Have you ever received a massage where you walked away feeling like the therapist simply didn’t understand how to give a good massage?
We all know the feeling of this experience, and the worst thing about it is that you’ve only had a small taste of the experience so you want another massage as soon as you walk out the door.
I hope I can shed some light on how to help you get a great massage next time.
The important thing is to understand this situation from the therapists’ point of view. Every customer has vastly different needs, and therapists must guess what areas of the body need attention and what type of massage you desire. this may seem obvious to you because you’re experiencing the massage, so you’re judging the massage in real-time, but the therapist won’t know the quality of his work until you communicate it to them. Most people don’t understand how vastly different peoples’ tastes are when it comes to massage. Some people like having the point of the therapist’s elbow bearing down on their back with full force, and others like massage so soft that it tickles. Some customers almost instantly fall asleep as soon as you start massaging their scalp, while others hate having their head touched. The therapist has no way of knowing what type of customer they’re dealing with until they’re halfway through the massage.
Usually, when a massage begins, the therapist will ask what type of massage the customer wants, and the pressure that feels best to them. While saying that you want a “medium pressure Swedish massage” is a good start it falls far short of really informing the therapist of what to do. Many customers feel like they’ve told the therapist what they want, then just wait for whatever massage is given to them.
Unfortunately, with that limited amount of information the therapist will likely still be guessing exactly the type of massage and the areas of the body that you like the most.
If you want to get the best massage possible, you will need to be more pro-active.
So, what can you do?
First, you should attempt to explain exactly your preferences before your massage begins. You could say, for example, “I like a hard massage using forearms and elbows, and I’d like 75% of the time spent on my legs and 25% of the time on my back and neck.” At this point, you will hopefully have the therapist in the correct ballpark. However, the main glitch to this approach will occur when the therapist doesn’t speak English. Then you’ll need to resort to pointing and playing charades. But do your best.
The second (and most important) thing you’ll need to do is communicate your wishes during the massage. This is where many customers fail, and pay the price when they receive a lackluster massage.
So how do you communicate with the therapist when they may not even understand English?
During your massage make a point of breathing deeply when it feels good. You can exaggerate your breathing to communicate when the therapist is doing good work. Many customers naturally do this already, and they tend to get great results. They almost always leave very happy with their experience. The best way to do it is get your breathing in rhythm with the massage. Make sure that your breathing is audible to the therapist. This may seem uncomfortable to many people, but I assure you that therapists experience this all the time. In fact, therapists really appreciate the feedback. By using loud breathing, you can give the therapist a real-time meter of the quality of their work. this will only help them give you a good massage. Customers need to embrace this for their own benefit.
All of this may seem like a very uncomfortable situation you. It may seem strange to have a stranger massaging you, and you’re breathing loudly. But, if you can embrace this as a form of communication, it really isn’t uncomfortable at all. In fact, a potentially more uncomfortable situation is you just laying there giving no feedback while your therapist massages your scalp when you don’t like it. Also, its uncomfortable for the therapist as well.
Often I read massage reviews where the reviewer says something like, “I just waited for the massage to be over… ” and I just picture this person laying on the table silently enduring their massage while the therapist has no idea of what they want.
Don’t let it happen to you.