Masseuse or Masseur? Your Choice for a Massage Therapist May Say a Lot about You

Masseuse or Masseur? Your Choice for a Massage Therapist May Say a Lot about You

Health and Fitness January 14, 2015

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There are scores of benefits attributed to traditional Asian bodywork like full body massage and reflexology. The latter dates back to 2330 B.C. and is thought to have been practiced by Ancient Egyptians. Foot reflexology has been known to have positive effects on patient reported symptoms like headache, stress, asthma, constipation, sinusitis, and migraines. Reflexology is a science concerned with reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to glands, organs and other parts of the body.

Chinese-influenced massage therapy was developed from the combined expertise and methods of doctors in traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners of martial arts, Buddhists and Taoists who believed touch was essential to spiritual yoga training, and laymen who offered massages for relaxation. Today, full body massages are practiced all over the world and are a way for clients to take a break from fast paced modern life. What are the top requests made by people who get massages today? A recent article published by The New York Times points out that for most clients, the biggest issue is gender of the therapist.

The majority of spa-goers, both men and women, prefer female massage therapists. The reason behind this choice arises from disparate notions about what a massage should be like. Some women treat a spa session like a visit with a close friend, and they like to relax and chat about the stresses in their lives. Men view a massage as less of a social activity and more of a necessary activity that allows a temporary escape. There is a greater cultural bias against men getting massages, and this view is underlined by statistics that report 70% of clients are female.

Not only are there factors working in favor of clients choosing female massage therapists, but spa-goers report that they specifically avoid choosing men to perform their massage, creating a synergistic effect that results in a greater demand for females in the industry. This exists because of the social pressures women can feel in the presence of men, especially when they are getting a full body massage. One client reports that she received a massage from a very handsome therapist, and she couldn’t fully relax because she felt self conscious during the session.

Whether it’s working against men or women, the gender biased selection has nothing to do with the true talents or abilities of massage therapists. Some clients actually prefer males to perform a massage because they believe men have more strength and can give a deeper massage. Ben Brown, a massage therapist in Manhattan, contests this theory, “Really good massage is about leverage,” he said. “You don’t have to be a male or female. You just have to be good and know how to use your body.”

The first step in resolving this contentious issue is by discussing the gender biases that may exist in the field and beginning to change them. Instead of searching categorically for a masseuse or masseur, perhaps the most effective way to get a quality massage is by asking for the most experienced person on staff. This is a sure path to getting the best massage, and gender isn’t even a consideration. Learn more at this link.