12 Things your massage therapist will want you to know

It’s okay not to know what you want from your massage
It can be difficult to verbalise what you want from your massage treatment. Sometimes a feeling of restriction, discomfort or pain became strong enough to force you to pick up the phone and book in. The question of what would you like from your massage isn’t always easy to answer, without an obvious symptom to point out. Ideally, we would put some thought into it our massage goals but if not your therapist is at hand to help coax the answers from you. Communication is the key. Feel free to top-up your massage goals after taking stock of how you feel when you’re on the massage couch.

Massage is not a luxury, for some people it is a must!
Very few people visit The Massage Centre just for relaxation. We are best known for our deep tissue, sports and remedial massage. In a fast-paced city like London there can be many physical, mental, emotional and chemical stressors that take their toll on our health and well-being. Massage can play a role in reversing the effects of prolonged stress. It can also be used as a recovery exercise after a busy period or as an enhancer to enable someone to perform at their best in their job, family environment or during physical pursuits. To get the most from massage it is essential to schedule it at a frequency that responds best to your needs or health condition. We’ve also learned that unless you book your next appointment at the end of your massage, it’s very unlikely that you will receive your treatment at the optimum frequency – life is busy, your diary becomes crowded and you won’t find the time until it hurts again.

How massage works?
There is a magical mystery surrounding massage and how it works. We all recognise that physical touch feels good but how does it work scientifically? Although the physical manipulation of muscles, using hands, forearms and elbows can re-align, stretch and comb the soft tissues it is believed that the neurological effect of massage is the greatest benefit. Poor posture, repetitive actions and high levels of mental engagement can leave the mind body connection blurry to say the least. Hypertonic muscles have become the norm, where the brain no longer knows how to switch the muscle back to the off position. Massage uses focused touch to prod the attention of the brain, re-establishing a connection that may have become rusty. A few sessions are sometimes all that is needed to teach these muscles to reboot, enabling your mind body connection to take charge of if, when and how your muscles tense up.

We see all kinds of bodies every day, so don’t worry if you haven’t shaved your legs
Having delivered thousands of massages I can assure you that I never noticed if my clients had hairy backs, shaved legs or any other cosmetic appearance. My attention was drawn straight to the layer of tension to release. Obviously your massage therapist will alert you to suspicious skin moles, areas of puffiness or bruising. Beyond that, we have seen so many bodies that there is no normal. We just see people, and we care enough about you to see past physical appearance.

Massage works best as a course, just like antibiotics
High levels of muscle tension, restriction or pain is often what motivates most people to book in for a massage with us. It normally takes an accumulation of stressors, time and prolonged dysfunction before people take positive action. Massage works best as a course where there is an accumulative benefit of having a few treatments in a row. The magic number is usually 3 massages, a week apart to see a good level of change, but obviously this varies on responsiveness, how long the symptoms existed and whether the causes have been identified and eliminated.

Anyone can get a massage
Unfortunately with labels such as sports massage, deep tissue, remedial or Swedish massage many people can feel excluded from whether that type of massage is for them or not. You don’t have to be an athlete or play sport to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage is just an outcome-focused treatment that uses any massage techniques necessary to achieve the outcome desired. The outcome may be to restore the ankle mobility of a pensioner, ease repetitive strain from an office worker, relieve exam pressure from a teenager or support a marathon runner. You don’t have to be Swedish to receive Swedish massage, and you don’t have to be shy to call us on 020 8166 8958 to see how we can help you!

Not all massage therapists are the same
There aren’t two massage therapists who treat the same way on this planet. If you’ve had a bad experience previously, don’t let it prevent you from receiving the benefits of massage in the future. Likewise, if you had a favourite massage therapist in your previous city/home don’t be afraid to invest some feedback as to what you liked about them to help coach your new therapist. At TMC we have over fifteen therapists. Some of our clients will see any of them as they recognise that our standard is of a certain level. Other clients will only see one tried and trusted therapist or maybe two for different outcome gains.

Be strategic about timing your massage
It is important to time your massage appointments around your day, routine or needs. We open at 8am weekdays and close at 10pm to enable you to choose the time that which works best for you. It is important for the massage to follow exercise rather than the other way around. Some people can exercise after massage and maintain the benefits but most people lose the benefits and can even feel worse as they overwork the muscles that were just worked on. If you work a long day you may find that a regular 9pm slot may enable you to have an amazing sleep afterwards. Other people love our 8am appointment as it can be a great start to the day without interfering with work, social or family commitments. Your location matters too. Having an office around the corner means that you could pop in at lunch time or at 4/5pm before you go home.

It shouldn’t hurt
The old myth of no pain, no gain is wrong and usually does more harm than good. I’m not going to be delusional as I know that good remedial massage does push you to your safe limit as we challenge the muscles with enough pressure to coax their release. However, it should be a good relieving pain that you experience and you should always be able to breathe through it without feeling the need to tense other body parts. Pain can also be used as an indicator that something isn’t functioning well. Deep pressure shouldn’t hurt and wouldn’t hurt if the muscles were functioning properly. You should feel that after a few sessions the same pressure no longer hurts as the soft tissues and joints function better.

If you feel any post-massage soreness, treat it
Deep tissue massage does challenge the tissues, break down scar tissue and release adhesions. It is common to feel sore for 24-72 hours after remedial massage, especially if the tissues were in pain and dysfunctional. The feeling can be compared to the soreness that you may feel after a robust exercise session. It will be important to manage how you feel post-massage if you’ve had some deep work done. Steps such as drinking water, doing light stretches, having a hot bath and icing a painful spot may all be appropriate and helpful to reduce the discomfort. The application of arnica gel or even taking a pain killer on occasion can also be helpful in recovering your tissues if being treated for muscular pain. By not treating post-massage soreness, you can do more harm than good as we have a tendency of subconsciously protecting sore muscles. It’s called muscle guarding and we basically tense the sore muscle, making it feel overworked. This continues the pain cycle – sometimes even worse than before your massage. If you feel that you may be muscle guarding it can be a good idea to take a pain killer to break the pain cycle, this returns your movement to normal and allows you to rest the affected muscles rather than tensing them.

Speak up, this is your massage
We’re often too polite to speak up and change the direction of our massage therapist treat us. This is your massage treatment, your body and you are paying a lot of money for it. As with any new relationship, it can often take the first session for your therapist to learn your body, how it responds and for you to learn their approach and begin to trust them. There isn’t anything wrong with managing your massage therapist to get exactly what you want from your massage. If you need quietness, your therapist should respond. However, if they aren’t getting the message you can always tell them that you’ve had a long day and you might switch off from talking for a while. Likewise, if there is a little niggly area that needs further attention, just let them know that this are felt great when they applied pressure there and that you’d like them to revisit it a couple of times before the end of the session. Communication is key, and although some therapists have a strong sense of intuition, most of us mere mortals need a little help.

Understand that the body is a Whole System
Many clients come in with an area of discomfort and only want that body part treated, but the body is more complicated than that. For example, if you have lower back pain you will probably need other areas to receive attention too, to alleviate the pain. The whole body needs attention, not just one specific area as the biomechanics of the body make everything inter-connectable. Treating beyond the symptom can often find the cause and usually results in the benefits of the massage lasting longer.