GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MASSAGE
This is part one of two. The first entry is available July 14. It focuses on preparing and communicating. Part two is available here. It focuses on receiving and resting.
Whether this is your first time on the table or your 52nd of the year, you can get the most out of your massage by preparing, communicating, receiving, and resting.
Like any activity a little preparation goes a long way. As far as physical preparation is concerned, gentle movement and stretching prior to the massage will enhance just about any experience. Coming directly from a hard work out, on the other hand, will narrow what is possible in a massage. You may find all but the briskest and lightest touch too painful, or you may just curse your therapist the entire next day!
You also won’t want to eat or drink a lot before your massage. Every person’s metabolism is a little different so a little self knowledge is helpful here. All the same, it will be obvious to anyone lying on the table that the mimosas and pot of coffee with your eggs Benedict just before your massage was a bad idea. Massage promotes both detoxification and digestion, so choose wisely. A lightly satisfied stomach from your favorite staple (fruit and nuts, some rice or veggies) will do the trick and is a good idea.
Preparation also includes knowing what you want from the massage. Whether you know it or not, you’ll be bringing unconscious expectations and assumptions along with your body to the massage table. To get the most out of your massage, take a moment of time and attention to get quiet and shift these feelings into conscious, attainable goals. You’ll be able communicate to your therapist clearly what you hope to accomplish or experience from your massage. You’ll also be able to better accept whatever comes out of working towards those goals.
Diplomatic communication with the person who will be putting their elbow in your back is a skill worth developing. If you’ve done your homework you’ll be able to convey the information that aids the cause, and you’ll know when to speak up during the massage. For instance, “I am having trouble looking over my right shoulder when I drive because of the pain in my neck” is a little more useful than “I feel beat up.” Likewise, being able to say, “It’s nothing personal, but I don’t want to talk or deal with a lot of intense therapy. Please do what you can to help me relax and sleep better tonight,” is totally fair and respectable.
Communication may continue into the session, as your therapist can only get better at guessing what your massage feels like to you. If you and your therapist constitute a good match, you may only need to moan your appreciation now and again, but even the best partnerships can require a little fine tuning. Should you require your therapist to adjust either approach or quality, you’ll need to speak up. Just remember that your therapist is trying to help.