I have a confession to make. I haven’t always been good at getting a massage. I don’t mean booking a massage and putting it on my calendar — this is not a post about scheduling (though that is also important). This is a post about what to do when you get through the door, because it doesn’t always come naturally.
I’ve always been pretty good with massage-getting etiquette: showing up on time, being clean and cordial, that sort of thing. It’s the bit about dropping everything when I get on the table that used to really trip me up. I recently read a blog post from a fellow massage therapist in which she implored her clients not to help with range of motion or stretches, instructing them to “just go limp” and pointing out that not doing so is annoying. While I’ve been on her side of things, jostling clients’ limbs in hopes of that loose limpness setting in, her reprimand to people who aren’t loosey goosey enough struck a nerve. Being floppy and relaxed is great, but sometimes that state doesn’t feel within reach. Even in the midst of an amazing massage, going limp may not be available to you. If you are one of those people who melts right into the massage table the second you lie down, clean sheets and table warmer enough of a comfort to limpen limbs and get you breathing evenly and deep, I applaud you sincerely and wholeheartedly. This might not be the post for you, though I do want to take a moment to tell you that the ability to drop into that state, whether by natural talent or finely honed skill, is not something that everyone has. It really is a skill, and I really do marvel at those of you who do it with such apparent ease and grace. You are awesome.
The rest of you, the ones who fiddle with the face cradle and who aren’t sure where your arms are supposed to go? Those of you who don’t practice being still all that much and aren’t entirely comfortable doing it? You are also awesome. You are awesome in your humanness, weight of your day not yet sloughed off your shoulders. You are awesome for showing up, putting forth the effort to feel good, and seriously, if it takes three whole minutes to finagle the face cradle into an angle that works for you or to adjust the pillow under your legs so your ankles don’t feel weird, I really don’t mind. Comfort is underrated.
In my next post, I’ll share some suggestions for how to get closer to relaxation right off the bet and to get more out of your massage. I’m aware that some people might find all of this silly, the idea that one might have to make an effort to feel effortless, but sometimes that’s just how it is. Sometimes taking it easy isn’t easy at all. Lucky for you, I’ve spent years practicing the art of getting massage, and I look forward to sharing the tips I’ve picked up along the way.