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Step by Step Guide on How to Choose a Massage Therapist

how to choose a massage therapist

The entirety of your massage experience will be particularly based on the overall skill of your chosen massage therapist. Naturally, if your massage therapist is skilled, then your experience will be no less than great and vice versa. This is why it is so important to know how to choose your massage therapist before scheduling a massage session, since this will determine whether your massage experience will be a good one.

Whether you’re just looking to unwind or an athlete who needs to incorporate massage into their daily routine, the key to having a good experience is learning how to choose a massage therapist who understands your needs. Look for a therapist who makes sure that you will be taken care of from massage prep up to post-massage.

Knowing how to choose a massage therapist doesn’t have to be complicated. For starters, you just need to make sure you’ve covered all the necessary bases before settling for your therapist of choice. However, keep in mind that it is important to ensure that your massage therapist meets all your requirements as a massage done improperly might cause you to be even more stressed out than before.

Here’s how to choose your massage therapist, as well as important factors to take not before your first massage experience.

Step by Step Guide on How to Choose a Massage Therapist

1. Determine Why You Need a Massage in the First Place

Every individual has their own reasons for getting a massage. This is why it is important to first take note of your personal massage goals prior to learning how to choose a massage therapist. Are you merely looking for ways to de-stress after a long day at work? Are you looking for pain relief or to ease tension in some part of your body? Or do you need a massage as part of medical treatment or physical therapy?

The importance of your massage goals comes into play once you consider massage modalities. There are various modalities for massage – with each modality geared towards a specific outcome for a specific condition. Massage therapists receive training not only in different modalities but also on a wide range of techniques, and your therapist of choice will depend on your unique needs. If you are looking for massage as part of an injury treatment, then it would be best to look for a therapist who specializes in physical rehabilitation. On the other hand, if you are just looking for general stress relief, then a particularly good massage therapist might work for you.

2. Get to Know the Different Kinds of Modalities

Massage therapists are all trained based on several modalities, otherwise known as bodywork. These modalities range up to 300 types, but the most popular ones are Swedish massage, aromatherapy massage, deep-tissue massage, hot stone massage, acupressure, shiatsu massage, Thai massage, pregnancy massage, reflexology massage, and sports massage. Each modality specializes in a particular treatment, and learning about these different kinds of techniques will help you how to choose a massage therapist.

A Swedish or a relaxation massage will usually work for those who are simply looking to loosen up after a very stressful day. This type of massage can be given by almost all massage therapists. However, if you are looking for pain and discomfort relief over a specific part of your body, then it is best to look for a massage therapist who is trained in deep-tissue massage or other modalities aimed at ease muscular tension.

3. Sort Out Your Massage Preferences

how to choose a massage therapist modality

Now that you have figured out your massage goals and massage method that suits your needs, the next step on how to choose a massage therapist is to decide on your preferences during the session itself. These preferences include the location of your session and your preferred mood or setting.

Some people prefer to have their massage sessions in the comfort of their own homes, while others choose to have a massage in their therapist’s office or inside a spa. When it comes to the mood or setting, most people who are simply after a relaxing massage session choose to do it in a spa or spa-like setting. This usually involves dimmed lights, aromatherapy candles, and even music to help set the mood. On the other hand, those who receive massages as part of their medical treatment prefer to have it within a physical therapist’s office.

Once you have decided on your preferences, inform your therapist about them. By doing this, you will also be able to get to know your therapist better and will give you an idea of just how accommodating they will be during your massage session.

4. Inquire About Your Therapist’s Experience and Certifications

At this point of deciding how to choose a massage therapist, you should already have a prospective massage therapist in mind. It wouldn’t hurt to inquire about the berth of your therapist’s experience so you can make sure that you get the best massage session. You can ask about their certifications and maybe an approximation of the number of massages they’ve done since becoming a professional therapist. Moreover, ask if they are currently involved in continuing education courses and if they do this on a regular basis.

It also pays to be more specific when it comes to asking your therapist with regards to their certifications, especially if you are in for a particular modality. Some modalities require further certifications, and most massage therapists are required to undergo special trainings involving CPR and first aid training. Asking these questions will help you get an overview of the skill set of your prospective therapist and guide you on how to choose a massage therapist.

5. Attend Your Pre-Massage Consultation

One sign that a massage therapist is indeed well-trained is when they conduct pre-massage consultations. A pre-massage consultation is usually done in order for therapists to gain a proper analysis of their client, especially if the client is in need of deep-tissue or sports massage. Your massage therapist will possibly ask you questions on your medical history and personal health goals as part of the consultation.

