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What Makes a Massage Feel Good?

By: Caroline Moncure

As I’ve started teaching students who are beginning their foray into their massage careers, something I commonly hear them ask their partners in class is “does this feel good?”

It got me thinking, what’s the key to making a massage feel good? Is it about the techniques? Good body mechanics? Presence and connection?

In the end, I think it’s a combination of all these factors, but what I find is most important is presence and connection.

When someone struggles with body mechanics or doesn’t know what technique to use or how to use it, I feel the real issue in those moments is that the practitioner is too “in their head” to be present with the person on the table. All of a sudden, their attention strays from the client and focuses on themselves.

That said, I’ve also had the experience of receiving work from highly skilled individuals doing very high-level techniques with perfect body mechanics who aren’t mentally and energetically there with me in the room and that also rarely feels good.

In the end, regardless of skill level, if the practitioner can stay present with their client through the 60 minutes, that focus and intention are what really makes the massage feel good.

This presence I speak of is easier said than done. Marty and I both agree that at the end of a day of bodywork we're rarely tired physically, but rather tired mentally. The mental energy it requires to stay focused on your clients and not allow your stream of consciousness, worries about your life, or any other distractions consume your mind can be quite tiring some days.

Practicing this presence is something I continue to do because I know it’s what really sets me apart from other practitioners. My ability to tune in and be there for 60 full minutes is something my clients rarely get to experience. We live in a world where multitasking is king, we’re constantly in touch with millions of people via social media and cell phones, and stimuli is everywhere. Because of this, we rarely have someone’s full attention anymore.

What really makes my work stand out isn’t necessarily the fancy bag of tricks I can pull out to help (although that doesn’t hurt). The real gift I'm able to give my clients is my ability to dedicate my full attention to them for their session time.


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