The quest for a massage therapist that’s perfect for you can be tough. You may get recommendations from your health care team or your friends. Everyone has an opinion but everyone’s needs are different, and they may change over time. Here are some tips for recognizing when a massage therapist may not be up to par, or just not a good match for you.
The massage therapist doesn’t call you back within 24 hours
Some massage therapists are one-horse shows. They don’t have staff to answer the phone (or respond to emails), so you’ll need to leave a message. Not a big deal, but if you have to wait more than 24 hours for a response, the massage therapist needs to get their act together.
The massage therapist doesn’t ask any questions or take information from you
Well-trained therapists and (staff) should, at the very minimum, get your contact info when booking an appointment. Great therapists will ask what prompted you to make an appointment, and who referred you. Fantastic therapists have solid phone skills, too.
You arrive and there is no intake process
Great therapists will have a medical intake form, asking about health issues and medications. At the very least, even in a luxury spa environment, the therapist should ask verbally about the same. Some health conditions and medications don’t mix well with massage, and you could be harmed. Don’t settle for a therapist who is not knowledgeable or concerned about the possible dangers of massage.
You can hear the staff or the therapist talking about other clients
Or the therapists tells you about other clients. Massage clients deserve (and it’s often law) the same level of confidentiality that other medical practitioners observe. Gossip and breaches of your privacy are a red flag that the establishment is not respectable.
The massage therapist evades questions or is obviously bluffing
The reality is, there are vast and varying degrees of training and experience in the massage field. Some therapists may have received six months of training, can execute a beautifully relaxing massage, and are perfectly intuitive about your needs. Other therapists may have a background in physical therapy or nursing, fully understand the mechanics of a rotator cuff, and can dramatically improve the results of reparative surgery. When you ask a question, you should feel comfortable that the therapist can answer it, or is happy to say, “I don’t know, let me look that up or check in with a colleague.”
In all but very few specialties of massage and bodywork, long nails are a problem. First, nails can scratch and cause discomfort to the client. Also, the area under long nails is a breeding ground for highly contagious infections. The combination of a scratch and some rogue bacteria is downright dangerous. And gross.
The therapist initiates non-massage conversations
There are times when it’s important for a therapist to ask questions to ensure that the pressure is right (not so deep or pokey that it’s painful, not so light that you feel like it’s a waste of time). But otherwise, good therapists should not be initiating conversation. It’s your time, you get to decide if you want to talk or not.
The therapists ignores your requests
Did you make a point to let the therapist know that your right shoulder is really sore? Good job! If the therapist barely works on your shoulder but spends 20 minutes on your feet, she wasn’t paying attention. That’s not okay. Or if you speak up and ask for less pressure and the therapists says, “Breathe through the pain,” and/or doesn’t let up, that’s a bad sign. Good therapists value feedback from clients, and adjust the treatment accordingly.
You just don’t like ’em
Or their massage style. Or the location. That’s okay. It could take a few tries to find the massage therapist who is perfect for you!