Customer satisfaction

Listening Massage

Listening Massage

What on Earth is a listening massage?

 

When you go to your massage therapist for a massage, the entire session from intake to goodbye is about you – the client. You want,  and are paying for, your massage therapist’s full attention. This means not only the attentions of my physical massage upon your body – but also a listening ear. Therefore I mentally prepare myself to listen to words as well as what the body is telling me. I call it a Listening Massage. You may need more, you may need less. But whatever it is,  your massage therapist’s good listening ear will make your massage extra meaningful – and it’s a good business move for the massage therapist as it can make regular customers out of first-time clients. That’s what we try to do at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.

 

With the massage intake form filled out, it is of course normal and customary to review what you want from your massage – especially if  you are a first-time client with this therapist. Whilst the massage therapist will generally repeat the information on the intake form back to you, it is important, at this time, to ask questions and make comments where appropriate. This is where the Listenint Massage starts – not on the massage table. You should be doing most of the talking. If you have certain specific reasons for wanting a massage, you should find your massage therapist listening, empathizing, and showing understanding of what you are saying – but without saying too much.

If your massage therapist is listening to – you can tell by observing this advice to those in listening-type work fields or just for social reasons:

Listening Massage 3

And it’s not appropriate for the massage therapist to get caught up in too much small-talk or add to your points by adding examples of their own similar issues. Here’s me with my ‘Listening Massage’ hat on…

I had a client, a young lady, who warned me that she had badly bruised her Coccyx about three months previously – and that it still hurt. Well, that was very interesting to me as I had had that exact same injury earlier this summer. I asked her how it happened (MOI, Mechanism of Injury, could be important knowledge to the massage) and she told me that she had fallen on (not off) her bicycle – and landed on the rear wheel hub with her Coccyx. Well – my goodness – there’s an incredibly strange coincidence – that’s exactly how I suffered my own injury. So in fact there was quite a conversation I could have had with her. I could have gotten into the whole story of how this same thing had happened to me and all such other time-wasting small-talk. But the that would have been about me! – And how could this possibly have helped or contributed to the massage or the way I would give the massage? Not one little bit. I remembered to make this a Listening Massage. So of course I made empathizing noises, said ‘Ouch’ to show that I, as a massage professional, understood the nature of the pain of an injured Coccyx, and left it at that. Therefore she got to do 95% of the talking at the time of discussing the intake form, and I’m sure she felt satisfied that she had been listened to. And after all, what is it we’re after if it isn’t a satisfied customer?

But once you’re in the room with your massage therapist, in my view – this is where the chat stops and the listening massage becomes more about the massage therapist listening for breath and ‘listening’ by feel, to your body as the changes occur while the massage gets its rhythm. There will be more about that in later posts.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle

How Much Pressure

How Much Pressure

How much Pressure  do you like? Is a strange question when applied to massage. Intake forms can be a bit silly when they ask this question. The question is far too general and tempts you to vote with their feet – as it’s not a fair question – and you don’t know your therapist. The other thing about the how much pressure question is…where? And at what stage in the massage? Not only does the amount of pressure differ all over the body, it also depends greatly on the overall flow of the massage, and the body type you’re working on. A massage therapist can and will go deeper, if appropriate, once their client is more into the massage session, more relaxed, and has been having the benefit of preparatory and warming strokes, such as petrissagetapotement, and even a more vigorous effleurage. (Additionally, I use a table warmer – which goes a long way to preparing the muscles and mind of your massage client for deeper work.)

How Much Pressure 1

 

How much pressure is used also refers to the circumstances and type of massage you are looking for. For example, I work in spas in  Jackson Hole,  and travel to out-call appointments, where clients are mostly looking for relaxation massage with some specific thrown in – such as ‘tight shoulders, neck and upper back’. These tend to be ‘one-time’ clients – looking for a bit of feel-good pampering while on vacation (and many people find that vacation is very stressful). When I am a sports therapist working on a specific problem with an athlete whom I see weekly in our office,  that’s a whole different context, where how much pressure is used  is arrived at in a whole different way: the clients needs have been assessed in previous sessions, and a plan has been developed.

 

In writing in a massage blog about how much pressure to apply , there’s a whole lot of peripheral information that needs to be considered – all the way from that silent, energy-filled ‘communication’ with the client on the table, to the much more physical aspects of the therapist’s size, weight, strength, experience with skills and knowledge of anatomy. And there’s a feeling that grows from the first moment of touch.

