Do you prefer talking or not talking during your massage therapy session?
Most massage therapists are trained to follow the client's lead - if you talk, we'll talk; if you're quiet, we'll be quiet.
But in many cases, that tends to be an overly simplistic approach. Choosing when to talk, how much to talk, and what to talk about during the massage is much more nuanced than a simple ON or OFF.
First, think about what your goals for the massage therapy session are:
PAIN OR TENSION RELIEF
For a massage therapy session that's focused on relief or management of pain or tension, some amount of talking between client and massage therapist during the massage is expected and ideal.
When reducing pain or tension is the goal, I generally encourage discussion throughout the entire massage session - unless we've discussed reserving some relaxation time as well.
I ask questions that investigate habits, previous injury, on-going history, frequency, prior conditions, or activities that may be clues or factors in contributing to the issue(s) at hand. I encourage discussion on what tools or strategies you're currently using at home - what works, what doesn't, what made things worse, what made things better.
The more information we exchange, the more specific and useful the massage, and the more you'll ultimately get out of your time on and off the massage therapy table.
Discussion also hones my recommendations for at-home care or potential referrals to other health care professionals.
If the goal of your massage is to reduce stress and relax, talking less might be more ideal.
Quiet time may help you focus on our breath, decrease muscular tension, or enhance the soothing nature of massage therapy. Many of us don't have much quiet time built into our routine. So using massage therapy as a time to decompress and reflect can be very beneficial.
On the flip side, maybe talking during your massage is relaxing for you. Sometimes chatting and sharing life experiences in a non-judgmental safe space can be relaxing as well. Getting to know your massage therapist through casual conversation may also ease feelings of anxiety or self-consciousness around massage therapy, making you overall less tense and able to get more from the therapy.
- - -
In either case, be sure to express your goals and preferences with your massage therapist.
If you'd like help with relieving your pain or tension, pose questions and make participate in dialogue throughout your session. Massage therapists see people in pain all day, every day, and many of us have a toolbox of strategies or other professional contacts to share.
Or if you'd like to simply check out and relax, make that known. Saying something like, "I've been looking forward to this massage and getting in some real quiet time," will go a long way in signaling to your massage therapist what you need from the session.