August 31, 2011

Full-Body Massage or Focus?

A good massage is a full-body massage, so I often heard in school, but what do you do when clients come in and ask for an hour on their neck and back only? How do you guide the client to the full-body effect?

Well, I let them drive. A full massage is better for the body, I say, but you are in charge. I can still focus on the neck and back, and you can still get the full-body effect of relaxation.

But really, do massage therapists really do full body massages? I admit I skip tummies unless the client has a complaint or request for tummy. It’s a holdover from my spa days, when the director declared tummies off limits because someone massaged a tummy without asking first and caused a calamity at the check-out desk.

And how many of us therapists skip glutes? Or faces? Anterior throat work? When is a full-body not a full-body? If a male client asks for a full-body could it be a code for something else?

I feel less than perfect in this area. I used to always ask if people wanted tummy massage, but I got “No!” so often I stopped asking. For a while I told clients that no one likes the way their tummy looks, but it does help the digestion, the lower back and it feels good. And they can just let me know if they want their tummy done.

Once a client told me that she had decided I was good because I did tummy, because bad massage people don’t do tummy. I have to admit that I never heard that from a client again.

Then there are the folks who you know would direly benefit from tummy massage, but it is their first massage, or they are shy, or they have scars, and they may not believe me when I say it will help their back pain.

To tummy or not to tummy? What do you think?


Unknown said...

As a therapist for over 18 years I feel the tummy is a very important part of a whole body massage. The most common reason the average therapist stay away from it is because they don't have the basic skills of how to work the area or they are concerned about the exposure to their clients more private parts. The experienced and advanced therapist knows how to drape and avoid these issues. The stomach can house a tremendous amount of tension, working the area skilfully can release emotional issues as well as digestive blockage. In my opinion it is a must for a really true full body massage.

Heather said...

I agree that the tummy is an important area to massage.The problem is that most therapists don't do it and people aren't used to having their tummies worked. Most people refuse abdominal massage if given it as an option. That's too bad really.