So how does massage techniques differ from one therapist to the next? I often encounter clients who have only experienced one or two massages and seem to have low expectations. And the perception is that it is easy for therapists to burn out. So I would advise clients to bring your enthusiasm and friendliness to the massage room. The massage encounter does not exist in a vacuum and therapists will work harder to please a client that smiles and expresses their excitement. Does that mean you have to talk...NO, just let the therapist know that you are looking forward to deep relaxation. Experienced therapists will usually only respond when spoken to.
My intention when beginning a massage is to give your body and mind the message that it is time to deeply relax. I use slow deeper effleurage, or gliding strokes, to maximize the touch sensation to your nerve sensory receptors. Breathing is deliberate and I center on channeling universal energy, also referred to as chi, qi, or prana. As the massage continues, I get a sense of relative muscle tension and begin stripping, gently at first, the various muscle attachments, often referred to as "knots". Myofascial stretching is stretching and testing "resistance" of various muscles and muscle groups while introducing acupressure in the muscle bellies. I perform stretching that one cannot perform on her own. A shoulder muscle may only be a few inches, the latissimus dorsi, a foot long. It is good to think of the body as a "bubble" in which pressure on the connective tissue in the hips can release pressure in the lower back. That is why I advise clients that I take a whole body approach and pain felt in a given area may just be the weakest link treated by working on distal over-contracted muscles somewhere else.
Often, clients will feel light-headed or "woosy" after a massage, indicating that the body experienced the para-sympathetic state, in which the fascia and muscle work had a deep effect. That is why it is recommended to drink plenty of water and even take a nap to optimize the massage session outcome.