By Andrew Grover | Expert Advice
Finding and choosing a massage therapist can be confusing because each person’s needs are unique and each massage therapist is unique.
Just like seeking out any other professional service, we do research, get referrals, try them out and if it’s not a fit, we try someone else. How many hair stylists, counselors, or doctors have you seen and tried over the years until you found the right fit? Try a few different therapists and types of massage. It is important to develop a working relationship with a massage therapist and it may take a few sessions to get an idea of what their work is really like.
There are a variety of factors that play into whether a particular massage therapist is right for you or not. Here are some things to think about when searching for the best massage therapist for you:
1. Know what your needs are: Think about what your goals are for your massage session. Think about what you need — relaxation massage, relief from pain, an injury or disease, injury prevention work, athletic performance enhancement, or general health and well-being.
2. Training: You should always look for a massage therapist who is professionally licensed. Licensed Massage Therapists in California should have a minimum of 500 hours of training from a reputable, accredited school. Also, ask if a therapist is nationally certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). If so, he or she has at least 500 hours of training from an accredited school and has passed a written exam.
3. Skill: A few key questions can help you get an idea of the massage therapist’s skill level and style before you book an appointment.
- What style or techniques they use and are trained in
- What is their philosophy of care
- Years in practice
- Specialty areas or experience with particular conditions
- What kind of training and advanced certifications might they have
4. Communication: One of the key factors in being sure you get what you want from your massage session is communication. How does the Massage Therapist know what you like or don’t like, if you don’t tell them. As intuitive as practitioners may be, they may not be good at mind reading. Also, before the session, be sure and communicate the areas that are bothering you, where you would like focus, and what your goals are for the session. And don’t be afraid to speak up during the session if you need.
Likewise, a good professional Massage Therapist should ask you what your needs are and adapt within their abilities to ensure you are getting the right session for you. In addition, the therapist should communicate with you occasionally throughout the massage to make sure you are comfortable and receiving the bodywork you want. If you want a little deeper or a little lighter don’t hesitate to let your therapist know. Often times, when a therapist “checks-in” with a client during a treatment and asks “How’s the pressure?” The typical response is “Fine,” even if it’s not. I promise, you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by asking for what you want. “I could use a little more pressure,” for instance. And if it’s something the therapist isn’t capable of or can’t do, they’ll tell you.
5. Personal Connection: Healthy touch can be quite intimate (in a non-sexual way of course) and client’s put a great deal of trust in their practitioners to take care of their bodies appropriately. Sometimes it comes down to your comfort level, rapport, and connection with a particular massage therapist.
Just because you didn’t like a particular practitioner’s massage doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t think they are the best. Touch is very subjective, everybody likes to be touched differently and different people want different techniques or types of touch in their massage. Some like deep pressure, some like light pressure, some like stretching incorporated, etc. The main thing is to first be sure you’re working with professionals who have skill and training to practice appropriately.
The bottom line is this, true Massage Therapists are professionals, and great ones are trained and experienced in how the body works as well as the application of appropriate techniques. They will listen actively, make suggestions or recommendations as appropriate, and strive to give you the best session they can for your needs. Sometimes, it’s simply not a good fit, so you find someone that is.
If you would like more information, visit us at our website: bodhibodhi.com or call us 619-274-2744. We are located on Fourth Avenue in Hillcrest.