How to get the most out of your massage
There are many different opinions and thought processes around receiving massage. Most clients know the general protocol for getting a massage. However, there are things that may never cross a client/patient’s mind that allow them to get the absolute most out of their massage. There are things that massage therapists wish the client knew or would take into consideration. Sometimes we just don’t have the courage to communicate with our patients. This is a short article with a few pointers and wishes from your therapist to assist you in getting everything you can out of your 60 minutes of happiness. These are things gathered from therapists around lower Michigan, this doesn’t mean YOUR massage therapist believes in all of these but it may open a conversation and help you become aware of the things they might.
Your therapist wishes you knew…
-That removing all jewelry is very helpful. Even the necklace you haven’t taken off in 10 years. If you are open to removing all jewelry it can really assist and improve your massage session. When a massage stroke hits a piece of jewelry it can be awkward and the pressure of the stroke is broken up. This also affects the muscle as we could not work the muscle through its entirety in our stroke. If you are not removing jewelry because it is hard to put back on, ask us for help! We would love to assist you.
-That putting your hair up is a lifesaver. Real truth here, some therapists say they are indifferent, but deep down it can be very challenging. The hair constantly gets caught up in our fingers as we try to work the neck, making it awkward as we try not to pull your hair, finish the massage stroke and detangle our fingers at the same time. Neck pain is so common and we want to work that area well, so put your hair up if you can and let us work some magic.
-We don’t mind talking and sometimes you need to vent, but your body can soften, release tension and relax better if the mind is involved in what’s happening in the body and not the head while talking. Staying quiet and concentrating on relaxing your muscles and mind during massage is a game changer. Contracting or hardening the muscles during the massage can be counterproductive. If you are tightening because pressure is too much let your therapist know, this is your time. If it is hard for you to stay quiet in general and your mind races, one way to be more body-centered is to tune into the hands that are working on you and focus on how the touch feels and how it is affecting the muscle. Breath awareness and listening into the music can help to. This is a team effort, your therapist can only do so much if you’re not participating in the massage as well. Which brings me to the next wish.
-This is a team effort. Your massage therapist is one person on a team of two. The client has a role and expectation and so does the therapist. Massage is great for a lot of things and sometimes it can be so helpful. However, there are many different systems of the body that can be triggering your pain and it may not be a muscle issue. So check in with your expectations, communicate them with your therapist and work together to make the dream work. So you have expectations for your massage and so does your therapist. We want you to take care of yourself outside of just getting a massage. That includes the stretches, the homework, and the professional referrals. Coming back month after month and not changing anything besides getting a massage will only help so much. Pain free life comes from many different factors and massage is just one of them. So put in as much or more effort than your therapist. We are just one of the many puzzle pieces to the issue.
-Okay, here comes a big one. Let’s talk about DEEP TISSUE. What I have found is when a client says I like deep tissue work a lot of them actually don’t. What they want and like is someone to be intentional with them, they want someone who is working with their muscles intentionally AND someone who is present during the massage. Now some people do love an intentional deep tissue massage and that is fine. However, make sure you communicate with your therapist what you really want. Present, intentional work from a therapist CAN feel like deep tissue because you sense the effort that is occurring from your therapist. You really FEEL the tender areas because the therapist is present and in-tune with your body, and they are hitting all the right areas. What I have found is that deep tissue can be translated to “I want to feel like you’re putting effort into this time and into my body”. So yes maybe you do love deep tissue or maybe you just want an intentional and present therapist. The reason why this is so important is because we can push and push and push but if the therapist isn’t present AND if the client isn’t present or if they are contracting because it’s too much then no good is going to come from the pushing. The therapist may be pushing and pushing because that’s what you asked for but that doesn’t mean the right work is getting done.
-More Deep Tissue talk. Most muscles are like silly putty, if you go in hard the muscle becomes rigid and then we are locked out from making any change in the tension of the tissue. So if your therapist starts off softer, know that we are trying to soften the muscle so we can apply more pressure when needed and make the changes we would like to!
Okay! I hope that brought you a different perspective on being a client and I really hope it assists you in getting the most out of your therapeutic massage. Remember not all therapists hold these beliefs and others may have different perspectives. This is just a list gathered from the experience of massage therapists from southern Michigan. Until next time!