Where Should You Go To Get a Massage?

By |2018-01-08T20:29:32+00:00July 4th, 2017|Massage|

Confessions of a Massage Therapist

If you find yourself asking “where should I go for a massage?”

Here is a basic list of options. The question is – what kind of environment do you think would be best for you and what you think you are looking for?

A few options include:
1. Spas
2. Medical Offices
3. Mobile Massage/In-home
4. Kiosks
5. Private Practices

Here is an overview of the Pros and Cons of each: 

While these descriptions are generalizations, because there are always exceptions and unique variations to every setting. The purpose here is to help give you a better picture for what your options are, in order to best suit your needs.


When massage is spoken of as a luxury, this is what people are talking about. There are some extraordinary spas all around the world and they have been a part of many cultures since ancient times. If you want a pampering experience than a spa will likely deliver that for you. However, if you are hurt’in and need some specific therapeutic care than you may be looking in the wrong place. Spa visits are usually kept for special occasions, rather than consistent care or therapy. They sometimes offer deep tissue or sports massage, but you may prefer going to an office that specifically addresses certain conditions.

Pros of a Spa:

∙ they can oftentimes get you scheduled with little to no notice

∙ they offer signature pampering spa treatments like scrubs, facials, wraps, masks, and salon services

∙ you can go in couples small groups

∙ they may have numerous locations

Cons of a Spa:

∙ an hour is 50 minutes

∙ it’s a high end, high priced experience

∙ you are likely to have no developed relationship with the therapist’s you work with

∙ you are likely to be treated more like a customer vs. a client

∙ the expectations placed on a therapist by the spa owners/managers may be a hindrance to building a solid client-therapist relationship

∙ therapists are more prone to burnout due to unsustainable demands by the spa business owner (who is probably not a therapist themselves and doesn’t understand what a healthy workload is), compromising the consistency and quality of the work

∙ therapists are required to follow spa protocol which may be a routine vs. customized, detailed, or focused area treatment

∙ therapists are required to try and up-sell you products or treatment upgrades as part of their performance review

2. Medical Office/Clinic

Medical practices that offer massage include chiropractors, physical therapy, and holistic pain management clinics.

Pros of a medical clinic:

∙ your therapy may be covered by insurance or workman’s comp

∙ you have access to other types of medical care or diagnostics

∙ therapist oftentimes have advanced specialized training in therapeutic modalities

∙ since you are likely there for a specific concern, they are able to focus their treatments

∙ your treatment are often integrated with other therapies

Cons of a medical clinic:

∙ your treatments may be relegated to the therapist who is on duty, not the one you choose

∙ the environment is clinical which is not ideal for relaxation and can lack the finer touches of a massage therapy space (beauty, color, sound)

∙ in the pursuit of achieving results, sometimes client comfort is forfeited (the no pain, no gain approach)

3. Mobile Massage and Home-based Practices (In-home) 

Some massage therapist are mobile and can travel to the client’s location, while others set up their office within their own home. In the case of mobile massage, there are certainly many advantages, such as convenience for the client as well as not having the overhead associated with an office. There are certain circumstances when mobile massage is top priority, such as post surgery or inability to drive.

Pros of Mobile Massage or Home-based Practice:

∙ the environment is intimate and personal

∙ if they come to you, you don’t have to travel to and from a location

∙ if you go to them, they oftentimes can charge lower service fees because they have lower overhead

Cons of Mobile Massage or Home-based Practice:

∙ in the therapist’s home, being in their personal space may feel less professional

∙ depending on your home, the outside influence on the space are less controllable (phone or doorbell ringing, dog’s barking, room temperature, lighting, music, etc.)

∙ for some people it is more difficult to relax in their own home and more precautions must be taken, such as knowing and trusting the person you are working with

∙ if they are coming to your home, there is likely a surcharge for travel time and expense

∙ with mobile massage, it isn’t possible to bring all the tools available in a permanent space (full range of bolsters, hot packs, hot towels, essential oils collection, etc.)

4. Kiosks

Kiosks can be found in airports, malls, natural food stores, and such. They are great for short (10-30 minute) massage sessions.

Pros of Kiosks:

∙ they are a quick fix when on the go

∙ they are a beneficial way to spend time on your lunch break or downtime while traveling

∙ can be spur of the moment – don’t need to book it ahead of time

∙ can hold you over until your next scheduled appointment

∙ might be a good way to sample different therapist’s touch

Cons of Kiosks

∙ these are for quick fixes only, not for consistent care

∙ if the massage is performed in a massage chair, access to certain areas of the body are limited

∙ the environment is usually not the most ideal (loud, bright, and busy)

5. Private Practices

Private practices are owned and operated by practitioners. They can be found in professional buildings and wellness centers. They typically consist of one practitioner or small collectives.

Pros of Private Practices:

∙ private practicing therapist are small business owners and are personally invested in every aspect of their operation

∙ they can be more attentive to the relationship, therefore the level of personalized care is usually higher

∙ they treat their clients more like friends, rather than a person in line

∙ they have more flexibility in their time, allowing them to ask questions, listen to the goals of the client, and formulate customized treatment plans

∙ if you see them regularly, they get to know you and your body, you don’t have to explain your history every time, only update

∙ your therapist’s familiarity with your situation allows them to determine what treatments are most effective, track your progress, and build on that progress

. their environment is more professional than a home and less sterile than a medical office

. their space is designed with massage in mind (conducive for healing)

. you are less likely to experience the affects of burnout because they manage better hours, so you experience more consistent higher quality care (unless they work another job – see cons)

. depending on your plan, you can sometimes use your health savings plan to pay for their services

. typically they have more experience in the field

Cons of Private Practices:

. they rarely take insurance, unless it’s workman’s comp or insurance settlements

. some therapists run their business as a side job, working somewhere else during opposite hours as opposed to full-time, which may scatter their focus or spread them thin (something to be aware of)

. some private practicing therapists have a developed business sense and entrepreneurial spirit, while others are more on the informal side. This can make running a business difficult to maintain, affecting the quality of your experience

. if they fly solo, availability may be more limited

Read more…on finding the right fit for what you are looking for.


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