Over the years I’ve been asked many questions regarding massage therapy, clinic policies and other related subjects. It was the decision to start recording these answers for easier access that spurred me to start writing this blog.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions that I have encountered, with more to be added on the way.

What is your cancellation policy?

We are considered health care practitioners. Like other health care providers such as doctors, dentists and chiropractors, we charge a fee for missed appointments or insufficient notice of cancellation.

Currently our cancellation policy states that notice must be given for cancelled appointments one business day prior to the appointment before 1:00 pm. If an appointment is cancelled with insufficient notice, a fee of 50% of the cost of the treatment time booked will be charged.

Why do I have to pay a fee for cancelling my appointment?

This policy is in place for two reasons:

1. Your therapist’s time is valuable to others. Appointments are booked on a first come, first served basis and when appointments are cancelled with insufficient notice, very little time remains to fill the appointment or call another client who may otherwise have taken it.

2. Many massage therapists are contracted and therefore self-employed. Because they are not employees, they do not get paid an hourly wage and instead are paid based on how many clients they see per day. When a client does not show up to an appointment, the therapist does not get paid at all. A cancellation fee is put in place to compensate for the income that is lost when a client cancels with little or no notice. Initially only a portion of the appointment’s cost is charged, however if cancelling or missing appointments becomes a recurring incident, the therapist reserves the right to charge the full cost of the appointment.

It should also be noted that insurance companies do not cover the cost of cancellation fees.

It is understandable that accidents happen, emergencies arise and life can just get in the way sometimes. It is important to communicate with your therapist as soon as possible.

Can I bring my child for a massage?

Of course! Massage is beneficial for children and adults of all ages. Treatments are adjusted to suit each individual depending on several factors. Because children are smaller than adults, less time is required to complete a massage treatment. In addition, some techniques or areas may be excluded from the treatment due to the fact that children require less pressure, or may not be comfortable with a certain area being treated.

If you have a child under one year of age and are interested in bringing them for massage treatments, consider attending an infant massage class, which can be much more beneficial for both parent and baby.

What is your policy on children?

Parents are required to fill out and sign health and insurance forms, be involved in the consultation and be present during the treatment for all children under the age of 18. Consultations in this case are more in-depth, and consent is required from both the parent and the child to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the treatment. Verbal consent is maintained throughout the treatment to ensure that the child feels comfortable. In some cases due to privacy, older children may request that parents do not stay in the treatment room for the duration of the appointment, in which case the parents may sit in the waiting room of the clinic once the consultation is complete.

What kind of lotion do you use?

There are many options for lotions or oils that massage therapists can choose from. I prefer to use coconut oil for a number of reasons: The coconut oil that I use has no scent and is gentle on skin. Coconut oil also absorbs quickly and does not leave the skin feeling oily afterward, nor does it stain linens or clothing.

In order to avoid irritation or negative reactions, I always ask about allergies before starting the treatment and keep jojoba oil on hand to use as an alternative if required.

If you have any allergies or sensitivities, please let your therapist know before starting the treatment. Therapists cannot adjust treatments to your conditions accordingly unless you inform them beforehand.

Is massage therapy going to/supposed to hurt?

This is not necessarily a difficult question to answer, but requires a bit of explanation.

Simply put: no, massage therapy is not supposed to hurt. Just because a massage is not causing discomfort does not mean that it is ineffective.

Massage has so many wonderful benefits that do not go hand-in-hand with discomfort; on the contrary, a relaxation massage can be just as beneficial as a therapeutic treatment.

However, some therapeutic techniques during a massage, generally aimed at treating a musculoskeletal dysfunction, do have the potential to cause discomfort. One reason for this is due to the structure of dysfunctional soft tissue in the body.

Healthy tissue in muscle and fascia contains fibers which tend to run in organized, parallel directions. When tissue is damaged severely enough or is not allowed enough time to repair properly, the body begins to generate new fibers as quickly as possible to repair the damaged area. These fibers tend to be shorter and less flexible. Due to the structure and misaligned directions of these fibers, blood flow becomes restricted, the affected tissue loses mobility and compression of nerves may begin to cause pain.

Some massage therapy techniques involve manually tearing these dysfunctional fibers apart, followed by other various techniques which help the tissue to heal properly afterward. Creating micro-tears in the muscle fibers is necessary to break down adhesion and bring blood flow back into the tissue. This is where the potential for discomfort arises.

While it is normal to feel discomfort to varying degrees during a treatment, it is important to remember that there is such thing as too much pain. Excess pressure can cause further damage, which the therapist aims to avoid as it defeats the purpose of the treatment. As massage therapists, the only thing more important to us than helping our clients is to cause no harm to our clients.

A balance must be maintained to provide enough pressure that the treatment has a proper effect, but not so much that it exacerbates the issue or causes more damage. Communication is key between the therapist and the client. It is the therapist’s responsibility to inform the client of the differences between therapeutic and abnormal pain, but it is also up to the client to assess the amount of discomfort and inform the therapist when it becomes too much to handle.

In some cases it may be necessary for the therapist to start the first treatment with mild pressure, only gradually increasing to the client’s level of comfort over time. Most conditions take multiple appointments to treat, so it only makes sense that the amount of pressure used reflects the client’s tolerance, as well as the progress and demand of the condition.

Another factor which is often overlooked is the client’s level of trust in the therapist; as the client and therapist form a professional relationship, the former gains confidence in the latter’s abilities and feels more at ease during the treatment, allowing for deeper pressure to be used.

It is very important to me to mention that some therapists might suggest that bruising after a deep massage treatment is normal. I DO NOT AGREE WITH THIS. Bruising is the result of ruptured blood vessels under the surface of the skin. As I stated previously, massage treatments are not intended to cause further damage, therefore the presence of bruising indicates that too much pressure has been used during the treatment. With education and experience, a good therapist is able to provide an effective treatment using appropriate pressure without causing harm.

What I want you, as a client, to take away from this is that you know your body better than anyone else. Your RMT will offer their professional opinion and provide as much information as possible relevant to your condition, but it is up to you to judge whether that particular treatment is appropriate for you in that moment. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct.

If there are any questions that you would like answered, drop a comment and let me know!

© Randi Nowicki 2019

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