5 tips for getting the most from your massage

Here are some ideas for getting the most bang for your buck when getting a massage.

1. Arrive on time. I’m assuming you scheduled your massage for a time that’s convenient for you in the first place. Give yourself some wiggle room to account for traffic or finding parking. If the place you’re going to offers amenities like a whirlpool, sauna, or steam room, leave time to take advantage of these before and/or after your massage. Heating your body up in a whirlpool is an excellent way to prepare for a massage. The heat gets the process going to relax the muscle tissue and makes the massage that much more effective!

2. Get comfortable giving feedback. For some strange reason some people don’t feel welcome to give a therapist feedback during the session. I go out of my way to let my clients know that their feedback is welcome. I’d rather have a client speak up about wanting pressure lighter or deeper than wait until the end of the massage and feel dissatisfied. Sometimes clients feel that massage therapists can somehow read their minds or that they know better than the client how much pressure is appropriate. Mind-reading is generally not covered in massage school, so please get comfortable giving feedback. You’ll be getting more from your massage and your therapist will be better able to serve you.

3. Put your mind on screen saver. Allow your mind some fallow time. The time goes quickly enough, so embrace your massage time as a time to put your problems on hold and concentrate on your body or nothing at all. I believe my clients who are able to zone out mentally get more from their massage time. Here’s a trick – when you walk into the massage room think of that as step 1 to setting aside the thoughts that might be racing through your head; when you lay down on the table that’s step 2 of putting any anxieties on hold; when the therapist starts the massage, that’s step 3 and you have now entered a special time that can be protected from interfering thoughts. You’ve made this appointment for a reason and it’s most likely not a brainstorming session for all life’s problems.

4. Practice acceptance. Receiving massage brings our attention to our bodies. Not everyone is at peace with their body. Similar to allowing your mind some fallow time, allow your emotions and any negative self-talk to take a vacation. Negative attitudes towards your body will clutter your experience and detract from it. Your massage session can be a great step toward getting on the same team with your body.

5. Clear up questions before the session starts or when they arise. If you’re new to massage, ask your therapist to describe what the session will be like so that you can know in advance and not fret. Ask any question you have so that you’re comfortable. Perhaps you’re not sure if you should take your clothes off or if you can choose to leave them on. Just ask. Things like this are really up to you anyway. And, remember, if anything ever doesn’t feel right in the middle of a massage session you are completely free to stop the session, ask a question to clarify what’s going on and choose to continue or not.

I hope every massage you get is a great one! Let me know if you resonate with any of these tips or have a good one to share in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


2 thoughts on “5 tips for getting the most from your massage

  1. Karla says:

    Hi Susan,

    Another thoughtful and though provoking post. All very important ideas to personalize any session.

    I find focusing on my breathing another way to connect with the therapist. Inhaling and exhaling into the strokes and kneading helps me pay attention to the experience more closely. A well timed exhale, like at the bottom of a long, deep stroke can increase the feeling of mind/body release for sure and keep me in tempo with the experience.

    After many years of yoga and massage experiences, for me, a massage is not something that is done *to* you rather it is a journey you take *with* the practicioner.
    As a receiver, massage can be like an intricate little dance between surrender and consciousness. I know that may sound a bit crunchy and certainly a tad groovy, but that has been my experience.

    ~ Karla

  2. Karla, thanks for your comments. Yes, breathing – always a great cue. I trade with another therapist who has a penchant for exhaling with vigor/moaning. She says it really helps her relax and let go. It’s funny to get used to at first, but I find myself moaning a bit when I’m worked on too.

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