Working as a massage therapist for a few years now, I’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t, how important communication is, and how large and in charge you have to be as a practitioner. Personally, I’ve received some underwhelming treatments and have heard some horror stories from my peers.
Some of these major mistakes should never be made, others are simply tips to take onboard and the rest are just good sense. This is part 1 of our ’10 little massage tips that make a big difference.’ If massage is your thing, lookout for our follow-up post where we discuss more massage tips covering comfort, hygiene and client care.
Massage tips N°1
Explain your routine
Explaining your routine before the client is disrobed and face down ensures they are well aware of which body parts you will be touching and in what order. This is an important part of every treatment as it gives the client the perfect window to express any preferences. It’s important to remember that not everybody knows what to expect from a massage, and each massage therapist works differently. Part of a Massage Therapist’s job is to ensure their client experiences no surprises throughout treatment. It’s more relaxing when you know what’s coming.
Massage tips N°2
Everybody’s face and body is a different shape and size. This makes universal face cradle comfort somewhat difficult, but not impossible. The trick in this case is basic trial and error. Work with your client to deduce which position is most comfortable for them.
For house visits, I work with a bed that does not have an adjustable face cradle extension, so I use the face hole. I’ve noticed that specifically male clients, who naturally have wider, longer and more prominent features, will require a face cradle cushion or even shoulder blocks to alleviate pressure from the neck, cheeks and forehead. For lengthy massage sessions, try to avoid couch roll for facial hygiene as this be irritating for the client. Instead, opt for cotton or cloth cut-outs to be placed over the cradle opening.
For cloth cut-outs, you can either use disposable one’s, available at some massage outlet shops, or use unwanted bed sheets to make your own. All you need is basic sewing skills, or a trip to the local seamstress. Alternatively, you can order a face cradle pillow with additional pillow cases that can be changed with each new client.
Massage tips N°3
It’s essential to ask first
When using essential oils in a treatment, first ask your client a few questions:
- Have they experienced them before?
- Would they like them to be incorporated into the treatment?
- Would they care to smell the oils first?
Never assume a client will enjoy a scent just because you do.
There’s not only scent to be aware of, but oil placement too. Keep essential oils away from the face and any areas of skin that appear irritated or sensitive. It’s common for holiday-goers to have been sunbathing. And it’s common for sunbathers to book a massage. Sunburns and oils, especially essential oils, is a recipe for disaster. Always observe your client carefully before placing anything onto their skin.
Massage tips N°4
Carrying the right carrier oils
It’s a good idea to have a selection of massage oils available for both client preference and safety. If your client happens to be allergic to your usual oil, and you don’t have a backup, you may lose out on their business entirely. So far, I have not encountered anyone who had allergies to Sweet Almond Oil, (my carrier of choice).
During a consultation, always ask about allergies and be prepared with some great backups such as aloe vera oil, coconut oil and a gentle water-based cream. Personally, I tend not to use oil on the hands or feet during any treatment, as I find cream is not only easier to massage into these areas, but it also feels better for the client, absorbing faster and leaving no oily residue. I often place a few drops of peppermint essential oil into foot creams as I tend to buy them unscented. For the hands, no scent is best.
Massage tips N°5
One of my first and worst experiences being employed as a Massage Therapist was working in an establishment that did not have air conditioning. The summers were stuffy and humid and the winters were damp and chilly. I did manage to convince the owner to get portable AC units in the treatment room, as they did not have the funds to install central AC. The amount of clients that complained about temperature prior to the units was embarassing. Despite my own attempts to make them as comfortable as possible, we had to cut a few sessions short and even provide a refund once.
This was a prime example of poor management at the establishment, but a great example of the importance of temperature. Whether your clients come to you, or you go to them, make sure you carry enough blankets and extra towels. When making house visits during colder months, it’s best not to assume your client will have the sufficient supplies available. Asking them to provide 3 towels or less is usual, even a throw or quilt if they have one to spare. If you see them struggling to find what you need, come to the rescue with your backups.
As well as adequate towel draping, be aware of the environment you’re working in. If there’s an opportunity to place yourself closer to a heat source, recommend it to your client. They may feel fine now, but once they are relaxed and half naked on your table, their temperature can drop quickly. It doesn’t matter if you’re breaking a sweat, as long as your client is in comfort and bliss.
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