Do you think they are planning the next trip to the supermarket, wondering what to eat for dinner, or are they really focusing on your comfort and relaxation?
Let’s start from the beginning: before you have a treatment a therapist will ask you about your current state of health and whether you have any recent injuries or any other changes in your health compared to your previous session. If this is your first session, the therapist will ask you questions about your medical history.
On the basis of the information you provide, the therapist will put together an action plan for your massage session. The treatment will take into consideration your feedback, your requests and preferences (anything from which massage lotion to use to whether you like background music or not).
What Happens During a Treatment
During the first 10 to 15 minutes of the treatment, you may want to talk to your therapist about any aches and pains you are experiencing or maybe generally talk about your day or the past week if you need a little chat before you can relax fully.
At one point you will start feeling more relaxed and more comfortable and you may enter a state of relaxation and you may not feel like talking. At this point the therapist will stay quiet and will not start a conversation unless you start talking first.
During this quiet time the therapist will work on the areas of the body that you highlighted to require more attention. It is essential for the therapist to gain some feedback from the body and the muscles: in fact, sometimes some minor twitches in the muscles will indicate either discomfort or that more work is needed to relax the area.
To ensure that the work is done correctly the therapist will quieten the mind to avoid getting distracted by trivial thoughts. Therapists who practice meditation will enter a state of relaxation but still keeping a sense of awareness of their surroundings.
It is human nature to get distracted at times: we all tend to look out of the window and stop concentrating for a few seconds. This is completely normal.
A professional massage therapist will stop being distracted and find his/her concentration again after a few seconds (even the best therapists might feel fatigued during a long and intense massage shift). A good massage therapist will stay professional and focused: a professional massage therapist will notice any lack of concentration and go back to being focused within a few seconds. A massage practitioner knows that you are paying good money to receive a treatment and he/she will value and respect your time on the table.
What Do You Think Massage Therapists Think of You?
Here’s what massage therapists do not think about during the treatment. Massage therapists will not think that you are too ugly or too fat. They will not judge you for you who are or what you do for a living; they will take into consideration factors like lifestyle and nutrition to tailor your treatment to your needs.
Massage therapist will look at your body in a different way from how you, your friends, partner or family look at your body. Massage therapists look at the functionality of the body and any imbalances that need to be addressed.
On a side note: do you catch your massage therapist looking at the clock? Don’t be offended, he or she is only trying to stick to the schedule and is allocating the time in an appropriate and cost-effective manner. Clock watching is also an indication that the end of the session will not be rushed. The therapist will manage the session time to ensure all the key issues you have highlighted at the start of the treatment are addressed.
The Science Behind Touch
Let’s analyze what goes on during a massage session: a practitioner will use the feedback from the sensory nerves in his/her fingers and hands to assess the levels of tension in the client’s body. This information is fed back to the brain, which is processing the information and sends it back via the motor nerves of the therapist who will apply the correct amount of pressure on the client’s muscles.
Sensory nerves send messages to the brain via the spinal cord – this is happening at the same time for both therapist and client. As the client’s skin feels the touch and pressure, the sensory nerves will send signals to the brain to relax (or, if the pressure is too strong, to contract the muscles to “defend” oneself).
Pain is detected by specialized pain receptors in the nerves and the spinal cord will pick up on pain signals and trigger a response like reflexes, those involuntary movements that do not require the involvement of our brain.
All of this is going on during the treatment and the therapist’s brain is receiving millions of subtle non-verbal messages from the client’s body. This information-processing activity carries on automatically and will influence the decision-making of the therapist. The amount of pressure will be gauged on the client’s involuntary movements, skin temperature and muscle tension.
Each decision on how to apply the pressure is calibrated to a specific area of the body.
In the meantime, the initial conversation on the client’s needs is taken into account and a sequence of massage techniques is adapted accordingly.
So, What Does a Massage Therapist Really Think About During Your Treatment?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, however if a therapist is not thinking about anything about a treatment is totally acceptable.
Some of the best massages are given and received when the therapist achieves a state of relaxation and meditation. Silence combined with a calm state of mind allows the therapists to be in tune with the client’s body and provide a high quality massage.Image courtesy of photostock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net