Ivan Zamorano

Acupunture Treatment

Massage Tutorial: Talking to Clients On the Massage Table

Massage Tutorial: Talking to Clients On the Massage Table


– Hi, I’m Ian Harvey, massage therapist. Today we’re going to talk about how to talk to your client on the table, why we would want to do this, what the circumstances would be
where it would be appropriate and why it can be useful. This is something that I
started to do when I was working at one of those
big box massage franchises and we only had ten
minutes between clients. You had your 50 minutes, your 10 minutes, and then your next client
slammed all together and that wasn’t a lot
of time to do anything like say hello or even introduce yourself. So what I started to do
was take some of the things that I would put after the
massage or before the massage during the massage, during the session, and I found that there
were some benefits to that, some benefits to educating the client about their own body
while they’re on the table that you just can’t get
by trying to, you know, jam a whole lot of
information after the massage when there’s no teaching aids. And I know you could
have a chart on the wall but there’s nothing like
talking to your client about their muscles while
you’ve got your thumbs sunk into an interesting point. For instance, while you’re working on a client’s rotator cuff you can tell them what the
heck a rotator cuff is. Most people don’t know
that their rotator cuff is a group of muscles because
no one ever explains that. It just sounds like a cuff. By taking a moment to explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, that can bring the client more
in touch with their own body, kind of gives them an
idea about what’s going on in an area that may have been mysterious or even scary, if they’ve been hurt there. It also brings them on board with your treatment plan and
with your reasoning. If we stay opaque and it’s
difficult for a client to tell why we’re doing what we’re doing, sometimes it can seem like
we’re wasting their time. They don’t know why
we’re working back here when they’ve got pain up here. They don’t know why we’re
interested in their hips when the pain is in their low back. So by giving them this extra information by showing them with our hands that there can be a correlation
between these two points, we can bring them on board with why we’re doing what they’re doing. And that can have some
interesting results. First of all, it can increase their satisfaction as a massage client by knowing what we’re doing
and why we’re doing it it can make them feel like they’re a partner in their treatment, which is how I always want it to seem. Second, by bringing them on board, that can increase their
compliance with homework and by bringing them on board
with our thinking like this that can be more
effective than just saying go stretch or go use a foam roller. We’re telling them the why of it. By telling them a little bit extra, that can be enough to make them think, hey, this might be worth doing more of. Now, a big disclaimer, one
thing that I don’t wanna do while I’m working on a client and they’re kind of at my mercy, this person is here, they’re
trusting you with their body, what I don’t want is to stigmatize them. I don’t want to talk
to them or frame things in such a way that they
leave with a complex or with new worries about their body. So, I talk about this in my knot video, the reason why I don’t
really like that term is because people can kind of carry it around with them for
the rest of their lives. Oh, I have knots. So when you’re telling
them what you’re feeling, make sure to frame it in a way that is accepting and normalizing. And contrast that with, wow, you’ve got the
tightest shoulders ever. That’s not what I wanna tell my client. Some people like hearing things like that because they think of it as a competition but, for other people, that
will make them worried, that will be something that they think about for a long time. So when I talk to people about their body, especially while I’m in contact with it, realize that that is a vulnerable moment, that that is a time of trust, and I want to give them
a window into their body without making it seem scary or weird. And, on that note, just
realize that it is possible to overload a client with information. I don’t want to be explaining things or talking about things for any more than a few minutes in any given session, especially if they’re not responding. If the client isn’t asking questions, if they’re not interested, then I will absolutely
revert back to silence and just go about the massage. But if the client is interested, if they’ve got specific
disfunction or pain that they’re very interested
in learning more about, then I’ll happily spend
more time than that. Just realize that you don’t need to spend your entire 60 minutes doing this. Let your client lead the
way, as far as how much talking is going to happen
during any given session. Here’s some examples of some things I might talk to the client
about during a massage. For instance, if I’m working with a client who has shoulder problems,
they’ve got shoulder pain, they’ve got limited range of motion, while I’m working with this rotator cuff, I will take the opportunity to tell them a little bit about it. Now, Aly, do you feel anything there? – [Ali] Yep. – Okay, so sometimes I can
be as non-specific as that but sometimes I have to let
people know what I mean by that. In any case, once I have learned that they are feeling
something in this area I’ll tell them a little about it. So, this is one of your
four rotator cuff muscles. This one turns your arm outward. It’s called the infraspinatus. And just in the past, I’ve seen a lot of correlation
between tightness here and pain on the front of the shoulder. So this is something that I’d like to work a little bit more
with as we go forward. And once I’ve just given them that little bit of information, I can stop there or I can
tell them a little bit more about these other muscles
and how they are related. Some other areas where it can be useful to talk to your client
about their own body is where there’s a relationship between dysfunction and pain that they might not
immediately find intuitive. So if someone tells me
about their low back and they’ve given me permission
to work with their hips, I’ll let them know that what
I’m sinking into right now is the gluteus maximus
and there can frequently be a relationship between tightness here and tightness and pain in the low back. So as I’m working, let me know if you ever feel any referred pain into this other area, okay? – [Aly] Okay. – And it can also be useful when you’re working with areas
that might not commonly be worked by other massage therapists. So if I’m working with this hip region and I come around to the side and I’m making contact
with gluteus medius, it can be useful to let them know why this area can be a
little bit more intense, a little bit more sensitive. And just let them know
what you’re working on. And I like to throw out a little bit of information when I’m working with or planning to work with unusual muscles. So again, these are areas that other massage therapists might not necessarily work with,
but these are also muscles that can be a little bit emotional. Muscles that can be kind of intense. So I like to, one, let them know more
about their own body, but two, this is also important for getting informed consent. By letting them know
where I’m working and why, they’re better able to say,
I don’t want contact there. For instance, if I am
working with someone’s jaw and I think that it might be important to work with their SCM as well, I like to let them know
a little bit about that. Aly, I’d like to work with a muscle on the front of your neck,
it’s this ropy guy right here. This can feel a little bit weird but if it feels at all like choking or anything like that,
please let me know, okay? – Okay.
– All right. All right, so that’s how I go about it. Let me know what you think
down in the comments. Let me know if you do much
talking during a session and how you go about it. Let me know if you’re
planning on trying any of this and if you’ve got any
concerns about doing so. Thanks, as always, to
my Patreon supporters. Consider subscribing and
I’ll see you next time. (ukulele music)

