Create the Perfect Session

A Checklist for Massage and Bodywork Nirvana

By Darren Buford

This article is from the Spring 2013 issue of Body Sense magazine.

Crafting the perfect massage or bodywork session requires transparency between you and your therapist. Of top priority: communication. Without some back and forth conversation between you and your therapist, you may not get what you’re looking for, you or may be unsatisfied with the direction your practitioner takes.

Following is a checklist to help ensure you maximize your experience.

Arrive on time
Being there 10–15 minutes before the session keeps you from feeling rushed.

Relay all appropriate medical history
Allergies? Injuries? Medications? Surgeries? Speak up, for safety reasons. Your preexisting conditions could change your therapist’s protocol for your session.

Set clear goals
Have you explained the areas you want addressed? Your therapist isn’t a mind reader.

Be open
Therapists’ strategies may not involve a direct path to your sore elbow. Understand that the body works in mysterious ways, and your knowledgeable therapist may take a more circuitous path to healing than you expect.

Be quiet …
It's Your time; you paid for it. Relax and bathe yourself in the stress reduction and healing
bodywork offers.

... But speak up when you don’t like something
Room too cold? Too hot? Pressure too deep? Too light? Music not to your taste? Aromatherapy too pungent? Your therapist wants you to enjoy your time, so let him or her know when something isn’t right.

Book your next session
Rome wasn't built in a day, and your body may not be “fixed” in one session. Bodywork is cumulative and often requires a regular regimen to get things just right. Before you depart, be sure to schedule your next appointment. Discussing a treatment plan with your therapist will help you reach nirvana.

Darren Buford is publications manager for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @darrenbuford.