There are A LOT of massage therapists out there, and the search for a good one is definitely overwhelming. Massage is a big investment and the money you put into it can really pay off in the long run if you find a skilled massage therapist. Below are some tips to help you narrow down your search for a therapist who meets your needs.
- Find a self employed massage therapist or a spa who promotes their staff’s individual talents. Rather than hiding behind the name of a spa, these individuals have a lot riding on their name, unlike therapists at big spas. Spa therapists are usually paid little and expected to work a full 8-10 hour day with 5 minutes between massages, or maybe even less. That being said, they have the tendency to not put as much therapeutic work into it in order to save their hands. (Can you blame them?) Also, their audience tends to be different, so their sessions are more geared towards relaxation. (Please note that this is no knock on spa therapists. Massage is hard work, and we can only give so much in a day!)
- Use Yelp! or Google Places page to find out what other people are saying. Read reviews (including the filtered ones which can be found at the bottom of their Yelp page) to see who is receiving positive feedback. Don’t be scared if you’re liking the reviews you read, then come across a couple bad ones. Massage is a healing art, and like any art form, there is a certain amount of subjectivity involved with its enjoyment (not everybody thinks Picasso is the greatest!).
- Ask about their techniques. Listen for key words and phrases that strike your fancy. Personally, I love a massage that could be described as slow paced and intuitive, using a blend of techniques and custom tailored to be therapeutic to my unique body. You want someone who is going to listen to your body and create a massage that uses effective strokes.
- Find out how many years of experience he or she has, but don’t let that be a deal breaker or even a deal maker. Generally speaking, therapists straight out of school have experience to gain, but they are also fresh on anatomy and their techniques, as well as being excited about their new career path. More than 50% of massage therapists burn out after only 3 years of practice. Therapists with many years of experience know their stuff and how to use their body properly to avoid injury or use gentler modalities to reduce stress on their body.
- Explain to them what kinds of things you want to accomplish during your session and ask them to put their approach in layman’s terms. If they fumble on their words or don’t give you the answers you’re looking for, thank them for their time and move on. You want someone who is confident in their ability to take on anything or can at least point you in the right direction. That being said, there is nothing wrong with saying that they have to do some research. Proactive and honest is a good thing!
- Ask the therapist who they go to to get their massage. If they don’t get massages, they obviously don’t believe it the power of what they do, so keep searching. If you don’t think that person is a good fit, you can always try the person they recommended.
- Find a local massage school and ask about their clinic. There is usually a low-cost massage clinic during certain times of the school year during which you can try out different massage therapists for the same price that you could go to one. Who knows, you might find an awesome therapist!
All of these statements are a generalization and are not intended to offend any other massage therapists, but to act as a guide for people on the search.