Choosing a massage therapist can be pretty daunting. There are so many practitioners out there that it can be hard to know which one is best for you. There’s a lot of trust that goes into laying on a massage table. And because your body is as important to you as anything in life can be, it matters so much who you entrust it to when there is an issue that needs to be resolved. So when you’re looking for a massage therapist here are some tips to help you make a good decision.
1. IS S/HE LICENSED?
This seems like a no brainer but sadly, there are plenty of “masseuses” in this world who have not been trained and are not monitored by a governing board. This is illegal. Your massage therapist needs to be licensed. S/he should also have it displayed clearly for you to see. You can also check the status of their license (any actions against them, for example) on the North Carolina Massage Therapy Board webpage www.bmbt.org. (For the record, my license number is 13624. Feel free to check!)
2. IS S/HE KNOWLEDGEABLE?
You want a massage therapist who knows the difference between your knee and your elbow. Knowing the body is important. Also knowing how to deal with different health conditions is important. While there is overlap in massage techniques, someone who is diagnosed with scoliosis mostly likely needs a different kind of massage than someone who is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Ask your potential therapist if s/he has knowledge of and experience with your specific condition. Not every massage is the same.
3. CAN S/HE ACCOMODATE YOU?
It is important to work with a therapist who respects your wishes and is willing to give you what you ask for. You alone knows what it feels like to live in your body, you alone knows what it can and cannot take. If you ask for a Swedish Massage but your complaints sound as if they require deep tissue work, your therapist should express that to you but ultimately let YOU decide what you want.There is an emotional component to massage therapy that should not be ignored. You won’t physically feel better if you’re not emotionally supported. You want a therapist who understands and respects that fact.
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of a good deal. A massage that costs very little can often times just be worth very little. Don’t be afraid to pay a little more for good service. On the other hand, too expensive could also be a trap. Don’t assume that just because it costs a pretty penny that it’s good. Sometimes you could just be paying for a name that promises big but delivers small. Don’t be afraid to pay a little less for relative unknowns. Essentially, middle of the road is a good place to start.
What do other people have to say about him/her? You want someone who has good reviews, obviously, but you also need to pay attention to how they handle bad reviews. No one is perfect and sometimes things may go awry. If you’re looking at a therapist who is getting into fights on Yelp or Google with disgruntled clients, walk away. A therapist who addresses a dissatisfied customer with respect is a therapist who understands how to take care of his/her clients.
6. WHAT DOES YOUR GUT SAY?
Never underestimate the power or value of a gut reaction. There are some client/therapist pairings that are just not meant to be. That’s ok. If your gut says “no”, then don’t choose that therapist. If you’re planning on laying on someone’s table, you should feel comfortable with them touching you.
I hope these tips help. Are there any other criteria that you have for choosing a massage therapist to work with? Let me know in the comments.