I saw a suggestion to post about the worst massage I’ve ever gotten, and to talk about why it was such a bad massage.
Here are the highlights:
The massage therapist didn’t ask enough questions
The intake was very short, barely an introductory “hello”. I’m not even sure they looked at my forms at all.
The massage therapist didn’t listen
I am very clear about what my body needs and can handle. I personally cannot tolerate a lot of deep pressure or pin-point specific work. Since this was supposed to be a full body Swedish, I did mention that, but wasn’t concerned. I said I need light pressure. In order to get therapists to take me seriously at first, I’ll often joke, “Massage me like you’d massage a 90-year old who’s never had a massage before.” Then they start light light and I can have them deepen from there. (As opposed to starting too deep and hurting me, then lightening up.)
Unfortunately, this therapist started quite deep and I had to continuously remind them about a light but firm pressure.
Handling my body was irresponsible
The therapist turned my neck to the right to access the left side of it. In doing so, they folded my ear in half and turned me so fast that had I had any kind of residual neck injury it would have been a huge issue. My ear was sore for days.
The draping was a nightmare
I’m not personally a fussy draper. I don’t care if you tuck or diaper drape tightly. However, if a therapist exposes whole body parts, I have to yank the covers back up to cover my chest, and it happens again without a word of apology or acknowledgment, I’m going to get defensive about it.
The massage therapist didn’t hear my feedback
When we got to the glutes, my most tender area, we were back to the deep heavy pressure. I about leaped off the table. “Ow! Too much!” The therapist didn’t hear me. “STOP. That hurts.” I kicked my legs. I literally had to… get this… reach around and hit their body (something no one should ever have to do or have reason to do) to get them to STOP.
So. Much. Pain.
After the massage, I felt beat up, deeply upset, and could barely walk. I had to cancel several day’s worth of appointments because I was so seized up. Sometimes soreness after a massage, when it’s agreed before hand as a possibility and consented to, is to be expected. I asked for a light and gentle full body Swedish massage and ended up barely able to move. NOT RIGHT.
Because the manager saw me limping out and deeply unhappy I was pulled into their office and asked what happened. Turns out I was not the only client who had serious concerns about this therapist. I’m not sure what happened after that, but my concerns were definitely aired.
Lessons to Learn
Your body is your body and you are the expert. SPEAK UP when your therapist isn’t meeting your needs ESPECIALLY if it’s causing you pain. I wish I had done one thing differently; ended the massage after the first ten minutes.
Did you know that’s an option? Some clients don’t. You can end a massage any time.
Let me repeat that in a block quote. You can end a massage at any time.
Will you still have to pay? It depends. As a business owner if one of my therapists was having that bad of a day I wouldn’t charge you. I can’t speak for other places.
Why I don’t mind a “bad” massage
Here’s the thing… I feel as a massage therapist I have learned MORE from the bad massages than I ever thought possible. I don’t mind bad massages. This one? I minded. A great big deal. I felt like there were consent violations and I was injured. But a standard non-injury non-exposing bad massage by a compassionate therapist? There’s a lot to take away from that, even if it’s just appreciation for my favorite therapists.