In recent days, I’ve talked with a lot of new and potential clients about their past massage experiences. Based on what people have shared with me, I’ve realized that there is a lot of misinformation about what should or should not happen during a massage session.
I’m not talking about inappropriate sexual behavior which is a whole different topic, but about what a client might expect from a massage session and their massage therapist.
Here are actual comments from my clients about their bad massage experiences:
“…she worked my butt so hard, I had bruises the next day.”
“I was sure she had it out for me…I felt beat up.”
“I felt so sick afterward.”
“…she didn’t lighten up even after I told her the massage was hurting.”
“I thought she was going to snap me in two.” (A Thai massage experience.)
“I walked around in pain for three days after my massage.”
“It felt like the massage therapist didn’t care because she wasn’t going to see me again.” (An expensive hotel spa massage experience.)
Countless times people have told me that their massage experience (often their first experience,) was too painful and they were soured on seeking another massage ever again. This saddens me because massage is a valuable health modality with a myriad of health benefits. Bad massages ruin it for everyone.
So here’s what I want to share with you today to save you from a bad massage:
- A massage therapist best serves her client by asking what her client’s goal is for the massage. When she asks, be clear in your expectations. If she doesn’t ask, volunteer this information. For instance, “I have a stiff neck, I need that worked on.” Or, ”I’m just looking for a relaxation massage today.”
- Know that therapeutic massage can be painful, but it should never be more painful than you can tolerate. If you’re flinching from the pain, you’re tensing up and you’re not getting the intended benefit of the massage. Muscle tissue worked too hard, too fast, can be damaged, hence, bruising or intense soreness for days later. That’s counterproductive. Speak up if the pain is too much.
- Stop the massage, if you’ve told your therapist he’s using too much pressure and he doesn't lighten up. Don’t be embarrassed or assume the massage therapist knows better than you about what you're feeling. It should be the other way around. Be sure to tell the manager your complaint. A reputable establishment usually will not charge you for the massage.
- Excessive pain is not the only reason to stop a massage. If you do not feel comfortable with your therapist for any reason, it’s your prerogative to end the session. Again, speak with the manager about your concerns.
- Realize that not all massage therapists are the same. While this is not a blanket statement, you should note that sometimes an inexpensive massage is inexpensive because the establishment may hire new graduates without a lot of experience. This is not to say that all new grads are going to be fumbling around in the massage room, but if you have a specific issue, you may want to seek out someone who is experienced for better results.
- Before you book a massage with someone, take time to research reviews of the establishment and/or the massage therapist him/herself.
- Last, if you have a medical condition,(for instance you're at risk for lymphedema,) make a point to ask the massage therapist if they understand your special needs and if they've worked with others with similar issues and/or if they have special training for your condition. If the answer is no, take your business elsewhere.