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Document This Massage

May 5, 2013

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A few times a year I have the opportunity to receive a massage from an aspiring massage therapist. Sometimes they are referred to me by other friends or other therapists, sometimes they find me by simply goggling and finding my number. The school I went to for massage, which is about 5 minutes from my current office, requires students to do a number of documented massages in order to receive certification. This is in addition to a practical on a teacher and a 100 question written final exam. They have 10 documented massages to do: 5 on friends, family or random strangers, and 5 on certified massage therapists.

I have been in the shoes of these new therapists and I know how hard it is to get all those documented massages done. Massage therapists can be flaky and hard to get a hold of, plus a lot of times they will cancel a scheduled documented massage to get their clients in, which is understandable. I generally make a point of keeping all the appointments I book. I hate cancelling and rebooking. I find more often than not that I am at the mercy of these aspiring students, they run late, I’ve had one stand me up, or they reschedule. I assume they will get all the kinks out before they go into the world and work on the general public.

I don’t claim to be expert on massage, but I’ve been doing this for nearly 10 years and I do know what I like, and I know what my clients like, so I do feel that I can give good advice and be of help to these new therapists. I try to help them relax, I also want to give good and constructive feedback. It takes time to really get into massage and to establish your pattern and flow. Plus as a therapist you have to decide what kind of massage you like to do. I do therapeutic and relaxation massage. I do work with clients with injury recovery, but mostly, I do relaxation and stress reduction. With that said, I don’t give a “fluffy” massage. I absolutely do deep tissue and sports massage.

Yesterday I had a gal come to my office for one of these documented massages. She was running late, but she did call me. I could tell that she was slightly nervous. I concentrated on my breathing and tried to exude a quality of peace. Her massage started very briskly and she was all over the place. Uneven strokes and quick. She was trying to get too much in too quickly. In school, they teach you so much more then you could actually do in the typical one hour massage. I always try to tell them to just take a deep breath and do what feels natural. I know what you have learned, I don’t need to be impressed by having it ALL done to me. I want to feel even pressure, even strokes. I want to know that you have a sense of flow and a rhyme and reason to your massage.

As she got into her routine she found her rhythm. Pressure was great and she even worked a few knots. All and all I was happy and she was just over 60 minutes on her time. I have had students finish in less than an hour, but usually I am on the table between 65-85 minutes. Sometimes massages go longer because I will give pointers on technique or tell them a trick I know for a move they are struggling with. I have also made suggestions on how to make moves flow more seamlessly into one another. More often then not the student does a move on me that I forgot about and then I go home and get my notes out and figure out a way to work that old move back in my existing routine. I once had a student do a 2 hour massage on me. She said she was in a good place and that she just wanted to continue. I figured what the heck, I could always use the massage and the practice was great for her. (She was also doing her final practical massage the next day, I think she wanted to be prepared. She was awesome too! I really hope she’s out there making people happy!)

All and all the massage was great. We chatted a bit about the way that I have my space set up, what I have on my table. (I have a heated table pad and then a wool pad over that. I top it off with a cotton blank that drapes to the floor to cover the storage space under the table. Then the sheet go on, always 100% cotton, flannel in the winter, jersey in the summer, topped finally with a comforter that provides not only warmth, but brings the room together. Room presentation is part of the massage!) I gave her the same advice I give all new therapists: Touch as many different body types as possible and never go to long between doing massages. You want it all to remain fresh in your mind, don’t lose what you just learned!

I’m excited to know that even in a slow economy that people are still learning and wanting to do massage. I have a few friends who have moved on from massage, retired or stopped taking new clients. It’s always good to meet new, eager therapists. Its handy to be able to call on them to help with community events, or even refer them for events that I get asked to do that I don’t have time for. Heck, it’s even nice to be able to have someone new to trade with every so often!

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From → Massage, My work

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