Tuesday TOEsday: Where to start your massage

Where do your start your massage? At the feet? Perhaps at the client’s initial complaint area? At their upper back or in their neck? With their breath?

There’s not a wrong answer here, it all has to do with the theory you choose to approach the massage with.


Having procedures and protocols can produce results – but every client and every condition is different. Learning a routine massage and always sticking to it is like being on autopilot: it might always produce the same results, but you may be bored, uninspired… and your clients progress may plateau.

Read a few of the ideas below, and see if changing up the sequencing of your next massage helps you and your client get the results you are looking for!

Start your massage somewhere new.

Doing the same massage over and over and over, or having a cookie cutter routine, can serve its purpose in creating consistency and predictability. It can also, however, lead to unoriginality and a habit of ignoring the needs of those you have underfoot. (That’s a barefoot massage pun, for those of you “hands-on” massage therapists out there!)

Try not to massage like you are brainwashed!  Shake it up, open up new neural pathways and provide a change to their perceived awareness by beginning your massage session in a new spot. Try these ideas:

  1. Start from their foundation: their feet! Work up from there and follow the lines of support and compensation.
  2. Start your massage in the exact opposite spot they complain of: “where it is it ain’t”, and if you strategically attack the contributing culprit (like say, the adductors and hip flexors when a client has low back pain) you may have an easier time overall, and save enough time in the session to get to the root of the problem.
  3. Start at the middle and go out: massaging out from the sacrum can give you the option to go up the back or down the legs easily based on your initial findings.
  4. Start face up! If you constantly find yourself running out of time to properly pay attention to the anterior aspect of the body, then start there. You are probably so good at addressing the posterior body that you can whip out a fabulous 20 minutes while they are prone, after you’ve worked in detail for 40 minutes while they lay face up.
  5. Start sidelying. (What?!??! Who does that?) Exactly. Get right to the point and hit those mid and lateral lines from the get go.
  6. Start on the spot your client is most concerned about, and see where your client’s feedback and your intuition take you.

…If you are thinking to yourself “yeah, yeah, yeah, Jeni, I know”… then why aren’t you doing it? Be brave, break out of your box and start massaging from your sole. Elevate yourself, raise your own bar on your massage. Don’t be a massage zombie.

Start your massage on the right foot

love-what-you-doDon’t settle for the same ol’ same ol’. Get creative, adaptive and intuitive to bring a real structural change to your clients tissue issues!

Take your “usual schtick” and know it inside and out, then rearrange it and see how you can get it to fit back together again. Start somewhere else, but still get to the same destination. Get lost to get found. Work intuitively as you trouble shoot each massage. Love what you do. Sequence your strokes the way a yoga instructor would write a themed series of stretches threaded together.

This critical thinking is a main focus in our approach to Ashiatsu. In our FasciAshi classes, we present theories on WHY the strokes work structurally, and share the many ways it can be applied. We want you to be mindful, not mindless, and we want you to share your love of massage in your own voice. If your Ashiatsu (or your hands on massage) has become repetitive over the years, if you can do it with your eyes shut… then let us open your eyes to the next level of potential your feet can unleash: join us in class soon!

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