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General Guidelines for Giving a Deep Tissue Massage

Be in communication with your client. Find out what areas need to be addressed and how the person feels to start with.  Is there pain, tightness, numbness or tingling anywhere?

Ask them to assign a number to the level of pain they are feeling – on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most painful or stopping level.

Be sure to tell them that they are in control of the session and that their feedback is important to the session.  They can tell you to apply more or less pressure or to stop at any time.

Be sure the client is as present as possible. Keep their awareness under your fingers by asking them questions about what you are doing and what they are feeling.  Can they feel the change in pressure and pain?

Be aware of their breathing at all time.  Most people do not know how to breathe deeply and possibly can’t because of the restrictions in the rib cage and torso. Coach them into breathing deeper and into the pressure. Give them breathing exercises to help them become more aware of their breath.  Ask them to notice how the ribs move or don’t move, how does the air feel, what does the rest of the body do when breathing?  When do they hold their breath?

Be present at all times for the client.  What do you feel?  What are you thinking about? What is for lunch?  Can you stop your thoughts completely and listen to the clients words and body responses?  What does the tissue feel like? What layer of the tissue are you working on?  Can you feel the change?  Can you feel the clients breath? Can you feel the skin, the hair, the temperature of the skin?  Practicing meditation is one way to assist you in stopping your thoughts.  Many thing can be meditative – movement, dance, gardening, hiking, walking, running – whatever activity that allows you to stop your thoughts and just be totally immersed in that activity can be considered meditation. Finding the practice that works for you is important.

Pause often enough to give the client a break and time to notice the changes that are happening in their body.  Ask them to compare sides or notice how they feel.  Can they feel more or less contact with the table? Do they feel lighter or heavier? What emotions come up?

Release can come about in many ways: shaking, moving, yawning, sighing, crying, yelling, screaming.  Be prepared to have any of these happen.  The best response on your part is just to be there when it happens. Don’t say anything unless you are also a qualified counselor of some sort.  Quietly place one hand on their abdomen and one hand on their wrist and let them get through it.  They are very vulnerable in this condition.  Anything you say will become part of their reality.  If you start asking them questions or making suggestions like ” oh it must be due to your abusive mother or father” or “the sky is green and the grass is blue”  they will believe it.  They are so open to any suggestions and very fragile.

Make sure the client leaves grounded and centered.  Working the extensors of the back and forearm usually create positive emotions. Working the psoas or ASIS can assist in getting the energy back down to their legs and to the ground.  Pulling their fingers and toes can help relieve that sick feeling that some may feel.

Bodywork and massage is a dance that takes two people.  Learning to adjust your work to what the client needs and what they can handle will make for a very effective session.  Learn to turn your thoughts off and listen to the clients words and body. Ask for feedback as to how your touch feels and what is going on inside them and ask often during a session as things change minute to minute.

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