TenThings Learned In

10 circle

Years of Being a Massage Therapist

by Celeste Woodside, LMT

This June, I celebrate my 10th year of being a licensed massage therapist. In this time I have performed literally thousands of massage treatments. I have been an employee, owned a private practice and now have co-owned Well Within and employed other therapists for the past 4 years. This experience has certainly taught me a thing or two about bodies, the people inside the bodies, massage as an industry and most of all, a lot about myself.

Here are just 10 (of the many) things I have learned in this time and want you to know:

10) Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Some clients think that if massage doesn’t hurt than its not effective. I am here to tell you that is simply not true. There is a fundamental difference between intensity and true pain. Good communication between therapist and client is the key to effective massage treatment.

9) On the subject of good communication. I promise you won’t hurt my feelings if you tell me to change something I’m doing. I WANT you to tell me if you need less pressure, more pressure, more lotion, quieter music, an extra blanket, less light, etc. So often clients grit their teeth in the face cradle when pressure is too deep or feel shy asking for extra work on their feet….this is YOUR time and I want it to be perfect for you. Speak up!

8) The industry of massage still has a lot to prove. Old stereotypes about our profession still exist and leave us vulnerable.

7) The work massage therapists do is calming and grounding and therapeutic….for us almost as much as for you. Being in the moment with a client with intent to calm and ground and heal has the uncanny side-effect of making us feel all those things too. This is one of my favorite things about my job.

6) Make no apologies…not for your unshaven legs, your dimply thighs, your chipped toenail polish, your rumbly belly, your pimples or your saggy skin. After many, many massages I have seen all kinds of bodies. Women–you are especially apologetic. I know that you are working hard, have little time, are caring for others and are doing the best you can. Your body is amazing. I am here to help you care for and love it…make no apologies to me!

5) Yes, its ok to fart. No really, I don’t mind.

4) We do not like to be called masseuses or masseurs and no, we do not work in a massage parlor. We are proud to be licensed massage therapists who work in clinics, wellness centers, integrated healthcare facilities and hospitals.

3) My clients care about me too! Some clients have seen me weekly, bimonthly, monthly or every now and then for years. A handful of these clients have seen me throughout the development of my career and have watched me grow from student to employee to business owner. They have let me continue to be their therapist through 2 pregnancies and continue to ask about the day to day life of my family. I have developed real friendships through this work that I truly treasure.

2) I take pride in sending my clients back out into the world a better version of themselves. Life can be stressful…this stress brings clients to my table. Sometimes a client may arrive stressed or angry or frustrated or sad and most commonly…in pain. I often get to be the one to turn the tables and send these same clients out of our doors relaxed, calm, centered, happy and, most often, relieved from pain. This is when this work is most satisfying.

1) I am ALWAYS learning. This has been the key secret to my success as a massage therapist. I never claim to have it all figured out or be the ultimate expert. Each day I am facing new challenges and revising how I think in an effort to always be a better therapist and do better work. 10 years from now I’ll have a list of 10 (at least!) new things I will have learned and I look forward to learning them.

Celeste WoodsideCeleste is co-owner of Well Within – Massage and Integrated Health in Newton, MA.  Read more about her HERE.