Goldilocks syndrome – how to get your massage just right

One of the biggest learning curves when you start out as a massage therapist is learning how to adjust pressure. Similarly, as a recipient of a massage treatment, it’s not always easy trying to explain or convey how much pressure you want used.

I call this Goldilocks syndrome.

That perfect spot where the pressure on a massage treatment is ‘just right’.

From experience and my years in the industry I know that painful/weak massages are a big reason for people not returning to a therapist. All too often there is lack of communication (which I’ve written about before on this blog) between practitioner and client, so the practitioner doesn’t check and the client doesn’t ask/mention there’s an issue.

But what’s also important to note is that effective massage therapy is a process; over time we build relationships with clients and get to understand the specific issues, points of pain etc, that affect that particular person.

We might not get it exactly right on the first appointment.

Shock, horror, I know. We try to. But consider a few factors of a first treatment:

  • Client may be in acute pain and hypersensitive
  • Client may be apprehensive
  • Practitioner may be assessing area with gentle, less invasive movements

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A practitioner will usually err on the side of caution during first treatments – remember, we can’t feel what you feel and everyone’s level of preferred pressure is different. From our perspective it’s better to start lighter and adjust as we both get to know the client and develop better communication.

If you ask for more pressure and nothing changes, or it’s still not enough, ask again but be more specific. But keep in mind that deeper pressure or pain isn’t necessarily a good thing and there may be other ways to release tension – like targeted soft tissue release or stretches, which take less toll on the body than sustained deep tissue massage.





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