The feeling that you have
at the end of a great massage experience is pure bliss. I
say 'massage experience' because the whole experience of your
treatment begins when you arrive until sometimes long after
you've left. You may even want to make a day of it and get
several services together (which is even better!). Some
might say that your experience started when you spoke to the
receptionist, that's a great way to see the kind of operation
you're dealing with. On the flip side, a negative massage
experience could be anything from a mediocre time, to a sense of
being violated. The experience that you have will largely depend
on finding the right spa, the right therapist(s), and
knowing the basics about the various types of massage that are
available. If you've never received a massage or body treatment
out of fear, fear no more. I'm going to tell you how to make
your experience a great one!
the right treatment
several basic types of massage, I will tell you about the most
common. After reading the descriptions you will probably
recognize the ones that will suit your needs.
When most people talk about a professional massage, they are
usually referring to Swedish massage. The therapist will
use an oil or massage lotion, to gently and systematically go
over the entire body, massaging and kneading until all of your
muscles feel loose and relaxed, and the body feels energized and
ready to conquer the world.
This type of massage sounds just like what it is, a massage of
the deeper structures. It will work on such problems as chronic
muscle tension and knots. The massage therapist will get into
these area with firm pressure that will feel more intense, but
it will work to realign the body and put it back into balance.
This type of massage works over time so the results are
cumulative. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the next
day or two after this treatment to flush out the toxins that
will be released from the deeper muscle tissues.
This is the best form of massage to get the athlete back in
action. It's done with a series of moves similar to Swedish
massage. This type focuses on certain areas of the body that
need extra help, either by loosening up muscles and joints to
increase range of motion, or to help heal after injury. It also
increased circulation and lymphatic drainage and has a healing
effect on the entire body.
Aromatherapy refers to using the properties of essential oils to
help someone to relax, energize, or make any other specific
physiological or psychological improvement. The therapist
will add a few drops of essential oils to the massage oil to
achieve the desired results. Essential oils can also be added to
a diffuser or candle to scent the room.
This treatment is usually performed on the feet, but sometimes
the hands. A series of relaxation movements are combined
with a series of pressure in various areas of the foot. This is
based on the Asian principles of each organ of the body having a
corresponding part on the feet and hands. So as these points are
worked on the feet or hands, the corresponding organs are
getting the actual treatment. It has been practiced for
two thousand years. You'll find this to be an extremely relaxing
treatment, it puts a 'spring in your step'.
This type massage comes from Japan. 'Shi' means finger, and 'atsu'
means pressure. It's based on the body pathways or meridians,
just like acupuncture. This form of massage is done with your
clothes on, and without the use of oil. The massage focuses on
the body as a unit rather than individual muscles. The idea is
to open up the pathways of energy or 'chi' (pronounced 'chee').
You should feel alive and balanced after this type of treatment.
Thai massage is not for the weak of heart unless you are already
familiar with it and feel inspired to try it. It is given
while you're fully dressed in comfortable clothes. The
practitioner does not use a massage table, rather you will be
laying on the floor. Your therapist will literally be
sitting on you most of the time, pulling, lifting and
manipulating each and every structure in your body. There's a
lot of crunching and twisting, and you'll basically feel like a
rag doll being tossed around. But in the end, every inch
of you will have been stretched and cracked, until everything
that can be popped, has been. This one is a real 'release'
Hot Rocks or La
Stone: This is one of the latest massage
techniques available. Warm, smooth river stones are
systematically placed on the vertebra, in the hands, in between
toes and other places to bring a sense of energy flow throughout
the body. This is in conjunction with usually a Swedish massage.
The warm stones give an added natural benefit to the massage.
Some therapists use heated pillows (usually filled with
Buckwheat, Flaxseed, Rice or Salt, sometimes mixed with Lavender
buds, Hops or other relaxing botanicals). that can be placed in
areas of extra tension like the back, neck, shoulders, or eyes.
Warmth helps to soothe and relax muscle tension.
the right place
The best place to look for
your massage therapist is locally, since this is something that
you'll want to work into your life as part of your routine.
Ask friends and family for advice on a good place in your area.
