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Should you talk during your treatment?

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

I recently read a blog that suggested therapists should encourage as much silence as possible during a massage. It went on to read that the role of the therapist was to keep dialogue to a minimum and that they should discourage any sort of conversation from the client.

Given that silence is NOT what you will get at an appointment with Optimal Performance, my initial reaction was to disagree.....but on reflection my main issue with the article was that it failed to recognise that massage is provided for many different reasons and the intended outcome of your treatment will determine the type of experience that can be expected.

Silence may well be appropriate if you are looking for a therapeutic & relaxing massage, whereby you are given the time to disconnect & switch off, but generally speaking the treatment offered by Optimal Performance is not about relaxation. (Sorry!)

Soft Tissue Treatment (STT) is ordinarily a remedial massage therapy, provided to help reduce pain, resolve injuries or issues and to manage long term chronic conditions. It is also useful for 'prehab' to assist with reducing the risk of sport related injury during training and to assist with recovery post sporting event.

Given the objectives of STT, two-way communication is key for many reasons:

  • A soft tissue therapist will look to understand the cause of your issue, so that they can offer the best treatment & advice possible; and this requires a conversation about lifestyle, occupation, illness, previous injuries, sleep patterns, family, stress, training levels and so on.

  • Treatment often includes provision of remedial exercises too - and to get this right requires dialogue.

  • Communication helps to build rapport & trust between client and therapist. This may not be necessary if you want & need a one-off quick fix treatment aimed at down-regulating painful symptoms.... but if you are more interested in addressing root cause & finding a lasting resolution, your visits may be multiple or on-going and a trusted relationship is then needed.

  • During massage treatment, some techniques can cause discomfort, but they should not cause pain and it’s important for the therapist to get feedback on whether the pressure is too much or the stretches too strong. Communication during the treatment will ensure that the treatment is within comfort levels and anything that isn’t can be adjusted.

  • Many clients tell me that conversation feels like part of their treatment. People like to be listened to and generally feel altogether better for having had a chat!

So if you are looking for a therapeutic, relaxing and silent treatment, you may well be suited to a different type of massage therapy or therapist. That may sound odd coming from someone that is running a massage business... but I know that depending upon my own particular needs at any given time, I have a range of therapists that I will see, who are all able to offer me something different. I think it is important that my clients know what they can (and cannot) expect from an appointment at Optimal Performance, so that they have the option of alternative treatments to suit any particular given needs too.


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