How Much Pressure 3

Once I have the client comfortable, warm, secure, and have done some over-the-drapes work and good warming strokes – I’ll get down to the business of massage and figuring out how much pressure to apply, and when and where. I use my senses as I move along slowly sensing how much pressure to apply in whatever stroke is appropriate for that moment. By this time I have found the right amount of oil to suit the client’s skin type and depth of massage they’re capable of handling. More oil means a lighter massage, less oil means deeper – it all has to do with the enabling or the curtailing of the speed of the stroke. With more oil, you’re going to zoom along the surface of the muscle, not spending much time there. Less time means less pressure.

How Much Pressure 4

So the question of how much pressure really means much more than putting a check in a box on an intake form – it’s an opportunity for a discussion with your massage therapist. And as you have this discussion, you’ll find that your therapist is gathering a whole lot more information than just about how much pressure you would like – an overall idea of your massage is forming in your therapist’s mind.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle,
Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole

 

 

 

Massage Client Expectations.

Massage Client Expectations.

At massage Professionals of Jackson Hole, we see two main types of clients. There are our regular customers who come more to our office at 270 Veronica Lane, and there are our out-call clients who have us come to their home to give them their massage(s). The latter are more generally visitors to the area on vacation – and, so far, we tend to see those people just once. (That may hopefully change as time goes by and they visit again.)

With regular clients to the office – we get to know who they are and what their need for massage is based on. We start to get a history, write SOAP notes about their visits – and the ‘P’ in SOAP is ‘plan’ which we can make, together with the client. If a client doesn’t have any specific complaints or ‘work to be done’ – then that’s OK – a relaxation massage is just as beneficial and we get to know how to deliver that the more often we see a person. On the subject of this post – ‘Expectations’, it’s a much easier task to provide a client’s expectations with regular clients.

It’s the one-time massage client where that becomes much more difficult. We’ve never seen them before and, aside from a quick intake form, know essentially nothing about them. With a regular client, the first session is more about discovery (on both the part of the client and the massage therapist) than therapy. Even the second session is still a ‘getting-to-know-you’ period of time, and that most essential element, trust, is being built up. Therefore sometimes it is hard to meet the expectations of a one-and-only time massage client who has been skiing hard at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and wishes us to sort out all that ails him so that he can ski next day. (Could just as easily be ‘she’.)

 

My point is that most massage therapists are very capable of giving a darn good overall massage – from relaxation to deep tissue – all over the body and applying specific work to specific areas as requested. But before a massage therapist can really deliver exactly the specific massage the client wants / needs – there has to be knowledge, trust, understanding, confidence built up between the two and that takes time.

 

If you are a one-time client visiting a massage office or having them come to you, it’s good to have an understanding of this and lower your expectations. Of course, it’s important to list the areas where you feel you’d like attention – and the therapist will fit that into the overall massage – but with 60 minutes in which to work their magic, understand that there may be limits and allow for the ‘relaxation’ part of massage to be just as beneficial as specific work.

 

Be well,        Hamish and Rochelle

You Gotta Go Deeper Than That, Man

You Gotta Go Deeper Than That, Man

Image showing deep tissue massage

Yes, those were my client’s actual words. And, believe me, for the first hour of this two-hour massage – that’s precisely what I thought I had been doing…and exhausting myself in the process. I should qualify that – and I explained this to my client before he got onto the table – it can’t ‘all’ be deep tissue massage. Perhaps a third of it will be – and then only in areas that merit deep work (in my view) and aren’t ‘danger zones’ (poplietal, lower back, for example). The other two thirds of the time consist of gentler work where, first, I am bringing the client into a comfortable relaxed zone in both body and mind – this in order for me to gain ‘permission’ to go deeper. To the same goal I am also warming with vibration, loosening with tapotement, assessing and ‘melting’ muscles with both soft and more aggressive effleurage and sometimes still pressure.

 

This post is a continuation of the previous post ‘Taking it Easy’ – and the client has skied a combined vertical of 30,000 ft. that day at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Having employed a mountain ski guide in uniform – he didn’t have to wait in lift or tram lines.

 

This client is an athlete through-and-through – every muscle an element of a highly-tuned machine. A body-builder and a TRX exerciser. He has every right to ask for a deep tissue massage and frankly I was apprehensive going into it. He is accustomed to receiving sports massages from his sports trainer twice per week. And so, back to the beginning, after giving it all I had in the way of ‘deep pressure without hurting’ – I discovered that he actually wanted me to hurt him. My client, nicely, let me know that nothing I had done so far had made much impression. The expectations had been high. It is also worth noting here that, in deep tissue or sports massage – communication is everything (unlike Swedish massage where I, and usually the client, prefer to keep quiet). He should have felt free to comment much earlier – and I should have solicited.

