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Massage Today
October, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 10

Massage Therapists Are Super Heroes

By Angie Patrick

Although you likely do not wear a cape, leap tall buildings, have X-ray vision or wear a stylish (yet cartoon-like) spandex suit, it is really true. Consider the typical client who calls you for an appointment.

They are calling you because they need pain management, stress relief or therapeutic massage as a regimen they have implemented and adhere to for their own wellness. They look to you to provide these invaluable services to them, flawlessly and without error. They expect to walk out of the session feeling relieved, less stressed, at peace, and well.

Wow. That is really a huge expectation to have of any profession, but nonetheless, it is fully expected in massage therapy. If a client visits a medical doctor and gets an initial consultation, they will likely go ahead and schedule a follow-up exam, regardless of whether the initial visit had any tangible results on their health when they leave the office. The same cannot be said of the massage industry. If a client walks out of a massage session feeling as if they have had no real benefit, they will likely not rebook.

Now consider that the client also expects you to provide all these fantastic immediate results, regardless of whether you're having a bad day, the bills are late, you missed your dentist appointment, your child has the flu or your dog ran away from home. Your stresses are somehow supposed to be placed on hold and completely out of mind, so you can fully concentrate on making the client feel better. If this is not a feat worthy of a super hero, I don't know what is!

So, how is it accomplished? How do you pull off this miracle, day after day, and be fully present and available for your client and their needs? How can you live a normal life with all the stresses everyone else has, and still be able to give of yourself freely and uncompromisingly to better the lives and health of others? I don't have all the answers, but I do have a few tips to help you stay grounded and centered so you can be clear to provide the service they expect and, ultimately, retain your clientele.

As we preach, so should we abide by the suggestion that massage is essential therapy? Simply put: Get regular massages. I can't tell you how many therapists I speak to at conventions and on the phone who lament about how long it has been since they received a massage. How can this be? We know the therapeutic value and health benefits, yet we will not always take the time required for our own well-being. If costs are the concern, find a therapist in your area and trade services. No doubt you are not the only therapist who could use a good massage. Then it simply becomes a scheduling concern. Schedule this time for yourself as you would schedule an appointment for a client, and do not miss it. This time investment will build major equity in the longevity and success of your practice. Do not overlook this important part of self-care.

Take care of yourself and practice quality self-care techniques that can prevent injury from using improper body mechanics. Make sure your table is at the proper height for your frame, which will prevent over extension. Have your supplies close at hand so you do not have to twist and reach them, (holsters are great for this)! Perform stretching techniques and exercise to keep your body in shape, because massage therapy is a very physically demanding profession. Be certain to take the appropriate time and measures to heal properly should an injury occur.

How do you clear your mind of all the day-to-day clutter that can distract you from your client? Some people meditate for a brief period before giving massage, while others perform yoga stretches. Whether you chant, hum, stretch, walk or just breathe before your client arrives, find a pocket of time to just relax. I like to simply take three or four deep breaths, slowly in and out, and focus on emptying the clutter for a while. You are not ignoring your issues; simply think of it as hitting the "pause" button. There is plenty of time to address your issues, but while we have a client on the table, we must think of only them. To do anything less will come across in the treatment and cloud the client's perception of a successful session.

Taking the time to do a couple of these suggestions will inevitably make your body and your mind more open to providing the client an experience they will enjoy, and give long-lasting effects that will help heal and leave them wanting more.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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