One of my favorite things to do to relax, especially when I don’t have time for a get-a-way, is a great massage. A 60 to 90 minute session with a highly trained and talented pro can make you feel like a million bucks. But, how do you find a great masseuse? Ah, there in lies “the rub” my friends! So, I put together some great basic guidelines to get you started.
A GOOD MASSAGE STARTS BEFORE YOU WALK IN THE DOOR.
How easy was it to book an appointment? How confident, professional, and helpful was the staff/massage professional at the spa? They should thoroughly answer any and all questions you may have. Sometimes you may want to get a couple of quotes or just “screen” a few therapists before making a decision and ask them about a particular condition you suffer from. Did the therapist explain how a series of massage sessions can help? Did they refer to previous successful cases that got good results with massage? Did they sound confident, friendly, and knowledgeable?
Never trust a therapist who doesn’t bother asking if you have any injuries. The best consultation are ones where they not only ask about health history, but also about health and session goals. In other words, they set some goals to meet during the session, actively manage the client’s expectations, and design treatments to achieve the desired results for each individual.
APPLYING THE RIGHT PRESSURE IS 90% SKILL AND 10% MAGIC.
A good massage will untangle your knots and maybe even make you feel like you have had a good workout. The therapist will check with you throughout the session to see if the pressure is within your pain threshold or if it needs to be adjusted. However, there is still an element of luck/chance/magic to a great massage. In my experience, it is something intangible that only very experienced therapists develop over the years, somewhat of a sixth sense. It is the ability to know the exact amount of pressure, at exactly the right time, and exactly the right place, so that the body responds perfectly. A really good therapist can also detect weekly changes in the client’s muscles and body and adjust accordingly session to session. Beware of so-called “massage by numbers” where the same massage style is used for all clients regardless of their condition and/or preferences. The sign of a good massage is that it zones in on the areas you have highlighted as key priorities for the therapist to work on.
DON’T DEAL WITH THE BAD ELEVATOR MUSIC
Spa music may be a salon’s idea of providing a relaxing environment but it could be your idea of hell. A therapist should never assume you like whale mating sounds, or thunderstorms, or Irish folk songs! They should always ask if you have any preference about background music or if you just want complete silence during your massage. However, I would not recommend Ozzy or Megadeath if you are looking for a soothing experience!
Aftercare is what will ensure that the benefits of your massage session can be prolonged over time. It is also a key component of injury prevention so if you are suffering from repetitive strain injuries some targeted stretches would slow the build up of tension and inflammation in the joints. Some products, or maybe the application of an ice pack or heat, may be recommended according to specific conditions.
Having a regular, high quality massage is not a luxury or a service only the wealthy can enjoy. Like most things, you get what you pay for but, you don’t have to break the bank for a great massage session. Compare local spas, look for a discounted rate for buying multiple sessions (just make sure there is a refund policy in case you are not happy), and even try some independent therapists who can offer competitive prices compared to spas as they may have lower overhead. Whichever option you choose, do your research, use these tips, and don’t deny yourself the respite of a “short vacation” during a great massage. Your body, and mind, will thank you.
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