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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 16, 2007

Tips for Getting the Best Massage

By Worker Bee

With the right masseuse, massage is a healthy and luxurious treat for addressing everything from sore muscles to stress to minor injuries. Here are 10 great tips to get the most from your next (or perhaps very first) massage. Massage is also great for teenagers, particularly if they play sports. There are so many styles and ways to go about this natural therapy, there really is something for everyone, whether it’s deep-tissue massage to iron out exercise kinks or a relaxing Swedish session to soothe your frazzled nerves.

1. Be on time!

You really do need to arrive early to your massage, especially if you’re a newbie or if you’re working with a new masseuse. You want to be completely comfortable with the surroundings, and if you’re rushing in from errands or work, you’re cheating yourself out of a more beneficial experience. Plan to arrive about 20 minutes early so you have time to drink some water, flip through a magazine, and get settled.

2. Don’t be shy.

If you want more pressure or less, or if you’d like the masseuse to focus on a specific area, speak up. There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to get a massage, per se. A good masseuse will want to address your particular concerns, so speak up! If you feel frustrated with your massage experience (perhaps the masseuse has a certain style that is good but isn’t ideal), feel free to either speak up or move on.

3. Chatty Patty?

Many of us have had that massage experience that feels more like a therapy session than a muscle treatment. Again, don’t be shy. We’re taught to be polite, but remember that a massage is technically a treatment, so feel free to insist on getting exactly what you need, including silence. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if you share your preferences in a clear and pleasant way.

4. No Ifs, Ands, Or Butts…

Do what is comfortable for you. For example, it’s up to you if you want your glutes massaged, or if you want to strip down to your skivvies (or your birthday suit), or if you prefer a male or female practitioner. Don’t worry about what the masseuse will think. If you’re ticklish, you don’t have to bear your feet being massaged simply because that’s usually part of the routine. Just let your masseuse know your particular sensibilities (besides, they’ve heard it all!).

5. If It Feels Weird, It Probably Is!

If anything feels weird or uncomfortable, say something immediately. While unprofessionalism – such as not giving you enough time to undress and get ready – is certainly rare, you have a right to end the session at any point, especially if anything gets inappropriate! If it’s your first massage, let the therapist know so that he or she can walk you through what to expect and help you to really relax. Familiarize yourself with the different types of massage so you know what will help you and what you will enjoy.

6. Drink up!

Drink plenty of water before and after your session to prevent dehydration.

7. Racing thoughts?

Sometimes it is difficult to really relax the mind during a massage, especially if you’re a first timer, or are working with a new therapist, or are trying a new style. It helps to focus on your breathing. If there is music, focus on picking out the individual notes and instruments. Concentrate on the masseuse’s movements and think about the muscle being treated with each movement. These things can help you to relax your mind. And there is always counting!

8. Breathe!

Pressure is important in massage. You may want more pressure to work out deeply stored tension, or you may want light pressure to relax. But breathing is a very important component of how effective the pressure will be. Deep pressure won’t really benefit you if you are holding your breath to “get through” the intensity. Breathe evenly and deeply and if you catch yourself holding your breath, let your masseuse know so that he or she can work with you to balance pressure and breath.

9. Here’s a Tip.

Although you should only receive massage from a licensed therapist in a certified facility, a massage is both a treatment and a service, so you’ll want to tip your masseuse. Anywhere from 15 to 20% is customary, unless you’re getting your massage at a medical facility or are working with a physical therapist. No tip is necessary in such cases. Usually you can discreetly leave a tip with the clerk (don’t just hand your masseuse a wad of bills on your first visit).

10. Don’t Skimp.

Massages can be very expensive, so you may want to try out a massage school or smaller center where the masseuses are often just as good, if not better, than at a more expensive place like a spa. That said, don’t put price over the therapeutic value. Make sure the facility is comfortable and clean and your therapist is licensed or certified appropriately. Ask for their best masseuse for the desired type of massage. And don’t buy a package deal until you know you really like your treatment and your masseuse!

More Great Tips:

10 Serotonin Boosters

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Stress

10 Tips for Aging Well


Photo Source: W00kie

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13 Comments on "Tips for Getting the Best Massage"


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9 years 11 days ago

Anyone ever try those water massage chambers in the middle of shopping malls? What’s with those?!

9 years 11 days ago

I miss China. I used to get courtesy head and neck massages from my hair stylist. Every town has saunas (legit and otherwise) where $12 gets you one hour of pampering that includes a footbath and full rubdown. Friday after work was a favorite time to us ladies to head to the local sauna together. Naked is the only way to go. There’s nothing you got that your masseuse hasn’t seen before.

9 years 11 days ago

My dentist is from China, and I have no idea if that has any bearing on why she does this, but she offers a complimentary hand or foot massage with the dental cleaning. All while you get to watch calming nature scenes on a flat screen with a fountain gurgling in the back of the room. I LOVE her!!! 🙂

Brad Newman
9 years 11 days ago

Thanks for the great post. Massage is truly the elixir of life….

9 years 11 days ago

At our naturopathic student clinic clients must keep their underwear on!

Dave C.
Dave C.
9 years 11 days ago

Sara: I’m ready for a cleaning–where do I book my appointment! :-)I’ve been stationed in both Thailand and Korea during my Air Force days, and both places included a neck and shoulder massage in the price of a haircut. I miss that (although when I’m living in Thailand in a few years, regular massage will be part of my regimen).

9 years 10 days ago

Mcfly-I’ve wondered about those too.


What’s better than a good massage?


[…] Massages make life so much brighter, if you ask me. I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders and having someone knead it out is pretty awesome. If you love massages as much as I do, Mark’s Daily Apple has some tips on how you can get the most bang for your massage buck: […]


[…] wonder massages feel so great. We’re in dire need of some appropriate pressure relief! Of course, exercise helps tremendously. […]

Lia "communication training" Scott
Lia "communication training" Scott
7 years 7 months ago

Does it really do well for your body?


[…] massage […]


[…] massage […]

3 years 10 months ago

>I’m glad we read Bizarroblog we weren’t paying close aiotntten when we looked at this cartoon last week, and my partner and I (yes, we are gay) didn’t notice that it portrayed a gay couple. Somehow the character on the right looked female at first glance. Anyhow, we enjoy the show, but it’s Betty White that sends us into squeals of joy. She’s the nice grandmother who bakes cookies and spoils you when you’re at her house.