12 Secrets Your Massage Therapist Isn’t Telling You

Kathleen Lisson
3 min readDec 22, 2016


To outsiders stuck in a cubicle all day, massage therapy seems like an ideal career — spending time in beautiful surroundings listening to gentle music and soothing clients’ cares away. What lies behind the welcoming smiles of your favorite massage therapist? Read on as I reveal a dozen secrets of massage therapists!

  1. The industry has changed in the last five years, especially in California. Before the law changed in 2015, massage therapists could practice with only 250 hours of classroom instruction. Now, a licensed or certified therapist in California must have 500 hours of classroom experience, and many college programs require students to complete 1,000 hours. If you have been disappointed with a massage in the past, give massage another try.
  2. If you’re not careful, you could get massaged by an unlicensed practitioner. Most clients find a massage therapist through word of mouth. The problem? If your ‘therapist’ charges a low price, takes only cash and/or doesn’t have a website, he or she may not be an actual massage therapist! The downside? If your therapist does not carry liability insurance, how much money will you be able to collect to pay medical bills in the event of an injury?
  3. Massage therapists don’t care about your hairy legs, but they do care about that mole on your back. I have successfully massaged plenty of clients with leg hair. Ask your massage therapist to point out any moles or skin lesions that look concerning and follow up with your doctor. It’s easier than trying to look in the mirror!
  4. The sleep fairy may do more for you than a massage. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on your body, possibly contributing to the tension that makes shoulders and backs so sore. Change the way you sleep, including sleep posture, banishing tech devices from the bedroom and sleeping 7–8 hours a night and see the difference it makes in your body.
  5. We want to save the world. For many massage therapists, the dream that enticed them to enroll in massage school was a vision of being able to help others with the gift of massage. The difficulty is being able to give massage to those who need it but cannot afford it while keeping our own bills paid.
  6. We work for tips. Too many massage therapists are paid a wage that does not cover their monthly bills. We use our tips to put food on the table and pay for our own sorely needed massages.
  7. Yes, we have favorite clients. There are more than a few client names that bring a smile to my face when I see them on my schedule. Surprisingly, they are not all just big tippers. Massage therapists have to work in other people’s energy for a living. Getting to spend an hour helping someone with positive energy is a potent way to prevent burnout.
  8. We cannot remember everything. Busy massage therapists will have seen dozens of clients between today’s appointment and the last time they saw you. If you like a particular stroke, I’ll do my best to note it on your chart, but please also remind me so I can be sure to do it again!
  9. If you don’t say something, I often don’t know where it hurts! If the pain point of your muscle doesn’t feel different than the surrounding tissue, often don’t know if I am hitting a sore spot. If you want your therapist to stay on a trigger point, speak up!
  10. You may have strong feelings on the massage table. Relaxation is the only feeling many people have during a massage, but other emotions, from sadness to fear, emerge, especially during deep tissue work.
  11. Some of us stare off into the distance. When therapists work with their hands, eyes become temporarily unnecessary. When I am feeling for changes in the tissue, I tend to stare blankly at the wall, letting my brain focus on touch instead of sight. We’re not daydreaming, we’re in a state of deep concentration.
  12. My massage training wasn’t just in the college classroom. I have learned some of my best strokes from Youtube massage therapists like Massage Sloth, Massage Nerd and Rebel Massage. Massage Therapists — let me know your favorite Youtube massage tutorials!

To book a Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage session in San Diego, visit http://www.solacesandiego.com



Kathleen Lisson

San Diego lymphedema therapist, Massage CE provider. Author, Plastic Surgery Recovery Handbook & Lipedema Treatment Guide, Stress Reduction for Lymphedema.