The best time to specify most of your requests is before the session, during intake. A caring therapist will spend a few minutes finding out just what the client has come in for, but this is also the time for the client to speak up.
1. Do you find the therapist doesn't seem to spend enough time on the area that was your main complaint? If, for example, you have a stiff neck, don't be shy in specifying you want at least ten minutes on just your neck, for example. That way if the therapist tends to only usually spend five minutes, they will know you really want more and need that from your session that day. I wouldn't recommend trying to allot specific time frames for multiple areas, because that can be tedious and your therapist will be too busy clock watching to be able to focus on you, but if you have a special concern that you know you prefer a certain amount of time on, say it! When a client has multiple areas of concern, the therapist may not realize one is
You can also say, for example, "I want most of the time spent on my back and neck, and just minimal on the rest of my body", or something to that effect.
Also, more importantly, be sure to specify your goals for the session, as you may know what you want, but not know what is needed to achieve it. The problem is not always where the pain is, so if you want your lower back to stop hurting, your therapist may know that most of the time needs to focus on glutes, hips, and hamstrings, for example, to achieve the goal, not just the lower back itself. So, definitely specify what you need, but also be open to letting the therapist do their thing. Balance in all things.
2. Chatty therapist? Let them know at the beginning of the session you prefer a quiet session. I always follow the client lead on this one. If they are engaging in conversation, I am more than happy to talk, but if the client is quiet, I don't speak unless I have to say or ask something specific to the work I am doing. Unfortunately, not all therapists are good at following a client's cues on this one, so specifying up front what you prefer should ensure you get the level of conversation (or quiet!) that makes you most comfortable.
3. Did the therapist move over a spot that felt just AMAZING, but then quickly moved on and it is still screaming for attention? Speak up! You are always welcome to speak up during the session if a new need comes to your attention. Feel free to say, "That feels really good, can you spend a minute or two on just that spot, please?" Or, whatever you feel you need right then. Many massage therapists have great intuition, but we are not mind readers, so if you need something, please say so!
4. If you asked for a specific pressure before the massage, and yet you feel your needs are not being met, definitely speak up. Pressure is subjective, so deep pressure to one may feel like medium to another. I always try to meet requests, but I have found that different people interpret pressure differently, so if you find that my "firm" pressure is too much for you, for example, don't be afraid to ask for less pressure. Your therapist does not want you just suffering through, I promise.
5. Is the room too hot, or the table too cold? Do you prefer a certain style of music to relax to? Don't be afraid to ask for reasonable accommodations for your session. If you hate having a sheet and blanket on you, we can discuss other draping options, like wearing gym shorts and having no coverings, or maybe you want the sheet but not the blanket. You don't have to take everything as is if you have other preferences.
Many people fear that a massage therapist may be offended and feel criticized if they speak up and ask for what they want, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Feedback is always welcome and appreciated. As hard as we try to meet your needs, you are the only one who really knows what your experience is like and whether it is meeting your expectations and benefiting you to the fullest extent. Let us know!
From the studio of
Licensed Massage Therapist