Inside a massage therapist’s head.
My clients have expectations.
Statistics: 1 out of 2 says he doesn’t mind if it hurts. Let’s call that one client Bob.
I’ve know Bob for 2 minutes now. Already can’t stand him!
“I’m tough. I can deal with pain. Don’t be afraid, just go as hard as you can”.
Nice thinking Bob! What he really means is that he expects the massage not only to be painful but he wishes to feel that discomfort as early as possible during the massage.
When he comes to me, somehow, Bob thinks the experience has to be painful. Otherwise I’m no good. Again, nice!
I can read his mind: “Hurt me, I’ll then trust you and then will be able to relax”. Hmm. Where does that come from? Oh yes, “no pain, no gain” that we’ve been hearing forever…
In my mind, it makes no sense. It’s also a very frustrating aspect of my job. Very disappointing in fact. Unfortunately, it’s the usual… Hey, what about subtlety?
What Bob is certainly not aware of is that a massage is like a bike ride.
Let’s say your coach is giving you a specific strength workout:
- steep hills ( 8% or steeper)
- that take less than 3 minutes to climb
- in and out of the saddle
- maintaining at least 50 rpm.
You will obviously make sure to warm-up thoroughly, unless you really crave for injuries!
Same with the massage.
Even before applying oil :
- I need to consider the entire body
- palpate different muscle groups
- grab the skin to evaluate its elasticity and the restrictions
- rock the body at the waist to study the connection between lower back and hips
Only then I can decide what I’m going to focus on during our session.
Gradually, with different strokes, I’ll go from working general group muscles to more specific muscles, going deeper, entering different layers.
If I don’t follow such a logistic approach, Bob’s muscles will tighten instead of loosen. The opposite of what I’m trying to achieve. They’re the real judges. The muscles are. By their reaction, they’re telling how much they can take and when they have enough. When they become red and very warm, it’s time for me to move on.
At that point, I don’t care about how hard Bob wants me to go ’cause by now, the endorphins, Bob’s natural pain killers, have already kicked in.
If I continue on working, I can cause more damage, like micro tears for example. Bob doesn’t know that.
Instead of being ready for an intensive interval workout the next day, Bob will have to skip it and settle for a very mellow recovery ride. And, guess what, Bob doesn’t enjoy mellow rides!
I really wish he could understand that warming up the skin and the multiple layers of muscles is not a waste of time but rather a safe way to get a deeper massage.
See ya Bob!