Ever had a “meh” massage? Or worse, had one you just thought was bad, left you feeling hurt, sore, or disappointed? I know I have. Some of this has to do with the training and quality of the therapist. Some has to do with that special chemistry when you have the best fit with your therapist. Massage is subjective; everyone’s idea of a great massage is going to be a little bit different. Personally, I’m not really a big believer in intuition when it comes from massage. I AM a believer in communication. One of the things that makes our practice unique is the time we spend with our clients before starting the session. It’s your time to let us know everything you can think of that will help us give you the massage you want.
Here are ten tips for getting a great massage before, during, or after your session:
1. Read bios for the Massage Therapists. Select the one who’s skill set, personality, and philosophy feels like the best fit. While all of our therapists are certified and have over 1000 hours of bodywork education, their specific training or experience can vary.
2. Arrive early, or at least on time. This will give you time to have some water or tea (more on that below), use the restroom, turn off your phone, and relax a bit before your session starts.
3. Make a plan for your session with your therapist. Are you looking for a full body session? Really want to focus on just one area? Love/hate stretching? Don’t like getting any oil on your face or scalp? Have sensitive quads? Let us know! This will also help us be realistic about time. If you’re looking for deep, therapeutic work on your shoulders and neck, we might not also have time for a scalp and foot massage. And if it seems like one area is needing more time, your therapist may check in with you about changing the plan.
4. Let us know about any major life or health changes that have happened. Experiencing insomnia, just finished a two week cleanse, packing up your home to move, taking antibiotics, changing jobs, trying to get pregnant, or in training for a marathon? Letting us know will better help us tailor your massage.
5. Communicate about pressure at any time. Your therapist will ask you about the pressure early in your session, and a couple times throughout. But you’re free to let them know at any time if you’d like them to adjust. Feel free to say “I could use a little less pressure in that area.” Or if you’d like more, ask. Keep this in mind though: deeper is not always better. Some people need deep tissue work. Some people need their nervous system calmed. Some people just need an hour of quiet with someone else taking care of them. Honor your body now.
6. Let your therapist know if you’re too hot or cold. We can turn the table heat up or off, turn on a heater or fan, or crack open a window (air quality permitting, of course). I love the table really warm to help loosen my muscles. Folks who run hot likely find the heat aggravating. It’s all adjustable.
7. Don’t like the music? Let us know. We’re happy to make a quick change, or even work silently if you prefer. Whatever is going to help you relax and drop in to your massage is fine.
8. Drink water before and after your session. This will prevent dehydration, and help flush lactic acid from your muscles, reducing residual soreness. It’s also quite hard to work on dehydrated muscles. So maybe don’t schedule your massage the day after you’re going out to celebrate with a few rounds of cocktails. It probably won’t feel great anyway. Proper hydration can also prevent that detoxy feeling that can sometimes happen after having your lymphatic system manually pumped by massage.
9. Schedule nothing for about an hour after your session. This will give you some time for your body to absorb the benefits of the massage.
10. Consider hot or cold therapy at home before bed. Take a warm Epsom salt bath (we’ll give you some after an aromatherapy massage). If you’ve had very deep, structural therapeutic work, or are rehabbing from an injury, icing the area can reduce inflammation. Ask your therapist for any particular post massage care they recommend.
A final note: the benefits of massage are cumulative. If you’re a once or twice a year massage client (and I get it), it might not be possible to unravel everything that’s going on in your body in a single session.