Finding a “Good or even Great” Massage Therapist that fits your needs is really an important part of your health and healing process. What works for one person is not always the best for another. Massage therapy is such a subjective and personal experience. That makes it really difficult to find a really good or even a really Great Massage Therapist.
You can start by asking your doctor for a referral. Many doctors are becoming more aware of the need for having a good massage therapist as a part of the integrative care team. Integrative medicine is a fairly new concept in medicine that takes into consideration ALL of the needs of the patient – from the physical issues to the mental, emotional and spiritual components of healing and health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
If your doctor doesn’t have a referral list, start with asking your friends, family and co-workers.
If you strike out with getting a referral from a doctor, friend or family member, you are on your own and using Google and other websites like Yelp to make your choices. Review sites like Yelp are inconsistent. Yelp does not always allow reviews to show if the reviewer is not reviewed a few sites or more.
What you are looking for is a massage therapist that fits your needs. Think about some of these things when choosing a massage therapist.
- Close to work or home. Nothing is worse than having to rush to a massage session to relax!
- Convenient schedule that matches yours. Is lunchtime or after work better? Maybe during the day or early morning works best for you.
- Professionally done website that will give you enough information to make you feel more comfortable about making your first appointment.
- Make sure they are licensed to practice massage therapy. Most states have licensing laws for massage therapists – every state except WY, OK, KS and MN. IN, CA and VA have independent Certification processes. Many states will have a website where you can check their licensing status and see if there are any major complaints against them.
- Making an appointment should be easy and really straight forward. Many massage therapists will use online scheduling systems and some will still have people who answer the phone.
What type of place do you want to go to?
Franchises like Massage Envy, Elements, Hand and Stone are popping up all over the US. They make it easy and convenient to get a massage. The franchise movement in the massage profession is very controversial. Many franchises overwork and underpay their therapists. They usually pay about $12-$15 an hour to entry level massage therapists. They depend on tips for part of their income, so even though the franchise price is much less than many other places, it may end up costing you the same. Each franchise is independently owned and the owners vary greatly in how they treat the therapists.
Independent Massage therapists that run their own business often will work alone or they may hire others providing massage therapy in small to medium sized clinics/spas. They often charge more as they have more expenses to cover and they don’t do the volume of massage that a franchise can do.
What type of Massage Therapy to get?
The basic and most common types of massage are Swedish Massage, Deep tissue massage and Medical Massage
Swedish Massage is what massage students are first taught in massage school to give them the basics of how to use their hands and give massage while learning anatomy and physiology. Swedish massage is usually a more relaxing type of massage but it can also be applied to work with pain and injuries
Deep Tissue massage is really misunderstood. There is deep pressure massage which is really just Swedish Massage applied using more pressure. Real Deep Tissue is about working the deeper muscles of the body. Some therapists apply deep tissue massage and it will feel slightly painful but should be that “good” sort of pain if there is such a thing. You may feel some discomfort for a few days but the muscles will feel loser. Therapists opinions on whether or not there should be pain during or after a massage varies. You also have to define ‘pain’.
Medical Massage is really just using whatever type of massage therapy the therapists has been trained in and applying it to treat various medical conditions. Most any type of massage can be used to help with many conditions such as back/neck pain, shoulder/arm/wrist/hand pain, strains and sprains, fibryomalgia, headaches, plantar fasciitis, hip/knee/ankle/foot pain and many other things.