By Stephen Starkweather
I see a wide variety of people in my massage profession, between my job doing massages at the spa in Calistoga and then at my office here in Santa Rosa. I work on all body types and ages. Anyhow, I’ve noticed four general types of approaches to massage from the clients I work on. Are you one of these types of people? Or are you in the fifth type?
The first type of person wants a really deep massage. They tell me “You can go as DEEP as you want” or “You can’t hurt me; Please, hurt me!” I end up using my elbows and all my weight to get some kind of reaction from the person. There have been times I had to lean into my elbow on the person and elevate my feet higher than the client to get not only my weight, but gravity also into the formula.
Often, but not always, this first type of person is athletic or in shape. They can be addicted to endorphins and they’ve discovered that the more pain they endure, the greater their feeling of being high is. Maybe they learned this from experiencing a high after running in a race or doing intervals. You can probably also just get used to deep massage. I used to often get intense rolfing massage sessions from Bob Brown at the Health Promotion Clinic in Rohnert Park. When it got too painful and I started to scream, the receptionist out in the waiting room would turn on the vacuum cleaner to drown out the noise. But also this type is getting the greatest muscle stretching and the greatest increase in circulation from their massage sessions.
The second type of person wants a LIGHT massage. They tell me “I’m not into pain and suffering, OK?.” This person really seems to really enjoy the massage a lot. Its more of a meditation. They often go to sleep during the massage. One lady of this type told me after the session that she felt she missed the massage because she slept through most of it. I tried to convince her that her subconscious was aware of the massage going on and that this was what was important here. This type of person can in some cases be an athletic type. This is a very interesting phenomena. Some people work out a lot, such as run 10 miles a day, but a deeper massage can actually bruise them.
There is another type, the BALANCED person –They may like it deep in some areas such as the shoulders, but “go easy on the calves please.” Or maybe they’re just happy with anything. They get muscle manipulation or they get a meditation. They are happy anyway they get it. Are you the balanced type of person?
The fourth type, Type X, is mysterious. They don’t tell me anything, and they never will. And that is their right to be so silent if they want. They probably won’t be getting the deeper massage from me. When the session is over they go on their way — contented usually, but no comments from this person….I will never know! Perhaps you are one of the mysterious ones. It has been theorized that these people are actually ALIENS from other planets. And there is some merit to this idea. They may not know our language.
Then there are those who don’t get massages. Most of these people have never had a massage and they don’t know what their missing. They ask me “Why would I want a massage? I’ve never needed a massage.” And they may ask how anyone would want to get touched by someone else that much. These people complete the wheel of our incredible humanity. We are all different, aren’t we? (from Empire Runners Newsletter February 2003)