hot and sweaty so make sure you have some deodorant to apply through the day or even a change of clothes to keep you feeling fresh.

Keep it professional – no flirting – Not only is this unprofessional and you don’t want to give the wrong impression. Your client is undressed and could be feeling vulnerable. Make sure they are feeling safe and secure.

Pressure – keep checking in but also look for signs, I once had a massage and was asked what pressure I liked (this was before I lay down) I requested deep pressure. What followed still makes me tense. It was a massage only using elbows! No warming of the tissues just straight in. She never checked if it was ok and I felt myself desperate for the torture to end. I knew my whole body was tense but she didn’t seem to be aware of that. She was finding it difficult too and I could hear her breathing hard – she was exhausted by the end.

Not too vigorous – While training I booked a sports massage during the consultation – which was awful – I said I had tight shoulders, he decided to give me a relaxing massage as it was probably due to stress. I agreed that would be fine. I led face down and he massaged me so vigorously my whole body was moving up and down the couch. My poor head was bouncing in the hole of the couch and I had to hold on incase I feel off. He did find a few trigger points and treated them but i was still feeling sore from the over enthusiastic effleurage. After the massage I told him it wasn’t very relaxing and he got annoyed, he told me I’d booked a sports massage and I should have gone to a beauty place if i wanted relaxation. I had booked as part of my course and was hoping to get a postural assessment. Won’t be going back there.

Read body language – not the words. I have mentioned this previously but worth commenting on again. When I first received massages what ever it was like I would get up and thank the therapist and say it was great. As you can see from above it wasn’t always. I hated confrontation so would just pay and leave. Later I would tell friends of my experience. Looking back I feel bad, if it was my client I would want to know if they didn’t enjoy it. So always look for body language – is the clients skin giving clues of goose bumps or muscles tightening… If you have a feeling your client is uncomfortable but they aren’t admitting to it, go with your gut. Ease off the pressure or change your technique.

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid all the pitfalls and make your clients rebook rather than running for the door as soon as they stand up.

Don’t forget to share these tips to fellow therapists and if you have any more bad experiences you would like to share to make sure others avoid them please let us know hello@busyhive.co.uk