How to Properly Set the Tone for Massage Sessions

So, how do you start your massage session?  Not your intake, but the part of the massage where you’re actually making contact with the client’s body.  A lot of great therapists will come back into the massage room, walk right up to the table, and just begin their routine.  They might start with effleurage, the nice relaxing gliding technique.  Or, they might start with something called petrissage, the kneading technique.

As wonderful and effective as these styles are, it’s important to remember that jumping right into a technique can feel abrupt.  Just as you would not jump right into a conversation with someone when you enter a room without first introducing yourself, in a massage session, you need to take a moment to introduce your touch.

People are very stressed nowadays.  They have a lot going on in their mind, and it might take them almost half the massage session to settle in and relax.  Beginning with one of these introductory techniques can help calm your client and get them into a state where they can receive greater benefit from your massage:

  • Applying compression on different parts of their body through the blanket
  • Rocking their body gently to allow them to release tension they might be holding
  • Prolonged holding positions that can be combined with compression along the back of their legs, their lower back, or their shoulders

Generally, massages that start with one of these kinds of introductory techniques feel more satisfying and help your client be at their deepest states of relaxation earlier on in their session with you. So, go ahead and practice your own signature technique, but if you’ve never thought about how you introduce your touch, consider adding compression, holding, or rocking rather than just jumping right in to the massage.

3 thoughts on “How to Properly Set the Tone for Massage Sessions

  1. Kay Rynerson

    Is this Larisa writing these? They are GREAT. Thank you. I wonder if you’d
    be open to meeting with me sometime to discuss broaching some ethical
    issues in these pieces — I’m guessing you have a substantial number of
    LMPs who receive this, and not to create a soapbox by any means, it could
    be an excellent format for educating ourselves in small doses regarding
    sanitation, contract employee vs. independent contractor issues, sexual
    misconduct, etc. If you are open, I’d be happy to guest-write an example
    and see what you think.

    I have always admired you (if this is Larisa) for your ethical treatment of
    clients and employees and your creative approaches to supporting our
    wonderful profession.

  2. Post author

    Hi Kay,

    Thank you for your kind words. You have been a well respected catalyst in the massage community for many years as well. I am happy to look at a sample of some of the topics you mentioned. Please feel free to email me directly at

    – Larisa


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