by Slava Kolpakov
More than anything in their professional career, massage therapists love to make a positive impact on their clients' health. We love it when we are able to resolve your aches and pains, and mitigate any of your concerns successfully. These are the client tales we share among ourselves - how we were able to help treat this or that condition.
With this perspective in mind, the absolutely most important thing to tell your massage therapist, especially if you are new to massage, is what exactly you are hoping to get out of this session.
Your massage therapist may or may not ask this important question: "What are you hoping to get out of this session?" In either case, help them out and provide this information. It will improve everyone's experience.
For example, you may say that you are feeling pretty good, and just want to relax, and not think about anything for an hour - a rare and precious moment of quiet peace in our busy lives.
Or, you would tell them about a specific concern: lower back discomfort, shoulder ache, neck pain, muscle tension, tendonitis, etc. Most importantly, give your therapist as much information as possible. Be as specific as possible. Point to the area. Have them touch it before the session so they know exactly where the issue is.
Next, please tell them how much pressure you prefer. Many therapists will adjust the depth of the pressure depending on how your muscles respond to the work. However, it's always good to communicate in the beginning about your expectations.
Finally, tell them what outcome you are expecting. Most people realize that one massage may not 'fix' a specific problem. But it's totally reasonable to expect a relief. Please communicate exactly that: "I would like some relief in ...."
During the session, it's equally important to speak up and tell your therapist if they are on track, or if they are missing it. It's not helpful to hold your feedback until the end. Sometimes, this is what happens. Some clients feel awkward to bring up a concern, and wait until after the massage, or even after they leave our center, to communicate their disappointment. At that point, it's too late. It's best to communicate right away.
If you can tell your therapist that they are not treating the issue after the first 15-20 minutes, it may help them to move to the right area sooner and provide greater relief.
Some good ways to phrase it: "This is great, but you are welcome to use a little more pressure here." Or, "This feels great, but my biggest issue is a little higher/lower. Could you save some time to address it?"
As therapists, we love when our clients are able to communicate this clearly. Even though, we understand anatomy, and have seen many issues, each body is unique and it helps us tremendously to hear it from you directly. That is how we learn after all.
Next time you are in, please start your session with "I am hoping to get ( .... ) out of this session" and add a few pointers during the session.