Getting a massage is something that everyone could benefit from doing on a regular basis, and side hustlers even more so.  But how many of us actually do?  

I know I don’t.  

And part of the reason I don’t get massages often is because I have no idea where to start looking for a massage therapist.  My solution to this in the past has been to comb through the latest Groupon specials and see if something catches my eye.

Kelly Boyles is a member of the Side Hustlers’ Haven.  She’s also a freelance writer, reiki practitioner and licensed massage therapist.  So, naturally I wanted her to contribute to our Spotlight on Wellness this month in the Haven! She came back with a super-informative breakdown on choosing the right massage therapist.  

Get the scoop!  Then go get a massage!  

You deserve it!


There are three primary issues when choosing your massage therapist: all revolve around your comfort.

First, find a qualified, compassionate and safety-minded professional. You can be at ease, knowing all safeguards to protect your health will be taken. 

Second, discover which modalities will best serve your needs. Regardless of your health conditions, you deserve to explore all options to arrive at your optimal solution.

Third, determine which setting or environment will be most conducive to your relaxation. If a clinical-feeling room puts your teeth on edge, don’t book your massage there!


First: the therapist.

Your comfort is paramount to your success in massage therapy.

Please be honest: if you are certain you cannot relax with a therapist of one gender or the other, be specific when you make your initial inquiries.

It’s an unfortunate reality for the thousands of talented male therapists working today, but many clients, both men, and women, simply cannot feel comfortable being treated by a man.

You know what? That is OK – this is about you!

By the same token, some clients may feel skeptical that a female therapist can deliver deep enough pressure. The depth of pressure is as much body mechanics and physics as it is body weight and strength. You could easily miss out on an effective session by assuming that the ladies can’t go deep. Give us a try!

No matter what setting your session takes place in, you deserve to try different therapists until you find one with whom you have a rapport. Depending on where you live, you may have many potential therapists within a reasonable driving distance.

Next, you should verify the therapist’s training and credentials.

Each state in the US has different requirements. Some have licensure, often involving mandatory liability insurance and continuing education. Others require only certification of schooling. Some states are entirely unregulated, meaning anyone can hang out a shingle and claim to be a legitimate massage therapist.

If you live in a state with licensure, please research license numbers! Hop online and check out your prospective therapist before you get on the table.

There are two main professional organizations that support the massage therapy industry in the US. Go to the American Bodywork and Massage Professionals or the American Massage Therapy Association to locate professional members near you.

In unregulated states, it is especially important that you check into a therapist you are considering.

Do they have a website? A Facebook page? Are they actively educating their audience by publishing a blog? Do they offer attractive, professionally executed marketing materials? Dedicated professionals invest the time, effort and money to represent themselves accordingly.

If you live near a massage therapy school, you hit the jackpot!

In most states, schools offer discounted massage and energy services to the general public. Much like a barber college offers similarly priced haircuts, these services are performed by students about to graduate. Try several candidates until you find one that zeroes in on your problem spots. Become their first private client! Nothing like graduating with a weekly booking already established! You help build both their confidence and their business. They will never forget you!

Second, the modalities.

The training your prospective therapist has accomplished is equally key to attaining your massage therapy goals. If you are new to massage, you may not realize that there are dozens of different massage and energy modalities. In addition to the more familiar Swedish, Reiki, Shiatsu (acupressure), and deep tissue, many modalities reflect the culture and history of the nation where they developed.

One example is traditional Lomi Lomi, a Hawaiian modality involving “mashing” techniques. Each session is as much a spiritual exchange between the practitioner and recipient as it is a manipulation of muscle tissue. A second example would be traditional Thai massage. In contrast to Swedish massage, where one limb or body part at a time is addressed, traditional Thai massage encompasses long, continuous strokes that begin at one foot and may end in a hand!

The more diverse the training, the more tools in that therapist’s toolbox.

Don’t be shy — ask your therapist about their training! Most want you to understand the difference between their various skill sets. Indeed, they should be adept at comparing and contrasting the modalities they offer. Today more than ever, you need to become your own health advocate. Make sure your therapist supports your efforts to become better informed.

Here’s the scoop on various modalities to guide you as you book your first session! 

Third, the setting.

Some folks find searching for a massage therapist a bit daunting. Perfectly understandable! Where your massage therapy session takes place is so important to your ability to relax.

Which of the following locations might make you feel most comfortable?

  • Day Spa: Often a destination worthy of the trip! These companies offer the gamut of services: massage and energy therapy; hair and nails; wraps and steams; scrubs and masks. Menus differ: some spas keep to signature packages, while others present a variety and let you order a la carte. Turnover at these businesses can be high. You may not be guaranteed to get the same therapist each visit.     
  • Franchise: These companies have carefully crafted reputations, consistent menus, and multiple practitioners. If you travel widely, your membership allows you to enjoy your favorite service wherever you go. Keep auditioning therapists until you find the ones who impress you and magically hit all the right spots. Then request them consistently. They will appreciate your patronage, and will work hard to keep you satisfied!   
  • Independent massage therapist with an office: This is typically a sole proprietorship. These mavericks prefer the freedom of offering services customized per session. If they employ massage tools, those tools will live at that location. Some massage tools do not lend themselves to being carted around. Meet these professionals where they live to enjoy their best efforts!   
  • Massage therapist seeing clients in their home:  Other therapists prefer the shortest commute possible – and who could blame them? These professionals will set up shop in their own home, perhaps in a spare room, or their basement. Here you are looking for a clean, inviting treatment area, preferably close to a bathroom, dedicated to massage practice only. Each room will be unique, so you’ll have to check them out personally to see where you will be comfortable.
  • Massage therapist who comes to you: There is a lot to be said for having a massage performed in your own home! No travel or weather concerns to disrupt your calm. The therapist will bring all the necessary supplies and products to accomplish the job. Keep in mind, they need to have sufficient space to go all the way around the table for a typical full body massage. The better you prepare your room for their arrival and work, the less delay in dialing down your stress!

   

Where your health is concerned, you deserve the best.

Don’t settle until you find the right therapist to suit your needs!   

Kelly Boyles, LMT: After fifteen years in resort and spa massage therapy, Kelly has founded her private practice in the Pocono Mountains of PA. http://boylesmassageandenergytherapyllc.com/ Kelly has also been a freelance writer since 1985. Need a guest blog post? Struggling to fill your editorial calendar? Please visit https://www.facebook.com/kellyboylesfreelancewriter!

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