Finding the Right Massage Speed

We’ve all heard from clients the occasional horror stories of their having been “brutalized” in a session with another massage therapist in which techniques were used that were so deep as to be painful and leave them bruised. Some of us may have even experienced that type of massage ourselves. How does that happen?

While clients do have different levels of sensitivity to pressure and it’s always important to check in with them about it, it’s also essential to consider the speed with which we administer deep techniques. A good rule of thumb is to remember that if you know that you’re going for depth, slow way down and make sure that the tissue lets you in first. Otherwise, you’re going to be tearing through muscle tissue and causing your clients unnecessary pain. That kind of pain can alienate clients, not just from you as a practitioner, but from massage in general. Then their stories to their friends and family can even leave others scared of ever getting massage in the first place.

If you know you’re strong, really take the time to check yourself and see if your speed is correct for the level of pressure you are using. If you think that you might be going too fast, slow down and keep checking in with your client. To keep in touch with the client’s experience as you work your way in, you can ask:

“How’s the pressure for you as I work here?”

“Is it ok if I go a little deeper now?”

“How’s that?”

Remembering that it’s not just about the pressure, but also the speed can help you better calibrate your deep work on your clients to ensure that they enjoy an effective session with you that leaves them feeling great.

2 thoughts on “Finding the Right Massage Speed

  1. Jenny Ray

    Excellent article! ASK if there is any doubt about comfort levels. Use heated stones to warm and soften tissue, create vasodilation to help congested fluids move into the blood stream, open tight muscle structures and relax tension. Then apply deep pressure with cold stones (no motion, just firm pressure) to reduce inflammation, increase circulation and create a flush of fluids through vasoconstriction and repeat several times until the area is supple and increased circulation brings a ‘pink flush’ to the area. No pain, lasting results, less stress to soft tissue…Alternating temperature therapies are medically proven to achieve the results without painful probing. REAL stone massage is not just spa foo-foo, it is pain free, therapeutic deep tissue massage offering true healing of damaged tissue. Join a Stone Medicine course to learn more.

  2. Gayle

    Thank you for this. This is something I have been saying for years. I like to also add that we can let clients know that deep work takes time!


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