11 Massage Questions Answered: How To Get the Perfect Massage

how to get the perfect massage

What are the different kinds of massages?

There are many different kinds of massage but to name a few there are;

  • General Swedish massage – the most common type of massage done.  It uses a variety of techniques such as; pettrasage, fascia, trigger point work, joint mobilization and stretching.  These techniques are done by using; hands, fingers, knuckles, elbows and forearms.

  • Lymphatic drainage – works to move lymph fluid, so it is often used in cases of inflammation or sinus infection

  • Hot stone involves the use of heated stones during the massage to promote relaxation

  • Hydrotherapy – involves the use of a modality of water occurring in different forms, such as ice, liquid or steam.

  • Thai – The body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked in order to clear energy blockages and relieve tension in a full body treatment.

  • Deep tissue – works to focus on realigning deeper musculature layers and connective tissues, often used for chronic aches and pains. Similar to general swedish massage.

  • Sports massage – 

    • Before a sporting event (less than 24 hours before) the massage will often be fast paced, and is used to help stimulate blood flow which loosen the areas that are focused on.  Deep pressure is not used for these massages.

    •  After a sporting event the massage will be slower paced, with lots of stretching which is used to help circulate blood flow, flush out the areas for any lactic acid build up, and help to eliminate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

  • Tapotement – a percussive technique that is often rhythmic in nature and consists of controlled striking the individual.  It can be both stimulating or relaxing in nature.

  • Reflexology – involves applying different amounts of pressure to the hands, feet and ears.

  • Aromatherapy – is a modality used with massage that involves the use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils.

  • Shiatsu – involves manual pressure applied to specific points on the body in an attempt to relieve tension and pain.

  • Prenatal – is a type of massage tailored to pregnant women

  • Reiki – involves the practitioner placing hands lightly on or over a patient’s body to facilitate the patient’s process of healing.



How does massage therapy work?


Massage therapy primarily works by targeting contractile tissue (your muscles, ligaments, and tendons) for soft tissue manipulation.


It works by increasing blood circulation, reducing inflammation and relaxing musculature, by decreasing the firing in the Sympathetic nervous system (your fight or flight response) which promotes relaxation. 



How will I feel after a massage?


Well that depends on the type of massage you get.  If you’re going for more of a therapeutic, rehabilitative type of massage, you might experience some heaviness, muscle fatigue (similar to going for a really good gym workout) sleepiness, and some post treatment tenderness in the area for 24 to 48 hours.


Remember that things cannot be magically fixed after one treatment, but you should notice progression between treatments.


During a relaxation massage it is common to feel sleepy, heaviness, and “massage brain” similar to a dazed feeling when you wake up from a really good nap. 



Will it hurt?


You should NEVER be in unbearable pain or major discomfort while in treatment.


However, during massage therapy there are some techniques that can cause some discomfort and are considered more aggressive techniques that might not always feel great during the treatment; however, they are therapeutic in nature. 


The RMT will always discuss with you ahead of time what your level of comfort is.


It is also possible that during a deep tissue massage, you will experience some soreness for the next 24-48 hours following the massage.


Always speak with your RMT openly, if something makes you feels uncomfortable, tell them right away and they will work with you to accommodate your request.



Can a massage help with certain medical conditions? Can massage therapy help MS?


Massage therapy cannot cure any medical conditions. However, it is very effective in helping with symptom management, pain relief and stress management.


Massage is helpful with individuals that have MS by helping with stress management, relaxation, and increase circulation.


Central Nervous System conditions cannot be cured with massage, but can be helped with; maintain or improving tissue health, encourage circulation to affected areas, proprioceptive awareness and overall body awareness. 


Other medical conditions that see great relief with massage include concussion and whiplash, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. For concussions and whiplash, massage therapy can relax surrounding musculature and help with headaches, as well as increase your neck’s range of motion. Massage can also help with Rheumatoid Arthritis by providing pain relief and eliminating inflammation in joints, promoting mobility within the joints, and relaxing surrounding musculature of the affected joints. 


What if I fall asleep?