26 Replies to “Massage Tutorial: Talking to Clients On the Massage Table”

  • Great information as always, thanks :).
    The one that always gets me is when a client says something along the lines of "Pretty tight back there, huh?!" or "Oh my back is sooo tight, does it feel really bad!?" Almost like they're proud of having tight muscles.
    Do you have a recommendation of what to say to that? I'm definitely more than happy to explain what I'm doing and feeling to clients as I work if they seem interested, but still find it so strange that some seem almost excited about having an issue.

  • I really appreciate this. I don't usually talk to my clients unless they initiate conversation. I do like the idea of describing the work I am doing and why. I'll try it out!

  • I'll often ask clients about the origins of more prominent pain. If they can't think about why their lower back is sore I'll ask about the functions they perform at work or any tasks around the house they've done lately. I find trying to deduce the tasks that can cause pain can be educational and help clients to be a bit more aware of their actions and well being.
    Eg. If someone is regularly driving to a labor intensive job I'll try to reinforce the idea that a short bit of stretching or movement before getting started can help alleviate some of the back pain that may be caused by the job. Just getting the client more conscientious in general.

  • Great suggestions. Makes all the difference being in clear communication and consent. I appreciate this and you. Any further videos on communication are helpful. It is one of my challenges as a therapist. Finding the balance of speaking and holding space for silence. Each client is different and sometimes I feel different too. Often I want to just go into my intuitive process while other times I sense that thr client needs me to communicate to create safety and/or education

  • Great video thank you!!! Random question – my joints crack so much, my fingers and wrists mostly… when I’m massaging, I get so embarrassed because my hands will crack so often! But I don’t know how to stop it! Anyway just wondering if you know why some people crack so much and any advice on how to stop it

  • Some great ideas and techniques to educate the clients in a way to make them part of the treatment..thanks so much!

  • Oh good the question I’ve had for a while actual pertains a little to this, if you, a client would like a MT to talk less because they’re having an ACUTAL conversation for longer than 10 mins, (I think it was longer than half the massage) how would you get them to stop. I had that once and tried the ‘giving short answers’ or not ‘responding much’ but they didn’t really get the hint until I finally flipped over.

