The 5 Principles of Massage Therapy for New Massage Therapists
Written by a Massage Therapist who’s been working for a little over a year.
It’s the end of the year and I figured I’d write out my top 5 principles I’ve come to realize in this year of practice. Yes, I would still consider myself a newbie to the practice, but back when I was a student of Massage Therapy, I wish I had known about these sooner. I think it’ll also be fun to see if these change over the next year and what I can add over the year. Okay! Let’s dive in!
1. Believe in what you feel
Do you remember that first lab class where you were palpating the different muscles and you were not sure AT ALL if you were actually feeling the muscle. Well you were. It takes practice, but I PROMISE you, you are feeling what you should be. You just have to believe. At the same time, don’t expect to be a palpation God and feel all the ligaments and striations of the muscles right away. It takes practice. However, one of my favourite mottos is ” Fake it till you make it”. You know your anatomy and you know the general area you’re palpating, so believe in what you feel!
Also, practice on yourself! Don’t be afraid to feel around your neck and shoulder and see what feels good on you, it’ll help you out in your practice.
2. Listen to the muscle
Majority of clients that come in tell you they enjoy ” deep, DEEP pressure”. This is fine, but take your time getting to that deep pressure, especially if a muscle isn’t letting you in. If you’re compressing a muscle and it feels hard as a rock, it ain’t letting you in. Try to reduce the amount of pressure you feel and the muscle may comply and soften. It’s also important to remember that the body is like an onion, we’re literally made of layers. Muscles lay on top of each other, so you may feel different things with varying degrees of pressure. So listen* to the feedback the muscle is giving you!
*And by listen, I mean feel.
3. Work smart, not hard
You may be working with up to 5 clients a day, so take your time, go slow, switch it up. If you find you’re huffing and puffing or your back is starting to hurt, re-evaluate your body position. Can you do these techniques while seated? Go ahead and try it. Do you feel like there is a lot of friction between your hands and arms and your clients body? Probably means you need more lotion. Can you use an elbow where you’re using your thumbs? USE YOUR ELBOWS! And finally, go into the treatment with the mindset to go slow. This helps me relax, reminds me to take my time and allows me to enjoy myself while I’m providing a treatment.
4. Every Body’s Different
You’ll notice similarities and muscle patterns between people very quickly, and it’s kind of cool. But remember, what might work on someone, may not work on someone else. People are different, they be more attuned to the pain they feel and therefore want light-medium pressure. Someone else might be a bodybuilder and have muscles hard as rocks, treat accordingly. Don’t be afraid to change up the routine and make the treatment for the person and NOT the impairment because….EVERY BODY’S DIFFERENT!
5. Be Positive
Remember that when you step foot into your clinic, be positive. People are coming to see YOU today and it’s most likely going to be the highlight of their day. You remember how it feels to get a massage? You count down the hours until it’s your turn. So it’s important to remember to be positive and happy. I’m not telling you you have to be cheerleader level of peppiness, just show your client that you’re also happy to see them and can’t wait to help them feel better.
Alright, there it is. My 5 principles I learned as a new RMT for other new RMTs and new Massage Therapy grads to think about when they begin treating. I can’t wait to add to this list next year.
Have a happy and safe new years, and here’s to 2021!
All the best,