I’m no slouch either…a mountain athlete myself with a regular workout schedule. I understand the human form – especially from an athletic perspective. I’m 6’2, 195 lbs and can deliver a good, strong massage – not often letting people down.

 

By this time I was massaging the calves – often a tender area, especially on skiers, and there was nothing – no amount of pressure I could lay on with all of my weight – that could elicit a twitch in those tell-tale fingers or any sign of pulling away. Yet he still described having discomfort that HE thought I could address – which I could only contribute to the peroneal muscles -where, I admit, I rarely ‘go’ with clients. ‘OK – you asked for it – I thought – and went in there deep and long with the very point of my elbow and stripped like crazy. Aha – that did it! I could feel him breathing into it and enjoying the pain and, yes, relief that it gave him. This gave me confidence and much more ‘permission’ from both him and his body to go deeper to the point of pain (and – for him – relief) – which I did for the rest of his massage – including, incredibly, a strong elbowing of his biceps and triceps tendons (he had considerable tendinitis there, I think, from the TRX exercises and a hand-dragging trick in snowboarding called ‘pat-the-dog’).

 

My experience as a massage therapist grew with that session. Beyond knowing that I had done well by receiving the biggest tip of my career, my confidence soared along with my ability to expand my offering of (very) deep tissue massage to well-tuned athletic hard-men (and women) who need it.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

 

 

 

 

You Come to Us.

You Come To Us

Last week my blog post was all about ‘We Come To You’.  This was indeed how we defined our business when we started out – it seemed like a really good idea – and it IS – up to a point.  There are some people who just don’t want us to come to them.  For various reasons, it’s not convenient. There might be interruptions at home, or the noise of TV, kids, dogs, construction…who knows.

For the occasional visitor who comes to Jackson Hole and stays in nice hotels or vacation residences, in-home massage is a great service and one that is much appreciated as part of a pampering massage experience. But we now feel that this leaves out our more local customers who may not have large places for us to come to – and they’d rather be in a more purpose-oriented massage studio to get down to the business or regular sports or deep tissue massage therapy.

So Rochelle and I have decided to expand our practice and our thinking…and just this week we have taken on a shared space in ‘The Connection‘ (270 Veronica Lane, Jackson), which will enable people to come to a centrally located massage studio in Jackson at their convenience…and ours.

And, like so many things in life, this has turned out to be a fabulous move for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.  For starters, we now have Tina Seay in our lives – and what a beautiful, nurturing person she is.  Rochelle and I are immediately better off for knowing her.  Tina runs The Connection – ‘A Place To Connect at All Levels’ – it’s a lovely, relaxing, quiet suite of rooms where different massage / body work / energy work professionals practice their professions.  Here’s how Tina describes The Connection:

It is a collective center where people meet to explore themselves, their place in the world, and how to reach their highest most exquisite Self.  Through bodywork, energy work, workshops, and products The Connection is a center created for the evolution of body, mind, and spirit.

Aside from creating the physical presence of ‘The Connection’, Tina’s own practice is Healing Touch Massage and Body Work.  The following few lines from her web site should tell it all:

Get out of exist mode; Move into the present moment, Become more optimistic, Allow yourself to move forward; Rebound from your extreme sports activities; Recover from your crippled posture after the long plane ride; Look good, feel good.  Become more flexible.

Also present in The Connection is Sheri Todd, NCMT (Nationally Certified Massage Therapist) with her business Teton Manual Therapy – Orthopedic Health Assessment and Wellness.

What is ‘Manual Therapy’? – Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_therapy

Sheri’s qualifications, experience and expertise are just too great to go into here (so go check out her web site) – but let’s just say she’s another wonderful person to be ‘connected’ with and Rochelle and I look forward to working in unison with these two wonderful professionals.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

We Come to You

We Come to You

 

My previous posts have been about the experience and what to expect in massage mostly in a setting where clients come to a clinic or a spa. Where massage techniques, types, benefits, strokes, tools and so on stay the same – what is different when massage therapists come to your home or vacation residence?

Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole prides itself in quality home visits. Hence our tag line – We Come To You.   (However, for various reasons we just took on a shared space in  on Veronica Lane in Jackson – see next post). Here’s how it works:

Well, to start with – we come to you! In the days of cell-phone GPS it’s usually easy to get there – but if there are any directions that could help us identify your door and where to park that might helpful. In quite a few areas of Jackson Hole there is no cell service, so we are careful to ask for details. Even if it is a couples massage we will come in one vehicle to save parking space.

