Rubbing Me the Right Way

May 8, 2021 Author: Rianne Chavez

People always ask me what I look for in a massage therapist. 

I’m usually unsure on how to exactly answer the question without sounding like I’m a massage snob. (Which I am.) While there are certain things I look for before I schedule an appointment, today I want to focus on what I look for during the massage.

This is my general mental checklist once I’m at the appointment:
  1. Did they read the intake form? I just spent time filling out your form. I was asked some personal questions and I answered them truthfully. One time, while on vacation, I went for a massage with some friends. At the spa, I filled out the form and listed “massage therapist” as my occupation. The therapist took my form from me, seemed to look it over, and escorted me to the room. The first question she asked me? “Have you ever had a massage before?” The conversation bubble above my head started popping off. I reigned in the sarcasm, but I told her “Nope, this is my first one.” I know I should have been honest, I was just so irritated.
  2. If I’ve been in before, I don’t want them to assume I am visiting for the same issue. Did the therapist check in with me for my goal THIS visit? Last time I may have had a raging headache, this week I may want to just chill. It should never be assumed that every massage should be the same.
  3. Was I left hanging out on the table waiting for the massage to begin? And if the therapist took an extended amount of time before returning to the room, was that time taken away from my massage? (Trust me, sometimes it does take extra time. Someone walked in the door and it took a minute to get rid of them, or maybe the lady’s room called.)
  4. Did I get a scalp massage? It’s my favorite part of a massage most of the time. Nothing takes me to my “ahhhh zone” quite like a fabulous scalp massage. (Just ask my hairstylist!!) It shows me the therapist is thorough.
  5. If I tell the therapist something hurts (in a bad way) or it’s too much, do they listen? Nobody knows my body as I do. Please listen to me.
  6. Are they listening to my body? This kind of goes along with #4. A person’s body will give cues as to how they are responding to the touch. Am I flinching? Drooling? Has the tone in my voice changed? These are all cues. I want them to pay attention.
  7. If it’s a full body massage, are all of my major muscle groups touched? Including my glutes, the largest muscle group on my body? I’ve been to more than a few therapists that don’t touch the glutes and it’s a personal pet peeve. (I’ll tell you more about that later.)
  8. Did they take their time? Did I feel like I was sent through a speedy car wash? Or did the massage feel more like a hand wash and dry?
  9. Do I feel like a greased pig? Unless it’s strictly a relaxation massage, I don’t want to feel like I could compete in a slip-n-slide competition. The more lubricant used, the less the deeper tissues of my body are being affected. I need my muscles to melt.

The most memorable massages have always been when the therapist was attentive, had a vast knowledge of the body, and had confidence in their work.

What are some of the things on your mental checklist during your massage? Do you have any massage pet peeves? What were some of the most memorable moments of massages you've had?