The best massage ever is always a good massage I have just received. Today would be that massage. I’ve had some good massages over the past few years and some not so nice. What made this one good? This therapist really listened to my needs and worked with me knowing that my initial body reactions saying “stay away” really meant something altogether different. My body needs to trust and this therapist was able to elicit that trust from me even though my first reactions were to guard and be ticklish. I only hope the massage which I will be giving in return next week will be half as good as the one I got today.
I often feel I came out of massage school with a bit of body trauma. All those newbies are just trying to get it right. Aye yi yi! It doesn’t help that I am very sensitive to a person’s intention while they massage and that skill sometimes comes later for new therapists. Some may never acquire it and I believe those therapists don’t make in the long run. Think of the word therapist for starters. It’s defined as a person who is skilled in a particular kind of therapy. This word might conjure up a psychologist rather than a massage. And I would expect that any kind of therapist would have a knack for being sensitive to a client’s needs. Unfortunately, sometimes this skill has to be learned as not everyone comes by it naturally. That is partly why we call what we do a “practice”. My body just doesn’t like being experimented on. It let me know quite clearly it wasn’t happy.
So, how can you ensure that your massage will be good? Price or place isn’t always an indicator of quality. Most massage therapists I know will tell you they aren’t in it for the big money anyway although tips can be good at a top notch facility. A desire to help people and a love of massaging bodies is important, but this too doesn’t necessarily mean the massage will be good. Lots of experience and a clean facility are good indicators. If possible, start by asking around. Word of mouth is often the best way to gain insight into a therapist’s ability. Be sure the therapist is licensed to practice, acts professionally, has high standards of cleanliness, and good people skills. If they don’t ask about your health history, this is a clue that they don’t have your best interest in mind. There are many times when a massage is not a good idea for a person and therapists are trained to know these times.
Finally, you just have to give them a try. Do they listen to you? Are they able to “listen” with their hands which often tell them how much pressure to use? Do they make appropriate adjustments when you ask for them? My therapist commented that he was giving barely any pressure at all on some points of mine that were screaming in painful joy about being listened to. I thought he’d gone in deep but thankfully he had not. That tells me just how much I needed the work. An inexperienced therapist might have gone right in digging deep and would have caused my body to guard instead of relax. Now some people like what I call torture which is not therapeutically effective in the long run. Fluff can be therapy when we need to relax. And fluff can be very effective in releasing taut muscles as well.
I found a wealth of information on the issue of finding a therapist from an article on massagetherapy.com. You can read it here. It’s very informative if you are interested in knowing more about this subject.
As for me and types of massage, I like a good therapeutic Swedish massage with a little bit of neuromuscular thrown in. I especially appreciate when the therapist is observant and intuitive enough to hold a spot that needs holding without my telling them to. And like today, I loved that he didn’t just move on when I showed my ticklish side. I can’t relax when I am guarding or hyper flexed because it tickles or hurts too much. Thankfully, he didn’t give in. He understood this was a sign I needed the work. He slowed down, gave my body time to adjust, and then eased his way in. Oh, the relief!! Another indicator this massage was good is that when I tried to get myself together, I had to go back in to my office no less than four times to retrieve items I forgot. Earth to Kelly, Earth to Kelly….come back now.
I was very lucky the first time I ever went for a massage. I got a woman who had learned her massage at the Davis Massage Therapy Institute in California. I loved, loved, and loved her massage. It got to be where I felt my body relax as I was driving to see her. She was intuitive and over time knew my body well. She had set the bar high for me. It is because of her and my desire to know more about the body for use with my Reiki practice that I took the same 100 hour training course at the Davis school to learn that thumbless massage. It got me off to a good start when I later went to a full-blown 730 hour school in Sarasota. To this day, I haven’t had a massage any better than hers, except for today’s of course. I hope I can make this a regular occurrence.
So, what is the best kind of massage for you?