Finding a great massage therapist shouldn’t be painful — certainly not as painful as that neck tension you’ve been carrying around for weeks. Still, hiring the right massage therapist is a process. To understand what you want from your bodywork, take stock of what’s going on in your body, how you communicate, what you’re comfortable with (for starters: do you have a gender preference) and what you want in your overall wellness.
✓ Understand Your Goals
Your physical needs are the single largest factor to consider when deciding what kind of massage will be best for you. Are you recovering from an injury or merely hoping for some rest and relaxation? Ask yourself what your body needs and then do some research into which modalities will best fit those demands.
Once you’ve picked the kind of massage, your therapist should be able to explain how it works and make further suggestions. As Plano-based Top Pro massage therapist John Howell explains, “I specialize in long sessions — generally 90 to 150 minutes. I do a unique combination of Swedish and Thai massage, aromatherapy, guided meditation, and stretching. Because my work is so particular, my first step is to hear the client’s needs and educate them on the kinds of massage I provide.”
✓ Get Clear About Costs (All of Them)
Does your massage therapist charge evenly by the hour? Are hot stones or aromatherapy extra? Does each kind of massage have a different price? Do they travel to you? If so, do you pay extra for their travel time? Is there a discount for recurring customers?
It’s easy to breeze past these details when discussing price with your pro so draw up a list ahead of time, suggests Steve Koehler, who’s been running his Top Pro mobile massage therapy service since 2014. For example, because his business is mobile, Steve’s travel costs are already integrated into his pricing. But for many pros, travel is an added expense. These kinds of pricing details will change from pro to pro, so if anything on your quote is unclear make sure to ask.
If you’ve never hired a massage therapist before and have no clue where to start, you can use Thumbtack’s cost calculator to find the average cost of a massage session in your area.
✓ Communicate Openly
“I really think that establishing boundaries and rules is important to creating a safe space — and that’s definitely something people should want when getting a massage. When I say, ‘please arrive 10 minutes early,’ even though that’s a rule it actually makes people feel more secure,” says Alexander Rosan, a Top Pro massage therapist and bodywork specialist in San Francisco.
Your massage therapist should set clear expectations from the beginning and tell you how to prepare for your session — whether that’s drinking a lot of water or not planning strenuous exercise the following day, says Alexander. The more comfortable you feel talking to your massage therapist about your needs and expectations, the more beneficial the massage will be.
✓ Complete Thumbtack Profile = Greater Trust
In general, you want to hire a pro who has taken the time to complete their Thumbtack profile with care. Whether that’s answering the Q&A section at the bottom or including reviews of their past work, the more you can see about your massage therapist’s approach and past work, the closer you can come to deciding whether they’re the right fit.
“I include a bio and a photo because I think telling the customer know who you are and letting them see a picture of the person who’s coming to their home is important,” says Steve.
Bonus Tip: Messaging to Look For
All of our Top Pro massage therapists agree: trust is key.
“I want to start building trust right away, because if someone doesn’t trust me then of course they’re not going to want to get on my table. I always follow-up with customers by asking if there’s anything I can do to make them feel totally at ease in this process,” Alex says.
For more wellness tips, read these three easy ways to invest in yourself right now.