They may not get massages, but they may go to a place where they
are given and can give you a good tip. You want a spa or
salon that is clean, comfortable, has a good reputation, and a
professional, highly-qualified staff. The internet is a
great place to look as more spas are getting online. Look for
your local online Yellow Pages or a Massage directory to find
local spas and visit every site you can. In the 'old days'
we just had the phone for checking around. Many websites
are very thorough and give a great representation of the spa,
making it much easier to do your research. After you visit
a few sites, you'll know which ones sound inviting, and which
ones you're not sure about. Narrow down your list
according to proximity, price, professionalism, site
friendliness, or whatever else you feel is important. Now
it's time to start making your phone calls (or visits if you
really want to be thorough).
the right therapist
reminded recently why I always get such great therapists and
other service providers at spas and salons. I was looking
for a new place to get my hair 'done'. After I had taken
all of the steps that I mentioned above, I called the spa/salon
that I'd found. I spoke to a cheery, upbeat young gal on
the phone that was very helpful and made me feel great (First
impressions count, see?). I quizzed her for several
minutes about who was the best at what I needed. Who was busy,
who did well with my hair type, etc... I was so pleased
with her answers and the good feeling that I got from her, I
didn't hesitate in booking my appointment. When I got
there, I was very satisfied. The spa/salon was everything that
I'd hoped for, and my services were fabulous!
senses as you speak to the receptionist, is she talking to you
as a friend or is she being evasive. Some salons tell the
receptionists to give new clients to the new (probably less
experienced) employees. There's nothing wrong with new
employees, but why try someone new if there is someone else
there that has more experience and may be much better? You might
ask questions like... Who gets requested the most? Which
one gets the most raves? Which one gives firmer pressure?
Which one is more gentle? Is she nice? Who have you
had treatments from? Would you go to them again? Why? Listen to
the answers that you get, this is very important! If there
is negative hesitation when someone is spoken of, remember that.
If you get immediate positive feedback, write down names.
Ask the questions that are important to you, so that you can
narrow it down to your perfect choice. Remember, you don't
have to commit to anything there on the phone, you're just
calling for information. If the receptionist sounds like
she is too busy to talk, don't take this as the brush off.
It's a good sign that they are busy. Ask her to call you
back when she has a moment to talk.
way to find the right therapist is by asking your family and
friends. If they don't know of good ones, ask them if they have
friends or family that know of any. You're not looking for
a friend of a friend that does massage. You are looking for
someone that is great. A personal reference is the very
best recommendation that you can find. When someone talks about
someone that is great, they will get a happiness to their voice
and a twinkle in their eye. That's the sign!
found your therapist, make sure to book your next
appointment as you leave from your first one. Massage
appointments are something that you'll want to do for the rest
of your life. It will help to keep your body energy
flowing properly, your muscles supple, your mind focused and
your spirit soaring! Even if it's once a season... Book your
next appointment. Personally, I feel that if more people
got regular massage, we'd have a better world.
Getting past your fears
If fear has
been keeping you back from getting your first massage, let's go
through what some of them may be, so that you can prepare to
tackle any obstacle that you feel may exist.
I don't want anyone to
see me naked!: How many of us feel that our body is
perfect, even good? The number is unfortunately quite
small. The notion of exposing your imperfect body to a stranger
may be stopping you from getting a massage. What you need to
remember is that this is not just any stranger. This is an
individual that has studied their craft, and sees many clients
with many different body types, just like a doctor or nurse.
More than likely, you will be in the presence of a truly caring,
compassionate professional, that has the desire to help you
relax and heal. They will have you draped at all times,
and will only pull back the sheet enough to work on certain
areas at any given time. In the U.S. it is standard
procedure to not include massage of the breasts in your
treatment, so your private areas will never be exposed at all.
Wearing underwear is perfectly acceptable, likewise, wearing
nothing is okay too. Whatever you feel comfortable with is
what you should do.
Will it be painful or
ticklish?: Most of us have areas where we are a bit
ticklish and all of us will feel pain in certain areas when the
pressure is too great during the massage. Usually those
that are afraid of the concept of not being comfortable during a
treatment, are timid about speaking up and are afraid of feeling
out of control in this situation. My advice is to take
control, during this passive activity. Sounds like a
paradox, but what I mean is that you must take the reins and
know that you can speak up to your therapist at ANY time,
before, during and after your massage. There's only one
way that your therapist can really get to know what your body
needs, and that's through communication. Sometimes the
communication will be verbal like a simple "I'm very ticklish on
the bottom of my feet", at the beginning of the treatment. This
will be a good time for the therapist to ask if you'd rather not
receive any massage on the feet at all, or whether she can help
you with some firmer pressure. The other method of
communication will be through non-verbal methods such as tensing
or jerking when an area is tickled or hurt. Please
remember, EVERY body is unique and has different parts that have
different levels of sensitivity. This is why it's very
good to find one therapist that can get to know what your body
needs. After you've found her, your future visits will
become more relaxing as all of your past fears dissolve away.
Should I tip?:
If you are happy with your service, tipping is a nice way to
show your therapist that you are grateful. 15-20% is the
norm. Generally, massage therapists are not compensated
with Medical benefits, 401 K plans, vacation time, sick pay,
etc... So this is a nice way to say thank you for a
wonderful treatment. You may have heard that owners should
not be tipped, nor those working in their homes. I'm not
sure why this is. I feel that a tip is a tip, and I give
it freely to show my gratitude, no matter who gave me the
treatment. After years of getting massages, I generally
feel ripped off when I go to the doctor for healing. I'm
there for a few minutes, the doctor touches and writes, he may
prescribe something, then he leaves. I feel no better
during or after my visit. Conversely, I generally pay the
massage therapist much less for a full hour of personal,
caring touch. I always leave with a greater sense of joy
and vibrant health. You're darn right I'm going to give
them a tip!
I have a hard time
relaxing: Sounds like you're the perfect candidate for
a massage! There are a few hints to get your mind and body
prepared for a treatment. First of all, don't use any
stimulants before massage. So if you're a coffee drinker,
either go without, or cut your intake way down on massage day.
The idea is to start the relaxation process before the
massage. Get to your appointment early, so that you can
sit and relax. Take nice relaxing breaths, and think about
how special you are, and how wonderful it is that you have
arrived for this well-deserved and very needed healthcare treat.
The last thing that you want to do is rush around before your
appointment and then run to your appointment either late or
without any time to sit beforehand and unwind after driving.
It will take your entire treatment to unwind, which completely
defeats the purpose. Your state of relaxation is something
that is multi-leveled. If you want to assign a number to
each level, you could call complete and utter bliss (where you
are bordering on sleep) a level 1. Running in from a
hectic morning to get your massage would start you off at a
level 10. If you started off your morning with a cup of
herbal tea instead of coffee, and you listened to relaxing music
in the bath, instead of doing last minute errands, you could
start off your appointment at a level 6 or 7. It's
possible for someone to go from a level 10 to a 1, I've seen it!
But these are seasoned pros that have made relaxation an art
form. For most of us, we need to start at a lower level to
really get to a 1 during a massage. I think that it's an
art worth practicing myself, don't you?
I don't want someone
touching me: This is the one fear that there may not
be an easy tip to solve. I have met people that just don't
want to be touched, they don't get it, they don't want to get
it. I know that this group exists because I have met them
when they come in as a 'recipient of a gift certificate'.
Usually one of their family members is trying to help them
relax. But in most cases, it just doesn't. There may
be some psychological reason for this response towards massage,
or being touched in general. But basically, if someone
holds on to this concept, there's not a lot someone can do to
change their mind. I've thought many a time that I could
change someone's opinion about massage by giving an even better
treatment. But there's a sense throughout that the person
just can't wait until it's over to breath again normally.
Which makes complete relaxation out of the question. I've tried
to offer various tips and tricks to take this type of individual
deeper into relaxation, but to no avail. If you don't like
being touched, you more than likely won't like receiving a
massage. I would suggest coming to terms with the reason
behind the feeling first.
What is a
A great massage begins in a
great place and with the perfect therapist for you (which you
now know how to find). It ends with your feeling of
complete bliss and a profound new appreciation for your life and
everything in it. Your body should feel light and loose
and much better than when you arrived.
treatment, your massage therapist should make every attempt to
send you to a very serene place that is far away from every day
reality and the stress that comes along with it. Relaxing
sounds are a nice way to achieve this, also a room that has soft
lighting. All of the surroundings should be clean, fresh
and simple with nothing that over-stimulates the mind.
therapist should be quiet and calm, never talkative or loud.
They should be there for YOU, not the other way around. If
they do speak, it should be for your benefit. If you find
that your therapist is too chatty, it's completely okay to say
something like "Okay, I think I'm going to zone out now", or
"...take a little nap now" or whatever you feel is a polite way
of saying that you'd like some quiet time now. Another time to
speak up is if you are uncomfortable at any time. Don't
wait 2 seconds longer than you need to, if you feel any
discomfort. Anything in the room can be changed to
accommodate you (music, temperature, table settings, touch of
therapist). I cannot reiterate the concept of 'This is
YOUR time' enough. A good therapist will make each minute
and each stroke count.
massage is worth every penny. My hope for you is that you
eventually want to add other treatments to your massage to turn
your one appointment into an entire spa day of relaxation.
The more treatments that you have back to back, the lower your
level of relaxation is bound to go. Your goal is to reach
number 1! Now go do your own research and book that
appointment today, you will be very very glad that you did.
Once you reach relaxation level 1,
you will understand the 'Spa Look'.
visit Sharon's web site:
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