How to Get a Massage (Seriously...)

I know, I know, you lie there. Duh. But hear me out. A healthy life at home is dependent on many factors - feeling good about your space so you can share it with others, keeping things clean and organized so you can focus your energies on work and play, and keeping track of your own well being, both physically and mentally.

When one thing starts to go out of whack, its hard to keep the rest of your homelife running smoothly, so it's important to be proactive. Last week, after several days of excruciating mystery back pain, I finally said budget-be-damned and got myself to a massage therapist. The results? Spectacular.

I had immediate pain relief, increased mental clarity, and I was incredibly relaxed. Plus, there are tons more proven physical and mental benefits. But, as great as massages are, they can sometimes go awry. Ultimately it's up to you to make sure you get the most beneficial massage. Here's how to make the most of your massage therapist appointment, either in office or at home...

Schedule it. Personally, I like an evening massage so I can go right to sleep after, but I also don't know anyone who wouldn't have a great day if it started with a massage. Either way, make sure you're not rushed when going to your appointment or after you're finished. There's no sense in stressing yourself out because you have to get to your massage. Making an appointment in advance not only means you can be choosy about your therapist, but you also get to look forward to it for a few days. Dropping in means you get whoever is on deck rather than finding the best match for you.

Pick the right place. Mine was for a medical issue, so I chose to get my massage at a chiropractic/massage center because I knew they'd be knowledgeable about how to manage my pain. A spa is lovely for relaxation and the extras (like getting to take a shower), and sometimes you just want a cheapie Thai massage. Whatever you choose, make sure it's clean and comfortable. If you arrive and it's not what you signed up for, it's okay to leave. The only thing worse than being uncomfortable and naked is paying for the pleasure of being uncomfortable and naked.

Be comfortable. Yes, it's intimate and a little intimidating but, I promise you, the massage therapist has seen it all. It may help to specifically request a male or female therapist when you schedule your appointment. If you feel better with your undies on, then that's fine. You're there to relax so anything that will help you do that will only make the masseuse's job easier. That said...

Speak up. If something is making you uncomfortable (it's cold, too bright) or you'd like more or less pressure, just say so. No one will be offended if you politely say what your needs are. Before you begin, it's great to discuss what you're hoping to get out of the massage (pure relaxation, shoulder tension relieved) or what you especially like (I love extra hand and foot massage), so your therapist knows how to give you the best experience possible.

Quiet your mind. After all the thinking about getting to your appointment and getting comfortable, try to just stop thinking altogether. Make a real effort to focus on your breathing and how good your body feels rather than what you're doing later or a problem you're facing. A lot of the benefits of massage are mental, which you'll miss if your mind is filled with other things.

Drink water. A massage is a workout for your body. Your muscles are being manipulated and releasing toxins. It's so important to be hydrated so your body can work at an optimum level. Drink lightly before (you don't want to have to pee during your massage) and pretty heavily after, to help your body cleanse itself.

Jump-start a new, healthy outlook. I often find that I feel so good after a massage that I want to keep that feeling going by taking care of myself with healthy food and exercise. I know many people who use a massage as a reward after a stressful event or a body-related challenge like weight loss. That's great, but consider getting one beforehand to prepare your body for a difficult time. It can spark an upward spiral in your health and wellness.

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