Before we get into what makes a perfect relaxing massage I'd like to touch on what makes the perfect massage? Ask 10 people this question and you will probably get 10 different answers. The individual answers may be that the perfect massage is, relaxing, energizing, takes away my pain, leaves me feeling better, moving better, helps me with soreness, cope with various hardships etc. Whatever the answers, there is one thing they all have in common… They are all subjective! The perfect massage to one person will be what meets their needs the best. This means it’s up to the therapist to find out what they want and follow their lead. So a perfect massage, in relation to the client, is whatever they want it to be.
To look deeper into this question of what the “perfect massage” is we’ll start by taking personal preference out of the question. Today we’ll seek what makes the massage the most relaxing experience possible.
When striving to help the client relax it is imperative to do everything we can to help the client feel comfortable, secure, safe, and confident in our abilities. There are a few points here that I feel are very important. If the client doesn’t feel secure, safe or confident in us they will never be comfortable. This comfort is essentially the most important thing to provide a mentally relaxing experience, and varies person to person, however there are a few things we can do, regardless of the person, to help achieve this comfort.
The first step of establishing a comfortable way to relate to others is the ground floor to help the client relax. The second most important piece to this puzzle is how we touch and relate to the client. For this it is important to regulate the flow of our movements and gradually progress from one stroke or technique into another. Again the importance here is always keeping in mind what we are trying to achieve. If the client wants a relaxing massage then the flow of movements and your concentration should be on making it a relaxing experience for them. Some action points on seeking physical relaxation:
I’m sure we’ve all heard the term lead from the front. This is especially important in the state of helping others relax. If you are not relaxed yourself it becomes very difficult to help someone else become relaxed. I cover this in depth in my Advanced Body Mechanics class. below you can find the playlist which holds most of what I cover in that seminar. Feel free to fast forward to 1:12 for my talk on why this is important, and browse the rest of the videos in the playlist to see how we incorporate this concept into all our body mechanics.
After establishing your own state of relaxation it is important to help the client transition from the stressful life outside of your location into the calmness of your space, this is done by easing your transitions during the massage, on and off the table as well as establishing a good flow throughout every aspect of your customer service. This includes having a routine that the client can relax into before and after the massage. Relaxation is as much a part of the massage itself as it is a part of how we relate and communicate to the client.
In closing, relaxation should always be the underlying goal of your work with any client. In the case of highly efficient, sometimes painful, rehabilitative therapies it is important to maintain the focus on making the client feel comfortable, secure, safe, and confident in our ability to help them, much more so if the process is difficult and painful. The focus on these 4 things are what will make every type of massage palatable and help them open themselves up to all the benefits this practice has to offer. To reiterate the point above, what makes a perfect massage is whatever the client wants it to be.
Our next post will be on what makes a perfect therapeutic massage, stay tuned. =)
Daniel R. Hyde
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
Kwan Ying Do Kung Fu
Tai Chi Chuan
Tui Na, Chinese Massage
Shiatsu, Japanese Massage