Setting your goals for massage therapy
It might seem like a strange thing - goals for massage therapy?! "I just want to relax!" you might say, and that's an entirely valid and important goal in itself, but if there's a bit more to having a massage for you, then thinking about what it is you want to get out of massage therapy is a really useful thing to spend even just a few minutes pondering. As those of you who have been to see me for massage know, its a question I ask on my client information form - " What is/are your primary reason(s) for seeking massage therapy and what are your goals for treatment?". The sorts of goals that people often mention include reduce pain, reduce tension, improve movement, improve flexibility (these may be general or to a specific area), relaxation, improve energy levels, and decrease stress levels.
Your own words, your own framing of your reasons and goals are important here. Being specific in defining your goals means that I can focus my assessment and treatment on the areas or reasons that are priorities for you. This could be a particular region or problem that is bothering you such as knee pain or not being able to turn your head to one side, or it may be massage as an ongoing part of your own health and wellness regime. I may ask you how a particular issue affects you on a daily basis and what you would like to change, for example to be able to get dressed without difficulty, to be able to play sport through the whole season again, or to be able to get a good night's sleep without pain. This helps to further refine your goals by telling me where you want to be, so we can assess how we are doing along the way - from before and after the session, and from session to session if it's been a problem you have had for some time. Also, it helps me to understand just what it is that you want to get out of the session or sessions, so then we are both on the same page and I can plan treatment to best achieve that outcome with you. For example, freeing up a restricted shoulder that you've had for a year might not be achievable in one session alone, but I can advise you on how many sessions and how frequently you should be having sessions, to get the best outcome. Or, it may be a case of managing an ongoing chronic condition as best we possibly can, rather than resolving it. Being aware of your goals assists us both in understanding what is possible and from there it means we plan treatment and time-frames based on that, if needed.
You may have noticed that I use the word "we" quite often. My therapeutic approach isn't a completely passive one. In my experience, the most successful results are achieved when the therapist and client work together. What does this mean? Well it means doing what you need to do in between massage sessions to get the most bang for your buck. This might mean doing recommended exercises to stretch or strengthen, observing and modifying your posture or ergonomics at work, adding more movement into your daily/weekly routine or finding ways that you can better manage and reduce stress in your life.
So, setting your goals can be really valuable for you and your massage. They don't have to be detailed, but thinking about why you are seeking massage therapy and what benefits you would like to receive from it helps me to better meet your needs, which in turn helps you to have your goals realised.