Get the Most from Your Massage

5 Keys to Increasing Bodywork’s Effectiveness

By Grace Dobosz

This article is from the Summer 2012 issue of Body Sense.

If you are like most people who enjoy massages, you probably leave the outcome of the session in the hands of the therapist. Usually, we arrive at a practitioner’s office or spa expecting to feel relaxed or to have particular kinks worked out. But have you considered that some actions on your part can help improve the session? Following are some proactive ways you can increase the effectiveness of your next massage.

1. Find the Right MT
You’ve likely found the therapist who best suits your needs, especially if you’re reading this magazine. When you picked your therapist, you likely looked for a personality type that complements your own and a person with whom you are comfortable expressing your requests, goals, and expectations.

Traveling soon? Visit and click “Find a Massage Therapist” to search for practitioners in the area you’ll be visiting. Want to try out some new types of bodywork while you’re there? Check out the Bodywork Glossary to learn more about the hundreds of techniques being practiced today.

2. Make Requests and Set Goals
Communication is the second most important strategy for getting the most from your massage. If you are comfortable talking with your therapist, verbalizing expectations, and making specific requests, such as greater pressure or work in a certain area, it can be the difference between a good massage and a great massage.

If you have a particularly tight muscle group, chronic back pain, or another specific short- or long-term ailment you want to address, setting a goal to relieve the problem is an essential step toward creating an effective therapeutic plan. Discuss this before your first appointment. Generally, a therapist will agree to evaluate you during your first session and then provide an idea of how many and how often sessions will be needed to meet your intended goal.

3. Ask for a Prepay Package
When you have an idea of how often you will want or need to receive massages, request a package discount. Usually, this will require full payment, a deposit, or some kind of punch card with a discount at the end of a number of sessions. If you are willing to commit to your health and well-being by coming to your therapist regularly, a good therapist will work with you on the overall cost—a package agreement will often give you a discount.

4. Find Balance During Your Session
Most therapists will be silent most of the time during a session and will concentrate on reading your tissue and intending release. The therapist will only speak to give you feedback that improves your massage and outcomes. You should also refrain from conversation and allow the massage to release your tissues. This release can sometimes be blocked by ongoing concerns or emotions that are verbalized during the massage. For example, continuing to complain about traffic, your mother-in-law, or how angry you are about a situation will keep your body tight and prevent release of these frustrations and emotions. Focus on communicating only what is relevant and important to your massage.

5. Set Your Intentions Ahead of Time
Whether you consciously think of it or not, you have an intention when you walk into a massage session. You want a pain or tightness relieved, to feel relaxed, or maybe to just forget about your busy life for awhile. Bringing your intention to the front of your mind can mean the difference between letting go for an hour or dwelling on things that are bothering you.

Intention setting can be as simple as acknowledging the primary goal of relieving pain or as deep as intending to release emotions stuck in your tissues. Either way, verbalizing your intention will not only assist in solidifying it for yourself, but will also ensure that it is in the mind of your therapist during your session. If you are not sure what your intention is as you enter an appointment, talk with your massage therapist to be clear about what you want to gain out of that session in an effort to meet your long-term goals.

Setting specific intentions, including an intention to allow emotional release from your tissues, heightens your massage effectiveness and promotes healing on multiple levels. Whether or not your intention is to release emotion, it is essential for you to understand that emotions are automatically held within our body’s tissues. Massage is a great way to activate the tissues and release these emotions. You do not have to understand, express, analyze, or even feel the emotion for it to be released. When you approach a session with the intention of allowing release of emotion from the area being worked on, you open up a new door to self-healing.

Grace Dobosz is a registered nurse and intuitive healer. For more information, visit her site at or call her at 303-945-9006.