1. Floating flowers, music and aromatherapy oils
In order to get the body to relax (vital if someoneís going to be kneading your tired muscles), there are a few things that should be done as soon as you lie down. Before your massage you should spend 10 minutes in the sauna or steam room just to loosen the muscles Ė not only does this get the body on its way to relaxing, but it also makes massage more effective.
Once on the massage table, the therapist should ask whether the music is to your taste, whether the bed temperature (if heated) is comfortable, and if you have any injuries they should be aware of and any specific desires you have (and no we donít mean anything remotely close to a happy ending, but rather how you would like to feel Ė relaxed, refreshed or energised for example).
After that, they should ask you to breathe in the scent of aromatherapy oils, which they should then put in a bowl of water with floating flowers or petals which should then be placed under the face rest of the massage table simply so that when lying on your front, youíre looking at something a little more aesthetic instead of staring at the floor.
2. Feet First
Before or after breathing in the scent of aromatherapy oils, the therapist should wash your feet in a bowl of warm water and scrub the skin slightly with salts. This again, instantly relaxes the body. The feet is where all the bodyís nerve endings are and although we donít take care of our feet as we should, massaging the feet time to time is vital even if youíre not a reflexology expert.
3. Take Time for a Quick Chat
No one wants to have a heart to heart while trying to relax, but itís always good for the therapist to take a few minutes to explain how the massage or treatment is going to unravel, just so you are prepared and know what to expect. Itís also a good way of learning how to talk about massage and treatments for the next time you want to express what you like.
At one of the spas we visited recently, the therapist spoke so quickly that we ended up stressed and we missed half of what she said, so itís key for the therapist to be relaxed and to explain the events in a calm and collected manner. After all, calmness is catching.
Also, a good massage should never be the same twice because your body changes and has different needs. The therapistís role is to listen carefully to their needs and to adapt their skills to you. Not the other way around.
4. Pressure and Stroke Direction
The pressure and the direction of the massage is extremely important. After a few minutes, the therapist should ask whether the pressure is all right. Do not hesitate on asking for harden or softer pressure right away or you wonít be able to relax as the pressure will be on your mind Ė and if itís too hard it will hurt. A massage is always practiced with strokes towards the heart, so downwards from the face and upwards from the feet. This is key in regulating blood flow.
5. Silence is Golden
Surprisingly enough, some therapists will happily chat away to you about all or nothing while youíre lying down completely starkers and trying to relax. This isnít the hair salon! No one can relax completely when being talked to non-stop, so donít hesitate on mentioning that youíre very tired and would just like to be left to focus on the massage.
6. A Drink.
At the end of the massage, the therapist should ask you if you would like a ginger or lemon tea or something to drink. Itís a good idea to have something warm as when the body is relaxed, body temperature drops. Also, most massages will have a drainage effect on the body so itís important to drink plenty of water before the massage and to stay hydrated afterwards, which will help to evacuate all those toxins the therapist has just spent an hour or so kneading out of you. Itís not a good idea to indulge in sugary treats or drinks or caffeine even if much to our surprise, most top hotel spas offer all sorts, from pastries to cookies, champagne to coffee.