There are thousands of articles about the benefits of massage, as well as educational courses for therapists on how to improve their techniques. However, I have not seen many articles from a client’s perspective in terms of how they can optimize their massage experience. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve received a massage and felt like I could have had a more rewarding experience had I been more communicative about the techniques I preferred. It’s a sensitive topic since most therapists take pride in their perceptive abilities to intuit what a client needs in any given session. This post in no way undermines the talent that so many therapists behold to tune into those subtle inclinations, matter of fact, it’s our job to do so. That being said, and at times, a little feedback never hurts, particularly in the following areas:
Pressure: After allowing the therapist to warm your tissues for the first 5-10 minutes, if you need more pressure (or less), this is a good time to mention it. Be considerate of your weight compared to the weight of your therapist. If you need a lot more pressure and it is not in the therapist’s physical bandwidth to provide that, then researching therapists that specialize in modalities like Deep Tissue or Ashiatsu Massage, which is geared towards providing more pressure through the therapist’s use of their whole body, may help you get the pressure you need. If the pressure is too strong, it will be hard for you to enjoy your massage so let your therapist know from the get go that a particular area is tender or to lighten the pressure.
Scents and lotions: If there are any scents or lotions you are allergic to or sensitive to, please do share this with your therapist. Hopefully, they’ll ask you this question before the massage, but if you know there are certain oils you don’t enjoy (lemongrass, etc) or prefer (lavender), and you have an on-going rapport with your therapist, feel free to provide that feedback (“Hey, I really liked that oil you used on my forehead. What was it and can we use it on my whole body during the next treatment?”). Your therapist will appreciate it!
Temperature: If the temperature in the room is too hot or too cold, it’s good to let your therapist know so you can fully enjoy your massage without discomfort.
Massage Strokes and Techniques: If there are specific strokes you really enjoy, let the therapist know while they are massaging you to encourage more of that goodness into your session! If you want them to hone in on a specific area (low back, shoulder) during a significant portion of your massage, let it be known so you can get the most out of your session.
In closing, the relationship between a massage therapist and their client can be greatly improved with ongoing communication. Yes, therapists are an extremely intuitive bunch but we can’t always know what a client needs in every given moment. Next time you book a massage, feel free to sit with your therapist a few minutes before your session to discuss all the things you enjoy and desire from your session. Trust me, they’ll be grateful! Ultimately, our job is to help you feel your best!