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How You Can Help Your Therapist

Many people see massage therapists when they are looking for help with their well-being. Whether it be relaxation, injury treatment, pain relief or perhaps another reason, your massage therapist is there to help you to feel better. With the end of the calendar year approaching, massage therapists tend to see a big increase in treatment requests. The last two or three months of the year are typically very busy, with many people trying to squeeze in last-minute visits before the end of the year. So with the busy season approaching, I'd like to share a few tips that you, as a patient, can do to help your therapist maintain their sanity and you can get the most out of your massage.

#1 – Be on time

This one seems fairly self-explanatory but is often overlooked. At this time of year schedules are often overbooked for both therapists and clients.  We all understand that life happens, and often things out of your control impact your ability to make it to an appointment on time.

In the case that you may be running late, please call the therapist or their office if you can. If your therapist knows that you will be five minutes late, they can take advantage of that time for a snack or a bathroom break that they might otherwise not get. With a typically higher-than-average number of clients in a day, the therapist will be working hard to stay on time, so that they don't make you late for whatever else you have planned for your day. It really is appreciated when you try and do the same.

In the event that you are unable to attend your appointment, the sooner that you notify the therapist or the office, the better. Therapists will often keep a waiting list, particularly at this time of year, and with enough notice those cancelled times can often be filled in with someone else who is in need of treatment.

#2 – Be ready when your therapist calls you into the room

Along with being on time, being ready is also important. This can mean already having gone to the washroom, (because, let's face it, who really wants to have to get up off the treatment table to use the washroom in the middle of their massage?) and being finished with any phone calls when it is time to go in.  You could eat into your treatment time if you are not ready to go when the therapist is ready to get started.

#3 – Be realistic about what you would like worked on

If you have a shorter appointment (less than 60 minutes), asking your therapist to “focus on...” and then listing off many areas, is not realistic. Try to stick to two or three at most.  If you do have many areas of concern, feel free to list them, but then ask for them to address as much as they can, and be sure to highlight what your top priority is.  Therapists should go over with you what you are expecting to achieve with treatment and they will do their best to accomplish those goals.

Conversely, if you have a longer appointment time (60 minutes or longer), then having them address only one area is not recommended either. It is possible to over-treat an area.

Keep in mind that your therapist may suggest different areas than you intended to be treated if they find something of concern that they feel needs to be addressed. Remember that your therapist is there to help you and if they make a suggestion, you should at least consider it, even if you decide not to have them go ahead.

In general, it is best to specifically discuss the areas of treatment with your therapist so that there are not any surprises when the treatment is finished.

#4 –  Know that a 60-minute massage appointment may not necessarily mean that you get 60 minutes of hands-on time

Part of your treatment time includes some discussion at the beginning of your appointment.  This is for the therapist to check-in with you regarding how you are feeling, which areas you would like worked on, and any other medical conditions that may affect your treatment.  This is all with the objective in mind that you have a safe and effective massage. If you are seeing a massage therapist for the first time, you should expect that this part of the appointment will take a bit longer than if you are seeing a therapist that you see regularly.

Many therapists will also give you homework, such as exercises or stretches, as a way to help you prolong the effects of the hands on work, and so there needs to be time set aside for the therapist to go over these with you.  A few minutes at the end of your session are also needed to ensure that you are feeling alright after the treatment, and to allow any potential light-headedness to pass before you get off the table.

Depending on how appointments are scheduled that day, there may not be a break between your appointment and the therapist's next appointment. Since the therapist will need a few minutes to change the table linens and set up for the next person, this could also shorten your hands-on time.

With all this in mind, your therapist will still do their best to give you as much hands-on time as possible!

#5 – Thank your therapist!

It may seem like a simple and obvious thing, but around this time of year when everyone is stressed and over-scheduled, and when your mind is already on the next task, sometimes manners are forgotten.  Remember that tipping your therapist is NOT required, nor expected (you wouldn't tip your doctor, right?), but a simple "Thank-you" goes a long way.

Therapists know that they are not necessarily saving the world with their work, but they do honestly hope that they have made your day a little better. Though you may not have thought of your treatment as "enjoyable", particularly if the therapist has worked on some painful areas, hopefully the treatment has at least provided some reprieve from the stress of everyday life.  Acknowledging your therapist and their efforts is always appreciated.

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