As massage therapists, we are always thinking about new ways to provide a high-quality experience that is unique and exceptional every time. Taking extra steps to enhance your clients’ comfort can be one way to make your massage treatments stand out.
Although a massage is meant to be relaxing, the process, especially the part of the session in which the client lies facedown, is not always as comfortable as one may think. Here are a few useful tips and tricks you can use to make your client’s massage a fully enjoyable experience:
1. Don’t cheap out on the face rest
Probably the least enjoyable aspect of a massage for some clients is discomfort from the face rest, and the pressure in the head and sinuses that can build up after being in a prone position for 30 to 40 minutes. Recently, I have seen many new face rest options on the market and have found face rests containing padding, gel, or water spheres—any of which increase client comfort. Always ask the client if the face rest is comfortable or needs to be adjusted before you begin the massage.
2. Delight the senses with heavenly aromas
Aromatherapy can enhance a massage experience in just about any scenario. Place one or two drops of your client’s favorite essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball under the table’s fitted sheet, just below the face rest. Remember to always consult with clients first, and make sure the oil does not come into contact with their skin, unless the essential oil has been added to a carrier lubricant. Also, use oils according to a recipe, as too many drops can cause the scent to become overwhelming.
3. Include hot or cold therapy
Applying just the right amount of heat or cold where and when it is needed can take your client’s experience from average to extraordinary.
For example, if a client is in the prone position, place two hot stones, wrapped in cloth, underneath the shoulders to help loosen those areas and aid relaxation. You can also place two warm, cloth-wrapped stones behind the knees for a similar effect. Using an ice pack is another way to quell swelling and discomfort while enhancing massage.
Regardless of which therapy you decide to incorporate into your treatment while the client is prone, the use of either a warm or cold element will take focus away from congestion and pressure, and bring your client to a deeper state of relaxation.
4. Appeal to the eyes
You would be surprised at the difference a little décor makes. Provide your clients with an enjoyable ambience to enrich their overall experience by adding flowers, decorative stones in a bowl, or relaxing images to the immediate area. Another neat trick is to place a motivational message on the floor or even directly beneath the headrest as a visual stimulant.
5. Support the shoulders and back
An option to assist in alleviating stress in medially rotated shoulders is to place a dry, hot towel directly under the shoulders while the client is lying in a prone position. Not only does this help keep the shoulders leveled and supported, the warm heat from the towel also aids in muscle relaxation. Don’t forget a bolster or pillow under the ankles to support the lower back.
6. Add width to a narrow massage table
If you have a narrow table or a client who is unable to rest her arms on the massage table, you might consider investing in an attachable arm rest or arm hammock to eliminate the potential for stress in your client’s shoulders.
7. Accommodate larger clients
Clients with larger midsections or those who suffer from acid reflux usually do not feel comfortable lying in the prone position. To accommodate these clients, try placing a pillow or cushion under the chest and hips, while elevating the headrest a bit so the client’s head remains fully supported. This trick helps provide more space for the stomach area and relieve some of the pressure from the weight of the body.
8. Make women more comfortable
Invest in an ergonomic cushioning system to contribute to breast comfort. Such a system will take pressure off the chest area, while keeping the upper torso in a level and relaxed prone position. If you see many female clients who need additional breast cushioning, you can also upgrade to a table that has a special cutout for the chest area, or use orthotics designed for this purpose.
Set yourself apart
Incorporating just a few of these elements into your massage sessions will set you apart from competitors who offer just the basics with little attention to detail. Your clients will thank you—and your practice will reap the rewards of your diligence.
About the Author
Michelle Boster is a licensed massage therapist, skin care specialist and spa business owner. She has a strong background in customer service and spa management, as well as extensive hands-on experience in massage, bodywork and skin care. She is co-founder and owner of Unique Spa Products, which makes the Face Coolie, a gel pack for massage table face rests.