This blog post is a take on the original “15 Things Your Massage Therapist Wants You to Know” by Kelly Boylen. Her blog is called Boylen Over which appeared on http://www.goodblogs.com.

1. I am not a Masseuse/ Masseur

New Jersey State law requires 600 credit hours to become a Licensed Massage Therapist. I spent those hours and more learning anatomy, physiology, myology (the study of muscles), kinesiology (the study of muscle movement), pathology (when something goes wrong in the body/ sickness), ethics and technique. I know my industry has a past which includes being a front for prostitution; but it is still an insult to ask me for a ‘happy ending’ or a ‘sensual’ massage. Yes, I can take a joke, but those aren’t jokes to me. Even jokingly insinuating I’d offer such services makes me feel like you look down on me.  I earned my right to be called a therapist.

2. Please be on Time

I really don’t like to cut your massage time. I even schedule your appointments so that you can get a full 60 minutes hands-on and not be rushed in or out. Part of that extra time is meant for me to be able to clean up and be ready for the next client when they arrive on time. I want to be give all of my clients the best possible experience from start to finish. When you’re on time, I’m on time!

3. Stubble is not an issue

I can’t tell you how many apologies I get from woman about not shaving. It’s not that I don’t appreciate that your worried it could be uncomfortable for my hands, but if you are worrying about stubble, you are not relaxing. Besides, it really is a non-issue. Most men are hairy and I treat them too. They don’t apologize for beard stubble, you don’t need to apologize for your legs. Besides, all I am thinking about are the muscles underneath the skins surface. And on a lateral thought, a lot of us have worked in spas and given sugar or salt scrubs. I promise you it feels exactly the same. I should be thanking you for the free exfoliation! But seriously, I’ve never met a Massage Therapist who cared about stubble. So please, don’t worry about it.

4. Don’t wear perfume/ cologne

I get that you like the scent. A lot of people are just like you and love the smell of fragrances. However, me and some of my clients are allergic to some of those perfumes and colognes. I’m working in really close proximity to your skin, and the last thing I want is to end up not giving my absolute best because I’ve ended up with a migraine because of my sensitivity to fragrance. Plus, it can be difficult to air out the room for the next client whom might also be allergic. So please be courteous and wait to spray your favorite fragrance until after you’ve left the office.

5. Chat/ Don’t Chat it’s up to you

We all relax in different ways. If part of your process means you’re more comfortable chatting with me, I don’t mind obliging.  But I’m also more than happy to keep it quiet and let you meditate or sleep. I tell all of my clients “It’s your session, not mine.” The only time I break this rule is for truly therapeutic work where I need you to be alert and aware of what’s going on.

6. We don’t see your body in the same way as you

I don’t notice your stretch marks, collagen build-up, cellulite etc. I see muscles. Period. You might think your butt is cute, but all I’m thinking about is the health of the glutes or rotators. The benefits of massage are only made better by the amount of the body that I work on. There are certain areas of the body that are legally deemed off limits. But I guarantee, most therapists can work your abdominals (stomach) and glutes (butt).  If you’re not comfortable having these areas massaged directly, I can do work over the sheets. Honestly, abdominal massage is great for digestive conditions and a lot of low back pain actually stems from the gluteal area. And as I already stated, all I see are muscles. There is no reason to feel self conscious around me.

7. I like my license. Please wait till I leave to start undressing.

I want to continue to help as many people as I can to live healthier lives. I can keep doing that as long as I continue to respect ethical boundaries. No, the naked human body does not make me uncomfortable. Maybe it does other therapists, but to me, it’s the canvas for my work. In order to maintain a proper, professional relationship I’ve been trained extensively on draping techniques that allow me access to the parts that I need without exposing you. I believe that boundaries are important. There are no questions about my work as a therapist when we both keep our exchanges professional. It is also against the law for me to be in the room while you are dressing or undressing. Plus, when you stay covered, I won’t terminate the session early due to a misunderstanding regarding what services are being offered here. Remember, I worked hard to become a professional Therapist, there is no reason for you to be exposed during a session.

8. I know a lot of medical terms

As mentioned before, I had a lot of class hours that provided me with proper terminology to converse with other health professionals. Sometimes I forget which muscles have become common knowledge and which ones you’ve never heard of. Please don’t be offended. Ask me to explain what I’m talking about. A little reminder won’t hurt my feelings and could be the difference in the progress of your treatment.  Also, there are some ‘short cuts’ in medical speak that can be confusing. Abbreviations such as ACL isn’t always helpful. The most common ACL is in the knee (anterior crutiate ligament), however, I once had a client who said he tore his ACL and meant acromial clavicular ligament, which is actually at the shoulder. So please understand, I do know these terms, but we might be thinking of two completely different things. I might ask you to clarify what you mean to make sure that we are on the same page.

9. Changes in Medical Condition are important. Tell me right away.

There are certain circumstances where your massage treatment might need to be modified or terminated. If you have a fever, you are not getting a massage. If you have a cold, please wait 72 hours after the onset of the cold before getting a massage so that I don’t get sick, my other clients don’t get sick, but most importantly you don’t get WORSE. Also, if you’ve started taking a blood thinner, and don’t tell me until half way through your usual heavy pressure massage, I’m now freaking out! The least of my worries is you end up with bruising, the worst is you end up with blood clots. Changes in your medical condition are so important. If you take nothing else away from this post, please remember this.

10. Keep me informed about your comfort.

I don’t mean you have to constantly say, “That feels great.” What I mean is to let me know if I need to adjust my pressure or move a towel or bolster.  Sometimes different areas of the body are more sensitive than others and I want to make sure that you enjoy every second of the massage. Or in a therapeutic setting, I want to make sure that we are in the correct threshold of discomfort for optimal results.  But sometimes it’s also as simple as that towel got cold and it’s annoying you, or the bolster moved and it’s poking the back of your leg. It’s important that you are able to relax so I’m more than happy to remove that towel or shift the bolster to a better position.

11. The room is cleaned after every client

Personally, I am all about cleaning surfaces that get touched during each session. From disinfecting door knobs to brand new sheets, there shouldn’t be a surface in my office that you touch that doesn’t get wiped often. Including some surfaces you never touch but I do regularly.

12. Just Relax. I’ve got this.

There are times I need to move an arm or a leg, let me do it. I’ve been trained in specific lifting techniques that not only allow me to drape more effectively, but also protect me from injuring myself or you while lifting. When you ‘help’ you tend to undo all of the nice work that I just did, or you create interesting draping issues that I need to take more time away from actual massage to fix. There is a reason I move you the way that I do. Trust me to do my job correctly, and honor me by letting me ask if I really can’t do it on my own.

13. Tell me if something made you unhappy

I can’t even begin to describe to you how badly I wish that I could read your mind. But sadly, I cannot. So if there was something that happened before, during, or after your session that displeased you I really want to know. Especially if it is something that I can correct. And when you go to multiple therapist offices, let the owner know. I always want to offer the best to my clients, but I can’t do that if there is something going on that I don’t know about.

14. Referrals are the best compliment

Massage is such a personal experience. We keep it professional, but let’s face it, I’m touching you. That’s really personal. So if you love the massage, let your friends and family know. Write a review on my Facebook page, or email me a testimonial that I can print for people to read in the waiting room. A lot of people are nervous about getting massage and a referral from a trusted source goes a long way. Plus, knowing that you trust us with your friends and family is the best compliment we can get.

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