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Adventures In Massage – Is Your Routine Getting Tired?

September 04, 2016 4 min read

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Adventures In Massage – Is Your Routine Getting Tired?

As with many other professions, it’s easy to find a comfortable position - a comfort zone – and slip into that without giving it much thought. This could happen for various reasons, but with massage therapists it mainly applies to their routines and techniques. After all, once we qualify, essentially we’re done. We’ve learned the tricks of the trade and we are officially ready to start working as a massage therapist.

 

At this point, our heads are still full of everything we’ve just learned, from the techniques to the biology, the contraindications and the customer service. We have probably been looking at where we might want to work or what equipment we should be investing in, so the last thing we’ll be thinking about is whether we know enough in terms of techniques to keep things varied and interesting, or whether we have a broad enough spectrum of abilities to appeal to a wide range of customers. We know that all of our customers are different. Their bodies are different, their aches and pains are different, and most importantly what they want from us varies a great deal from day to day.

We know that it is important to properly assess a new customer when they come in, so we will (if we are a conscientious therapist) assess their medical conditions, habits and health, and we will ask them what their problem areas are and what they want to achieve from the massage. This is all well and good, but are we going to be doing this every time they come in? It can be very easy to get familiar with customers and to think we know what they like and what their problems are. If we’re exchanging pleasantries with them when they come in, and we’re perhaps on the busy side that day, it can be very easy to assume we don’t need to ask too many questions. Often customers are a little shy about asking for exactly what they want, so the chances are they won’t say anything much. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, but I would hazard a guess that many won’t interrupt you once you've started in order to tell you that they don’t want you to do it quite the way you did last time; so if you don’t ask and they feel uncomfortable telling you, you run the risk of them leaving feeling disappointed that they didn’t get the experience they were hoping for. It may seem like a small detail, but really it’s our job to find out – we need the customer to feel that we are paying attention to them, that we care about their experience and that they are not just a paycheck but a real person with changing needs.

Isn't variety the spice of life?

The truth is – and again, this applies to so many things in life – that it is human nature to become bored with routine. If we are doing the same thing day in, day out, it is monotonous. We start to feel like robots; the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ isn’t so well known for nothing. We strive for change because predictability goes against nature. It is dull. A massage - if done by a well trained and attentive therapist - usually feels pleasant. But if massage is your weekly treat, or something absolutely necessary for your physical health, then you are going to notice if it is exactly the same each time. Let’s imagine that your customer thinks you’re great, and so they keep coming back. But they also wish that when you were doing shoulder petrissage, you’d more frequently move your hands ever so slightly down to hit that nagging sore spot they were hoping to ease when they made the booking. Perhaps they’d mentioned it once last week, but you’d been busy since and forgotten it, and they don’t want to bother you with it again. It may not be long before that customer is wondering who else in the area might be worth checking out, or what other styles of massage are out there that they haven’t yet tried; they could be wondering whether the Shiatsu practitioner down the road is the one who can get rid of that annoying niggle. It’s probably nothing personal, but the point is, we have to be willing to offer the best services if we want to keep our customers. It’s not the kind of industry where people come to you out of loyalty – they likely come to you because you make them feel better than another therapist does. If your massage becomes boring and repetitive for them, the bookings are likely to dry up.

Reframe to up your game

From the therapist’s perspective, it can be a little daunting to try out new things. For a start, who are you going to practice them on? When you do it for a living - and especially if you’re tired - giving out free massage treatments for the sake of learning new things probably doesn’t fill you with glee. We certainly don’t want to experiment on valued clients. That’s understandable, but if you feel put off by trying new things, it might be time to reframe it. Spicing up your routine can be interesting! You could take a look at different styles of massage… for example, if all you’ve done is Swedish massage, it wouldn’t hurt to look at Thai massage, Shiatsu, Indian head massage or sports massage to see what tips and tricks you might be able to introduce into your routine. Who knows, you may even be able to add a whole new therapy to your menu! You probably don’t need to retrain in any of these areas unless you really want to; there is a lot of information online, from videos to articles and blogs – there are even short day or weekend courses available on sites like Groupon, and while we know they aren’t intended to be an official certificate, they may just offer that little extra you need to keep you and your customers feeling fresh.

Do you ever feel like you could do with a shake up? Do you feel stuck in a rut from time to time? What do you find are the best ways to keep your routine interesting, and what experiences or feedback have you had from introducing new methods?


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