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In this Post: Chair massage presents a wonderful opportunity to market yourself. It is a less intimidating way for clients to be introduced to massage. But you might be wondering how to give chair massage. Here we discuss a few considerations for this type of work.
Chair massage is a wonderful way for busy individuals to experience massage. It is also great as a marketing tool, as it has the potential to drive table clients to your business. These quick sessions can relax and invigorate clients. But how do we give chair massage? What are the steps involved? And how do we get comfortable with our own style of chair massage?
These are all pertinent questions!
When I was in massage school, I was taught a very orchestrated chair massage routine. In fact, it was so regimented that the guidelines were to not deviate from said sequence until we had 100 chair massages under our belt. They were pretty proud of this routine!
The TouchPro sequence, was created by David Palmer, the “father of chair massage”. And while his sequence was very thorough and complete, it didn’t seem to factor in the individual needs of each client. Something I always try to keep in the forefront of my mind!
Even so, I adhered to their suggestion and diligently kept record of all the people to whom I had giving chair massage. That is until I got to about 80. Then, I went rogue. It just wasn’t natural for me to follow such a rigid sequence. I didn’t like that I wasn’t able to tailor my sessions to meet the needs of my clients. Especially since chair massage tends to be such a short event, I wanted to make sure I was hitting the problem areas my clients were complaining about.
Right around the time I hit 80 chair massages performed, I also started working at a location where chair massage was a frequent occurrence. This presented a great opportunity for me to hone my own chair massage style. And, while I am not bashing The TouchPro approach, I still utilize it’s techniques frequently, I like to put my own spin on this routine. This helps me feel more authentic to my mission of always striving to give a client centered massage. Because in reality, it is our clients time!
How to Give Chair Massage
- Recognize that your style may be very different than your teachers or massage therapist friend. Be okay with this reality. But also be okay to stick with the routine you were taught and really love. Most importantly, be confident in whatever approach you choose to use. It may vary over time, but it may remain very much the same.
- Learn about contraindications. Contraindications include uncontrolled hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes, fractures, herniated discs, malignancy, and numbness or tingling in any part of the body, especially the hands and feet. Read up on common cautions as well.
- Get comfortable conducting a quick verbal intake with your clients. The time between chair massage sessions is usually pretty quick. With that in mind, it is still important that we touch base about a few things before we jump into giving the work. Also, remember to practice active listening when you conduct these intakes! Good questions include, but are not limited to:
Questions to Ask
- Do you have any areas you would like me to focus on?
- Do you have any conditions I should be aware of?
- Are you taking any medications?
- Do you have any allergies?
- What type of pressure do you enjoy?
- Learn how to adjust your chair correctly. Each chair has a little different way that it adjusts, get comfortable with the specifics of your chair before your first client arrives. Check out this article for more on the importance of learning how to properly adjust the face cradle. (Don’t let the article scare you, but if you are experiencing problems where clients are fainting during their chair massage, this article is a great educational resource).
- Experiment with different types of strokes. Some strokes you might experiment with include:
Compression with the heel of your hand or a loosely clenched fist is a great way to warm up the tissues. By applying firm pressure, you are spreading the muscle fibers and helping to relieve muscle spasms.
Deep Friction –
By applying pressure with your thumbs, fingers, elbows, loosely clenched fists, palms, or heel of your hands, you can engage the client’s skin to move over the underlying structures.
Superficial Friction –
Using a rapid back and forth movement, you can reduce muscle tension with this technique. Play around with using your palms versus the ulnar side of your hands.
Especially useful in the neck and upper trapezius, these grasping, lifting, and kneading techniques are just as effective with chair massage as they are with a traditional Swedish massage.
This rhythmic hacking or tapping can be performed with loose fingers or fists or the ulnar side of the hands. It is a nice way to “wake-up” the client towards the end of their chair massage.
There are a wide variety of neck, arm, and shoulder stretches that provide excellent therapeutic results! Don’t overlook this technique.
This stroking technique has a pleasant soothing effect on the client. Making for a great closing technique right before the end of a chair massage.
- Take note of your body mechanics. Make sure that you are lunging into your strokes, that you are working close enough to the client’s body, and that you are not hyperextending any of your joints. Often when performing chair massage you will be giving multiple sessions in a row. With this in mind, proper body mechanics are of chief importance! Your body is too important of a tool to the longevity of your career to neglect, even when taking a break from your regular routine.
- Have fun. This slightly less formal modality often draws an audience. With that in mind, smile. Remain open and approachable while you work, while still focusing on the client in front of you. As people watch you, they will be deciding whether chair massage is in their immediate future.
Whether you are giving massage at a corporate workplace, a convention, farmers market, or at the local health food store, chair massage presents a golden opportunity for you to become recognized in your community for the amazing massage work you do. The more you engage with chair massage, the more comfortable you will become with your techniques as well as the marketing aspect of this work. Chair massage can be a nice reprieve from table work. You probably won’t build a career around chair massage, but who knows, maybe you will. There are therapists out there who spend the vast majority of their time with corporate clients!
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
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- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008
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