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Taboos, The massage, Therapist and client

Massage and overweight

Overweight is usually not a problem when giving a massage to a client. The massage therapist is trained to take it into consideration and knows how to deal with what issues might arise.

As with body hair the massage therapist will not be judging or evaluating the looks and attractiveness of the client. We are used to all body types and appreciate them all for their uniqueness and the person inside. In fact, most massage therapists will welcome a different challenge and session, allowing them to explore and expand on techniques they might not get a chance to employ that often. The looks of a client is the last of our concerns. We focus on the issues at hand and at giving the client the best possible treatment on all levels. Physically, mentally and spiritually.

Even when the overweight becomes so much that the muscles are hidden, there are techniques to address these challenges. Trigger points can still be reached and stimulated as well as stretches can be used. A good massage therapist is educated in not only using her fingers to massage, but also use palms, forearms and even elbows. These are all methods that will allow the therapist to work in depth in spite of what body fat might be covering the muscles.

There is also the entire relaxation and well-being part of a massage which doesn’t depend on the ability to use fingers to work on a muscle. A long smooth massage strokes makes the client relax and let go, which in return relaxes the muscles and helps removing tensions. The massage therapist aids the client in healing himself.

There are many benefits to a massage for an overweight person, both mentally and physically. Massage physically has the same benefits no matter the weight of the client, since the reactions in the body, the relaxation and de-stressing works the same. Psychologically overweight people can benefit from a massage even more than normal weight people. Studies show that massage can help people to accept their body as it is. Being accepted by the massage therapist can become a great victory and a good massage session will be a very positive experience for the client.

The massage therapist must always be sensitive to the client’s needs and concerns and take all these things into consideration. It can be by draping, taking extra time to prepare to allow the client to feel at ease, talking to the client, using oils that makes the client feel confident and trusting, be reassuring and always 100% professional, never letting any personal opinion or thought surface. That said, most massage therapists have experience in massaging overweight people and are quite used to it.

A good massage therapist is always open to talk to the client about what concerns he might have and answer any question objectively and professionally. The confidence between therapist and client is sacred. There is no need to worry about what might be said and shared once the session is over.

Do not cheat yourself for a good massage because of worries about your weight or looks.

Further reading:
http://www.integrative-healthcare.org/mt/archives/2006/08/bodywork_for_ob.html

About Pia Poulsen

Pia Poulsen is educated as a wellness massage therapist at Institut FIGARI in Paris, from where she passed her certification exam in January 2008. Since then she has expanded her skills to become the first Advanced LaStone® practitioner in France as well as a certified LaStone® instructor.

Discussion

4 Responses to “Massage and overweight”

  1. This is true and i'm glad you brought it up. I am obese myself, though i am working on weight loss, i had a few instances where therapists did make a (well not directly but i could tell) about my size since they have to work harder, i don't blame them but from professional point of view its not very acceptable.

    But then i used to go to a therapist who instead used different techniques more suited to a man my size, infact when i lost weight, she immediately noticed while massaging me, and showed me the exact points where i lost most of my fat!! it was incredible experience finding out how much therapists know about our bodies, and i'm glad you share the same mentality.

    I have benefited alot from massage, you are so right, i feel more confident about my body, but it also encouraged me to lose weight.

    Posted by Anonymous | 25 January 2010, 18:59
  2. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. It's always wonderful to hear how things are experienced from the other side of the table, so to speak. I love to hear that the massages also encouraged you to lose weight. Perhaps we should encourage massage as the next “diet” against obesity?

    Another tool which is very beneficial with overweight clients is the hot and cold stones. Using the stones allows the therapist to work much deeper, and the temperatures aid as well. I had a therapist share with me how using the hot stones allowed him to treat a patient whom he with his hands couldn't have treated.

    Posted by Pia | 26 January 2010, 10:16
  3. I'm not a professional masseuse but I sometimes give massages to my family and boyfriend.
    My boyfriend is very big (+300lbs) and I couldn't massage
    too well on him especially his shoulders and back because of the excess fat and I could not feel his muscles.

    I would really appreciate if you give me a tip on massaging overweight people.

    Thanks so much!

    Posted by Anonymous | 13 May 2010, 6:53
  4. Dear Anonymous,

    You're not writing what techniques you use, but I will assume you use hands and fingers foremost.

    If you use knuckles you can go deeper, the same is true for forearm and elbow. These methods have the disadvantage that you have a harder time feeling the tensions and knots. There's a risk of pressing too hard and cause pain.

    What really works is hot and cold stones combined, but to do this you need to attend some courses and learn how to use temperature safely and so on.

    Keep in mind that you don't necessarily need to go deep to gain benefits from a massage. A gentle touch, repeated many times will cause the muscles and body to relax. It's a more indirect way of treating tensions, but can be just as effective. It will help if you ask him to focus on the area you're massaging and have him consciously try to relax the muscles. Let him say something like “I'm letting go of tensions, relaxing my muscle, letting go” etc… find what works for you. If he at the same time does deep, slow breathing the relaxation will be deeper.

    With practice you will be able to sense the muscles and tensions, even through excess fat.

    I hope this helps and good luck.

    Cheers
    Pia

    Posted by Pia | 13 May 2010, 7:12

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