Massage is at its core a very personal experience so finding the correct therapist to work with is vital to getting the best massage for you! No two massages are the same, even opposite sides of the same body often need different types of massage. So how do you get the right one for you? The most important thing to do is to talk openly with your massage therapist about your wants and needs so they can customize your massage to best meet your needs. Many people don’t know that it is completely ok to interview a prospective massage therapist verbally before booking a session with them. Asking the correct questions about what a massage therapist can offer you and checking if they are skilled in the way you need them to be will help ensure you get the best possible massage the first time without having several bad massage first. Which brings us to the second most important thing, knowing what results you are looking for from your massage.
A good list to start from is:
-Improved range of motion
-Deep muscle relaxation
-Relief from a specific pain (low back, knee pain, shoulder etc.)
-Therapeutic support in overcoming a chronic issue (Sciatica, carpal tunnel, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow etc.)
Each of these results can be reached through a variety of techniques and the skillset of the therapist you work with will have a strong influence on the massage technique used so making sure your needs match the therapist skillset is very important. Aside from the results you’re looking for from your massage the amount of pressure you enjoy and the number of massage sessions you’re able to afford will have the most effect on the style used.
Gentle techniques including Myofascial release (MFR) and Cranio-sacral therapy, Core synchronism, and swedish massage can have profound results but may take longer to have an effect, although often times the effects are very quick. Deeper techniques such as Structural Integration, Deep tissue massage, and Sports massage can be less comfortable but often can offer quicker results on a more predictable timetable.
If you are unsure of what you need or want from your massage it is completely acceptable to ask a massage therapist what benefits you can receive from their work or what they would recommend for you. Often when advising clients how to interview a future therapist I suggest they avoid therapist who answer a pointed question with a general result and instead ask for a specific response. eg. if you ask “What will you do to help address my sciatic?’ and they respond “Why don’t you just come in for a massage and I’m sure you will be able to do something for you.”, be sure to ask for specifics of what they will do. A skilled/knowledgeable therapist should be able answer with what they expect might be causing your symptoms and what they would like to check when you come in for a session. If they are unable to answer in this way i advise moving on till you find one who can.
This style of interviewing a massage therapist directly might not be possible in a spa setting. If this is the case I suggest asking the front desk attendant which therapist specializes in the type of massage you want as they often have a good idea of each therapist style. In order to get the best therapist I recommend saying something along the line of “I will come in whenever is necessary to work with the therapist who is best at fill in your massage need here”, otherwise the receptionist will try and fit you in whenever it is most convenient for the spas schedule! That being said, while I have certainly known many excellent therapist who work at larger spas I usually find that therapist with a private practice are more skilled in their particular area of expertise so I recommend looking for a private practice therapist first. Good luck, and remember practice makes you better so if your first attempt at interviewing a massage therapist doesn’t yield good results try again until it does!