What’s the first thing you think of when the idea of a massage therapist comes to mind?
All variety of references to masseuses are woven throughout popular culture. Phoebe Buffay’s flaky character on Friends was probably one of the best known portrayals, especially after she gets fired for kissing a client, who later turns out to be married.
And of course, we’ve all been subject to the jokes about the “back room” or “happy ending” massage parlors.
But really, what are some of the traits that make for a great massage therapist? There are some key points you should be paying attention to when you go in for your next rub down to determine if you’re getting the best experience possible.
The Ability to Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
Any good therapist will have the ability to make their clients feel at ease and comfortable in their surroundings. Obviously, if you’re going to be stripping down, relaxing your muscles, and releasing your stress, the environment you’re in better be conductive to that.
A competent massage therapist will be able to accomplish that, not only with the physical surroundings they have, but simply with their manner and personality as well.
The Talent for Making A Connection
Does your massage therapist talk to you before your session? Do they ask about your preferences and what areas are in need of attention?
The lines of communication are vital between client and therapist. And this is a communication that goes in both directions, as it helps set a base for expectations on subjects like pressure, areas that will be worked on, an understanding of restrictions, etc.
A truly great massage therapist will also develop an innate rapport with their client, making it faster and easier for them to find exactly where the problem areas are without always needing specific direction.
A Vast knowledge of Human Physiology
How can a policeman go somewhere to stop a crime if he can’t find the neighborhood?
The idea is the same with a therapist. In the course of their certification they will have learned not only a variety of techniques, but gained a thorough understanding of how the human body is put together.
It should go without saying that a talented therapist will continue to maintain a solid understand of human anatomy. The muscles in our bodies, their locations, and the way they connect to one another all make a big difference in the effectiveness of a massage.
Experienced Using Proper & Varied Techniques
Again, this is a part of the certification process. But the therapistneeds to be putting what they’ve learned to the test in their daily practice, always learning from each individual client and adapting their methods accordingly.
They also should be keeping up their repertoire up to date on the wide variety of techniques available in massage and always remain cognizant of what options will be best for each different person who comes through their doors.
Physical Strength and Manual Dexterity
I think everyone has had the experience of someone, professional or not, trying to be helpful with a massage and you’re thinking, “are you actually doing anything back there?!”
A layperson may not know it, but administering a massage can be a complex and physically challenging process. It’s necessary for a therapist to have a reservoir of physical strength (for working out those really tough knots!) and the dexterity to perform what can be complicated maneuvers to ensure the client is getting the attention he or she needs to problem areas.
Posted on 09/02/2014 at 10:30:00 AM