What to Say to “Tight” Massage Clients

OHMYGOSH. Your muscles are. So. Tight. You are just loaded with knots!

Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever said this to a massage client? 

A simple statement like this may seem like a great way to get repeat customers, but it can have a profound effect. I have had massage clients come to see me and tell me how “tight” they are because some massage therapist told them that they were tight 20 years ago. They can carry around this outlook with them for a lifetime.

Think about the long game. Truly educating clients on what you are feeling on a DEEPER level than just saying they are “tight” can help them tune into their own body. It can allow them to have an awareness of the sensations THEY feel and draw their OWN conclusions instead of basing the story of their body on someone else’s opinion.

While giving a massage, if you are feeling resistance from the tissue and find it necessary to talk to your client about it (which is totally ok), base your opinion of their tissue on a comparison to that client’s own tissue. Do not base your scale of tightness on all the clients you have ever worked on. There are tons of different types of bodies and tissues; you are doing yourself and your client a huge disservice by comparing their body to others. If, during the massage, you notice differences, by comparing one side of the body to the other or within a muscle, use words like “stagnation,” “stickiness,” and “blockage.” These words indicate movement is possible. They do not have the finality of “you are tight,” which implies an unchanging way of being. Then, talk the client through the process as you unblock that space TOGETHER, all while the client is breathing and moving with you to release the area. When you talk to your clients about their bodies, let them know that if they are “tight,” there is a way to change it. Clients can “loosen up” through lifestyle, physical activity, mindfulness, massage, stretching, and so on. This idea allows them to understand how fluid our tissue is and that our bodies CHANGE, moment to moment. 

Your clients are not “tight,” “knotty,” or “stuck.” They are in control of moving the stagnation that sometimes occurs in the body. Do not sign them up for a life sentence of tightness with your words. Empower your clients to achieve freedom, movement, and CHANGE in their body.

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If you enjoyed this post about finding the right words… watch this video that discusses what to say and do in embarrassing situations that can arise with your clients.

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