I’ve been a solo practitioner in Fort Worth for a few years now. My massage therapy practice has grown. I have regular monthly clients, and I’m one confident massage therapist. Back in massage school though, I remember being totally freaked out by my first client. (And it was a man so I was even MORE freaked out!) Despite giving hours of massages in class, this real live client had my stomach in knots.
I wish I could take the Tardis and go back in time and tell my former self these three things: Don’t freak out! Massage doesn’t have to hurt! Set boundaries!
Massage Doesn’t Have To Hurt!
A lot of massage therapists believe in the whole “No Pain, No Gain” rule. In order for a client to stop being in pain tomorrow, you had to put that client in excruciating pain during the massage. I learned though that there’s a much kinder alternative. You don’t have to compress the glutes with your elbow. You don’t have to dig in with all your might despite the fact your client is holding their breath and cursing you in their mind. This approach is just wrong!
I cringe now when I remember the times when I was a super new massage student. I used my elbows because that’s what my teachers told me to do. Luckily, I found a mentor who showed me a kinder, more effective approach and now I can give enjoyable AND therapeutic massages.
When I was new, I let the school schedule me for back to back two hour massages. I just kept thinking it was a way of getting to the end of my internship sooner. Yet, I also found myself in pain afterwards. I never said anything to the scheduler – I just smiled and went on with things.
I should have put a stop to it and told them the truth. I could only handle one 2 hour massage a day, and afterwards, a long break. In fact, when someone wants a 2 hour massage now I try to make that the last massage I give that day. Massage is hard work and is grueling on our bodies. We need to be realistic and set those boundaries early. This applies to corporate chair massage, working as an employee at a chain, or being your own boss. Don’t work so hard you can’t work anymore – you’re allowed to set your own boundaries!
Don’t Freak Out!
It turned out my massage instructors were right about that very first massage in the clinic! I had nothing to be afraid of for that first male client, or that very athletic client, or that first two hour massage. I just had to remember to breathe, work slow and listen to my client. I consistently received great evaluations from the clients because I did those three things. And, I know you will, too!
If you found this information helpful, go ahead and do me a favor. Share it with massage students that you know so they’ll know that it’s going to be okay and that they can grow to be massage rock stars, too!
**Photo Credit by: CollegeDegrees360