I’ve worked in the spa and massage industry for close to a decade now, but I’ve been a massage client for much longer than that. This has given me an interesting blend of industry-client experience, a view of things from both sides of the aisle if you will. In turn, I’m often asked by my non-massage therapist friends about topics like massage etiquette. Today, I’d like to address one of the most common topics I encounter: Communication.
By communication, I don’t mean communication off of the massage table—how you should address your massage therapist, or the best way to make an appointment. I’m talking about how (and why) you should communicate with your massage therapist while on the table and during your in-take discussion.
The following is a list of things to consider:
1) Your massage therapist is not your doctor, but he/she is working with your body. So, although you don’t need to divulge your entire medical history, you DO need to answer a series of basic questions that will help your massage therapist best serve your needs. Understand that these questions—ones like “are you pregnant?”—are also meant to keep you safe. Be honest, and be forthcoming.
2) Over- or under-stating any levels of pain that you are feeling prior to your massage can impact your treatment. If something is hurting or if you have an injury, tell your therapist. If you want extra attention on a particular section of the body, tell your therapist. If, however, you feel great and you just want to unwind a bit, it’s okay to say that, too.
3) It is ALWAYS okay to tell your massage therapist if pressure is too much during a massage, or if you’d like more. No massage therapist worth his/her salt would be offended by this (as we are sometimes apt to assume). In fact, they are generally grateful that you’ve spoken up. Adjusting pressure to your comfort ensures that you have a better experience and that’s why they went into the massage profession in the first place.
4) It’s okay to chat. I hope this goes without saying, but just in case: There is NO RULE that massage must be a silent affair. If you are craving silence, enjoy it, but if you are chatty by nature and want to talk, there is no reason not to. The time is yours.
5) In the same vein as it is okay to chat generally, it’s also okay to ask specific questions about what your therapist is doing. Remember, your therapist likely enjoys his/her profession and would probably relish the opportunity to discuss it with clients. If you are curious about something your massage therapist is doing, just ask. Chances are it will begin a positive conversation about your journey towards health and wellness.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but I hope it gives you a better understanding of what you can and should communicate to your massage therapist. If you aren’t sure, just ask. In my experience, massage therapists are the very best of listeners.