Hey you! Wondering if your massage therapist is any good?
Wonder no more.
Today, I will be letting you know what good qualities you can expect from a great massage therapist!
So let’s get right down to it.
1. Numero Uno. Before any fancy training, education, research backed techniques, there is one thing that matters the most (in my opinion) and that is the mindset of the therapist. What I mean by that is, are they present?
Are they listening attentively to your words of pain and agony? All the other stuff won’t matter so much if the therapist is on autopilot while being in the session with you. Find one that’s focused, clear, and caring about your individual needs. As my Korean dad always said, “Your stance isn’t ready”. He meant that my mindset needed to be in the right state of focus before I tried to be successful at a certain task. Arigato Miyagi-san. With a good, in the moment mindset, things like appropriate pressure, listening through touch, and good connection between you and the therapist will come naturally.
2. Environment. And I don’t mean the 97cm of snow in Newfoundland in early April kind of environment, (that’s what’s really happening right now in Canada, oooooh yeah). What’s the treatment space like? Is it hygienic? Are all the sheets crispy clean, spotless, and well kept? Is the air temperature regulated?
Background music to let your mind relax to? (and this one can depend whether if you are at a spa or at a clinic). All of these factors should be well maintained by the therapist to ensure that the client feels welcome and comfortable.
3. Now after all that basic stuff is out of the way, let’s talk treatment. Technique is very important when it comes down to the quality of the treatment. But what’s more important is the ability to correctly and efficiently identify the issue that you are walking/limping in with (good assessment skills).
I said this many times before but anyone can use their power and pound it out on a poor muscle that’s already weak to begin with. Understanding which muscles are involved and why they are behaving in a certain way is crucial to providing effective, safe, and consistent treatment. Like Dr. Andreo Spina said something like this once in a tweet – If you don’t know the mechanisms of the pathology, don’t treat it. If you don’t know the basis of the pathology, don’t treat it. Well said doc! Make sure the therapist can explain in easy to understand terms and that what they are treating is appropriate for you and your condition.
4. They talk the talk AND they walk the walk. They are in good physical and mental health. They practice what they preach – they stretch, do movement exercises daily, eat good nutritional food, practice good ergonomic habits, meditate, et cetera.
I’m not saying that they should be perfect all the time (we are human, afterall) but they should definitely be leading by example instead of drilling you to do your homework like Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump.
5. Last but not the least, is the follow through. Just like Stephen Curry’s basketball shot – the aftermath is very important.
Most therapists will answer if you hit them up with the email, but a great therapist will actively try to get in touch with you first and make sure you’re doing okay after a session. As they get busier, it might be harder for them to keep in touch all the time but if you find someone who cares about you sincerely, they will come through with the recommendations, referrals, self-care tips, resources, and more!
As always, let me know if you have any comments or questions!
Until next time,
Brian Donghui Rim, RMT