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!
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!
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