Similar to your massage table, linens, lighting and music, massage cream is one of those details that can either enhance your hands-on work or detract from it. It may seem like a minor aspect of your overall massage therapy practice, but massage cream is quite key to the success of each session.

Depending on the type of massage therapy or bodywork you practice, you may need more or less of this lubricant, but it is a necessity nonetheless. The rare exceptions are those modalities that don’t call for massage cream, such as shiatsu and most forms of energy work.

However, for the rest of those practitioners of professional touch, massage cream is crucial to conducting a satisfying overall session. With massage cream, one can glide over the client’s body, bringing relief and relaxation to large groups of muscles. In addition, massage cream can allow for deeper work in a more concentrated region of the body.

The reason massage cream can go to both ends of the massage and bodywork spectrum—from smooth and gliding to deep and focused—is because this popular lubricant blends the best of both worlds: friction and glide. With the combined perks of both stick and slick, massage cream allows massage therapists and bodyworkers to more readily perform a wider array of techniques.

Certainly, you will want to find the massage cream that brings the right ratio of friction and glide to the table. Selecting this product means assessing your style as a massage therapist or bodyworker, and analyzing the most common needs of the majority of your clients.

For example, if you tend to do a lot of deep massage, working on clients with specific injuries or perhaps practicing athletes with muscle fatigue and pain, you likely will want a massage cream that offers a bit more stick than slick. That way you have the proper lubricant for the majority of your work, but you also will be able to glide over the client’s muscles if and when the session calls for it.

In fact, the ratio of friction and glide often can be adjusted to the perfect level simply by using more or less of the massage cream. In the above scenario, for instance, where the massage therapist or bodyworker has purchased a massage cream that offers a bit more stick than slick, he or she can add more of the lubricant to the client’s skin when it’s time to use techniques that call for more glide.

If you’re not sure what kind of massage cream will best suit your hands-on style and the needs of your massage or bodywork clients, try calling a few companies that make massage creams and request some samples.

Most manufacturers are more than happy to mail out samples for professional touch therapists. Then, you will have the chance to try out the different massage creams on family members and friends, so you can feel confident the purchase will add to your practice and never detract from it.

–Brandi Schlossberg