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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

4 Questions you should ask your massage therapist

Questions you should ask your massage therapist

1. Can you adjust the pressure if it is too light/deep?

Short Answer: Many people are afraid to speak up if the pressure of their massage is uncomfortable. The therapist can't make adjustments if they don't know a change is needed, and your comfort is most important.

More details: One of the most common things I hear from people is "I had a massage once, and it was too deep and I was sore for days, so I'm never getting a massage again." These encounters were mostly likely the result of poor communication between client and therapist. Either the client was uncomfortable with or afraid of asking the therapist for what they wanted, so the therapist didn't know to change things, or the therapist was so set in their ways, they weren't willing or able to change up what they were doing if they had been asked. In any case, communication is key. Not every therapist's sense of "light, medium, and deep" is the same, nor is every client's expectation of those pressures. Communication is the only way both parties can "get it right" and clients shouldn't be afraid to speak up and ask.

Questions you should ask your massage therapist

2. What do you recommend outside of massage to help me?

Short answer: Sometimes a massage therapist can recommend other things that can continue helping after the massage is over. These can range from other professionals, to simple things like stretches or exercises you can do on your own

More details: Massage therapy is great, but sometimes it can only do so much. If there is a condition, issue, injury, etc that the massage is trying to fix, or if the issue is more chronic, in that it keeps coming back, perhaps something outside of the massage may be needed. Many therapists have networks of other health care professionals, be it chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncture, or others who they either have worked with and can recommend, or the issue that they are seeing during the massage may be recognized as something out of their scope that should be seen by another type of therapist. Even if it isn't that extreme, sometimes simple advice such as stretches or other massage tools, or heat/cold therapy may be recommended to help enhance the massage or make the effects of the treatment last longer between sessions.

Questions you should ask your massage therapist

3. Are you familiar with my issue/condition?

Short answer: Most massage therapists have basic training in a very wide range of modalities to treat many different issues, but some conditions such as oncology, prenatal, or certain injuries, should be handled by a therapist with specialized training, and your therapist should be able to direct you to someone with the correct expertise if they can't help.

More details: It can be humbling for a massage therapist to admit that they may not be the best therapist for your needs, but it is important in some situations. Many therapists may not admit that the aren't the best therapist for a certain condition because they are 1. afraid the client will lose respect for them as a professional and never come back/tell others about it, or 2. they lose the income from potential future appointments. However, it is in the best interest of the client if sometimes a therapist has to refer out, rather than try to fix something they are unfamiliar with. There is no harm in asking a therapist if they are trained in, familiar with, or comfortable with working on a specific condition. If they are, the therapist will likely be able to back up their confirmation with a list of their experiences or trainings as well as a summary of what they would do for that condition.

Questions you should ask your massage therapist

4. How often should I get a massage based on what you are seeing?

Short answer: Everyone is different in what they need from a massage. After a session, your therapist should be able to advise you if you need more, less, or a different type of massage based on how your body and muscles reacted to the massage that was just done.

More details: I sound like a broken record, but I will once again say that every body is different, and has different needs, and each massage should be tailored to those needs. If there is an injury, more frequent, shorter massages may be needed until the injury starts to get under control. If the body just needs maintenance to undo the hours of sitting in front of a computer at work, a different type of massage may be needed less frequently. Also something to take into account is how someone feels after their massage. There is no "one-size-fits-all" answer for how often someone should get a massage, but after the session, after seeing how the body responds, and what muscles are tight, etc - the therapist can give a better view and recommendation of what would be beneficial.

Questions you should ask your massage therapist

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