There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a good massage. Truth be told, massage is great not only for relaxation, but to cure aches and pains and to treat and prevent stress. The more relaxed you feel, the healthier you will ultimately be. While massage schools offer similar programs to those who want to learn the art, you’re going to find each therapist you encounter to be incredibly different at the end of the day. Here are some tips for choosing the best therapist for your personal needs.

How To Choose The Right Massage Therapist

Do Check Educational Requirements

It doesn’t matter if your therapist is working out of a chiropractors office or a well established spa like Fresh.Salon.Spa.Style. No therapist can legally work in any state without a certain amount of formal training. The number of hours varies from state to state, but you should look to see that your therapist has a certificate of completion from an accredited massage school.

What are Your Medical Needs?

The next thing to consider are your medical needs? Are you a runner or athlete? If so, you may need to find a therapist who has had additional training in sports massage.

Are you currently undergoing, or have you recently undergone, any type of treatment for cancer? While your doctor may clear you for general massage, it is often better to look for a therapist who has taken extra time to learn about the special needs of cancer patients. This is especially important due to your decreased immune function.

Are you pregnant? If so, massage can prove incredibly beneficial, but it can also be harmful if done incorrectly. Look for a therapist who has taken a special course in pregnancy massage.

Most therapists are trained to work with you regardless of your medical conditions. They do need to know what those conditions are, though, so be sure to fill out your intake forms honestly and open up the dialogue with the therapist you’re meeting with. Heart problems, infections, skin conditions, and even certain psychological conditions can have an impact on the way your massage is performed.

What are Your Interests?

This may be more important if you don’t have a specific medical need, as different styles of massage can offer different experiences. Lomi lomi, for example, is a Hawaiian massage that focuses on releasing emotional tension. Thai massage is done while you are fully clothed and involves quite a bit of stretching. Reflexology focuses on healing the body by massaging and applying pressure to the feet only. Swedish massage is gentle while deep-tissue massage is great for working on trouble spots. Your options are endless.

You have a lot of options when it comes to massage. Some therapists work in spas while others have private practices. Some will even come to your home. Know what you’re looking for and spend some time looking for a professional therapist you can trust. Your body and overall state of well being will thank you.