Finding a good massage therapist may not be as hard as finding a good dating relationship, but it can be just as challenging. There are plenty of them out there, but how do you find the right one for you?
The best referrals are from family, friends, co-workers, even church friends that may have a good massage therapist to recommend. One of the best gifts to give this holiday season is a gift certificate to your favorite spa or salon for massage and salon services with your favorite massage therapist.
Whether you receive your therapeutic massage in your medical or chiropractic office as a physical therapy patient or at the day spa, salon, or gym as a regular client, your relationship with your massage therapist is like a good dating relationship. There should be respect, trust, cooperation, listening, rapport (chemistry) and a healthy dose of awe. Here are the rules!
The Ten Rules/Actions of a Good Massage Therapist
1) Respects your body and creates a safe environment. Massage is a very intimate experience for both the client and the therapist. Trust is the number one key in creating a relaxing environment for the healing and wellness of the client and it is the responsibility of the therapist to create that safe environment.
2) Healthy respect, knowledge and awe of the human body and the healing process. The massage therapist should have a deep understanding that the Creator is the true healer; the therapist is merely the channel. The therapist should always remember it is a privilege and honor to serve their client.
3) Welcomes you. Has a positive, personable, yet professional attitude and clean appearance. (Therapists, remember to trim and clean your fingernails!) Provides a clean and sanitary environment (clean sheets, face covers, towels and linens). Washes and sanitizes their hands between clients and doesn’t double-dip (Yuck!) in the jar of massage crème, oils or body scrubs! Therapists, use pump bottles only!
4) Asks the right questions and remembers the answers. At the beginning of your treatment, and before your first massage, the therapist should have you fill out a health questionnaire. The kind of questions should include: Have you ever had a massage before? What kind of aches and pains are you having? Any serious illness or disease? Allergies? Have you ever been in an accident? What kind of work do you do? What kind of shoes do you wear everyday? Do you exercise and if so what kind? Are you pregnant? Your answers will decide what kind of recurring pain issues you may have that create movement and stress patterns that the therapist can help you with.
5) Listens to your needs and adjusts their actions accordingly. Is their massage pressure too much, too light, or just right? Are you cold or too hot? Do you need a pillow? Is the music too loud or annoying? Speak up and tell us. This is your healing time. Therapists appreciate feedback, so please tell us. Therapists should personalize their massage routines and techniques as needed for each patient or client.
6) Respects your time. Is on time for your appointments.
7) Knows your body and its stress patterns. The advantage of having the same therapist over time is that the therapist will know your particular stress patterns (hence the importance of the initial patient questionnaire).
A good massage therapist knows when to refer a client or patient to a physical therapist or M.D. if a condition is beyond the scope of their training or capacity. Two incidents that come to mind are a therapist that felt a lump in the lymph glands of one of her patients, and another therapist that saw a change in the size of the moles on her patient’s skin. Both of these cases were referred early on to the patient’s medical doctors and addressed in the early stages of development of their conditions.
8) Respects your privacy. If you fall asleep and snore while getting your massage, that’s nobody’s business but yours and your therapist’s (that means the therapist is doing their job well, the best cat naps are on the massage table)! Your health concerns and issues are between you and your health practitioners and should not be spread throughout the medical office, salon or the gym!
9) Looks after their own healthcare and wellness needs. Exercises, receives regular massages to de-stress, detox, and has regular medical check-ups.
10) Continues their own medical education and massage training to further their health practice to meet the needs of their clients and to stay current with health innovations and information.
Tricia Cochee is the author of forthcoming book, “Touch, The Language of Massage, How To Speak It: A Body Memoir”
She is a massage therapist of over 20 years and has studied and practiced Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tibetan Ayurveda, and Yoga.