Texting During Massage: It’s Not OK

Bad habits tend to reinforce themselves. The more you engage in one, the more acceptable it becomes in your own mind.textin

Between my own personal experience as a working massage therapist and managing a massage business for many years I have seen more than my share of bad “massage habits” perpetrated by massage therapists.

Excessive talking during a massage is a big one. Cutting the time on the clock short is another. These are the types of things that, the longer you get away with it without being called out by a customer or manager, the more it seems normal. This is how bad habits develop.

This brings me to one of the worst and increasingly common bad habits that we see infecting the massage profession. I’m talking about therapists texting while massaging.

There are so many things wrong with texting while massaging that I hardly know where to begin. I remember the first time I saw a fellow therapist do it while we were performing a couples massage back in 2003. I was mortified. It’s disrespectful, selfish, and of course completely unprofessional.

Addicted to your phone? Massage might have been a bad career choice.

In what could be called the smart phone era, people are literally addicted to their phones and the communications that they enable. Like most bad habits and addictions, it starts out innocently enough; just checking the phone on a rare occasion for an important message in the middle of a massage, perhaps. Then, without facing any repercussions, it happens again. And again, and again. Before you know it, the phone is out during nearly every session. And while it’s out, why not check Facebook?!

Sadly, this is happening a lot these days.Yet massage therapists need to understand that there are times when it is absolutely essential to put the phone away and keep it there until you’re finished. Yes, it might mean you’re unable to respond to a message for a whole hour. Yes, in this era of on-call freelancers waiting on the next massage assignment offer to go “ding”, it means you may miss out on those from time to time. That’s not a good thing, but it comes with the territory.

Those who decided to get into the massage profession must have known that this is not a job that lends itself to being able to use a phone anytime. I’m confident that if you surveyed any number of massage therapists, students, instructors or industry leaders and asked them if it is ever OK to text while in the process of performing a massage, you would get a pretty unanimous answer: of course it’s not OK to text and massage.

I would ask those therapists who have deluded themselves into thinking that it is acceptable; how would you feel if your dentist was texting in the middle of your exam? What if you were at a restaurant ordering food and in the middle of explaining your order to the server, she took out her phone and started texting? It’s just bad service.

I hate to say it, but yes – you are being a sneaky weasel.

One of the key differences from other occupations when it comes to texting while working (which is also a primary reason this terrible habit has been able to fester) is because therapists doing it assume they can get away with it without being caught. Conveniently for them, it can be done when a client has his or her eyes closed, or is facing away and not able to see.

A sign of integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. A good sign you are doing something you know is wrong, is when you only do it when no one can see you. This type of person could rightly be described in that moment as a “sneaky weasel”.

For me personally, one of the things I love about being a massage therapist it that it is a profession that requires a singular focus. That focus is on the work I am doing for the client in the moment. I’m not thinking about my next appointment, my love life, the fight I got into with my friend or anything else. Massage therapists who cannot focus their attention or be self-disciplined enough to separate themselves from their phone during massages should do themselves and their clients a favor, and consider getting into a new line of work.

Texting while massaging is not OK and will never be OK.  Don’t be a sneaky weasel. Don’t text and massage.

Dan Melmed, LMT

Owner & Founder, Body Well