1. Do your research
There is a wide spectrum of massage styles and therapist training. Kind of like getting a tattoo, know what you want and find the therapist that can help you. Do you think you'd like a deeper pressure? A lighter more relaxing pressure? More spa-type add ons? Someone with training in energy work? Someone with training in nerve issues?
Get referrals from friends, click through the therapist's webpage, look for what extra training they've had and what their target market is. If you are a marathoner, you probably won't match up with someone who prefers prenatal massages. Message the therapist and get more information that way. And lastly, just try them! Go in with an open mind and be willing to shop around if you really need someone to partner with you on a specific issue.
2. Arrive a bit early
About 10 mins early is best for your first massage. Some therapist will have an online intake form you can fill out before your appointment so we know what medications you are taking, what surgeries and injuries you've had, and what your goals are. Sometimes they will have you fill out that form before you get on the table. To get the most of your time and avoid the therapist running behind or cutting your session short, showing up with some time before helps out everyone.
3. Turn your phone off
Phone goes on airplane or do not disturb mode. You are getting a massage to maybe get some pain relief or to relax, but in reality you are doing this to reconnect to yourself and your body. To reconnect to your body, you need to disconnect from everyone else.
Pro-tip: Practice some mindfulness meditation during your massage. Practice letting go of your to-do list or your upcoming events, let go of what you will do when you get off the table. Let go of what the therapist is going to do next. Practice feeling what you are feeling when it happens. This is where the true magic of massage happens, where you reconnect deeply and intimately with your body.
4. Communicate about pressure!
Too many times the negative reactions I hear about massage have to do with the pressure the therapist delivered, either too much or too less. The therapist should check in during the first 5 minutes of the massage and you should let them know honestly. It is so super easy to adjust, and an experienced therapist has had clients all along the spectrum. We know that pressure is 100% subjective, what feels super deep to someone can feel way too light to another person. So we need YOU to tell us what you're feeling!
And don't think that first check in is the only time you can adjust. Different areas of the body can feel pressure differently too. If we run across an area that is more sensitive, let us know so we can back off. If something feels really good and you want a bit deeper, just ask. We will be much happier that you feel the massage was effective than staying quiet and wishing we could read your mind.
And if you have truly never have a massage and don't know what the "correct" pressure for you is, here's my tip: you want the pressure to mimic or closely mimics the sensations your feel from your current pain issue. If you aren't having any pain at the moment, think around a 4-5 on the 1-10 pain scale. Never feel the pressure to get a massage that is "no pain no gain", or to ask for more pressure if you just aren't feeling the good feelings.
5. Reschedule before you leave
Did you absolutely LOVE your massage and your therapist, and really felt like you found "The One"?? Reschedule before you leave! Those therapists are usually very hard to get in to more than a week or two in advance, getting on their books will do a couple of things to benefit future you:
You will be able to schedule things around that appointment, to actually make it and make time for yourself. You will get in before anyone else steals that time (that, let's be honest, is already hard enough to carve out of your schedule). And it is immensely easier to reschedule or cancel if you have to, than to last minute schedule at the time you need.
Veteran Massageland Citizens: got any other tips for the newbies?