Everybody is different. Every body is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to massage therapy sessions. You should tell your massage therapist anything that could possibly affect the session or your goals.
Your anatomy, medical history, daily activities, and stress levels are all elements of your life that you should communicate to your massage therapist to get the most out of your session.
Here are 7 things you should tell your massage therapist:
Past Injuries and Surgeries
Massage therapists are trained to work with injured areas and the scar tissue that forms from fractures, sprains, and surgeries. There are techniques that we can use to accelerate healing and improve the range of motion on joints that have been injured. There are also techniques that must be avoided, especially if you have had a knee or hip replacement. Do you have any past dislocations or joints that are prone to being dislocated? Have you had a rotator cuff repair? Did you break your lower leg six months ago? Were you recently in a car accident? Have you fallen down recently?
Countless medical conditions, diseases, and birth defects that can affect and influence the type of massage you receive. Systemic diseases, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and cancer each require different approaches to reduce the chance of injury, and to properly address any areas of the body that might be especially painful.
Mental illnesses and conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, grief, and PTSD can be addressed with polarity holds and acupressure points.
Telling your massage therapist about your medical history is confidential under the HIPAA law and is vitally important.
Current Medications and Drug Use
Any medications, supplements, or other drugs that you are taking should be discussed with your massage therapist as well. You should not receive a massage if you are taking medications or drugs that significantly reduce pain (such as opioids) as it would be possible that the therapist could cause an injury by working too hard or deeply than you would normally be able to tolerate.
Some medications are meant to move through the body very slowly. Lymphatic drainage techniques have the potential to push the drugs through your system too quickly which can reduce their effectiveness, or in some rare cases, cause the drug to be absorbed too quickly and cause illness or overdose.
Tell Your Massage Therapist About Your Lifestyle
It’s important to tell your therapist about the things you do for fun or exercise. A marathon runner has different needs than a volleyball player or swimmer. Are you into hiking or dancing? Are you seeing a personal trainer or doing crossfit? Telling me about these types of activity can help me focus on the muscles and tissues that can improve performance and alleviate pain from overuse.
We don’t ask you what you do for work to know how much we can charge your for our services. We ask because the type of job that you spend 40 hours a week or more doing repetitive tasks or undergoing mental stress makes a difference. A landscaper or construction worker will likely have different needs from a lawyer or architect. Do you spend many hours typing or using a mouse at a computer? Do you routinely lift heavy items? Do you do a lot of driving to and from job sites?
Current Pain Points and Problem Areas
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many clients come to me and don’t mention that they woke up unable to turn their head this morning. While it’s true that I will likely discover tense muscles on my own during the assessment, I won’t know that you need focused attention on an area if you don’t tell me. Maybe the knee that is painful two or three days a week isn’t hurting today, but unless you tell your massage therapist, we probably won’t spend as much time on that knee which doesn’t do you any good!
Feedback in the Moment
You shouldn’t be afraid to communicate with me during your massage session. Do you want more or less pressure? Does that stretch on your hip feel especially good and you’d like it to last longer? You should speak up!
Often, a client remains silent during their massage. I take my cues from you. If you aren’t talking, I’m going to limit my questions and stay quiet to let you relax. If I’m pressing too hard on an especially painful spot and you don’t let me know, you can walk out of the session feeling like you went three rounds with a heavyweight boxer. You can also feel MORE stress when you leave then you walked in with. That makes for a terrible result for both of us.
You may have noticed that all of these things boil down to a good history and communication. I make it a point to be available to my clients for consultation and discussion of their needs and goals from working with me. I respond to every email, text message, and phone call so that even if we aren’t currently face to face, we can achieve the best results.