In the last week or so I have had two new clients who both were very clear during their intake about not having their legs worked on. One who didn't want feet, arms or hands done either. "Just back and neck" Which is fine, it's always your call, and I wrote a blog about this last year. Here it is. (go on, I'll wait here)
Curiously, they both gave me the same reason, "I don't appreciate it, so it's just a waste of time". (I did have to send my ego to daycare for a little while so I wouldn't come out with "well, when I do legs and feet it's not a waste of time, blah blah blah"
The first person to wave me off the legs was actually a try-out for a part time gig at a spa. I was working on the owner, and so didn't feel like I could argue with her too much. Though I did say "If you were just "any other client" I would feel compelled to lecture you on how everything is connected, etc". She laughed and said all her massage therapists tell her that.
The second was a new client who came in to take advantage of a free session. I did try to talk to her a bit more about how she's not just a back and neck, but a whole system that is completely tied together. How work on her legs and feet can effect how her back and neck are feeling. She was having none of it. Which is fine.
Some people have issues with certain parts of their bodies being worked on, and it's imperative that we hear that, and respect it. Often they will say something to effect of "I just don't like it". That to me is a flag that there may be a deeper issue and I need to proceed with caution.
The "waste of time" comment was a new one on me, and hearing it twice in a week was odd. Though there is good possibility that this was just their version of "I just don't like it" and I treated it more or less the same.
I did ask if they were comfortable with some compression done over the sheet, and they both said they were. I asked if it would be ok to bend their leg at the knee and work on their hips, they both agreed to that. In fact they both commented that they specifically liked that work after I had finished.
I would never work on anyone outside of what they expressed they wanted. But I think it's important to thoroughly examine what they really want from the session and to educate my clients about the benefits of incorporating the whole body. By identifying what the goals are, we know where we are going. How we get there is up to the client, and that's where the practitioner needs to be as flexible as possible. Compression, traction, stretching (passive, assisted and active), energetic work, these are all viable options if the client is open to them, and none of them involve "massage" per se.
The more tools we have in our bag, the more route options we have to get where we need to go, but the client is always in the driver's seat.