Make sure that you fully cooperate with your therapist during consultation as part of your journey on how to choose a massage therapist. This is especially important if you will be needing more than just a normal de-stressing massage. Attending your consultation will also help your therapist track your progress and set definite targets for your plan of action.

6. Ask for Referrals from Friends and Family

how to choose a message therapist

Don’t be shy to ask your peers and family members when it comes to looking for a massage therapist as you will be able to access a more genuine source of information. In addition, you will be able to have first-hand accounts of their respective experiences with a therapist instead of simply looking it up on the internet. Of course, looking for therapist listings online won’t hurt, but if you want to make sure that your therapist is indeed of good reputation, asking around is your most viable option.

Another option that you may consider on how to choose a massage therapist is by consulting your physician. This is especially convenient if your family already has a resident physician. Most doctors usually have a list of their recommended massage therapists on a range of modalities. You can ask your doctor for a recommendation and you will likely get an educated referral and get a massage therapist who will best suit your individual needs.

7. Communicate Well With Your Therapist 

It is important for you and your massage therapist to have proper communication in order to ensure that you will get the best massage experience. Your therapist must be able to listen carefully to any concerns that you might raise before, during, and after your massage session. An important aspect of a massage session is the “draping”, which is simply the process of covering either your entire or half of your body with a towel. A good massage therapist will be able to determine your preferred level of comfort.

Another important thing to keep in mind when it comes to how to choose a massage therapist is to inform your massage therapist whether the pressure being applied is too light, or too heavy during your massage session. This is because each individual therapist has a unique touch, and every client has their own unique balance point. A little discomfort during your massage session can be beneficial to your body, but too much pressure might leave you feeling even more stressed out than before instead of relaxing your muscles.

8. Pay Attention to Post-Massage Care

A lot of massage patients tend to overlook after-massage care, when this is in fact a very important aspect of any massage therapy session. Your massage therapist must be skilled enough to know that you must be given enough time and attention after every massage. If you and your massage therapist has a good enough connection then you will be able to further reap the benefits of a proper post-massage session.

Your therapist will be giving you a number of post-massage tips which will depend on the preference you’ve shared with your therapist. This could range from aromatic soaks, salt baths, meditation, and hydration, among others. Your massage therapist will most likely be recommending these self-care methods, and if your therapist is indeed good, then you can be sure that you will be revitalized and relaxed after your massage therapy session. This is why it is important to take note of post-massage care when it comes to how to choose a massage therapist.

9. Inquire About Costs and Logistics

how to choose a massage therapist

Make sure that you have carefully considered the logistics and costs part of your therapy session before going to your first massage session. Ask your massage therapist or the receptionist at your spa of choice regarding their fees and other related matters. These include the duration of available sessions and the fee per session. A massage therapist will usually offer you quite a range of options, from 30 minutes up to 90 minutes per session. It is also important to inquire whether the intake is included in the fee or just the hands-on time. Ask if there are any discounted or special rates available, and if the massage is covered by insurance.

Some therapists and spas also have different rates for different massage techniques, while others might have hidden charges. On the logistics side, it is best to ask whether you will have to make an appointment or if walk-in clients are accepted by your chosen therapist. Ask the therapist in advance what clothes you need to bring, especially if you are opting for a specialized massage treatment. It is also essential to bring prescription papers from your medical doctor for specialized sessions. This is because massage therapists who specialize in certain modalities might need to see your prescription before pushing through with your session.

10. You Will Never Know if You Don’t Try—so Book a Therapist

A repository of certifications, recommendations, and reviews regarding your potential massage therapist will not be useful for you unless you go ahead with the massage session. It is important to keep in mind that you will never really know if a recommended massage therapist is indeed as good as they if you don’t try out their massage services for yourself. For a first-time session, going in for a full hour massage session is not really necessary and you can actually opt for a 30-minute session first in order for you to get a feel of your therapist’s skill.

Your massage experience will be mostly dependent on the connection between you and your massage therapist. Regardless of the number of certifications, hours of experience, and skill that your therapist has, your massage experience will not be as fulfilling if you and your therapist do not communicate well with each other. What matters is that your therapist knows your body’s individual needs and knows how to best address your body’s issues.

In its entirety, booking your very first massage session will be easy if you just want the basic session in order to de-stress and revitalize your body. However, if you want to address certain body issues or in need of a more specific rehabilitation, then it is important to learn how to choose a massage therapist and take careful note of these steps in order to ensure that you will leave your first session refreshed and possibly make progress towards your rehabilitation.


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