What can you do to make sure your massage experience is the best that it can be? Here are six tips to ensure a great massage every time you visit your practitioner.
1. Allow enough time to get to your appointment. This sounds incredibly obvious, but often I see people rushing in at the last moment to their massage appointment so they can hurry up and relax! The nature of our society is to cram in one more thing, or schedule things so tightly to leave us no room for parking challenges or anything else that may come up. I was guilty of this for years as a massage client, and these tendencies are still ones I struggle with. But I have finally realized that being on time to a massage and not stressed out and rushed puts me into relaxation mode and begins the process of letting go before the massage even starts. Try it, you will like it!
2. Be specific about how you are feeling and what you would like to accomplish in the session. Express your needs and goals for today’s visit. “It’s been a rough day, and I just need to relax.” or “I did a lot of yard work over the weekend and my low back is really hurting” or “I am under a lot or pressure at work right now and my shoulders feel up to my ears with tension…help!” If you are hurting in a specific area, point to where it hurts, and indicate what actions cause you the most pain. In short, tell your therapist whatever you think is appropriate to know so that she can deliver the most effective massage for you at each appointment.
3. Ask any questions you may have. Feel free to ask any questions about the massage process that come to mind. This is especially true for new clients and first time massage clients. But for all clients, it is much better to ask the question then be distracted from the benefits of massage by fear of the unknown answer. Have questions about draping? Just ask. Don’t know what to wear or not wear? Just ask. Would more or less pressure feel better? Just ask. Most massage practitioners will cover the basics of what to expect and how they operate, but none can read into the client’s mind to know what unasked questions might be resting there.
4. Don’t forget to breathe! Take deep, relaxing breaths as the massage begins and throughout. This allows your body to let go more readily and greatly enhances the effectiveness of the massage. It is very important to breath directly into the area where the therapist is working, especially when you experience discomfort in an especially tight area. Sometimes clients hold their breath to “get through it” or take short breaths thinking this will be less intense, but that only serves to keep the body tight and constricted. Trust your body to tell you when to breath, and remember that it sometimes takes conscious intent at first to breath deeply to maximize the benefits of your massage. With time, this becomes habitual and the benefits are absolutely worth it.
5. Give feedback. Let your practitioner know how it’s going. If she hits on a great spot, let her know. If you experience sensation or letting go in an area completely different from where the therapist is working, that is good information to share. If you want more pressure, or if something is right on the edge of what you can tolerate, let the therapist know. A great massage is a team effort, and I do appreciate feedback from my clients. I also recognize that sometimes clients just want to be quiet and zone out, and then breathing clues are immensely helpful. So whether the feedback is verbal or non-verbal, it’s essential to ensuring the best massage possible.
6. Enjoy the process! Relax, let go, breathe, talk, be silent, be how you want to be. It’s your massage, make sure you get what you want from it. As your massage therapist, that is what I most want for you.