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10 Massage Tips: How to Get the Most From Your Massage


There are few things I love more than a good massage, especially after a few weeks of tough workouts and/or enduring stress that makes you want to scream to the heavens, “Why me?!” After a massage I become a better person. I love myself more. I love my family more. And I love random strangers more (even those who cut me off in traffic).

To me, massage is magic. And the research backs me up. Massage has been shown to reduce fatigue in cancer patients, to lessen the intensity of lower back pain, to boost the body’s immune system, and to lower both blood pressure and anxiety. Again, magical.

Although research isn’t conclusive on enhancing sports performance, some studies have shown that massage can decrease delayed onset muscle soreness, DOMS for short, which is basically just a scientific way of describing how you can barely walk 24 hours after trying a new activity or surviving a tough workout. The key though, is to get a massage pretty quickly after your workout. Although, from my personal non-scientific experiment, massage is wonderful anytime you get one.

Whether you’re a first-time massage-goer or a seasoned veteran, here are some great massage tips from the American Massage Therapy Association on how you can benefit most from your 60-minute slice of heaven.

10 Tips to Get the Most From Your Massage

1. Be open and receptive. This should be a good experience, so roll with it.

2. Don’t chow down before your massage session or go in ravenous. Your tummy shouldn’t be growling or digesting.

3. Watch the clock and arrive early. If you arrive in a frenzied, rushed state, it may take longer to relax, and you’ll miss out on bliss time!

4. Take it all off — or don’t. Take off only as much clothing as you want. If you don’t want to totally strip, wear comfortable clothing that your therapist can work with. I like to get down to just my skivvies for maximum massage area and minimum exposure.

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Before the session, give accurate health information, and let the massage therapist know your expectations and reasons for the massage. Let them know if you have any allergies to oils and lotions, and speak up about the music if you don’t like it. Also, while some people like to talk during a massage, others want quiet time. Tell your massage therapist what you prefer, but even if you’re not a chatty Cathy, speak up about any discomfort. If anything happens that you dislike or seems improper, you have the right to ask the massage therapist to stop and end the session if need be. (For me, I’m usually begging them for a little longer.)

6. Just breathe. Breathing helps facilitate relaxation. People often stop or limit their breathing when they feel anxious or a sensitive area is massaged. Just relax …

7. Now is not the time to tighten up. Contracting your muscles during the massage is counterproductive. If you find that your muscles are hardening up (and not from the bicep curls you did yesterday), your therapist may need to adjust the massage technique to help you relax the affected area. If you find your thoughts are racing during the massage, do no. 6 and try to quiet your mind. One good trick is to follow the hands of the massage therapist.

8. Become BFFs with H2O. Guzzle down the bottle of water they offer you after the massage. Those muscles need it!

9. Don’t get up too quickly. Allow for some quiet time after your session. If you’re dizzy or light-headed after the massage, take it slow. There’s no rush.

10. Be prepared to get addicted. The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond. I know massages aren’t cheap at more than $1 a minute, but try to indulge multiple times a year. Your fit bottom deserves it!

Do you get regular massages? What massage tips would you add to our list? —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!


  1. MizFit says:

    how about number 11 being SCHEDULE ONE

    Id loooove a massage right about now.

    hope you had a good, relaxing (massage laden?) weekend.


  2. Elizabeth says:

    I would also recommend acupuncture if you don’t like being touched and you want alone time. I’ve been going for six months and it has drastically improved my anxiety, my allergies, my sleep, and my joints. You spend about 10 minutes talking with your holistic health specialist while they insert the needles nd then they leave you be for about 45 minutes to let the acupuncture do its job while you get centered and relax. I love it…

  3. Mark Salinas says:

    I am down with the massage thing no question…..in my early Boot Cam Days weekly, deep massages were one reason that I persevered. Great post!

  4. cynthia says:

    I try to get massages a couple of times a month. They’re so beneficial for your lymphatic system and aid in releasing toxins from your body. They also increase concentration and decrease anxiety. What more could you ask for?

