In my years at MASSAGE Magazine, I have been blessed to receive many dozens of massage and touch-therapy sessions. Because I have had so much experience as a massage client, I know what works best for me during a session—but not all clients, especially new clients, have that confidence. In the spirit of offering a client’s perspective, I came up with the following list of suggestions massage therapists might keep in mind during sessions:
• Ask before stretching. I have noticed an increasing number of massage therapists incorporating simple stretches into massage sessions. But when my knee is gently bent and my quadriceps engaged, my reaction is one of disappointment. I am on the table for massage, not to be stretched. Although some clients might appreciate being stretched, not all will.
• Include abdominal massage. I am continually surprised by the number of massage therapists, especially at spas, who avoid my tummy altogether. It is part of my body, and for me to feel fully integrated at the end of the session, I want to have it massaged. Ditto for my gluteals. Where allowed by law, consider breast massage, with client permission, as well.
• Ask the client if she feels OK lying prone. Unless someone is a stomach-sleeper, lying face-down might feel strange or uncomfortable, especially if the client has sinus problems or large breasts. Check in with the client to see if she would enjoy having a larger percentage of the session done supine.
• Check in with the client about allergies. Eucalyptus oil can be beneficial for its relaxing properties, but some clients, like me, are allergic to eucalyptus or other essential oils.
• Dedicate five minutes of each session to the area of the body the client most likes to receive touch. Most people have a favorite area of the body when it comes to massage—my regular massage therapist always allocates extra time to the soles of my feet—so acknowledging this and offering clients the opportunity to choose an area to receive extra massage is a true gift.