1. Clarity. First, before you even make that call to schedule an appointment, be clear what you are seeking in your own mind. Different therapists or providers have different specialties. You are going to want to pick a therapist who has the right set of skills to match what you need. I don't mean you need to be an expert in massage to get what you need. What I do mean is know what you want and need. Don't assume that precisely what you want and are seeking is exactly the same as everyone else. My experience is that massage can meet a wide variety of needs, preferences and expectation. Recognize that you are a unique individual. To get a truly wonderful massage, the intention of the therapist needs to be in line with your needs and expectations. I can't tell you how many times someone has said something that leads me to believe they assume everyone (or at least most people) are more or less like themselves and wants pretty much what they want. However, I have learned that this is not really the case.
My first recommendation is to check in with your body. Get some clarity about what your body really needs. What do you feel? Are you in any pain? Do you have sore, tight or achy muscles? Notice where you tend to carry your stress? Perhaps you are not feeling any physical pain, but are seeking emotional balance. You may have some mental stress you would like to release and really need some help to get out of your head. Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed and your mind is racing. Perhaps what you really want and need is to be pampered. Make mental note of what you are feeling and what you would really like to experience. Massage means very different things to different people. Let me share with you two examples of clients, whose needs are completely different.
Example number one is a 42 year old man who is athletic. He has been pushing himself extra hard lately, working out at the gym and recently joined a community baseball team. Even though he is in pretty good physical shape, he is not as young as he used to be. It has been a long time since he played baseball. Perhaps he did not warm up enough or stretch enough or the activity was just outside his usual realm. Now his body is in pain, feeling the stress and strain of this activity. What he is seeking is a deeply therapeutic massage by a well trained massage therapist; someone who has not only been to massage school, but perhaps has had some advanced training, ideally someone who specializes in something like Deep Tissue Massage or Sports Massage. This client's highest priority is finding someone who has an excellent understanding of anatomy and physiology, knows how to recognize and tune into his body's therapeutic needs and will deliver an awesome restorative massage. His overall goal from the massage is to put his body back on the road to recovery so he can feel better and get back out there and play some more baseball.