    It wouldn’t have bothered me as much if they’d asked, ‘how’s the pressure’, ‘can I massage your scalp (or really anywhere)’ or what you did in the video and explained why you’re doing things.

  • I love this video, especially the part about not stigmatizing the client. I think people like the “idea” of knots less bc its a competition (who wants more knots?) and more bc they think you are doing something significant if you are working out their knots. Unless I observe that the client knows about anatomy, I try to use more laymans terms. Instead of “infraspinatus” I may say shoulder blade muscles….just bc they are in a pretty deep state of mind so I dont want them to have to think too hard. Also instead of education I like to use talking as a way to get them deeper into awareness and investigation. So for example I ask them if they remember any actions they may have done that lead to the pain/area of tension (if its a significant area). This is great bc it gives me alot more information and it is a way to connect what is happening on the table to their actual life and then hopefully from that awareness they can be motivated to change. My problem I think is that I am not assertive enough, bc I dont like assuming that the client wants to be “trained” like I see alot of therapists doing. Sometimes I have couples sessions and then the other therapist tells my clients what to do – So rude! But sometimes I think that I say too little at the end of sessions, when people expect that “end of the massage moral.” I have alot of high end clients though that dont like to be told what to do so that may be it too.

  • Great video once again.. I’m very mindful and do like to run through things if applicable, one thing I do note is clients responses to touch; they may be quiet on the table and not saying if something is uncomfortable however their hands might twitch or fingers clench.. I like to read these responses during treatments and ensure clients comfort. 😊 thanks again

  • Great video. I'm an RN as well, and talk to my clients about what I find and what I'm doing. I want them to understand and always be able to participate in their treatment. I find it also helps them relax and builds trust. Nursing has taught me to make statements factual and very neutral when describing things. This is a great video! Thanks a bunch for making it.

  • Didnt realize how many questionsthey are as a client.. Kind of forgot a bit, I do avoid talking during massage thinking I rather have them relax for me to be able to work .. It makes much more sense and appreciate this, thanks for your knowledge💆💜✌👌

  • Again a beautiful, very helpful video – thank you a lot! 🙂 I love your videos and also learned again quite a bit in the comments.
    Especially the part with the negative remarks about the body that some people get from other therapists was so good to hear. I sometimes wondered about it. To worried people I sometimes like to point out parts that are healthy and relaxed. In most cases the "problem" is tiny compared to all the things, that function perfectly.
    An approach I like in general is to awake a sense of compassion for what the body is doing saying something like: "this or that muscle is just faithfully overworking for you, to protect you, to keep you safe. Maybe we can show him, that it can let loose a bit. Let´s see what the connection is and what it needs." If it fits to the massage client I ask them, if they know Dobby from Harry Potter, who also tried to rescue relentlessly, almost killing Harry. But he is so loving and wanted so well! A client gave her Iliopsoas names after hearing that, we now are working with her bodyguards Karl 1 and Karl 2.
    In general I learned to refuse being too brutal with the body (when some people want their massages as hard as possible). I prefer to show the muscles where they can go and what they can do instead of knocking out the poor things.
    Some people like to tell me a lot and for some it seems to be helpful. When they are relaxing while doing it, I let it be and also react to it like a normal human only without initiating too much. And always being careful, that they stay in a positive mood. With some clients it happens, that we are laughing tears and that can definitely help the relaxation.
    Every massage is different. And I was and am surprised to learn with the massages how incredibly different we humans are.
    Greetings to all massage therapists!

  • Great tips! Thank you for sharing!
    I also read through some of the below comments which are helpful as they reflect how every client can be different. I myself don't want to talk when I am getting a Swedish massage, but feel more comfortable if someone explains to me what he/she does during a remedial massage (e.g. I noticed your left pelvis is rotated anteriorly. So I am going to work on…which will help…). So, I guess I can empathize with both sides 🙂

  • You’re awesome man! I’m in school right now and I learn a lot more from your videos than I do in class lol. I really respect and admire your perspective on the human body. It’s inspiring 😇

  • Thank you for the helpful video! I am always looking for ways to improve communication on the table. Speaking of which, any advice when non-communicative clients barely respond to anything on the table but then complain long after the service, usually on forms or reviews? I try to be open and helpful, but I don't know how to help or adjust for clients who are no longer on my table/county. If they say something afterwards, then maybe I can try to help, but no one says it in the moment or to my face.

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