Do not even worry!! Happens all the time. Plus, let’s be honest: you deserve a good nap.


If you fall asleep that’s fine, we will keep the treatment going and wake you up when the appointment is over.


Fun fact, at least in my experience, is that the client stays asleep as long as the massage is still occurring.  The moment I stop or take my hands off, the client usually automatically wakes up anyways. 


Am I supposed to talk?


During the initial assessment YES YES and YES!! We are not mind readers, your RMTs want to give you the best type of treatment for YOU.


That being said, keep communication open with your RMT about why you’re here, if there are things you like or don’t like, and what you’re expecting from your treatment. 


However, during the actual treatment, if you want to get on the table and not talk and lay there like a relaxed noodle, go for it!!


If you want to get on the table and vent about your day, or enjoy chatting with your RMT, go for it!! Your choice!!


Just once again, communicate with your RMT about what you want. If you don’t want to chat, just tell them. If there is something you do not like or hurts – TELL YOUR RMT!



When should I schedule my massage?


This depends on what type of massage you are looking for. If it is for relaxation, I feel there is never a bad time to have a light relaxing massage. For more of a rehabilitative therapeutic type of massage, different practitioners may say different things.


For me, as soon as things start to hurt or you start to realize a problem, the faster you get in, the better. For example, it will be easier and faster for your back pain to be addressed and managed if it has only been bothering you for the past month, rather than the last 15 years. 


This is the same as when you go to the doctor because you have an infection. It will go away a lot faster and easier if you go in sooner rather than waiting for when it has spread to other parts of your body.


After that, it’s best to discuss with your RMT when to go in for regular maintenance and a long term solutions.


As for time of day, that depends on your schedule! We typically recommend not going to the gym or doing anything taxing on your body for a couple hours after your massage. This way, you can enjoy the full effects of your treatment and you can melt into the couch like freshly heated chocolate. Mmmm…



How do I choose which massage is best for me?


There are many types of massages so talk to your RMT about what you’re looking for, and what your primary concern is.  They will be happy to recommend the type of massage that is best suited for your goals. Don’t try to guess on your own if you aren’t sure. We are here for you, after all. We are happy to help!



Is there a difference between a massage therapist at a spa and a massage therapist at a physiotherapy clinic?


The main difference would be the environment.  A spa environment is set to be quiet, relaxing, and calming, with scented lotions which make you feel sleepy and relaxed.


The pace of the massage will often be slower and calming, geared to make you feel good walking out.  In a spa, you do not need to be an RMT to perform a standard relaxation massage. (However, most spas now hire RMTs)


In a physiotherapy clinic, the vibe will be different, there will be no scented lotions and nice smelling perfumes. The pace of the massage will often be quicker and most times a deeper pressure. There often will be time at the beginning and end of the treatment for assessments to help establish the root cause of the issue. Depending on the problem or clients concerns, the massage may not always be the most comfortable as it is more designed for rehabilitation purposes and working towards a goal. 


This may not sound as appealing to some as a spa massage, but each treatment is tailored towards your specific goal.


If you just want to relax and feel like a wet noodle, spa it up! But if you have a specific pain or injury you need addressed, a proper RMT is always advised.

Talk to your massage therapist no matter where you are and tell them what you’re looking for. 



How do I choose a practitioner?


Every practitioner treats slightly differently. We all have our own styles and ways of how we treat to provide the best treatment for our clients. 


The important thing is to find an RMT that works best with you, makes you comfortable, you feel benefit from their treatments, and matches your needs and wants.


If you want to change your RMT, don’t feel bad! We want what is best for you and your wellness journey.




More questions before you book? No worries! You can either drop us a comment below, or contact us!


At Strive Physiotherapy & Performance, we are committed to providing an in-depth assessment to ensure we can work together to find the best plan of action for each individual client. Call us at 519-895-2020, or use our online booking tool on www.strivept.ca to book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Physiotherapists or Registered Massage Therapists, and they will be sure to help you understand your individual pain. 

Stephanie Richmond


Former Registered Massage Therapist at Strive Physiotherapy & Performance


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