Massage with Attention and Distraction

Massage therapists know that many clients need to be listened to – really listened to – when they come in for therapy. But during the session there is something else that clients crave – the ability to be distracted away from their focus and relax.

I often use distraction in massage sessions, oddly enough in an attempt to help the client create mindfulness. A paradox? Yes, but it works.

In the anatomical sense, distraction means pulling one bone away from another to reduce contact – without injury to the joint.

In the massage practice sense, sometimes people are getting a massage to stop running ideas through their minds – to stop ruminating on a distractionproblem, pain or injury.

This is where as therapists, we can help clients by allowing them some time to put aside their problem or problems. It gives clients some time to divert attention, for example, by focusing on diaphragm breath, or feeling their shoulder as part of their bodies instead of a source of pain.

Surely the switch between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems is in the driver’s seat during this process, but the touch of hands consoles and fosters the release of vigilance.

Giving the brain up to its basic self – respiration, registering the feel of nerves, bones and muscles, these are gifts for clients who have much stress. My biggest compliment can be a sleeping client at the end of a session.

A wise massage therapist can say: Sometimes the act of forgetting can be just as important as remembering.


One thought on “Massage with Attention and Distraction

  1. Ivy Baker

    I liked that you talked about how massage can be a great way to relax and forget things. I tend to be a worry wart and it would be really nice to be able to forget a lot of my troubles. So, it seems like I should try massage as a way to calm my mind.


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