Getting the perfect massage begins with communication
A good establishment will want to put the client with the right therapist. Every client has different needs and expectations and every therapist has a different specialty or approach to their massage style.
The receptionists get a lot of feed back from the clients and are happy to recommend the therapist who may be the best fit for you based on the information that you provide them about what you are seeking in your session.
Let them know if there are things you prefer, such as Deep Tissue, Stretching, Trigger Point Therapy, or a Gentle Relaxing Swedish Massage, or anywhere in between.
If you had a favorite therapist who has left the establishment or moved away feel free to ask if there is another therapist with a similar style.
The staff wants you to have the best possible experience and will do their best to match you with the therapist who’s skills seem closest to what you are seeking in a massage therapy session.
When you meet your therapist
Usually the Massage therapist will ask you a few questions before the session, I usually ask if there are any areas that you want to focus on and what type of pressure you usually prefer.
This is a good time to briefly explain any areas that have been bothering you, areas to avoid such as face and scalp, and any areas that you particularly enjoy having extra focus on such as the feet or head and scalp.
It is also a good time to discuss any injuries, surgeries, or areas of muscle tension or concerns.
Feel free to ask questions, also if you prefer no talking during the session let your therapist know that and they will try to keep the session as quiet as possible other than to check in with you about the pressure.
Sometimes we find something that we want to discuss with you such as ways to minimize the discomfort or some self help tips that you can do at home, but we can discuss our findings with you at the end of the session if you would prefer not to be disturbed during the session.
Many clients enjoy learning ways that they can manage their own areas of concern and we are always happy to give you after care and home care suggestions.
Some complaints that I sometimes see in online reviews:
- “The Therapist didn’t massage my face”
- “The massage was too hard and painful”
- “Therapist was too chatty”
- “Not enough time spent on my problem areas”
- “I wasn’t offered a robe or hair tie”
- “I asked for LIGHT pressure not therapeutic massage”
- “Paid for two hours and only got an hour and forty minutes”
The above quotes are a few of the more common complaints that I see in online reviews of various establishments.
I looked at reviews from several local spas both high end and chain establishments to find some examples where communication seems to be the biggest problem, so lets go through these individually….
- Client expected that all massage sessions include face massage. Personally I usually do not do face massage unless it is requested because not everyone likes or wants their face massaged. Some do not want the oils or lotions to clog their pores, or they have make up on, or simply do not want their face touched. If face or scalp is something you enjoy and expect in your session be sure to mention it to the therapist, your therapist will be happy to add that to your individual session.
- The massage being too hard and painful, first of all you do NOT have to grin and bear it, if it is too painful tell your therapist, if the therapist continues despite your wishes it is your right to end the session. You are always in control of your massage session.
- The “chatty” therapist, this one is more complicated because there are several different scenarios: The therapist may be sensing that you are uncomfortable and trying to engage in small talk because he or she is trying to put you at ease. The therapist is asking questions such as “What do you do for a living?” or “Do you work out?” to better understand your muscular condition to give you the best treatment and advice for after care. Or the therapist is simply friendly and outgoing and does not seem to understand that you simply want a nice quiet session. Communication in this case begins with saying “Can we discuss this after the session?” or “I just want quiet during my massage thank you.“
- Not enough time spent on area of focus. Again this could be for a number of reasons such as the therapist has found that other areas are effecting the area of focus, such as muscles of the opposing side pulling on that area. Not enough time for everything, an example of this is the client who’s areas of focus are “stiff neck, tight shoulders, sciatic down right leg, tight hamstrings and calves.” That’s an entire laundry list of things to try and adequately effect in a short period of time. The communicative solution to this would be to focus on the main areas and skip the full body or certain parts such as arms and feet, however, if you feel that your therapist is simply not listening to you then bring this to the attention of the reception staff, they will be more than happy to accommodate you and suggest a therapist who is more suited to your needs.
- Was not offered a robe or a hair tie, I assume when I see such things in reviews that the person writing the review is used to high end spas where you wear a robe because you will be leaving from one area to another before and after your session, in a day spa setting that is only done when you are going to be having dual services in different rooms that day, otherwise you will be alone in a private room where you can dress and undress in private, a robe is not necessary in such settings. The hair tie, yes high end spas usually have those and sometimes in day spas the therapist will provide them as well, but it is often best if you bring you own, but if you forgot to bring one we can always place a towel over your hair to protect it from the oils and lotions.
- Asked for LIGHT pressure but got therapeutic, the main problem here is that light, medium, and deep are all very subjective words. One persons idea of light is another persons idea of medium or firm. As for therapeutic, all massage is therapeutic in some way, that being said some therapists (myself included) cannot always control what your body is telling our hands to do and the impulse to give you what you need. It is best to speak up and remind the therapist that you asked for a light pressure and simply want to relax, I had a client who once said to me “I know I have knots but today I want you to ignore them and just pamper me.” I think that’s the best way to respond when you feel that your therapist is getting too focused on problem areas.
- THIS is the biggest complaint that I see, this is a miscommunication that is typical in most spa settings “I paid for an hour and only got 50 minutes.” “I was shorted 10 minutes on my massage.” “I paid for two hours and only got an hour and forty minutes.“In a typical spa setting both high end and day spa its is common that an hour session is 50 minutes hands on and 5 minutes before and after for you to dress and undress as well as the brief intake in the room. The two hour sessions can vary from establishment to establishment, in the case of the one I quoted above some of these spas bill a two hour as two fifty minute sessions making your session a 100 minute session, some places are careful to call it what it really is a 100 minute session, a 50 minute session or an 80 minute session. This miscommunication in my opinion falls squarely on the establishment for not being clear to the client about the real time length of the massage. These times are set in respect to time billed as well as to give the therapist time to clean and change the room over for the next client.
The Key to the Perfect Massage is Communication
From the moment that you set up your appointment to the moment you check out the key to the perfect massage is communication to get the therapist that is the best fit for your needs and the massage session that you prefer.
Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart aka Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist