Good communication between therapist and client as well as the foundations of trust are important to a good massage. On the therapist's side, sensitivity and solid knowledge of the body's systems are key in communication and trust. A relaxing environment is also important.
Spa massage is typically done in a general manner with standard movements that are done the same way on every person. Many spas have strict guidelines that massage therapists must follow and often they have tight schedules that keep them moving as though on a conveyor belt.
Therapeutic massage is typically performed by massage therapists that control their own schedules and can perform more "client specific" sessions. This usually results in a "better" massage since each person's needs are so specific and we can look at and access each person as the unique individual they are.
Unlike standardized medicine, the foundation of massage therapy is rooted in the care for each individual and this means there is no "standard protocol."
This answer depends on what issues you are looking to address. If stress reduction is your primary motive for seeking massage treatment, the relaxation response is dependent on a good relationship with your therapist. If you feel comfortable with your therapist and environment, the massage will be more beneficial. If you are looking for help with issues such as chronic muscle spasm, soft tissue inflammation or other soft tissue injuries, improvement is more dependent on your therapist's knowledge of modalities that suit your situation.
Some pain is common and is usually a result of manipulating the tissue in a new ways. Lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic waste accumulate in areas of poor circulation. Other factors such as nerve compression from misalignment of bones and muscle, poor postural habits, myofascial strain and other circumstances contribute to tissue breakdown. In order to restore optimal tissue health, the sore areas need to be nourished and cleansed with fresh blood and lymph, massage does this by manipulating soft tissue and increasing circulation.
Often, blood pressure drops as the body goes into parasympathetic mode (relaxation). If you get up too quickly you get a "head rush" because of the low blood pressure and this makes you dizzy. Rolling onto your side and slowly pushing yourself into an upright position usually abates the problem.
Also during a massage, cellular waste is being circulated though your body at a higher rate and are waiting to be excreted from the body. Some people have a reaction to this increase in the form of nausea or body aches. Drinking lots of water helps with this.
Soreness is a common physiological reaction to a massage. Getting a massage is similar to doing a workout because of the stressing of tissue and release of cellular waste into the body. If the muscles aren't used to getting a massage, soreness can result. This should only last a day or two, and, just like with exercise, your body will acclimate itself over time.
Hydrating after a massage usually decreases soreness. Many times after our session, we will recommend to you ice, bath soak, stretching, or BioFreeze if we feel it will help with soreness. If you are concerned about your soreness, please contact us.
Most people in reasonably good health receive a massage once every 1-4 weeks. However, the frequency of massage is determined on the individual client's needs and expectations.