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The other side of the table: Spring 2003

Just like you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, you can’t always teach the client to roll over. As a client, I find the moment of ‘rolling over’ to be the worst moment of the massage.


September 17, 2009
By Anne E. Wilson

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Just like you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, you can’t always teach the client to roll over. As a client, I find the moment of ‘rolling over’ to be the worst moment of the massage.

Will I fall off the table? Will I expose myself in an embarrassing fashion? Will I be out of breath and exhausted from my struggle with the sheets? Does my therapist put me through this on purpose so that my strained muscles will need further treatment?

With this in mind, I would like to describe three methods therapists use to overcome the difficulties of the ‘roll over’ – and offer one novel suggestion for more comfortable roll over moments.

Method #1. Once the client is completely relaxed, warm, and comfortable, my therapist holds the top sheet up in front of her face and says “Roll over, the sheet is in front of my face I cannot see you.” The first thing that happens is a cold wind whips across my warm back. Next, I worry that if I roll right off the table
I’ll be lying on the floor in my underwear. I do have the freedom to move, but the bottom sheet always tends to roll up into a ball.

Method #2.
In this method, my therapist presses against the table pinching the sheets between the therapist and the table. My therapist then grabs the top sheet and bottom sheet on the far side of the table and pulls it tight and away, creating a ‘taco’ of sheets with client stuffing.

I then hear the dreaded instruction to ‘roll over.’ Although the bottom sheet doesn’t twist and shimmy, I certainly do. Rolling over between the tightly pulled sheets requires some contortion. It is true that I am never exposed, however, I fear that I may injure myself twisting about in a confined space.

Method #3.
When using this method, my therapist pinches the top sheet with both hands to create a tent and says, “Okay, you can roll over now.” This method is a definite improvement, after all, it isn’t nearly as cold, and it is physically possible.

Unfortunately the therapists can clearly see me struggling under the sheet to roll my entire body over on a 24-inch-wide table without balling up the bottom sheet or exposing myself. 

Now, this solution may leave the therapist with nothing to do during the ‘roll over moment’ but as a client I think it would work. In this method my therapist would hand me a small bell and say “I’m leaving the room now. Roll over when I’m gone. When you are ready ring this little bell and I’ll come back and finish your massage.”


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