Chair Massage is more than a “door opener”

By Jennifer Shaw, Austin Massage Therapist and Guest Blogger

Just because chair massage is what massage therapist Lisa Santoro calls “a door opener,” does not mean it doesn’t require more technical training and practical experience than traditional massage therapy education offers. In an interview published by Massage & Bodywork Magazine, Santoro and fellow chair massage therapist actually argue the opposite.

Which courses in your massage training best prepared you for doing seated massage?

: My training in traditional barefoot shiatsu, as well as tui na, at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy is what best prepared me for doing seated massage. It gave me a variety of techniques, including general and specific contact pressure, as well as percussion, that can be used on the client who is fully clothed. This training also gave me versatility in body patterning. Another important influence in my massage school training was Aston Patterning. As students, we were individually guided in the efficient use of our bodies while practicing massage. Beyond the concept of body mechanics, Aston Patterning taught me the importance of fluidity in the efficient use of body energy.

Do you think seated massage is a good entry-level massage practice, requiring only minimal training?

Rose: It takes a higher level of skill to be effective in a shorter amount of time. It takes quality communication and intuitive skills to assess client needs in the moment. Practitioners of seated massage must be focused, well-grounded, and comfortable in their own body before they can convey a sense of well-being to the client. These are qualities that come with training, experience, and commitment to the healing practice of massage.
Santoro: Absolutely not. We’re still doing massage, and even in 10-minute sessions we need to know about conditions and contraindications and to do no harm above all else. Knowing how to use our bodies takes time and practice. Students need to work on how to make subtle or even profound shifts in body use to work safely and effectively.
What part of your massage education has been most helpful in your chair massage practice? Share your tips and tricks with your fellow massage therapists in the contents below.

Lauterstein-Conway Massage School offers a nationally known chair massage continuing education class annually each year.

Lisa Santoro has been a massage therapist for 10 years and has a practice at Harvard University’s Health Services. She is also an instructor at the Muscular Therapy Institute in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Mary Kathleen Rose is a certified massage therapist with over twenty-five years of experience in the holistic health field. She graduated from the Boulder College of Massage Therapy in 1985 and has a B.A. in Integrative Healing from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She has taught massage, career development, and wellness education at a number of different massage schools, and supervises the massage therapy program at HospiceCare of Boulder & Broomfield Counties. Read the full chair massage article here.