Why and How You Should Enhance Your Massage Communication Skills

The massage strokes are obviously an important aspect of your career in massage therapy. However, if there is one aspect that holds far greater importance; your communication skills with your clients. For example, the pressure applied to the muscles is a big component, perhaps the most important, of giving a massage. You can only determine the right amount of pressure through communication with your client.

The strokes, combined with the pressure, induce relaxation in the client. However, the pressure has to be of the right amount. Applying too much or insufficient pressure will not make the massage effective. In fact, the massage may not do anything at all if you don’t apply the right pressure at the right place.

The best way of determining if you are applying the right pressure is to communicate with the clients. But most importantly, you should develop enough communication skills to determine how to apply the right pressure, where and when to lay off a bit to give your client a chance to recover.

What Is A Pressure Scale?

Pressure scale determines the pressure that a therapist applies while massaging a client. This is one of the most important aspects of giving a massage. The pressure that is applied to the skin should be just right. If the pressure applied is too light, the massage will not be effective. On the other hand, if the pressure is too much, it could cause immense discomfort to the client.

In addition to being one of the most important aspects of massage therapy, it also happens to be one of the most challenging. This is because massage therapists straight out of massage school cannot always effectively control the applied pressure. This is not because they lack skills, but simply because they lack experience. They are also trained in a very specific way that takes time to adjust.

You may develop these skills over time and learn how to apply the specific pressure needed to relax clients. In some cases, you might have to ask the clients to tell you if the pressure is too much. However, this method cannot be used as a long term solution.

How to Control the Pressure?

Learning to control the pressure is an important aspect of massage therapy. One of the most effective ways to control pressure is to form a system of monitoring pressure. As a massage therapist, you have to know how much pressure to apply. The system should be very easy to follow, and should be effective. It is a great idea to ask clients for feedback from time to time, before, during and after the massage.

During your initial time period of practicing massage therapy, you should give your clients a scale which they can use to tell you whether the pressure is enough or not. If you are not applying enough pressure, the client should be able to communicate it to you. Of course, it works the other way round as well.

The most commonly used scale for this purpose is from 1 to 3. If the client is feeling immense pressure, they would tell you a value of 3. On the other hand a value of 1 will communicate immensely low pressure. While this system is extremely effective, it is not always a solution.

Communicating With Your Client

The way of knowing whether you are applying enough pressure is to communicate well with the client. You can ask clients to relay to you if the pressure that you are applying is too much or too little.

However, not all clients appreciate this method. This is because they expect the therapist to apply the right pressure by default. They aim to relax during a massage therapy session and not talk to the therapist.

This would be a great method to control pressure when you begin practicing. But do not resort to this as a long term solution.

Practice Makes Perfect

Developing your pressure application skills is important. The best way to do this is, of course, to practice on the job and communicate with clients. But not all clients will appreciate this and some may consider it as poor customer service.

This is why you should make it a point to practice before you step into the field professionally. The best option is to practice on your applied pressure gauging skills during massage school. One of the best ways to do this is to practice with friends.

The more you practice the better you will become at gauging the pressure that you apply. You can form a group with friends and practice massaging on each other. If you are giving a massage to a friend, ask him/her to tell you if you are applying the right amount of pressure or not. This way you will be able to figure out when you are applying the correct pressure.

Pressure Scales for Different Clients

There is one thing about pressure scale that you should always keep in mind; the fact that it will be different for each client. For instance, if you are working with a client who is skinny, you may need to apply less pressure. Similarly, if you are giving a massage to a client who is muscular or fat, you might need to apply greater pressure to relax the muscles.

This is one skill that you should work on prior to entering the field of massage therapy professionally. You should develop the habit of gauging pressure on different body types beginning in massage school. Of course, if you come across a different body type during practice, you can use the gauging system. But you should learn to adapt and learn about the pressure scale as soon as possible.

Perspective is Relative

Another thing to keep in mind is that each individual has a different perspective. If you think that a particular pressure that you are applying is enough, the client may think otherwise. You should always consider the pressure that the client finds appropriate. Instead of learning how to apply the pressure correctly, you could learn how to read the client’s involuntary response to different applied pressures.

Whenever you apply a certain type of pressure to a body, you will get feedback. You should learn to read the feedback that the body provides when you apply pressure. This will help you gauge whether the pressure that you are applying is correct or not.

Since the pressure scale holds immense importance in the field of massage therapy, you should perfect it. If you practice using the right techniques, and keep communication channels open with your clients, you will easily be able to figure out the right amount of pressure you need to apply when giving a massage.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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