Saturday, November 27, 2021
12 Secrets of Massage Therapists
CALL THEM MASSEUSES
a good massage can be a blissful experience. Whether you get a deep tissue,
shiatsu, reflexology, or Swedish massage, you'll hopefully feel serene and
pampered afterward. But massage therapists do much more than simply knead your
muscles and decrease your stress. We spoke to a few to learn their secrets of
their relaxing trade.
“I think that all massage therapists cringe at the
term masseuse,” Stevie Duren, a certified massage therapist at
Blissful Bodywork in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, tells mental floss.
Although some people use the terms masseuse and massage
therapist interchangeably, Duren says that masseuse has
a sexual innuendo and implies a lack of education. Regulations vary by state,
but most massage therapists undergo hundreds of hours of training, learn
multiple bodywork modalities, and pass an exam to become certified or licensed.
And they must complete continuing education credits to stay up to date with the
latest research and techniques.
The word masseuse, however, doesn’t bother
licensed massage therapist Nicki Dekunchak, who owns Philadelphia’s Hands
at Home. “Most people don’t know the proper
term is massage therapist,” Dekunchak says.
HOPE YOU'LL SHOWER FIRST
Because massage therapists get up close and personal with
your body, the way you smell doesn’t go unnoticed. Although you may be planning
to shower after the massage, be considerate and practice good hygiene before
your massage as well. But don’t worry if you haven’t shaved your
legs—massage therapists aren’t looking at your stubble, and it doesn’t affect
their treatment plan.
If you shower before your massage, allow enough time for
your hair to dry. According to licensed massage therapist Michelle Doetsch, wet
hair can cause moisture to seep through the
sheet on the massage table into the padding underneath. If the padding gets
wet, Doetsch has to change it before her next client’s appointment and do an
extra load of laundry.
BENEFITS GO BEYOND THE PHYSICAL
Massage can be both a complementary healthcare practice
(accepted by some medical insurance plans) for people with chronic pain and
injuries and a relaxing, spiritually nourishing activity.
According to licensed Illinois massage therapist Rick Smith,
no field is quite as rewarding as massage therapy. “When someone comes to me for
help, I'm truly honored. In only a few sessions massage therapy can relieve, to
one degree or another, physical stress and discomfort, muscular pain, emotional
stress and tension, limited range of motion, and that overall feeling of
malaise. And all without drugs or invasive procedures,” he says.
MULTITASKING MIGHT NOT INSULT THEM
Although getting a massage can be the ideal time to unplug,
relax, and forget about emails, some people text, work, or tweet on their
phones while they get a massage. In her office, Duren doesn’t allow clients to
have their phones turned on (except for extenuating circumstances), but if
she’s working elsewhere, she lets the client choose.
“I would rather have a client make time to receive bodywork
and feel that they can still do what they have to do, rather than using the
excuse that they don't have the time to get bodywork,” she says. Dekunchak
echoes that sentiment, explaining to mental floss that she has
a handful of clients who need to work during their massage. “My motto is it’s
your time. Do what you want with it!”
THEY CAN SPOT POTENTIAL SKIN CANCER.
Because they see parts of your body that you might not be
able to easily see—think the back of your hips or behind your
knees—massage therapists can spot irregular
or suspect moles. If you get regular massages with the same massage therapist,
it’s even more likely that he or she will notice any changes in your skin and
suggest you go to a dermatologist.
you remove your clothes (and underwear, if you wish), lie on a massage table,
and receive physical pleasure, don’t mistake your massage therapist for a sex
worker. The American Massage Therapy Association’s Code of Ethics states that massage
therapists shall “uphold the highest standards of professionalism” and “refrain
from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their
clients in the course of a massage therapy session.” Therapists are also
required to properly drape their clients, only undraping an area while they’re
YOU’RE NOT PUNCTUAL, THEY MIGHT HAVE TO SKIP LUNCH.
Because massage therapists are usually paid for their time,
don’t be late to your appointment. You’ll either miss out on the full time of
your massage, or you’ll make your massage therapist’s day more stressful.
Besides massaging clients, therapists might need to change
the linens, sanitize the table, return oils and other tools to their proper
places, and respond to emails and phone calls. Showing up late means that your
massage therapist might not have enough time to complete all their responsibilities and eat
THEY RELY ON TIPS TO
MAKE ENDS MEET.
Most massage therapists don’t make a ton of money ($43,000
was the mean annual wage in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics),
and because the work hours are irregular, some of them also work a second job
to pay the bills. Unless they own their own business, they only earn a
percentage of the price you pay.
So whether they work as an independent contractor in a spa
or for an hourly wage in a medical clinic, most massage therapists rely on tips
to make ends meet. If you’re satisfied with the quality of your massage, tip
your therapist 18 to 20 percent.
MIGHT KNOW IF YOU NEED MORE FIBER IN YOUR DIET
body gives clues about its state of health or disease, and massage therapists
can read these clues—a hard stomach, tight lower back muscles, or knotted
hamstrings—with their hands. “A therapist can often tell if a client is
constipated by working the intestinal area. I usually only do this kind of work
if specifically requested,” says Duren.
a nervous talker during a massage, don’t worry about filling the silence. Some
clients enjoy talking on the table, but others prefer silence to savor the
moment and fully relax. Whatever you choose, your massage therapist will
probably be fine either way, as long as your time on the table is calming,
soothing, and therapeutic.
BURNOUT RATE IS HIGH.
five years after graduation, the burnout rate for massage therapists
has been estimated at between 50 and 88 percent. Because they work on their
feet, using their hands, arms, and elbows to massage, therapists can get carpal
tunnel, tendonitis, and trigger finger. Even if massage therapists take breaks
between massages, repetitive stress injuries can make their jobs painful,
contributing to a large number of therapists who leave the field each year.
MASSAGE THERAPISTS ARE IN TUNE WITH YOUR BODY.
Levinrad Norman, who teaches massage therapy at New York City’s Swedish
Institute,tells Oprah Magazine that good massage requires really tuning in. Comparing
massage to meditation, she explains that she clears her mind, focuses on being
present, and connects to her client’s body. No matter what area of the body she
works on, Norman tries to encourage her clients to let go and loosen up. “After
you've worked on a lot of bodies, you see with your hands. You don't see with
your eyes anymore. I don't need to look—my hands know,” she says.
GET MASSAGES, TOO.
their work is physical, massage therapists definitely get massages, too.
Massage therapist Julie Azzopardi admits that she trades massages
with her colleagues at the spa where she works and tries to get a massage once
a week or once every other week. Duren says she gets massages because she has
to. “The work that I do is intense and strenuous and I have to keep myself in good
repair to offer the kind of work I do to my clients,” she says. Dekunchak
admits that she gets regular massages, even at 9 months pregnant.