Top Tips for Sitting Down While Massaging

Top Tips for Sitting Down While Massaging
If you haven't implemented a strategy for sitting down regularly in your massage treatments, now's your time to start thinking about it. Go on, take a load off!

And if you do already sit down while massaging, we hope this article inspires you with some more ideas.

As massage practitioners we need to remember that our jobs are physically demanding. We are essentially doing manual labour all day.

With our Hand Free Massage Training hats on, we are always saying ‘save your hands, save your hands’, but for this article, it's more like ‘save your feet and legs AND maintain low level energy consumption’.

This will help you to increase your chances in having a long career in massage and reduce the possibility of strain in your body.

Our bodies and energy levels are top priority

Our bodies are the most important asset in our business, so anything we can do to protect them from the long-term effects of our career is vital to consider. Conserving energy is especially important so let’s sit down to help with that. We need to make sure that we always have something left in the tank at the end of the day.

Enter the chair

hands free massage

The advantages of sitting down while giving a massage is spoken little about.

During our trainings, we instil this concept of sitting down and we offer clear instructions on how to do it, while still keeping our great posture in place.

We recommend a stool with wheels. It is also helpful to have a fold out stool or two. 

Use any chair if you don't have a stool as shown in the image to the right.

Mind your seated posture

Having good posture while we massage is essential. And when we sit down, we need to retain this idea.

So when working seated, consider these points:

  • Maintain good overall posture and alignment (avoid slouching)
  • Have the stool at the appropriate height and position
  • As you will be closer to the client, mind your exhales as your client could feel that on their body
  • Use your bodyweight appropriately
  • Make sure your hips/stomach are facing your client
  • Notice where your legs are and how you need to move to maintain alignment
  • Roll the stool as needed to avoid overreaching e.g. If you massaging the ankle and you want to move to the thigh, roll is stool to get there
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and in a neutral position
  • Don't crane your neck
  • Only deliver the amount of pressure that is possible from that position
  • Keep your movements flowing naturally, it's important for the client to not notice a change in your massage
  • Be sure that you're still working effectively
  • Lean in to apply pressure, rather than pushing from your shoulders with your muscle strength

Practice on a fellow practitioner first before taking your seated skills to your clients.

hands free massage
Example of hips/stomach facing away from client

hands free massage

Example of hips facing client and in this case, left leg forward to achieve that

hands free massage

Maintain good spinal alignment, no slouching

When to sit down

There are several key moments during a massage session when we can often sit down, even if it's only a fleeting moment. All the fleeting moments add up.

hands free massage
Top Tip: consider your back foot. Leora on the left, prefers to have the top of her foot on the floor, where Darien, prefers toes on floor.
  • Head and foot massage
  • Working on upper trapezius, neck and shoulders
  • Hands
  • Legs
  • Moments of stillness

Moments of stillness for the client = rest time for you

Stillness in massage is a wonderful thing, and doing it sitting down is even better for you. There are many reasons to incorporate stillness but we'll share just two today.

For the client; amongst other things, stillness encourages the body to integrate the work you've been doing.

And for us; it gives us an opportunity to slow down, check in with our bodies and breath and take a moment to refocus on OUR bodies.

Have access to more than one stool or chair

folding therapist stool

It helps to have 2 stools /chairs; 1 at the top and one at the bottom of the table.

That way, no matter how short your moment of sitting down is, you can just grab the chair closest to you.

If you work Hands Free, you will need to slide around the stool as you work

If you massage with your hands only, you have the full length of your arm to reach where you need to go, so you don't need to move your body much. For example, if you are sitting toward the bottom of the table and want to massage from foot up the leg, if your arms are long enough, you might be able to reach all the way above the knee and onto the thigh. However, when you work with your forearms, you will need to slide the stool up toward the head of the table, as you move up the leg.

Could you do a full massage seated?

If you needed to, most definitely you could. Of course that depends on the type of treatment that your client needs.

It's important to note that you won't be able to get the pressure that might be required for some clients and you might battle getting to certain areas of their body. If you have the advantage of working on an electronic table however, you could drop the table quite low and raise your stool higher.

Learning to work seated could be particularly handy if you happen to have issues of any kind in your legs/hips or feet. So mastering the art of sitting while working can be quite beneficial in the long run for many reasons.

In conclusion, let's look at some numbers

sit down more when you massageWe find breaking things down really helpful as looking at things in smaller pieces helps us to see the bigger picture, so let's look at a scenario with some easy numbers.

If we do 4 x 1 hour full body massages on a particular day and we try to sneak in 5 mins of sitting down for head, feet and arms. That could work out to at least 15 mins of sitting per session. So, of the 4 hours working we would be sitting for 1 hour total. Pretty great right!?

In the long run, and to maintain a wonderfully long career in massage, we are not sure that's enough. We would encourage you to strive for close to 20 mins per 1 hour session if possible. Perhaps working with a ratio of 2:1 is something to keep in mind.

Enjoy your new option to rest while working and remember to maintain your quality of touch and keep an eye on your posture.

About the Authors

Leora Sharp has been working alongside Darien Pritchard for over 15 years. They have a healthy obsession with body mechanics in relation to massage and enjoy helping massage practitioners look after their body and hands, while working effortlessly and effectively. 

darien pritchardDarien developed the 
original Hands Free Massage Training in the UK 25 years ago.

They have both been massaging with their forearms and elbows for decades (so they can save their hands) without which they would not have been able to maintain their careers.

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