 

We will arrive at least fifteen minutes prior to the appointment time, allowing us time to say hello, change into our indoor footwear, set up our equipment (while you fill out our intake forms) and generally get ready. We bring: Massage Table (duh), bolster, face cradle, sheets, table-warming blanket, over blanket, massage oil or lotion, music and player, intake forms and a fabulous attitude.

 

We do need adequate space to set up. Often, with couples’ massages, this might put people in two different rooms or areas of the house. A typical massage table is 6’5″ long and between 27 and 33 inches wide. Add another foot in length for the face cradle. Then we need as much space around the table as possible to work – a minimum of three feet on each side and at the foot of the table is ideal – and I like a good four feet absolute minimum at the head. These considerations are important for both the quality of the massage that you will receive, and the health and safety of your massage therapist. We have to concern ourselves with correct ‘body mechanics’, which helps us to avoid injury via proper positioning and angles of our bodies whilst doing this physical work. Clearly, that ability is compromised in a restricted place.

It is also best if the room is warm – even with table warmers, uncovered areas of the body quickly become cold and not responsive to massage – and there are no barking dogs or other distractions (aka noisy kids, football on the TV…).

When all is ready, the therapist(s) will call you into the room, instruct you about how they want you to be on the table (I usually start clients face-down), and then retreat to the closest bathroom to wash hands and give privacy whilst you disrobe and get on the table, under the sheet and blanket. The massage commences, you luxuriate in the excellence of your therapist’s touch for an hour or (preferably) 90 minutes – and you’re done! Easy – that’s all there is to it. The therapists once again retreat to the bathroom to wash hands while you slip into your robes. After that, we pack up, accept your very gracious payment (credit card payment is very easy these days with ‘square’ payments), have a little ‘goodbye’ session – and leave. You get to stay in your robes, hang out at home, glow in the aftermath of your ‘massage coma’ – and contemplate making this into a weekly, or at least monthly, habit. And why not…you deserve it.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle/

 

 

 

60 or 90 Minutes?

60 or 90 Minutes?

 

I feel so strongly about this that I am considering dropping the 60 minute time slot in favor of 90 minute sessions  – especially for deep tissue massage. That is – proper deep tissue massage. Or let’s call it deep tissue therapy or body work.

Yes – massage therapists can all give a nice relaxation Swedish massage in 60 minutes – but it’s almost always a compromised massage if it is to address the whole body including hands, feet, scalp and face. I find myself distracted by looking at the clock and having to leave something out or just briefly touched if I am not careful. And lets face it – if your massage therapist is any good – 60 minutes will always leave you feeling a bit short-changed. People rarely get off a massage table thinking that they’ve had enough or have been there too long. (Let’s not even go to the 50 minute time of spas – which I think is really poor service.)

 

But with deep tissue – 60 minutes  just isn’t enough to address the whole body adequately. I don’t even try. This is enough time to address either the upper body or the lower body or specifics like shoulder / upper back and neck complaints.

 

I’m talking about a proper deep tissue massage here, where communication between client and therapist is essential and on-going throughout the session. This is deep tissue where time has to be spent assessing, palpating, warming and softening (melting) the more superficial muscles – necessary to allow access to the deeper muscles. And simultaneously it takes time for the client to relax mentally, to find their breathing rhythms and their trust and comfort in the session that’s about to begin. After all that prep work, which takes time (everybody has different requirements), the therapist has to work slowly and methodically – slowness equals deepness (or at least the effect of deepness) lotion or oil is kept to a minimum and burning of the skin isn’t an option. The therapist is ‘listening’ to the body, feeling what’s going on in the anatomy, looking at the client’s face, watching for trembles, movement, resistance and gauging the effect of the stroke or tool or method being used.  Only when the muscle has ‘released’, or otherwise responded as desired, is it time to move on. We need time to ask questions of the client (How is this feeling?), listen to the answers. There’s experimentation – is this working? If not, how about this? Or after this – I think I should add this?

And then there’s joint mobilization and increasing range of motion (ROM) for many differing conditions and desired outcomes. Massaging muscles doesn’t just stand on its own! I will often perform joint mobilization and stretching techniques to the areas of the body served by those muscles that are receiving a massage. This gives a much more beneficial (and great-feeling) all-around massage.

 

So the point is -if you’re booking a proper deep tissue massage, or even a relaxation massage with elements of deep tissue – give yourself and your therapist a break and do the 90 minute version – you’ll love it!

