The Massage Myths series seeks to set the record straight with questions you may ask, or may be afraid to ask, with massage therapy.
This fourth article focuses on the common myth that you must be silent as a monk during your massage session or you will totally ruin your zen.
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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 switch.
First, think about what your goals for the massage therapy session are.
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 probably ideal.
When reducing pain or tension is the goal, I generally encourage discussion throughout the entire massage session - unless we've discussed reserving some quiet 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 therapy, and the more you'll ultimately get out of your time during and outside of the office.
Discussion also hones my recommendations for at-home care or potential referrals to other health care professionals.
But 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, for some people talking during their massage is relaxing. Sometimes chatting and sharing life experiences in a non-judgmental safe space can be just as relaxing, or maybe more so, than sitting in silence with your thoughts. 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.
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Myths Article Series
Massage Myths: Regular Massage Therapy is UNaffordable Massage Myths: You Have to Bare It All Massage Myths: Deep Tissue or Bust Massage Myths: Talking Ruins the Experience Massage Myths: You Gotta Shave Massage Myths: Drinking Water Post Massage