I am often asked by new or prospective clients about the nature of my client base … who else comes to see me for massage. I am never quite sure if this question is seeking reassurance that it’s ok for them to be asking for and wanting massage, or whether they are curious about the nature of my work.
As well as being a massage therapist, most of my clients are aware that I used to work as a personal trainer as well. I feel very lucky to have a life that I am passionate about and that enables me to share my experience and knowledge with a wide range of people. Whenever I take a step back from my work and look at the people who trust their bodies into my hands I feel very privileged. What never ceases to amaze me is that the variety of symptoms, conditions and reasons people seek massage are as numerous as the people themselves.
So, who gets massage and perhaps more interestingly why?
I’ve always believed I have a fairly even split of male and female clients, and when looking at my lists, found that just over 60% are female. What I found particularly interesting is the age range from late teens to the most mature a few years off celebrating their 80th birthday! Children of the ‘70s and ‘80s make up almost 60% of my client base, while those born in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘90s account for less than 10%.
From my new client consultation forms, I also know that almost 30% of people who come to see me are seeing the GP about something specific or on medication I need to be aware of, but half of all clients have had an accident, operation or have (had) an illness or allergy ‘of note’ – these are only those who remember to put this on their form as a number of people, myself included, will then remember something else at a later date!
What I have found most interesting though is the difference between men and women when it comes to the ‘real’ reason for the massage. Less than 25% of women will be coming to seek pure refuge, relaxation and time to switch off, which is considerably more than my male clients, none of whom come for relaxation, but all of whom come for some form of remedial or therapeutic massage.
So, if there is such a thing, the stats suggest that my typical client would be a lady in her 30s who is not currently seeing her GP for anything but who has had some form of accident, operation, illness or allergy of note in the past, with the problem areas that have brought her to be likely to be either upper back, neck and shoulders or her lower back.
Whilst I recognize this woman, and actually fit the profile myself, there is nothing typical about my clients or job. Even if I had a full day of ‘back issues’, every presentation, symptom and experience will be different for each person – upper back, lower back, headache inducing, shoulder affecting, range of movement limiting, numbness causing, with pain which niggles or debilitates, is constant or fluctuates.
No such thing as typical
I have worked with professional sportsmen and women, Crossfit coaches, personal trainers, keen amateur sports men and women, full time working mothers and fathers, active grandparents, globe trotters, entrepreneurs, builders, carpenters, business owners, lawyers, computer programmers, glass blowers, DJs and dancers.
I have seen people who have received injuries playing netball, lifting washing or children (or grandchildren), been in car accidents, suffered sailing injuries, broken bones, worn out joints and who have inexplicable aches and pains which have just not gone away for years. I have worked with clients on the morning of an operation, just 6 weeks after a joint replacement, the whole way through pregnancy, two weeks after giving birth, pre and post sports events ranging from 5km races to an Ironman (a 2.4 mile swim to start, 112 mile bike ride for main and a mere 26.2 mile run, yes, a marathon for dessert!). But of course, I also love helping clients be well in themselves, and to help each and every one be the best you can be in your body.
Most people are aware that I am a total body geek and love my job, but it is very hard not to when there is no such thing as an average day at work and nothing typical about my clients!