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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

4 Things to help you choose a massage therapist

4 Things to help you choose a massage therapist

1. Ask family, friends, or medical professionals for recommendations

Short Answer: A trustworthy person will give it to you straight. Word-of mouth is the best way to learn who is out there, and the kind of experience you can expect to help decide if they will work for you.

More details: You trust your friends and family, and I hope you trust your medical professionals, so they shouldn't steer you wrong if you ask them for help or recommendations. Friends can share with you not only names and resources, but also their own experiences, which helps you know what you are getting into. If you are getting a massage for a specific medical issue, your medical professional not only can likely let you know exactly what massage can do for you, but also can direct you to a therapist that may specialize in exactly what you need.

4 Things to help you choose a massage therapist

2. Do your research (and not just on prices)

Short answer: While knowing the cost of massage is important, it shouldn't be the only thing you base your decision on. Research a therapist's credentials, read their online reviews, make sure they are licensed, and see if their advertising presence gives you a sense of their professionalism and if you would feel comfortable seeing them.

More details: Think about going to the grocery store and looking at two bottles of a sauce that you've never purchased before, but now you need it for a recipe. You know nothing about these two brands of sauce, but one is $2 and one is $8. How do you pick? You may be tempted to focus solely on price, however perhaps the ingredients, how the sauce is made, the reputation of the company that specializes in that type of sauce all play into it - one way or the other. Massage is very similar. Every therapist has different credentials, focus, and location. Are you looking for an indulgent spa-like experience or just some place that will get you in and out quick? Do you want a specialist in a particular area or condition? Do you want a therapist that is more focused on the physical muscles and a therapeutic style or something more energy and spiritual based? All of these things can be taken into consideration when researching a new therapist.

4 Things to help you choose a massage therapist

3. Ask them questions about your goals and needs

Short answer: If you are getting a massage for a specific issue, injury, or condition, you may want to chat with a therapist to address your specific goals and determine if that therapist will be able to help you, or if you should see someone who is more familiar with your needs.

More details: You will never have a good massage experience if you are not comfortable with your therapist. No therapist should ever avoid answering your questions (provided that the questions are reasonable and professional). Especially if you have a certain issue or goal for the massage appointment, you want to make sure you are not only comfortable with your therapist, but they are knowledgeable about what you need and are willing to work with you to achieve your goals. We know that massage is a very personal type of therapy, so a therapist should be willing to talk and answer any questions you may have.

4 Things to help you choose a massage therapist

4. Know that not every therapist is a good fit for everyone

Short answer: Sometimes finding the perfect massage therapist takes a little bit of trial and error. If you see a therapist that just doesn't work for you, it doesn't mean that massage won't work, or the therapist was bad. Minor things such as personality, atmosphere, or style of massage can help you realize what you need and expect from your massage, and therefore will help you learn what you need to find the perfect therapist.

More details: Just as different as people and their needs are, so are massage therapists. Massage is a very personal and individualized thing, so not every therapist works for every need or person. Unfortunately, some people have a bad first experience with massage - either they didn't like the pressure, poor communication/misunderstandings, a style that didn't quite meet the goals, or even someone may have had a therapeutic environment when someone was looking for a spa - and it turns people off of massage totally because they believe that all massage and massage therapists are basically cookie-cutters of each other. Even with high recommendations, it still may not work out. Your best friend may swear by so-and-so as the best therapist ever, but you find so-and-so's style too rough and woo-woo. It may not be a one-and-done decision. Sometimes you get lucky and your research and recommendations point you to the right thing for you, but sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. But when you find the right therapist for you, you'll be set.

4 Things to help you choose a massage therapist

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