I’ve noticed a ‘narrowing syndrome’ that sometimes develops among experienced massage therapists. When you first go to massage school, you learn all sorts of techniques which are new and exciting, and you try them all on your clients. Then, as you practice and become increasingly more confident, you find that a certain set of techniques emerge as your favorites. You develop a level of comfort and expertise with them, and you use them increasingly often. What can happen over time, though, is that by favoring those few techniques, many of the others that you learned go unpracticed and, eventually, get forgotten. This narrowing of your repertoire can lead to clients experiencing massage from you that consists entirely of only one or two techniques.
For example, I have experienced massage from seasoned therapists that consisted of nothing but slow friction strokes. While those may be effective, that singular focus risks a massage that can feel repetitive and not entirely effective. What’s more, it’s important to remember that different techniques produce different effects, each suited to the various needs presented by clients. So, while using a lot of deep friction can be fine, it could be even more beneficial if you were to occasionally throw in some invigorating petrissage, or soothing effleurage.
The antidote to this ‘narrowing syndrome’ is to continue to keep your skills fresh by ensuring that you not only take continuing education, but build up a network of different therapists that you can occasionally get massage from, as well as give massage to, so that you are able to get honest feedback from other professionals in the industry and continue to be exposed to different techniques. This way you will keep your toolkit of techniques broad enough to provide your clients with varied, effective, and pleasant massage.