The topic of talking during a massage never fails to garner a good amount of debate amongst clients and therapists alike.
I’ve had clients who’ve thanked me for my complete and utter silence during their massage and others thank me for the conversation. Some clients complain about previous therapists who wouldn’t shut up, and others complain that their previous therapist would only respond in what amounted to mono-syllabic grunts when they attempted to have a conversation during their massage.
On the therapist side of this issue, I’ve seen whole threads on massage forums devoted to the question of how much talking is Ok during a massage. Many threads. Heated threads.
So what’s a person to do? Should you talk or be completely quiet during a massage? My answer is a resounding it depends. It depends on you – do you like quiet, conversation, or maybe a little conversation at the beginning that fades to quiet partway through. It depends on your therapist – do they prefer to talk while they work or does it distract them from being able to fully focus on giving you the best massage they can? It depends on compatibility – do you and your therapist have compatible views on this?
Here are the pros and cons of four common massage room talking scenarios:
Pro – This can be a great form of stress relief, especially if you’ve just come from the stressful situation. Let it out and then let it go.
Con – It’s easy to get sucked into venting mode. When that happens, you hold onto the stress by repeatedly rehashing the same stressors. This only perpetuates the stress response.
Pro – Sometimes conversation flows freely between two people who hit it off. This sort of conversation at the beginning of a massage (or in some instances all the way through it) can allow a sense of connection and trust to build between you and your therapist. That connection and trust, in turn, facilitates relaxation, stress relief, and release of muscle tension.
Con – Conversation, even when it’s building connection and trust, can distract you from feeling where the tension resides in your body and how it manifests. This creates a disconnect between your body and your mind which makes it harder to relax and harder to rid your body of the excess tension.
Pro – Laughter is a great way to relieve stress, which aids in the release of muscle tension. A little humor during a massage can be a good thing.
Con – It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When you fill your entire session with humor, or even most of it, you run the risk of distracting yourself from feeling where and how muscle tension manifests in your body. This is crucial knowledge if you want to get the maximum possible benefit from your massages.
Pro – A little conversation can keep you from falling asleep which allows you to be conscious of the tight, sore spots your therapist finds. It also allows you to experience the amount and type of pressure that’s used to release the tension.
Con – Too much conversation can keep you from falling asleep, which your body probably needs if you’re as sleep deprived as most people. It can also keep you from drifting off to that magical place called La La Land that exists somewhere between the wake and sleep states. You may not realize it but these two states are where most deep healing occurs.
Many therapists take their lead from the client; they will talk if the client talks and will be quiet when the client is quiet. Unfortunately, some seem oblivious to the client’s lead. If you have a therapist who’s talking style is different than yours, it really is in your best interest to keep looking until you find a good match. You will not only enjoy your massages more, you’ll derive more benefits from them as well.