Many people think of massage therapy as a luxury but in reality it offers so much more to support your health. Massage is an excellent form of alternative medicine, providing not just relaxation but pain relief and increased range of motion. Regular massage has also been shown to lower blood pressure and be a helpful supplement to treatments for conditions such as migraines, anxiety, and depression. When thinking of adding massage to their lives many people can become overwhelmed with the number of therapists in their area. How to choose the one who’s right for you? Unfortunately, many traditional health insurance companies still do not support massage therapy so if you are going to make this investment in yourself it’s natural to seek out the best you can get.
If you are thinking of trying massage therapy for the first time it’s important to choose a practitioner who is best suited to meet your needs. Always make sure to only book appointments with a therapist who has completed education to become licensed in your state and carries an active insurance policy. An unlicensed practitioner has not been fully trained in medical conditions which may require modifications to the massage or may make the session something to avoid altogether. To avoid possible injury and to know that the business is an ethical and legitimate massage therapy office, always have a way to verify the practitioner’s credentials. The only exception to this rule is if you are going to a massage school’s clinic. Sometimes you can receive excellent deals at school clinics. You should always be informed that a student will be working on you that day and a licensed supervisor or instructor should be close at hand in case problems arise.
It’s very important that you feel you can trust your therapist to fully relax and receive the health benefits of the massage. If you have a gender preference make sure to clearly communicate that with the office you are booking with if they have several therapists on staff. Some therapists offer home visits and while this option may be costly, it can be an excellent choice for those who have lifestyle or time restrictions. Just remember to only allow into your home someone that you know or someone who comes highly recommended by a trusted friend.
Massage is a very personal treatment; there are many factors a good therapist will take into account such as your personal health history, pain levels, and the goals you have in mind that day. Your therapist should be asking you all these questions and more the first time you meet, and open communication should continue through the course of the treatment. Be very clear with your wants and needs. Define if you are looking for a relaxation massage or more of a medical massage, such as deep tissue or focused work on only one painful area. If it’s your first time receiving a professional massage and you don’t know what will work best for you make sure to say that as well. If the massage is not intense enough for you, or if you find yourself in more pain from it then you were expecting speak up! Massage is one of the most subjective treatments you can receive and your therapist should be paying very close attention to your body’s responses throughout the first session. Pain during a massage should be in the “good hurt” range only, so on a pain scale of 1-10 it should rate for you somewhere between 3-6. The therapist who is told that they are not in that range and continues to go above or below your needs is not a good fit for you.
If you decide to try someone different make sure to let your new therapist know what did or did not work before so they have a better understanding of where you’re coming from. Always mention if you have any health concerns, there are therapists who specialize in treating those with certain concerns, such as pregnancy, cancer, fibromyalgia, or recent surgeries. If the therapist you’ve contacted isn’t comfortable treating you, odds are they know someone who is.
As with any other form of medical treatment the most important thing for you to be is your own best advocate. Let your needs be known and don’t be afraid to set right something that isn’t. You deserve to live a life free of pain and massage is just one tool to help you meet that goal.