Aside from a day away from the office and a glass of good Champagne, there are few things that can melt away stress like a massage. However, for some, there is little in this world more anxiety-inducing than the thought of having a total stranger explore your towel-clad body with their hands. So how do you differentiate between a good touch and a bad one?
Choose the right style Knowing the distinctions between massage styles like Swedish and Shiatsu can mean the difference between expecting something slow and soothing and getting the massage equivalent of a karate chop to the back. There are enough different styles of massage to suit everyone’s needs, from stretch-intensive Thai massage to softer techniques like hot stone massage, so make sure to pick something that will feel the best for you.
Make your needs known Just like any other time when you find yourself semi-nude and being rubbed on by a stranger, no means no. Your enjoyment of a massage depends highly on your relaxation factor, so feel free to tell the massage therapist ahead of time if there are any areas you’d like them to work on, or avoid all together.
Do your research You probably wouldn’t go to an unlicensed doctor, so why take a risk with a massage therapist? In New York State, anyone referring to themselves as a masseur, masseuse, or massage therapist must have completed 1,000 hours of training and have a state license, and any legitimate establishment will provide you with their licensing information if you ask. Before you head in for an appointment, be sure to check out your therapist’s reputation online—they’re working with some of the largest and most-used muscles in your body, so one bad move can mean the difference between pleasure and pain.