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Four Tips to Maximize Your Massage Experience

You know you’ve had a disappointing massage experience when you leave a session feeling mentally and physically dissatisfied. Whether you had a hard time relaxing because of too many thoughts running through your mind or you weren’t comfortable with the therapist’s massage approach, the room temperature, music selection or lighting, there are many internal and external factors that come into play during a massage session.

To make the most of your next massage, adopt the following four tips before, during and after your session so you can maximize your experience and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Find the Best Therapist for Your Specific Needs

Finding a massage therapist that you’re compatible and comfortable with in regard to personality and massage delivery techniques can make or break your satisfaction. Every massage therapist has a unique approach and specific areas they focus on. So it’s important to do research prior to a massage to make sure a therapist’s approach aligns with your goals and expectations.

Communicating your specific aches or pains with the therapist prior to starting the session also is important to ensure your needs will be met during the massage.

“If you have specific problems or issues you want addressed, it’s a really good idea to check out a therapist’s resume, certifications and continuing education,” advises Angel Wossum, massage therapist at Elements Florence. “Being honest and upfront with the therapist also is essential so that everybody is on the same page about the purpose of the massage from the beginning.”

Be Early, Be Prepared

Rushing around and running late for a massage session will only lead to a sub-par experience since you aren’t giving your mind and body time to pause and prepare for a relaxing experience. To get the most benefits out of your massage session, Wossum recommends that you arrive at the studio at least 15 minutes ahead of the appointment to fill out paperwork, use the restroom and decompress any stress you’ve encountered throughout the day.

When you’re lying on the table waiting for the therapist to come in to start the massage, it also can be helpful to take a few deep breathes to clear your mind and prepare your body to melt into the warm, comfortable table.

“When clients are running behind, everyone feels rushed and stressed,” says Wossum. “Being early is being on time when you get a massage. It allows you to be prepared and ready so your experience is everything you want it to be.”

If you really want to jump start your massage experience, you also can start preparing your mind and muscles ahead of time by drinking an adequate amount of water and taking a hot shower to warm up your body’s core.

“Warming up your core temperature with a shower or bath can help loosen up muscles and get your body ready to relax a little bit better,” explains Toni Middleton, massage therapist at Elements Preston Hollow. “This allows a therapist to start working on your muscles and breaking up lactic acid quicker during the session.”

Check Your Baggage at the Door

One of the biggest obstacles to a successful massage experience is letting outside stresses, devices and frustrations sneak into the massage room with you. Both therapists and clients need to make concentrated efforts to remove distractions that can negatively affect the outcome of the session such as cell phones, memories of a heated discussion or home and work stresses.

“As you’re in a session, try not to think about all of the things that are stressing you out,” says Middleton. “Whether it’s good or bad, leave your attitudes and frustrations at the door so you can have a more relaxing experience.”

“As a therapist, I have to leave all of my personal things at the door as well,” continues Middleton. “People feed off each other’s energies so I can’t come in being mad at the world. I do a couple stretches and breathing exercises before a session to help clear my mind and prepare for the massage. It can be helpful for clients to do this as well.”

Adopt a Relaxed Post-Massage Routine

After you’ve taken an hour out of your day to focus on relaxing and unwinding during your massage session, the last thing you want to do is run out into the world full speed ahead. Instead, Wossum and Middleton both agree that the best post-massage prescription is to head home to a relaxing environment where you can take a hot bath with Epsom salt to relieve any soreness and keep your muscles loose. Staying hydrated and doing light stretching such as ear-to-shoulder, chin-to-shoulder and ear-to-chest movements also can help keep your mind, body and muscles loose and relaxed.

“The best day to schedule a massage is when you can just chill out afterward,” says Wossum. “If you get a massage and then spend the rest of the day rushing around or doing strenuous exercise, you’re not going to enjoy the full benefits of the massage. We do a lot of work to fix things during a massage. So you don’t want to undo it all by doing too much for the rest of the day.”

Getting a massage is great for relaxing your mind and body, but reaping the benefits of a massage long after the session ends is when you can really start establishing total health and wellness. The next time you schedule a massage, maximize your experience by following these simple but effective tips before, during and after your session.

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