Most individuals get a massage for one of two reasons: relaxation or to relieve pain. And today there is a menu of massage options including Thai, reflexology, hot stone, and aromatherapy.
Angie’s List asked highly rated massage therapists about the types of massages offered today and what to expect. Their highly rated experts agree: Consulting with a professional before scheduling a massage session will ensure you don’t waste your money on the wrong type of rubdown.
“A massage can be a great way to pamper your mom this Mother’s Day, but be sure it’s going to be something she is going to want to do and is comfortable with. The last thing your mom is going to tell you is you wasted money. She probably won’t be comfortable and she’ll just throw the certificate in the drawer and never talk about it," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.
Benefits of massage therapy:
- Manage anxiety and stress
- Ease depression
- Improve circulation
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce backache pains
- Lessen headaches
- Reduce arthritis pain
- Ease sore muscles
- Reduce spasms and cramps
- Create a meditative state
- Increase range of motion
Most common massages:
- Swedish: The most common method of massage today, this massage mainly aims to relax your muscles. The therapist applies pressure to your muscles and rubs in the same direct as your blood flows. The therapist may use one following types of methods to stimulate the blood: kneading, stroking, friction, tapping and vibration.
- Deep Tissue: The therapist massages the area with deep pressure to melt knots and tension from stress and discomfort.
Angie’s List Tips: Hiring a massage therapist
- Check with your doctor: Massage might not be ideal for anyone with circulatory issues, diabetes, lymphatic cancer, skin conditions and a variety of other health problems. Massage can worsen these conditions, especially if not handled by a trained professional, so get medical clearance first.
- Are you licensed? Most states require therapists to be licensed with certifications for different types of massages. Many therapists will train in specific types of massages. Check out the spa or private practice you intend to use before you have your massage and make sure it is clean and safe.
- Test the waters: If you are not familiar with massage therapy, an inexpensive chair massage may be a good way to introduce yourself to the service. Consult with the therapist beforehand to discuss which type of massage best suits your needs.
- What are you comfortable with? Every massage therapist is different. You want to find one you feel comfortable with and enjoy being with. Some therapists work for doctors, some have a room at a beauty spa and many therapists make house calls. Make sure that your therapist questions you thoroughly about your health history, any pain and any other health concerns you may have. The therapist should also ask questions about your mental and emotional state, as stress can lead to pain. The general length of a massage session is anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
- How much to expect? The cost for a massage can vary, depending on the length and type, but an average starting point is $1 per minute.
- Who do you prefer? Know whether you prefer working with a male or a female. Many male massage therapists work on women and vice versa. You may wish to talk to friends and family who receive regular massages, but the decision ultimately comes from your comfort level.
- Speak up: If during the massage, you find it hurts or is not meeting your needs, speak up. Voicing any pain or displeasure is vital to a successful massage.