What to look for in a Massage Therapist

I have been a massage therapist for two years but have been massaging since I was about 7 years old. One thing I can tell you is that every body needs something unique and different. This changes from day to day. What you need one day may be completely different than what you need on another. Because touch and the emotions developed behind it are established when we are babies and toddlers, everyone experiences it differently.

This is why intuition is an important factor when choosing a massage therapist. You want someone who doesn’t necessarily know your body, but who knows what your body NEEDS. Some massage therapists out there are not in it because they love it and basically give the same massage to every person on their table no matter what age, body type, or physical condition. THIS IS WRONG! Especially if you are experiencing your FIRST massage. Our bodies are not used to being handled in such a way, and because skin is so sensitive (and some of us even more sensitive than others) your first massage should be quite light. We don’t always know what our bodies need so the therapist should be assessing you as they go in order to maximize the benefits of your first massage.

There is nothing worse than a first-time massage client who asks for a deep, therapeutic massage.   They will come out feeling bruised - not only for a day or two, but sometimes for up to a week. A good therapist will be able to create the massage as they go and “feel out” the person (that means seeing how deep and what style of touch the client likes) before going full throttle on them. Another trait to look out for and something I find in older style (western influenced) therapists, is a FAST massage. Therapists should take their time when massaging, leaving you feeling relaxed and not rushed. If the therapist themselves is nice and relaxed, most likely you will be also.

Massage therapy has been used for thousands of years, so many people in the world are ignorant as to what it is and the power it holds. Humans, like everything in the natural world, are organisms made of organic matter. And like organic matter, we are made of energy and hold a vibration energy that is unique to each individual. Physics will tell you that when two energies come in contact, there is an exchange of energy. This happens during a massage, which is why the effects of it can be felt for days and even weeks.

Now this is not true for all circumstances. If the energy body (the client) is closed (physically and mentally), then the exchange of energy can be very minimal and ineffective. For instance, I have had a handful of clients whom are under a great amount of stress and just can’t let their minds free to enjoy the full sensations of the massage. Throughout the massage they remain stiff, tense, and sometimes very talkative. Sometimes this is due to the comfort level of the client, so after a few times I found this recurring behavior to be a personality trait rather than an inherent discomfort or unease.

Your therapist should be able to pick up on things like that, so if you are finding yourself not feeling comfortable with a certain therapist and their style, try someone else.

Sometimes you can find Massage Therapy schools holding Student Clinics. This can be beneficial because Students are not set in one style of massage, and this way you can try different therapists out without paying upwards of $100 per session. Look up some different styles of massage online and see what stands out to you. There are so many to choose from including: Shiatsu, Thai, Deep Tissue, Deep Flow, Swedish, Hot Stone, and Sports Massage. Be careful to look up the contraindications of each style of massage, as some individuals are not suited for a particular style.

The three rules you always want to follow when choosing a therapist :

1. Feel comfortable with the therapist. You should feel like you can talk to them like you talk to your doctor. If there is something on your body you are ashamed about or don’t want them to see, tell them. BE OPEN.

2. Enjoy their style and be open to other styles. If you are finding that your therapist gives you the same massage every time and you are getting bored of going through the same motions, ask if they know any other styles.

3. Enjoy their company. Be comfortable in silence but talk to them too, whether it is about educating yourself on your own body, music, or your work. Build a relationship with them. The nature of massage is quite intimate and you should be aware of this going into a massage. There will always be some who just want to keep to themselves, and don’t really care who is massaging them.   In my opinion, though, they are not experiencing the full potential of this unique exchange of energy.

Happy Hunting.