Clients schedule massage for a variety of reasons. While the therapist addresses the unique physical needs of every client, the job does not necessarily have to end once the session is over. To extend the benefits of a good massage and help promote healing and wellness, it might be wise to share some healthy recommendations for self-care at home.
While some of these suggestions might seem like common sense, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate the message after each massage. After all, wellness is your specialty and helping your client achieve optimal health should be your goal.
The advice you give clients after a massage will, in part, depend on the individual client and the type of massage they have received.
Kylie Hall, who works at Pebble Hill Massage Therapy Clinic in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada, primarily sees clients who have lymphatic issues, so many of her recommendations focus on hydration and hydrotherapy, both crucial practices for proper blood flow and lymphatic function.
“I always recommend that patients have two to three extra glasses of water after treatment,” Hall said.
Additionally, Hall suggests clients take Epsom salt baths and apply deep, moist heat to increase circulation and decrease muscle soreness after a massage. “These are great after-massage treatments and also as ongoing home care to help manage chronically tight muscles,” she said.
A warming topical can also feel great and ease any muscle soreness. You may even want to offer such products as retail items for sale in your practice, especially if you use them during massage sessions.
Ease Up on Exercise
For her clients who are exercise enthusiasts, Hall encourages them to take it easy after a massage.
“Going for a walk is great, but I discourage vigorous exercise the same day after treatment,” she said, explaining that while the treatment is therapeutic, it may also cause some low-grade inflammation. “Your body needs time to heal afterwards.”
Make Information Available After a Massage
Imparting too much information can overwhelm clients, Hall said. She keeps her after-massage advice to a minimum, but she does provide magazines in her waiting room that address issues related to lymphedema. When clients express an interest in the articles, she will often lend them the magazine.
Doug Elman, corporate trainer for Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, doesn’t typically offer advice to his clients after a massage; rather, he leads by example and provides scenarios that have worked for him.
“Some examples of this would be the morning stretches I do and how they relate to my clients’ concerns, how my meditation/relaxation routine before helps me start my day in a positive way or maybe how I use contrast therapy if I have overworked myself and am sore,” Elman said.
“I often educate my clients about the benefits of products and the effectiveness of those products, only after I have used them and received positive results,” he added
According to Elman, clients often look to a massage therapist “…as a health care provider and the one that can help or guide them to feeling better.” He said that therapists should communicate and set realistic expectations for their clients.
However, it is important to note that virtually every massage therapist has a legal scope of practice that could vary from state to state. Every therapist should check with their state regulator to determine what type of advice is, and is not, within their scope of practice.
“If a client comes to me for X, Y or Z, together we first must establish what the expectation is for the session,” Elman said. “If you set expectations, give a rating scale for before, during and after the session. You will both have a measurable way to gauge any positive results that were achieved during the session time and then be able to discuss how to extend or maintain these results.”.
“It is extremely important for us to educate our clients about what to reasonably expect during this session as well as on the cumulative benefits of massage,” Elman added. “Understanding that if they apply some of the recommendations discussed at the end of the session, along with regular massage … we can help them achieve their long-term goals for their wellness.”
It is important for the therapist to personally engage in lifelong learning, Elman said. “If I don’t continually educate myself, I can’t give clients my best. Taking classes on other modalities or learning more about essential oils, latest trends, et cetera, adds to my toolbox of knowledge.”
“Not everybody reacts the same to a modality. By customizing each session and using multiple techniques or offering enhancements during the session, I am able to once again focus on helping clients realize their expectation for the day’s session as well as achieve their ultimate goal of feeling good and improving their overall quality of life.”
Educate Your Clients
Post-massage advice is meant to enhance and build on the goals of someone’s particular treatment, and help them take some action to aid in their recovery, Hall said.
While massage may be your passion and calling in life, you can also be an effective teacher, helping educate your clients — within scope of practice — on the value of post-massage care.
About the Author
Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage.