2 Your Health: Good or Bad Massage—What Makes a Good Massage?

Heidi Overman, LMT

OK, you’ve come back from having a massage and think, “that wasn’t very good.” Sometimes you do not know why, and sometimes you know exactly why. It was definitely the therapist; the therapist didn’t meet your needs. You wish you had told them more pressure, or less pressure, or to work on an area longer. I hear feedback all the time, such as, I wish my therapist would’ve spent more time on a certain area; I wish my therapist would’ve done a full-body massage; I feel sore after my massage; I feel like I didn’t even get a massage, it was too light; or my therapist talked the whole time.

First, not every massage therapist is for everyone! That doesn’t make a massage therapist bad, it just means that either the communication wasn’t clear, or you need to keep looking for the right therapist for you.

Communication, communication, communication! It is so important in getting the massage you are looking for. I have heard numerous times that a massage therapist should know what every client wants because they are the professional, and I’ve heard from massage therapists that the client needs to just handle the work. Neither of these makes for a good experience.

I tell my clients all the time, “I can feel your muscles and what they are taking, but I can’t feel inside your body, and every person has different pain levels. Please tell me if I’m crossing that line for you.” Also, sometimes I can be barely touching an area, and it’ll feel like I’m going straight to your soul.

Here are some tips to make your massage better:

1. Set your expectations with your therapist: I would like a full-body massage, and please spend some extra time on my right shoulder.

2. Depth of work guidelines: I would like therapeutic work, but I don’t want to be too sore tomorrow. My legs can’t take much pressure; could you lighten up on that area?

3. Feedback during the massage: That area can take more pressure, or could you lighten up on that area please?

4. Positive feedback: That is so perfect on that area!

5. If you don’t want to talk during the massage: I just want to zone out and relax today.

6. If your massage didn’t meet your expectation, but you like the therapist, at your next appointment give the therapist that feedback: I really enjoyed my massage last time, but this time I’d like less pressure or more pressure.

Look at your massages as a journey and as you and your therapist are a team. With each massage, the therapist is learning how your muscles react, what depth of pressure works and doesn’t work, which modalities are effective for you, and what length of time between massages is the most advantageous. It will not be perfect the first massage, but as long as there’s communication, we can hone in on a massage that is productive and fulfills your expectations.

On the other side, if you just feel like your massage therapist wasn’t right for you, there are other therapists. At MEND, I hire many therapists with different styles, modalities, depth of work, and specialties to make sure our clients are comfortable trying different therapists to find the therapist that is right for you! Communication is key in finding the right therapist and having the best massage experience.

If you are interested in a therapeutic massage, call MEND for an appointment at 520-771-1514. Our website is www.mymendingplace.com, and we’re located at MEND Therapeutic Massage and Restorative Skincare 15920 N Oracle Rd., Ste 170 Tucson, AZ 85739 (Next to the Golden Goose).