By Ian Chow, CERTIFIED Massage Therapist
This will be my own Top 10 of the Dos and Don’ts before you go for a massage session. Also don’t forget to read about my “Top 10 of dos and don’ts after getting a massage.” Or click here to read about other massage related topics that I write about.
No. 1 Do choose the right type of massage that you want and the right therapist
With the internet, you can easily find the type of massage that is available around your preferred location and the brand that offers it too. Even though currently the massage industry in Malaysia is dominated either by Thai or Chinese (from China), there are still a bit of a variety that you can choose from, according to what you fancy on that day. And if you are on budget, there are always certain brand or outlet that offers promotional price especially during weekday from 11am to 4pm period. And if you want to do it at the comfort of your home, you can always opt for outcall individual therapist.
No. 2 Don’t eat too much before a session
You certainly don’t want to lie face down on your full stomach. It feels uncomfortable and you don’t want to end up vomiting on your therapist table. Plus, certain technique also do massage on your stomach and it will potentially upset the digestive system.
No. 3 Do be punctual
Respect everyone’s time; put aside the “Malaysian timing”. Most therapists are on commission basis or earning on daily basis and that means the more customer they handle per day, the higher their income is. By us arriving late, we are depriving their opportunity to earn more for that day. Plus, if you are late, you are also causing me to wait longer for my appointment.
No. 4 Don’t cancel your appointment last minute
Like I have mentioned in point 3, most therapists are on commission basis. But even if they are not, if you cancel your appointment last minute, they earn lesser and it is also an opportunity cost that is gone especially if they aren’t able to find replacement customer. So, don’t be that prick who is late or cancel your appointment last minute unless you have real emergency.
No. 5 Do take care of your hygiene
Whenever possible, I will always take a shower before heading to a massage session. It is also for me to start to be relaxed and set the mood right. If you are not able to, at least please wash your feet. Most brand do include foot wash in their service but for those which don’t, you can always do it on your own. Also, if you have infectious skin disease, do consider postponing your appointment.
But coming back to the point of taking shower, according to some guide, a warm shower is not recommended cos it will increase your circulation and you may tend to sweat more during the session. Then again, with the Malaysia’s climate, i am almost sweating all the time and I really don’t want to go to a session with my sticky body. So, I will opt to go for a shower whenever I can.
No. 6 Don’t go for a massage if you are sick or after a heavy workout
Firstly, we don’t need you to spread your germ to your therapist or any other patron who are around that time. Secondly, your body is already activating your immune system to fight against the bacteria / virus and having a massage may trigger certain nerve signal that may not do good to your immune system (but on contrary, maybe foot reflexology and other treatment like guasa and cupping may help….I shall leave this to your own judgement).
Meanwhile, if you have running or stuffed nose, it will get pretty uncomfortable too when you lie face down. God help us if your mucus starts dripping on the floor.
Your muscle may already be tender or sore and a massage may also trigger certain nerve signal that may do more harm than heal. Same goes to massage after having a heavy work out.
No. 7 Do tip
It is certainly not a culture here in Malaysia. Most of the time, I hardly do it too. But occasionally, if the service is good, I do tip the therapist with RM10 to RM20. It is not much but every single ringgit helps I supposed especially if their commission is low (some goes as low as 20% of the full fee that you have paid). Having said that, I do dislike therapist who ask and pester for tip, a real turn off for me.
No. 8 Don’t remove everything
I personally like to be fully naked (only with the drape) whenever I can, so that no clothing gets in the way during the session. However, not all brands in Malaysia allows that (I find that individual therapist are more open to this, possibly with the exclusive privacy). If you are first timer to a new brand, do check with the therapist whether they are comfortable or permissible. Certain brand also has signage put up and therapist can refuse to perform the massage if you do not adhere accordingly.
No. 9 Do communicate with your therapist
If the strength used by your therapist is not to your liking, feel free to tell them. Sometimes, certain therapist will never ask (perhaps due to language barrier) but that doesn’t mean you cannot tell them.
Feel free in making small talk during session with your therapist but do be mindful on the subject matter that is brought up as well as your noise level. Most therapist are not local especially if you go to chain-outlets so we should be culturally sensitive as well. At times, even if you want to make small talk, it is not possible as they just can’t speak Bahasa or English.
No. 10 Don’t forget to turn off your handphone
For me, this is possibly one of the main and biggest offense of all. I am strongly in the opinion that if you cannot take time off from your routine for just 60 mins to 120 mins, perhaps a massage session is not suited for you during that day or time. Why not reschedule rather than have all the other patron know and hear about your routine or to-do list (and is it just me that your voice actually grow louder when the person you are speaking to on the other line is a Dato’ or Tan Sri, as though you would like everyone to know you are connected with people in high places). Also, for me, it is a way to respect to the therapist as well while they are performing their duty.