You can’t really make a mistake when you receive a massage. However, there are a few things that most first-timers do that can make it harder to relax and that create difficulty for the therapist. Knowing about these things in advance will help you avoid them and have a better experience.
Getting Frustrated: Receiving massage is a skill like any other. It takes time to allow yourself to fall into a comfortable rhythm with your therapist and focus on the massage. It’s easy to get frustrated with yourself for not being able to pay attention and simply relax. After you’ve received your first massage you’ll know what to expect. There are no “massage police” and no one is going to know if your mind wanders a few times or you fall asleep (unless you snore, of course!). Try focusing on your breath and on feeling the sensation of the therapist’s hands.
Helping: When the therapist is lifting or moving your head, arms, or legs, you don’t need to help unless asked. Pretend that you are a limp noodle and simply let him or her move you. Tensing up or trying to help and anticipate what they want will negate the therapeutic effects of the range of motion, stretching, or muscle positioning. Helping can even cause the therapist to work harder.
Not Communicating: It’s very important that your therapist know what your goals for the session are as well as if the pressure is comfortable. Many people complain that the massage wasn’t deep enough or it was too deep and hurt. When asked if they said something, the answer is almost always no. Take responsibility for your experience so that you can get the most out of it. And by all means, please speak up if the room is too cold!
Tough Guy/Girl: So many people think that in order to have an hour of “me time”, there has to be something uncomfortable, tedious, or downright painful to justify it. If you don’t enjoy or need deep pressure, don’t say, “you can go deeper if you want.” We only want to go deeper if YOU want. It’s up to you. Don’t ever feel that we’re holding you up to some standard and that if the pressure isn’t as deep as it was for the last guy we’re going to ridicule you. Many of our clients want a light but firm massage, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Ask for what YOU want, not what you think you should want.
Canceling: As the first massage appointment creeps up on the calendar, many new clients get nervous or suddenly feel guilty for spending time or money on themselves. Being on a massage table and trusting someone with your physical being is a little stressful the first time. This is normal. Being nervous is normal. Therapists are used to it and sometimes sharing your feelings with them helps. A variation to this theme is only making an appointment if they can take you same day. A talented therapist likely already has a steady client base and may not be able to accommodate the last minute request. Please don’t decide not to get a massage if you can’t get in immediately.
One=All Syndrome: Each massage therapist is completely different. Personality, training, talent, compassion, listening skills, and many other aspects go into the experience that is created for their clients. Keep in mind that your own state of being will impact the massage as well. Should you have a bad experience, please recognize that every massage by every therapist will be different. If you have a great experience–and you likely will–reward that therapist by rebooking (making another appointment) and telling your friends and coworkers. Referrals are the lifeblood of our business.
Harboring Unrealistic Expectations: Massage should be a part of your wellness plan, however it is not to be taken in place of medical advice. Multiple sessions are usually needed to get maximum relief, depending on your injury or pain, and sometimes maintenance treatments will also be needed. In addition, you will need to be compliant with (actually do) any homework the therapist gives you such as stretching, drinking more water, and self-treatments.