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What You Need to Know About Choosing a Massage Therapist

Posted on 3rd Sep 2011 @ 5:48 PM

Everyone knows that getting a massage is a great way to reduce pain. But if you're going to a massage therapist for a specific purpose -- let's say, for example, to help reduce the agony in your tiny, contracted, T-Rex-like front paws -- how do you know what to look for? After all, any type of massage will relax you and reduce stress. But if you have a more ergonomic purpose in mind, here's how to find a great therapist.


1. Start with the internet.


Friends can give great recommendations, it's true, but only the internet can give you a complete 360-degree view of the services offered. Thanks to sites like Yelp and Citysearch, you can now research everything from florists to fetish clubs, with reader reviews helpfully included right in the listing. And because it's the internet, if you manage to find a therapist without a lot of negative reviews, you know you're doing well. For some reason, something about the online environment fills most people with a sense of entitled rage that they would never exhibit in real life. So any spa that doesn't list a review saying, "I got a massage here and they did not put me in an actual time machine and return me to my youth. Such a waste of fifty bucks!" is probably a great bet.


2. Know what you're looking for.


And speaking of fetish clubs, reviews are helpful in this regard as well. If you want to go to a massage place but not, you know a massage place, online reviews are pretty helpful. Just steer clear of any place that has reviews that say, "Ask for Handy Annie. She could kill a chicken with her bare hands." (And if you are looking for a, uh, massage place, you know, good luck and all. This just isn't going to be the most helpful post for you.)


3. Look for specials.


A lot of spas and massage therapists offer special packages for the walking -- or typing -- wounded. We have seen TMJ packages, carpal tunnel specialties, and a variety of spas offering help with general tendonitis, as well as the usual Swedish and deep tissue massages. Again, if you can find online reviews, it's worth reading through a few. Even areas that require massage therapists to be licensed don't seem to have much in the way of fraud prevention when it comes to specific claims like these, so buyer beware.


4. Talk to your massage therapist.


Most places will ask you to fill out paperwork before your massage, detailing any medical issues as well as your preferences in terms of pressure and areas to work on. Be sure to be specific about what's bothering you, and don't be afraid to speak up during the massage to tell your therapist what's working and what isn't.


5. Assessing the effects.


For the best results, take care of yourself after your massage. Drink lots of water and get some rest. It's not unusual to feel tired or a little sore after a massage, especially if you've had a lot of deep tissue work done. Immediately after, you'll probably feel more relaxed, which is always enjoyable. In terms of reducing repetitive stress injuries, the real results might not be apparent for a day or two.

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