Choosing 90 minutes for deep tissue massage is a win-win situation. The client receives a better massage and better results, the therapist gets to give a better massage, is likely to get better reviews and will earn better money.  (The value for the client is usually better too, as the per-minute price of a 90 minute session is usually less than that of the 60 minute session.)

Oh – and by the way – be prepared to book future sessions. The first deep tissue massage is often (usually) a get-to-know-you time. There are many, many benefits to repeat visits to a therapist who, in their first session, has come to know your body, yourself, and has an extended plan of care. Over time a relationship develops and the overall result is…a healthier and happier you.

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle

The Benefits of Side-Lying

The Benefits of Side-Lying

 

Side-lying position in massage therapy has to be experienced to be fully appreciated – and once you have tried it, you will find that you go back to the massage therapist that recommended it to you time after time.

Not only does your massage therapist have better access and angles to work on shoulders, hips, IT band,  outer-thigh muscles,  and adductors of the inner thigh, but the therapist’s body-positioning is more comfortable and more powerful – allowing the delivery of a much more controlled and effective massage.

 

Certain stretches, too, are greatly facilitated by side-lying – imagine the great side-stretches you can get if the therapist extends your arm up and out over your head, then down towards the floor whilst gently pushing your hip towards the other end of the table.

One of the nicer benefits is for those who don’t like to spend too much time with their face in the face-cradle. This can compromise the sinus channels in the front of the face and cause unpleasant pressure in the head. People with breathing conditions or allergies can find themselves all stuffed-up by the time it comes to roll over onto the back (supine) for the rest of the massage. Side-lying does away with much of that time in the face-cradle – and it allows for cleared communication with the therapist.

The side-lying position is especially beneficial for people needing extra care, such as pregnant women, the elderly, those with back pain, the obese, and those with medical devices such as clostomy bags, or medical conditions requiring extra comfort in the abdomen. Large-breasted and lactating women will also appreciate the relief offered by side-lying position.

Finally, Side-lying is a very secure and comfortable position and helps to reduce the ‘vulnerability’ or certain massage work that might otherwise seem invasive. The position is generally fetal, which is reassuring, and with pillows and bolsters held to the chest it is  a truly wonderful alternative to prone and / or supine positioning. Next time you go for a massage – request side-lying position from your therapist – you’ll love it.

 

 

Listen, Just Listen

This blog is about the adventures, trials, tribulations, emotions, pleasures, fears, frustrations and joys of starting a new out-call massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The blog is written by T. Hamish Tear, one of the two owner / partners of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – which is then carried forward into the Social Media sphere by Rochelle Ganoe – the other owner / partner.

LISTEN, JUST LISTEN

 

When a client comes to you for a massage, the entire session from intake to goodbye is about the client. The client wants, and is paying for, your attention. Some need more, some less. Some are more demanding, others very humble. But whatever it is, a good listening ear will make this massage extra meaningful to your client and hopefully be at least part of a successful conversion from a first-time client, to a regular customer.

 

With the intake form filled out, it is of course normal and customary to review what the client has written – especially if this is a first-time client with you. Whilst the massage therapist must repeat the information on the intake form back to the client, ask questions and make comments where appropriate, it is essential to do much more listening than talking. If the client has certain specific reasons for coming to you for a massage, listen, empathize, show your understanding of what is being said – but without saying too much. Let the client do the talking.

And it’s not necessary or even advisable to get caught up in small-talk or add to the client’s complaint by adding examples of your own similar issues – just ‘zip-it’. For example, today I had a client, a young lady, who warned me that she had badly bruised her Coccyx about three months previously – and that it still hurt. Well, that was very interesting to me as I had had that exact same injury earlier this summer. I asked her how it happened (MOI, Mechanism of Injury, could be important knowledge to the massage) and she told me that she had fallen on (not off) her bicycle – and landed on the rear wheel hub with her Coccyx. Well – my goodness – there’s an incredibly strange coincidence – that’s exactly how I suffered my own injury. So in fact there was quite a conversation I could have had with her. I could have gotten into the whole story of how this same thing had happened to me and all such other time-wasting small-talk. But the that would have been about me! – And how could this possibly have helped or contributed to the massage or the way I would give the massage? Not one little bit.

So of course I made empathizing noises, said ‘Ouch’ to show that I, as a massage professional, understood the nature of the pain of an injured Coccyx, and left it at that. Therefore she got to do 95% of the talking at the time of discussing the intake form, and I’m sure she felt satisfied that she had been listened to. And after all, what is it we’re after if it isn’t a satisfied customer?

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle