Posted on May 1, 2015 at 2:50 PM
For those of you who didn't have a very good experience with your first professional massage, here is some advise for you. Keep in mind that in any profession there are those who are really good at what they do, and there are those who are not. People who have nothing to compare it to because they have only been to the same massage therapist, or even those who have been to several massage therapists and have only been mildly satisfied, should keep searching! The good ones are definitely out there! If you are looking for a specific kind of treatment, say a shiatsu treatment, or polarity, or even a sports massage, you will get a different kind of massage. In fact, shiatsu and polarity are not really "massaging" the muscles at all. This of course, is not to say that they don't have their place in healing treatments to the body. But if you are looking for a "relaxing" massage, Swedish is the way to go. That being said, you can still get a really bad Swedish massage, or one that is only mediocre. Do not settle for this! All massage therapists are not created equal! Usually when I think of a full-body massage, I think of massaging every part of the body (no snickering please, breasts and privates excluded). Over the 30 years that I personally have been getting professional massages, (and I have gotten hundreds, and from lots of different people) I would have to say that the majority of them fall short of my expectations. I know what I am looking for. I know what a good massage should feel like, and yes, I am very particular. Let me give you some examples. First of all, is your treatment room quiet? I can't tell you how many other conversations I've had to listen to from the next room while I was trying to get my "relaxing" massage. Hair salons are notorious for this. The rooms are generally placed right where all the action is, and there is no attempt at sound proofing. However, I have been to plenty of other "non-hair salons" and the same problem still exists. I don't know about you, but I want quiet. I don't want to hear any conversation, unless I am the one talking, which I rarely do, except maybe to say, "that feels great"! Is your room warm enough? I have had massages where the room is so cold, I could not relax. When I asked the therapist for a blanket, there was none to be had. She also did not have any space heaters nor did she have a heating mattress. Hard to believe but true. I just had a massage yesterday where I told the therapist that I was having problems with low back pain. He only spent maybe 5 minutes on my back, and never came anywhere near my low back, not even for light pressure. (which by the way would have felt great). Nor did he even touch my traps (shoulder muscles) let alone massage them! There was a massage session that I went into complaining of a headache. I asked the therapist to please massage my head during the massage. Well my head never got massaged, but she did tap on the back of it when she was finished. It felt like a woodpecker was tapping on my head! I asked her again if she could rub my head for just a minute or two. She said she was not able to because that was not part of her routine. Seriously? And what gives with those fast, choppy strokes? I find them not the least bit relaxing. Strokes should be long, smooth and flowing.
And what about the therapists who don't do a thorough job? Like my two examples above, no scalp massage when you have a headache, and no trap massage when your traps are tight and aching and killing you. Then there are the therapists who do foot massage but no toes. Why do the toes keep getting left out? Sometimes the bottoms of the feet don't get massaged, including the heels. A lot of people's heels hurt, especially when they've been on them all day. There are some therapists who don't do the feet at all. Really? There is nothing more relaxing than a great foot massage! When they massage your back, do they include along the sides of the back, including a sweep through the intercoastal muscles and the upper lats? Hmmm..... Do they work on the lower back at all including a little trigger point work in the quadradus lumborum muscles? I know most of you probably don't where this muscle is, but if you had it worked on, you would know! And what about that scalp massage when they do do a scalp massage? Do they just do the top of your head, or do they do the whole head, including the top and the bottom and the sides, and yes, even those temples! What about the face? Lots of people hold tension in their face. What about all the folks with TMJ and sinus problems? I bet a face massage would feel pretty good to them. And the neck. Why is it that some massage therapists stop massaging your neck in the middle, like it stops there? Come on, get up into those occipital muscles and work it! Do they spend too long on one area and not enough on another? I had a massage therapist spend so much time on my left scapula area that I finally said to her, "could you please move on to something else? I feel like your boring a hole through my body." (yeah, I really did say that). Do they use just the right amount of pressure in all the right places? Do they warm up the area, like say the back? Do they warm up the whole back, or do they just go right for a trouble spot for 15 minutes, while neglecting the rest of the back, when the other parts of the back are screaming "touch me, please, this part is killing me too"! How about we calm down the whole back first with some nice soothing, moderate pressure strokes, and then we can go about different parts of the back and focus on our problem areas, say the rhomboids, the traps, those paraspinals, and yes those quadradus lumborum muscles. Yummmm.... And what about those massage therapists who never stop talking the whole time? You know their whole life story whether you want to or not. How do they finish the massage? Is it quick and abrupt or do they slowly work their way off your body like they don't ever, ever, want to let go? Talk about comforting and nurturing! These are just some of the things you should look for when getting a quality professional relaxing Swedish massage. Oh, and by the way, just because a massage therapist has credentials up the ying-yang, dosen't mean he or she can give a great massage! So don't give up, that fabulous massage therapist is out there! Best of luck to you in your search!