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Looking for a new massage therapist can be stressful! The process of choosing a massage therapist doesn’t have to be complicated. You just need to make sure you’ve covered all the necessary bases and be willing to invest a little time educating yourself.

We’ve combined our 10 best tips to help you find the best massage therapist for you.

1. Determine your needs first

What type of massage are you looking for? Do you want a sports massage, deep tissue, or relaxation massage? Some people prefer their massage sessions in the comfort of their own homes, while others choose to have a massage in their therapist’s office or inside a spa. When it comes to the mood or setting, most people who are simply after a relaxing massage session choose to do it in a spa or spa-like setting. This usually involves dimmed lights, aromatherapy candles, and music to help set the mood. On the other hand, those who receive massages as part of their medical treatment prefer it within a physical therapist’s or chiropractor’s office.

2. Know the difference between modalities

Are you looking for a “feel-good” massage such as a Swedish relaxation massage, or do you need deep tissue work like an Ashiatsu barefoot massage? Each modality offers a different type of massage and it’s okay to call and ask questions before booking an appointment. European and Swedish massage uses oil on bare skin with gliding and kneading movements. Ashiatsu- Stretch, Fijian, and Thai massage may be done over your clothes with deep compressions.

3. Ask around

Do you have friends or family that go for routine massages? Ask who they see and why they like it. Another great source for referrals is your primary healthcare provider or a medical specialist. They may have a list of massage therapists that have specialized training and experience in techniques that are effective in treating your condition or complaint.

4. Read reviews

Before choosing a massage therapist, read reviews online and see what others thought of the location, atmosphere, and abilities of the massage therapist.

5. Check education

Before booking an appointment, read about the therapist and what their educational background is. If you are looking for a deep tissue massage or have an autoimmune disease, it’s important your therapist is educated on your condition. It is also important to ask how long the massage therapist has been practicing.

6. Check licenses

Massage therapists can have a national, state, or local certification or license. You can google what your state’s requirements are for licensing. If a therapist is nationally certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), he or she has at least 500 hours of training from an accredited school and has passed a written exam. The therapist will typically have his or her credentials posted in their office.

7. Consider Location

It’s important to look locally first. Hopefully, you’ll love your session and plan to incorporate routine massages into your schedule, so distance is going to matter. How far are you willing to travel and how often?

8. Check availability

What type of sessions are offered and what options are offered for the length of a session? How far in advance do you generally need to make an appointment? Are weekdays or weekends best for you? During regular business hours or after 5? If you are going to book appointments regularly – let the therapist know. (Hint: this may help you secure a better spot!)

9. What’s your preference

Would you be most comfortable with a male or female therapist? Do you want the treatment room to be toasty warm or do you prefer a fan to blow on you while you’re on the table? Do you like to chat with the therapist during your session or do you want quiet time? It’s ok to ask for any of these things to be modified for your preference!

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10. Communicate, Evaluate, and Repeat.

It is important for you and your massage therapist to have proper communication to ensure that you will have the best massage experience possible. Your therapist must be able to listen carefully to any concerns that you might raise before, during, and after your massage session and respond. Did your therapist offer to book your next session same day or do you need to book online when you are ready to return?

Regardless of the number of certifications, hours of experience, and skill your therapist has, your massage experience will not be as fulfilling if you and your therapist do not communicate well with each other.

What matters is you choose a massage therapist who has your needs in mind and who has no agenda other than to help you feel better and give you the type of bodywork that you feel is right for you.