At least, that is the theory. I have clients who every time I lift a part of their body, be that for a stretch or to improve access to massage a muscle such as the one under the shoulder blade, try and help by using their own muscles to lift the limb or other body part. This happens even if they are able to completely relax during the long strokes when I am not lifting anything.
This natural desire to help in fact makes my job more difficult and also reduces the effectiveness of the massage.
In fact, most clients have to be told to relax and let me do the work the first time. Those who are able on the first appointment to do so without any intervention on my part fall into three categories. The first is those who have had a lot of massage from other practitioners. Then there are those who have done a lot of Yoga or Pilates and are used to other people moving their body around without resisting. The final group is those who have fallen asleep and are unaware of what I am doing at the time!
This is one reason why one of my favourite oils is Frankincense. It has been used for millennia to aid people in reaching a meditative state and anecdotally, in my experience it makes it slightly easier for people to relax.
Some clients, difficulty in relaxing is more down to them needing time to trust me as a practitioner and on more than one occasion I have had a woman, usually their first time having a massage and very often one that has been bought for them by a friend or relative.
I often find that around twenty minutes into a massage, the muscle tone of a client changes completely as they relax and let go.
This is not about blaming the client for not relaxing, rather to let anyone reading it be they client or practitioner that this is normal and not something to worry about.
We all have conditioning that affects our behaviour and the instinct to be helpful to others is not a bad thing!