The value of working slowly

As a massage school student, I learned a particular routine that I used in the school clinic.  It was encouraged so we could have a guideline to know about how much time to spend on each area and to develop time management.  It’s not a good thing to have extra time left on an area that doesn’t really need it or to have to rush to finish.

As a student and then early in my practice I didn’t know what I was going to run into.  I wanted to finish everything which at times led me to hurry through areas.  I assumed everybody wanted a full massage with relatively equal time spent everywhere.

With experience I learned to get better information during the intake so I would know what to expect.  Asking questions, such as what type of pain they have (sharp or dull ache); what movements make it worse; is it worse at different times of the day, among others, gave me a better picture of their condition and what I would need to do.

That helps, but you can’t get all of the information.  As the massage is going on clients tend to remember things they didn’t mention.  After their main problem is resolved, they then notice discomfort in another area they hadn’t before.  They get used to their condition and you, being an outsider, can notice muscle tension in areas that are not bothering them as much.

Additionally, you may notice something during the massage that they didn’t mention.  If you feel like it would benefit from more work, discuss it with your client.  When you feel an area of tension and point it out, they will usually feel it also.  Let them decide if they want to spend the extra time addressing it and give up time elsewhere.

In all of this, communication is key.  Before the massage begins ask if they want more time spent on their most painful area.  Clients may be happy to skip or reduce massage time on arms or legs if their neck or back need extra attention, for example.  If that is understood, you can do a thorough job on their biggest complaint without feeling rushed.  They will be happy for the relief and can come back again for a full massage now that their biggest problem is better.

Clients will greatly appreciate that you listened to them and worked to solve their main problem.  Solve or improve their biggest problem and they will be loyal to you and recommend you to their friends.  We tend to be more satisfied and go back to businesses that understand and solve our needs without wasting our time.

Typically in business if work gets done faster you can get more done and make more money, so working faster is highly valued.  Massage, however, is usually done in time increments.  If a client buys a 60 minute massage, you can’t do it any faster.

You probably begin your massage session with slow movements or simple touch to help the client relax.  They may have had a stressful day and rushed to get here.  Working slowly helps your client to stay relaxed.  If your movements are rushed and hurried, they will pick up on that and their results will not be as effective.

Working slowly helps to develop your touch.  As you spend more time on each area, you can better identify problems and help them to track down what they may be doing to cause it.  Let’s say you feel an area in their leg that is tight.  You can ask a few questions about what they do and how long it has felt this way.  Many times people realize an action or posture that is causing the soreness and can think up an adjustment to prevent the pain from returning.

Even if you don’t spend a lot of time in one area, by working slowly and thoroughly your clients will feel like it has been well taken care of.

Obviously don’t work so slowly that you don’t do enough.

People come to you for a reason.  Make sure you take enough time to understand and help them it.  Working slower may help you do that.