East Bay Massage: Clients’ Questions Answered

I have discovered that many first-time clients have a mixture of ideas, emotions, and unanswered questions regarding massage. Because massage is an exchange that can seem culturally unusual (really, it impresses me how little Americans touch each other), it is not uncommon for clients to be unclear about what is expected of them during a session, and what to do if they feel uncomfortable. Here are some questions that clients have given permission for me to discuss.

Do I talk during the massage or not? It seems weird/rude to not talk. This is a question that comes up a lot. And there isn’t any clear-cut answer. However, I have found that most clients are able to more deeply feel the benefits of bodywork if they are able to ‘drop in.’ ‘Dropping in’ happens when a client pays attention to what is going on inside of their own body (the soma). Paying attention to sensations as felt from the inside is extremely beneficial to the nervous system and fosters a deep sense of relaxation. I find that talking a lot and ‘dropping in,’ while not mutually exclusive, can be a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy. However, sometimes a little chatting seems natural, and that’s okay, too!

Should I tip? Ooh, here’s a hotly contested one! It depends on the context. If you are receiving massage at a day spa, the answer is always “yes!” The receptionists at the front desk usually make it very clear that it is expected, too. The amount is up to you, though  a standard 15% for a job well done is typical. Remember, in these situations, your massage therapist is earning a fraction of the cost of the massage– tips are what make the job sustainable for them. However, some venues discourage tipping– clinical settings like doctor’s or chiropractor’s offices sometimes have a general policy against it. If you feel that your massage therapist has done a good job and feel inspired to tip, the best way to do it is by leaving cash in the room. This way, it’s your decision, and the massage therapist won’t get in trouble for accepting tips in front of patients. 😉 If your massage therapist operates their own practice, again, it’s up to you. I wouldn’t turn down a tip, but I have also never turned away a client who does not tip. I accept the likelihood that not everyone will be able to tip and am always happy to work with my clientele, regardless.

What if the massage is too hard? This is an important one! Even though I encourage my clients to let me know right away if anything feels uncomfortable for any reason at any time, I try to check in regarding pressure a couple of times to be sure. Even so, some clients worry about offending their massage therapist and may not admit that the depth in uncomfortable. I suggest practicing a phrase before hand. As in, “That pressure is a bit too deep.” No, really. If you have a hard time speaking up, practicing beforehand will be easier if it’s not the first time you’ve said those words. Your massage therapist should listen to you and immediately change what they’re doing for your comfort. I am always grateful when a client shares information like that with me– the absolute LAST thing I want for my client is DIScomfort! Massage should not hurt in a bad way. Conversely, you can also request more pressure! You also have the right to ask about your massage therapist’s qualifications. I typically do.

I encourage readers to submit any questions about massage in the comments section below. And, thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!


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