Like any good relationship, the relationship with your massage therapist should be built on a strong foundation of trust, communication and honesty. Here’s a few tips on how to get the most out of your next appointment.
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The Basics: Massage Type
- Swedish Massage – your classic relaxation-style massage, and generally the lightest pressure.
- Deep Tissue Massage – focuses on the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia (a form of connective tissue). Beneficial for people suffering from chronic tension and/or pain.
- Sports Massage – conducted with the intention of assisting an athlete prepare for, or recover from, a physical activity.
- Therapeutic Massage – a general term that describes any type of massage that helps relieve pain, reduce stress, and work on a specific problem. This is generally more clinical type work.
- Prenatal Massage – tailored to the needs of pregnant women.
Environment is Key: Assess Before You Undress
Whether your goal is to simply relax, work out that annoying kink in your neck, or address a more chronic problem, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Make sure your therapist is licensed. Each state has different requirements. If you’re not sure, ask.
- An empathetic nature and a willingness to listen is a must in a massage therapist.
- Make sure you are asked to complete a health history form prior to your session. An up-to-date medical history is pivotal in providing a safe, effective treatment.
- Your therapist should appear neat and tidy, with clean, short nails and non-obtrusive clothing, perfume or other odors.
- A clean work environment is critical. Be conscious of the cleanliness of the table, work area, tools and other equipment.
- Most importantly, a therapist should make you feel comfortable and safe.
Reap the Rewards
- Show up early- this allows time for forms, introductions, questions and an unrushed (i.e. relaxing) session for you and your therapist.
- Fill out the forms as honestly and as thoroughly as possible. The more information we have the better treatment we can provide.
- Undress to your comfort level- while massage is easiest to perform without the obstruction of clothing, a good therapist can fully customize a massage based on your level of comfort.
- To talk or not to talk- we tell all of our clients to use the time as they wish. Some people wish to have total silence in order to relax while others prefer a little small talk.
- Speak up– don’t hesitate to ask questions! This could include your therapist’s training, years in practice, licensing, techniques being performed, etc. Also, if you’re too cold, too hot, don’t like the music, need more or less pressure, or are uncomfortable in any way it is vital to let your therapist know so he/she can make adjustments as needed. We want you to have the best session possible.
- Enhance your session- try to quiet your mind before getting on our table, silence or turn off your phone and deal with any pressing issues prior to your session. It is also helpful to schedule your session at the end of your day when you don’t have to rush back to work.
- Become a regular- a massage every now and then can be valuable to your self-care but regular sessions hold even more value. Benefits can include improved sleep, a boost to your immune system, increased energy and improved mood and focus. We recommend getting a massage at least once a month.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016 print issue of Sass Magazine.
Caitlin Smith is the owner & lead therapist of Thomas & Co Massage + Fascial Stretch Therapy located in Urbana, Maryland. The company specializes in designing sessions unique to each client's needs.
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