Nov 10, 2017

Posted by in School of Massage Therapy | 0 Comments

Modality: Chair Massage

As part of my education at CNWSMT, we were able to get little samples of different massage modalities that we might want to eventually go on to specialize in. There is so much you can do with massage, and so many different routes you can take, that having these snippets in the program has really been a benefit to figuring out where you want to go with your own practice. The modalities we were able to sample were:

  • Sports Massage
  • Chair Massage
  • Polarity
  • Myofascial Release (MFR)
  • Craniosacral Therapy (CST)
  • Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)
  • Forearm Massage
  • Gentle Massage

Chair massage can be as involved or as simple as you want it to be, and is a great introduction for a potential massage client to get a feel for you as a therapist. Or, if they’ve never had a massage before, then it’s a good way for them to break that ice. It has started to become something very popular among employers to do for their employees, bringing in chair massage for a day to pamper them and let them relax a bit. So there is a huge market for chair massage, outside of events and the like.

We learned the very basics of chair massage, so that we could perform a session in 15 minutes or less and hopefully get the client to come meet us on our table at a later date. Nothing truly fancy was taught, it was essentially Swedish massage done in a chair, and that works. Although, because it was a chair we did learn a few new techniques that we could bring back to the table, which was cool. I think my favorite was how to stretch the interosseus membrane in the arm between the radius and ulna. I used that a lot in clinic for people who worked at computers all day with great success. The hardest part about chair massage honestly, is the way your body mechanics have to shift. You need a lot of space, and you need to really pay attention to yourself, or you’re going to get hurt and potentially drive yourself right out of the career.

The idea behind chair massage is that it’s not a full-length massage. Sessions are typically 5, 10, or 15 minutes long, and the massage is very quick. Since your client is in a chair and not on a table, there are also areas on the body that you just cannot reach and/or manipulate, so you can only do so much. It still manages to relax a client though, so all is not lost. It’s an art form in and of itself, really, and I’ve come to the conclusion that you either love it or hate it.

Once you’ve learned them, you can bring other modalities to the chair with you. Almost any other modality can be done partially on the chair, and that’s cool. It’s a way to truly make your chair massage a unique experience from someone else. It also might be a great ice-breaker with a future client to the specific work that you do, if they haven’t heard of the techniques before and are a little hesitant.

Regardless of these things though, I personally have decided that I do not like chair massage. I volunteered at Jazz Fest in Saratoga to give chair massages as part of my clinic hours, and chair massage was what we did for our community service; and overall it just wasn’t really meshing with my massage goals and style. Jazz Fest was where I really figured it out, since I did chair massage for four hours straight. That was rough after the first two hours, and I wouldn’t say we were too terribly busy since there were so many of us. However, it’s good to have had the experience and know it’s not for me, because it saves me the expense of buying a chair of my own only to figure it out after I’ve tried it in my business model. That’d be an expensive lesson otherwise.

Thankfully, for those who do enjoy chair massage, the class also focused on how to market yourself to corporations and venues to do chair massage. This made it feel like a very complete, well thought out class. You learned how to take your Swedish massage to the chair, and you learned how to get people to hire you to do chair massage. Not a bad deal at all, especially since it was only three classes long. For a modality I ended up not caring for, the class was fun and beneficial. Many of the marketing techniques can probably be modified and crossed over to other types of massage practice, so that’s always helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *