He received 6 sessions. The best massage was at a Massage Envy. The reason he felt it was the best is because it was the only massage where someone did not try and fix him. He said it was basic and the pressure could have been better modulated. Sometimes it was too deep and poking and others too light. The massage therapist spent too much time on his back and not enough time on his legs but overall he was relaxed and slept better that night.
The session he complained about the most was with a “sports massage specialist” with 15 years of experience who spent quite a bit of time telling my client just how good she was and how much she knew and how she was going to get him right. The client asked if she knew who I was and she said no. The concern he had is that I write one of the top selling books on massage for athletes. If she was an expert it seemed to him she would be well versed on the various books and experts in the field. This was the most expensive session at $150 for 90 min. The whole time she was giving the session she talked and called out things she was doing like NMT, MAT, MET, trigger points, myofascial release and so on. He couldn’t remember the list but he had no idea what she was talking about. The worst of it was when she started digging on some scar tissue from a couple of prior surgeries. By this time I was angry. I told him it was absolutely wrong for a massage therapist who is only going to see a client once to attempt to reverse any specific condition and she could have hurt him. He said he was sore the next day and felt sluggish. He did not play well.
The next couple of sessions were not as bad but the massage personnel did not work on his goals and jumped right into the “deep tissue” stuff. He said, “They just love to dig around the shoulder blade Sandy like it is the most important spot. Nothing was wrong with my shoulders and I told them so but they kept right on till I demanded they stop. My legs were sore from walking up and down hills and one girl hardly touched them.” Grief. He said the massages were a waste of money. In addition he said one of the girls was dressed so skimpy and revealing that he was embarrassed for her.
One session was from a male massage therapist that was set up at the tournament. The massage was OK but the guy kept name dropping the whole time about other golfers he worked with. My client wished he would have just shut up.
The finial massage was not very good. The massage therapist was new having just graduated from school. She was nervous and that is understandable. The massage was at the spa associated with one of the hotels. My client tried to assure her but she just would not settle down and the massage was choppy and ineffective. At least she disclosed to my client that she was new and nervous and she did not try and fix him and she did not hurt him. She used way to much lubricant that smelled weird and he was greasy after the session. That massage was $90.
Fortunately he dosed off and I got into my massage zone because after this conversation I was angry, embarrassed for my profession, frustrated, concerned and disappointed. He had spent around $500 and he was hurt, could have been hurt worse, put in a position where he had to try and calm down a massage therapist and listen to others brag and name drop. Wasn’t worth it he said.
What is unfortunate is that I have heard these types of stories way way too often. I have had clients hurt by massage therapists, usually by trying to fix something that should have been left alone. I often will tell clients to be cautious about what they let a massage therapist do to them. The so called “sports massage therapists” are often the worst. I have had clients so sore after a massage that their performance was affected. Clients have been over stretched, dug on, and been told wrong information and hype. I am concerned about confidentiality and really hate name dropping. I also find it appalling what some massage therapist wear while giving a massage. How are we going to claim to be professionals when we won’t even dress like professionals?
So now that I think I have settled down, my concerns and questions are:
What is lacking in education and professional development that these issues occur much too often?
What public education is necessary so massage clients can recognize potentially harmful methods and what to expect for professional behavior?
What are the professional organizations, especially the AMTA and ABMP, doing to continue to reinforce safe and professional massage practice of their members?
Are there any improvements that could be made in textbooks and other educational materials that would prevent these things from happening?
Where are the mentors and teachers and employers who will confront and then will work one on one with individual massage therapist who are inappropriate?
I am concerned that these issues keep occurring over and over and over. The problems are not isolated and the data collection for the ELAP identified may of the same issues my client experienced. I know that there will always be a few people that are truly bad massage therapists and these individuals should not be tolerated. I know that there will always be a few massage therapists who are so insecure that they have to brag and make unjustifiable claims. There are always some bad apples in all professions and occupations however----This should be the exception and not common occurrence.
My client did tell the massage therapists who insisted on doing the deep tissue stuff to stop. He did tell the one who had all the so called experience to read my books. He is good at feedback so he does his part.
I wonder what would happen if the CLIENTS took a stand and would not accept poor performance by a massage therapist. Maybe a promotional campaign and a grass roots effort with massage therapists educating clients about proper professional behavior and how to protect themselves from the “egocentric fixers” out there.
Ideas welcome. And if you recognize anything that you do that my client described STOP IT. Also take the risk for the massage community and tell others massage therapist who are harmful and otherwise unprofessional to STOP IT. Stuff like this cannot continue if we are going to be respected as massage therapists. It just has to STOP!