The “PERFECT Massage” is relative to the person receiving the treatment, but when you have had a great one- you know it! A qualified, experienced Massage Therapist understands the subtleties of tempo, pressure, and positioning to interrelate with the client’s nervous system in a healthy, satisfying, and productive session.
Understanding why the patient is there, listening carefully, and communicating the intention of the work is important; but the most essential part is that the Therapist is MINDFUL. Patients often come in with chronic (or acute) pain patterns and the job of the Therapist is to try to reorganize the way the brain is responding to and categorizing that pain. Interacting with the afferent (to the brain) and efferent (away from the brain) signals of the nervous system is a delicate balance that takes compassion, ingenuity & MINDFULNESS to maneuver.
Great Massages are comparable to great work-outs. They begin with a warmup period with quicker, longer strokes that cover more surface area followed by deeper, specific work and finished with a gentle cool down. Trying different body positioning and stroke techniques helps in relaying new information to the body’s soft tissue - this requires the Therapist to be PRESENT and is the hallmark of an exceptional Massage Therapist.
In order to relieve tension in the tissue it is essential to create the appropriate amount of pressure; too much pressure too soon and the body will protectively react, not enough and it will feel unsatisfied and craving more. The Therapist must actively observe the client to receive the body’s feedback and adjust the therapy accordingly. Staying engaged with the client also keeps the massage from feeling rehearsed or repetitive. The Therapist must be attuned to and meet their patient wherever they are in that particular moment. This again requires consistent MINDFULNESS from the Massage Therapist.