Friday, July 26, 2013

Misleading Words to Eradicate From Your Massage Vocabulary

"Professionalism is knowing how to do it,
when to do it, and doing it."
- Frank Tyger     

Better off Without them...
Unnecessary, euphemistic, double-meaning, dated, obsolete, antiquated, hoary, confusing, pugnacious, affront, and/or offensive. These pretty much describes the terms that gives us Massage Therapists a bad case of tinnitus, bruxism and nausea - if you know what I mean!
But of course, as Massage Therapists who do their best to emulate "Wellness" and "inner peace", we try to save ourselves from the frustrations brought about by the actions and "grammar" of  others! For all we know, it could be just a case of them not knowing any better.
Here is the list of the words that we should stop using or should use with educated caution and lots of common sense. It could also be an opportunity for us to educate our clients if they do utter any of them:
1. Masseuse/Masseur: If you are French and you are in Europe, then you might not mind being called a Masseuse(eur). But in the modern Western world, especially here in the US, it has a far different connotation! It currently is most often used by those who are looking for erotic massage, prostate massage, or a "happy endings" to refer to those who use Massage Therapy as a cover/code/guise for prostitution. Proper: Certified/Licensed Massage Therapist, Massage Technician, Massage Specialist, Massage Practitioner, Bodywork Practitioner. 

2. Rub Down: It used to simply mean "brisk rubbing of the skin", however it seemed to have evolved backwards and now currently has 3 definitions, the other 2 of which are sexual. Modern Dictionaries defines rub-down as a "slang with user-generated content ". It is often used by the disreputable as a code to refer to its other 2 meaning. Proper: to massage, to address (as in address the shoulders); or to treat (not the condition itself per se, but the area - as in "therapy": treat the forearms with petrissage).
3. Out-calls/In-calls: Just the same as rub down, these words used to be innocent. And just like rub down it is now more often used as a slang to mean something else other than legitimate and therapeutic services. Try a quick google search for a Massage Outcall and Incall and see for yourself. Proper: Home visit, Mobile Service, On-site Therapy, In-clinic.
4. Massage Parlor: Did you google Massage Outcall/Incall? Now try Massage Parlor! Shocked? Yup! That is how much filth there is in the internet that results when you combine "massage" and "parlor" in your web search! It's original innocent meaning is "an establishment providing massages". But just like all the other terms above, it seemed to have evolved backwards to mean "an establishment that is actually a front for prostitution." Proper: Center, Clinic, Spa, or Office. (Prefix the words Massage or Wellness, then you even make them more accurate!)
5. Glides, Strokes: For whatever reason, these terms seemed to have evolved backwards right down there beside "rub-down" too. Long glides, long strokes, the right strokes, the smooth glide and all that terms used by the sleazy! Common sense will tell you when they are being used in this manner, since some may actually be sincere when they mention these terms. Proper: "to Effluerage/petrissage" instead of "to glide or stroke"; "an approach", "a Technique", "a Modality" instead of "a stroke" or "a glide".
6. Bed, Lube: Although these tools that Massage Therapists use resemble a lot a bed and a lube, they now have obvious connections to and connotations of the illegitimate practices that the whole profession of Massage Therapy is trying to distance itself from. Need I say more? Proper: Massage Table/Mat; Massage Emollients; Massage Lubricants.
7. Fluff-Fluff Massage: These I think is one of the most irrelevant word that many massage therapists and clients alike use! Not only is it derogatory, it pretty much downplay the real purpose and benefits of light-pressure massages that can be just as beneficial (and as medical) as medium to deep pressure massages depending on the indication and application! Have you ever had a referral from a Cardiologist and a Psychologist to perform Deep pressure massages on their patients? (Insert sarcasm here) Proper: Relaxation, Circulatory, Nourishing Massages OR Just say Light Swedish, Light Esalen, Light Lomi.
8. Allusive Anatomy: You know how disparaging street-talks and layman terms can be if used in place of terms that should be professional! Take the word "Butt" for example - would you use it to state your plan of treatment to a client? "Do you want me to include your butt in the session?" They are not hard to memorize and they are quite simple even to the most average Joe/Jane! Set an example and educate your clients at the same time - proper and respectful is what we strive, do teaching and professionalism at the same time! Here are some more examples: backside, breast, chest, inner thigh, groin, hip flexors: Proper: Gluteals/Glutes, Pectorals/Pecs, Adductors, Inquinal Region. Then point to the area on your anatomy chart (or yourself but never to the client). Clear. Simple.
9. Allusive Verbs and Conditions: These words need no explanation, but rather some caution and lots of common sense. Examples of verbs are: to arouse, to stimulate, to release.  Use these instead: to invigorate, to rejuvenate, to improve. Examples of conditions are: stiffness, tension, tight, stress. Use these instead: limited mobility, immobile, limited range, fatigued, sore, painful. As with the case of stiffness, tension, tight and stress, use them as adjective instead! Stiff shoulder, tensed shoulder, etc. If the client is using these terms, be aware of their intentions and gestures. Euphemism is just that - multiple meanings! We had Ethics, Pathology and Anatomy from our respective school, let's use them!
10. Sensual: This is a little controversial, especially to those who practice Energy and Eastern disciplines. I have had some arguments with fellow Massage Therapists about the real meaning of the word "sensual". Some say it is innocent and that Massage is sensual (sensory-tactile) in its very essence. Some say it is sexual and should be avoided. Here is how Merriam-Webster defines "Sensual": (1) relating to or consisting in the gratification of the senses or the indulgence of appetite; (2) Fleshly; (3) Sensory; (4) devoted to or preoccupied with the senses or appetites; (5) Voluptuous; (6) deficient in moral, spiritual, or intellectual interests; and (7) Worldly especially Irreligious. Six out of these seven definitions is something you would never use to describe the services you provide (except #3). Would you say to your client that Massage Therapy can be legitimately sensual? Try advertising your services with the word "sensual" in it, and most of the inquiries you will receive are indecent!
These are the Top 10 Word (and group of related words) that we should all be very cautious about. Because no matter how sincere and innocent our definition of these words are, we can never be sure that the intention and understanding of our client is the same! These words are unnecessary! I think it would actually help the whole profession of Massage Therapy if we just eradicate them all from our vocabulary and educate our clients whenever they utter any of them innocently or otherwise!
Sincere Intention, Proper Communication and Timely Education are 3 of the many facets of a successful and legitimate practice! For every session we provide, every client we meet, it is always a great time to practice them!
- Leo Feraer-Oporto     



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