When it comes to choosing the right massage cream for your massage therapy or bodywork practice, much of the decision should be based on the types of techniques you practice each day as a professional massage therapist or bodyworker.

For example, if most of your clients who book appointments for massage therapy or bodywork expect deep-tissue work to help alleviate chronic pain or the symptoms associated with a specific condition or injury, then you most likely choose to use a massage cream that offers more “stick” than “slick.” Massage creams with greater friction allow massage therapists and bodyworkers to focus their hands-on techniques on deeper work in more specific areas of the body.

On the other hand, if your clients are coming to see you for light, relaxing forms of massage therapy or bodywork, then you most likely want to use a massage cream that brings more “slick” than “stick” to the table. A massage cream that offers more glide will allow you to use those techniques that are applied with lighter pressure over larger areas of the body.

Of course, most successful massage therapists and bodyworkers tend to offer techniques that blend a bit of both light and deep touch therapy, as well as hands-on skills that live somewhere in between the two ends of the pressure spectrum. This is one of the reasons massage cream is such a popular lubricant—you can use it to do lighter or deeper work because it does offer a bit of both friction and glide.

For example, a massage therapist or bodyworker who most often performs deep work on his or her clients would want to use a massage cream with more “stick” than “slick.” However, this touch therapist will likely want to use lighter strokes at times as well. In this case, he or she could simply apply slightly more massage cream to create greater gliding.

Quite a few massage therapists choose to keep more than one massage cream stocked in the session room, in order to best tailor the massage cream to the client’s needs and the touch techniques necessary to meet them. When you have more than one massage cream available, you can reach for the massage cream that offers greater glide when it comes to those lighter strokes, and you can reach for the massage cream that offers more friction when you are ready to do deeper work.

There also are massage creams designed to meet even more customized client needs, such as the need for relief from more severe aches and pains upon arrival in the session room. In these cases, a well-prepared massage therapist or bodyworker might apply a massage cream that contains a pain-relieving ingredient, such as menthol or Arnica montana. Massage creams designed to speed pain relief not only benefit the client, but they can also benefit the massage therapist or bodyworker, because the client’s muscles should relax faster, allowing for deeper and more effective touch therapy.

Being picky about your massage cream—and perhaps purchasing several high-quality massage creams for your session room—can notch up the value of the services you provide for each client.

Brandi Schlossberg