In any job, the longer you do it, the harder it is to remember what it was like when you knew nothing about the job or the industry. The same goes for massage therapy. Often therapists forget what it’s like to be a new client or that each massage therapist likes to set up their massage a bit differently. It’s all too easy to get lax with giving clear instructions or taking all questions into consideration. Although I aim to welcome my clients every time I see them, I also recognize that some guidance is helpful. Today as a PSA for the massage industry I am sharing my list of top 10 ways to be the perfect client.
- Be as clear as possible about what you want. Yes, it’s my job as the professional to provide you with a great massage experience and I absolutely will, but the more information you provide the better. If you honestly have no preferences or are not sure what you like that’s okay, but most people care about the depth of pressure or not having their hair touched or some other little details. I try to ask these questions outright and hopefully every therapist gives space for their client to discuss their preferences during the massage. That said, we can’t read your mind so please…
- Don’t be afraid to speak up if you are unhappy. If, during your session, something feels uncomfortable, or you would like more or less pressure, or suddenly you remember you hurt your knee last week, then please let me know! There’s really no such thing as a “standard massage”. We all have our preferred ways to work but each body has a different experience of the world and we can’t know exactly what you’re feeling. Sometimes I can misinterpret your body language and think the pressure is too deep when you feel totally fine. So please, don’t sit through a massage wishing it was over. As a therapist I’ll feel bad if you’re unhappy and as a client you certainly won’t want to come back to me. If I can’t accommodate you ( as in I’m giving you all the pressure I can) then I’ll let you know.
- Silence Your Phone. Your massage time is yours! You aren’t here to share it with anybody. Your only job is to let your body relax and heal. When you’re just about to drift off to sleep and your phone starts chiming relentlessly it takes you back into the chaos your life. So do yourself a favor, and unless you have an urgent situation at home or a child that might need to reach you, just turn it off.
- Take Some Quiet Time. I love talking to clients. It helps me get to know them and feel more connected with them but it can also distract from full relaxation. Plenty of people actually wind down by conversing but it does help to spend at least a little bit of your massage time in the zone.
- Give a heads up if you want a silent session. On the flip side, you are not under any obligations to chat with me while you’re getting your massage. It’s your time and if you want to relax you can do that. Personally I tend to let my clients initiate conversations if they choose to but I’ve had massages from very chatty therapists who never asked if I wanted quiet time. Just let us know you want to zone out!
- Don’t come straight from the gym/garden/sweaty outdoor activity, without showering. I would think this one would be obvious, but in my experience it isn’t. I will be working in direct contact with your body and it’s disrespectful for you to expect me to spend an hour smelling you and touching your skin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s my job and I will do it but please be considerate.
- Please don’t smoke right before your session. If you’re a Massage Therapist who smokes then maybe this doesn’t matter to you, but as a non-smoker I find I’m extremely affected by working on smokers. If you want to smoke that’s your business; as a medical professional I’d advise against it but the choice is yours. My job puts me in direct contact with your skin and if you’ve recently smoked I will definitely know, if not from the smell then from the headache I’ll start to get. Have your smoke earlier in the day, just avoid coming right in to your session from a cigarette so I can be at my best for you.
- Don’t come in if you are sick. Again, this probably should go without saying but it absolutely doesn’t. As I’ve tried to emphasize I’ll be up close and personal with all your germs anyway so if you are sick then please reschedule your appointment. If I get sick then I can’t work because who wants a sniffly massage therapist? You don’t do you? My immune system is pretty good but that doesn’t mean I want to fight off your cold.
- Give Feedback. All feedback after a massage is appreciated. If you liked or didn’t like something it helps us as professionals to learn what we can do better, or what is working. If you’re uncomfortable with negative feedback try sandwiching it in between a compliment, “I really liked that thing you did on my shoulder, but when you stretched out my hamstrings that felt a little weird.” You can always email your therapist if you have more to say too. A good therapist should be able to take constructive feedback and learn from it.
- Tell your friends. A referral is even better than a big tip, especially if you have your own business or a small business. If you were happy with your service then let some friends know. I can tell you we truly appreciate it.
As you can see, most of these tips involve communication. In work like this it is extremely important for everyone to communicate and be on the same page. Your body is your safe space and it is our job to respect it.