Is going to the cheap Asian massage parlors really better for you than going to an experienced and caring massage therapist and paying a little more?
When I returned from my first backpacking trip to SE Asia in the summer of 2009, I decided to enroll in massage school to delve into massage and bodywork. I had gotten a Balinese massage in Bali, a Thai massage in Thailand, and a “5 Elements” Full Spa treatment at the Shangri La Hotel in Tokyo and marveled at how different the styles were. All so different, yet all so effective. I came out of each session feeling calm and relaxed, and I came out convinced that the world was right again.
With the ongoing boom of the health trend, the massage industry is thriving – in 2015 the industry was estimated to make over $12 billion in the US. The majority of clients are women which is awesome. One of the feminine principles is receptivity, so it’s no wonder why massage is sought out more by us! I cherish massage because it alleviates stress and brings me out of my mind and into my body. It’s also great to have done after a long period of hard work! When this happens I always learn a little bit more about myself, like how I might be holding more tension in my left shoulder than my right, or how my kidneys might be feeling more tender than they should be. I become kinder to the outer world and kinder to myself. Everything falls perfectly into the right places. As you can see, my motives for getting a massage is for relaxation and reducing stress, a huge factor for the aging process. Your motives for getting a massage may be totally different than mine. In fact, it has been reported that the most common motive is for medical reasons.
Naturally, my goal here is to promote the AWESOMENESS of massage. I think that the majority of us who live chaotic, busy, fast-paced lives would benefit tremendously from getting regular quality massages and not the kind you get at the cheap, usually Asian, massage parlors where you can get a 1-hour massage for $30.
I have patronized places like that and even though I like to save money, I always feel like I just wasted money and time on something that was impersonal, non-deliberate and ultimately unhelpful. I am mindful of the dangers of generalizing, but I have had enough disappointing experiences at places like this to know to avoid them. For good.
Compared to the services offered by massage therapists who were educated and have at least 500 hours of training under their belts, I find that the cheap Asian places give sessions that are harsh, unrefined and not personalized enough. (And FYI, I am 75% Asian.) Their massages feel like it doesn’t matter to them whether it’s me, Bob or Joe on the table or in the chair – they will carry out the same method, same speed, same strokes, and they proceed without much thought into what their client is feeling.
I am sensitive to the fact that some people prefer this type of treatment, where it is just enough to get their circulation going and they come out feeling like their muscles got worked on. However, when you have experienced good massage performed by a therapist who has had at least 500 hours of training in anatomy and physiology, multiple massage styles, bodywork theories and Eastern and Western medicinal concepts, I can guarantee that you will get an hour of treatment that is personalized for you and what you need in that very moment.
Through touch, the therapist can understand the status of your body. Through sight, they can see how you are reacting to their touch. Through educated perception, they can formulate a procedure of massage that your body will benefit from. That’s because the therapist works on not only your muscles, but also on your respiratory, lymphatic, nervous, digestive, endocrine, immune and integumentary systems, and dare I say, your soul.
You see, your body isn’t just your muscles and flesh. Your body contains organs and nerves that are constantly working to maintain homeostasis to keep you healthy and happy.
Next time you book a massage, please consider researching local, independent massage therapists who are absolutely dedicated to their work and charge at least $1/minute for their more-than-worthwhile service.