Ghosts. Goblins. Stretching?

For many massage therapists, stretching is like the monster under the bed.

They know it’s there, but they’re not going anywhere near it unless they have to. Given that many massage clients come in with improved flexibility and performance as a major goal, why aren’t more massage therapists taking advantage of this age-old technique? Is stretching really so terrifying? Let’s take a look at some of the fears that are holding people back: What’s so scary about stretching?

They’re afraid stretching will break the flow of the massage.

This can absolutely happen, but it’s largely because people don’t use stretching very often. Any new, unpracticed technique can stand out as awkward until the therapist gets the hang of it. There’s nothing inherently jarring about stretching, any more than there is about kneading, traction, or turning over. Learning to incorporate stretching into a massage, rather than simply learning the techniques in isolation, will help.

They’re worried about draping malfunctions.

Let’s be honest: any amount of movement can result in an awkward moment of exposure. This is true when a client changes positions, requests an extra pillow, or even just sneezes. Learning to drape securely and manage different kinds of movement is just as much a part of continuing education as picking up new techniques themselves. A good instructor (or helpful friend or mentor) will work through this important aspect in any modality-based class.

They find stretching to be physically awkward or tiring.

We talk so much about body mechanics when it comes to friction and kneading that it’s easy to forget that it applies with other techniques as well. It’s natural to be intimidated by the idea of lifting the leg of a client who’s twice your size, but just because you’re contending with gravity doesn’t mean that your posture, movements, and placement can’t be on your side. With the correct mechanics, stretching can actually provide a nice break from the other repetitive motions of giving massage!

They figure clients can just stretch on their own time.

Sure they can. They can also massage their own arms, legs, and heads, too, but you don’t see therapists working exclusively on body parts that their clients are unable to reach. Assisted stretching with a person who has a deep understanding of the muscles and their synergists and antagonists is a very different experience from touch-your-toes-and-count-to-ten. Just as a nightly foot rub routine doesn’t replace a professional massage, stretching at home is a complement to, not a replacement for stretching with a trained therapist.

They don’t see how it’s helpful to their clients.

Not every stretch is for every situation. It takes a bit of education to understand what to stretch, and when, and how, in order to get the results that clients are seeking. But those results, once attained, aren’t esoteric numbers. They have a direct impact on clients’ everyday performance and quality of life.

Where can massage therapists learn more about stretching?

Teresa Matthews is a successful sports massage therapist, personal trainer, and athlete. If you live in Florida, you can visit her personally. But for everyone else, Teresa will be presenting as part of our Tools for Touch™ webinar on November 5.

This class will focus on integrating stretching and deep tissue massage for athletes and others seeking peak performance. Muscle actions, draping, and body mechanics will all be covered, ensuring that you have ALL the skills you need to incorporate these techniques into your practice, not just the obvious ones. This hands-on demonstration will show you how to give a better, more effective massage: better for your client, and better for you!

So save your shivers for the ghouls on your doorstep this Halloween. Register for the webinar today and reserve your spot to learn from Teresa and our other great instructors this November!