    These are all wonderful tips – especially breathing through it.

  5. every gym's nightmare says:

    i’ve only had one professional massage in my life and it hurt like hell. well, only on my legs, but i cramped up afterwards.

    i think i prefer my boyfriend’s. Plus i get a happy ending.

    was that over the line?


  6. Jenn says:

    You guys seriously give the best comments. Always something fun, poignant or downright hilarious to read.

    Every Gym’s Nightmare — The AMTA sure did leave that bit of info off of the tips. I wonder why?

  7. Erica says:

    I had my first hot stone massage this weekend! The first stone made me tense up, but after that it was pure heaven. My body feels incredible!

  8. Jeanne says:

    You must be reading my mind! I scheduled a massage for tomorrow. I love being able to just relax and let someone else do all the work. I wish I could afford to have one once a week!

  9. Becca LMT says:

    As a massage therapist, I have to whole-heartedly agree with this article. I may have to borrow this to show to some of my clients (both those who are new to massage and old pros). I do have a correction; although, you should never bee too hungry or too full when you get your massage, your tummy will more than likely gurgle. The reason being is that massage turns off your “fight-or-flight” response in your nervous system which will turn itself on at anytime of stress. This part of the nervous system slows down digestion (your body doesn’t want to worry about digesting that mammoth you just ate while worrying about supplying your muscles with nutrients to help you run from that sabor-toothed tiger that’s chasing you). Because massage will help turn off the “fight-or-flight” response, your digestive system will begin to work a bit faster (hence, gurgling). You shouldn’t feel like you have to jump off the table and run for the privy, but some noises should be expected.

    I would also like to respond to the painful massage. It is my firmly held belief that massage should NEVER hurt. At it’s worst, it should feel like a heavy workout (and just like that workout, you may be sore; your muscles are healing… it’s ok). You should get some sense of “good is happening” during your massage (that inexplicable “hurt-so-good” feeling), but it should never feel like a “no good will come from this” kind of pain. And if it does, please LET US KNOW!

    Hope EVERYONE finds an excellent Massage Therapist; ENJOY!

  10. Cindy says:

    I’ve had a few massages and well Meh! I get more relief from sore muscles doing some stretches and exercises and more calming of the mind. I have considered doing something weekly just to see if there is some cumulative benefit but the cost kind of puts me off.

  11. Miche says:

    I go for massages about every other month. It feels good because I know my back is tight. Sometimes it feels like a game of mercy. I don’t want to cave and ask for less hard massage because I know it will feel good when they are done.

    Becca LMT – I’m wondering if I need to ask for it less hard? Or is it normal for it to feel like a game of mercy? I’ve had a less hard massage and it felt like a waste of time .

  12. Christina says:

    I make it a point to get a massage once a month now. My body knows when that time is coming, and waiting any longer allows actual pain in my back and neck. It’s all about taking care of your body and preventing pain in the future. I love massage, and won’t go back to life without it!

  13. Bob says:

    As a massage therapist, I would always suggest to communicate. It should never be a mercy game. There are many different ways to address problem areas. Maybe a myofascial technique would be better then a deep tissue or trigger point treatment. And yes, the happy ending comment is over the line. We work very hard to do the job professionally and those comments only undermine our attempts to make true therapy legimate.

  14. Erica LMT says:

    Thanks for this article. These are the basics I try to go over before every massage if my client is new or if its been a while since my client has been in to see me.
    I like to hear the tummy’s gurgling. It lets me know my client is relaxed!!!
    I agree with Bob. Massage should never hurt in more than “It hurts so good” way.
    Our western views on touching are sad. We show care and compassion with touch. As a MT, I truly care about each and every one of my clients…even if I am just meeting them for the first time. And I hope that my caring for them will translate in to a massage that they are pleased to receive and wish to receive again.

  15. Linda says:

    Check out any new therapist before booking. You don’t want a bad experience with your body, time and money. Doube down on this if it’s your first one. You don’t want it to ruin you off massages for a lifetime. Ask around; get the best in town and Go!

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