How to find your best-fit massage therapist


All too often I have clients come to me with stories of how their last massage was less-than-perfect (or worse!)  While there are some inexperienced bodyworkers out there, I think the problem usually is that the therapists were just a poor fit for these particular clients’ needs; even in cases where a client does some homework, looking at reviews and asking friends for recommendations, if they don’t assert-or know- their specific needs, they may find that the massage session falls short of addressing them.

So, how do you find a great massage therapist for you?

Step 1:

Know your needs, and how to explain them.  Some questions to ask yourself prior to your search:

  • Why am I seeking massage therapy?
    • Do you simply need to relax (physically or emotionally), or are you looking for bodywork to manage chronic pain, enhance recovery from injury, prevent neuromuscular pain from overuse, etc.
  • What areas of my body do I want worked on?
    • Are you looking for a full body massage for maintaining general health, or do you have specific problem areas that will require the therapist to spend all (or the lion’s share) of the massage on one area?
  • What is my experience with massage?
    • Are you looking for a specific modality (type of bodywork) or have you had a negative experience in the past with a specific modality?
  • What level of pressure/depth is therapeutic to my body?
    • Some do not like the soreness deep tissue can cause the day after a massage, while others may have pain in the deeper muscle layers and will not gain the same benefit from lighter work
  • How do I prioritize bodywork in my budget? How often am I planning to receive massage therapy?
    • First of all, paying for one session with your best-fit therapist is a better deal than going for a cheap alternative, not feeling better, and having to make another appointment with someone else. Also, the idea of ‘you get what you pay for’ is not always correct, but if a therapist is on either extreme end of the pricing spectrum, it’s worth questioning.  With that said, look at what you can afford, and factor in whether you are looking to spend this amount monthly, or if you are the type to wait until you are in an SOS situation and maybe spend this amount 3-5 times a year.
  • Does my schedule allow flexibility, or do I need a specific day/time?
    • Therapists (typically) are neither available 7 days a week, nor at all times on any given day. If you need a specific day and time, keep that in mind when searching for a therapist, it will make regular scheduling an option for you.
  • How does the distance from my home/work affect my stress level and ability to keep appointments?
    • Consider your commute, as well as what the traffic may be like at the time you would like to make appointments- is it feasible for you to be on time? Waiting in traffic when you are late to an appointment can cause additional stress, which is only harming your body.  Alternatively, finding a great therapist may make being on the road an additional 10-20 minutes completely worth the trip.

Step 2: 

Research and ask for recommendations based on your particular needs.

  • Asking friends, family, and coworkers can be a great way to find a massage therapist, but if their needs are not yours, you may come away from a session lacking results. Be open about why you are seeking bodywork, and ask them why they sought massage and what they gained from their session with a particular therapist.
  • If you are seeking massage for a medical issue, ask your doctor during your next appointment if they know of any therapists who specialize in your needs that they would recommend.
  • Check out the website and/or Facebook page of any prospective therapist or massage therapy office. Some things to look for are:
    • About us- do they highlight individual therapists and list their credentials, experience, and modalities?
    • Do they have a blog? Do the blog topics relate to your interests/needs?
    • Are the photos of the business’ actual office or stock photos? If real you can get a feel of what the space looks like and the clientele they are serving.
    • If it’s a business rather than a private practice, is it owned by a massage therapist? This can give you a sense of the priorities of the business, as those owned by therapists typically include a consultation time in addition to the treatment time- allowing your needs and goals to be discussed and addressed, without cutting into your actual bodywork time.

Step 3: 

Once you’ve found a promising lead, give them a call!  It’s worth your while to be a little high-maintenance with any potential therapists, especially if you have specific conditions that need addressing.  If you are going to an office with multiple therapists, ask the receptionist or manager who would fit your needs best.  It is in everyone’s best interest that you have a great experience!

Haley Sullivan, NCLMBT #12309

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