How To End A Massage Session Early

End a massage session early

I used to get massages all the time.  I had some pretty bad ones.  At first I felt guilty about having to end a

 massage but, after a bad massage I felt like I wasted my time and my money.  Then I would get upset at myself for doing that.  As a result, I would go for long periods of time refusing to get a massage because of those bad experiences.  Instead I would just let my body suffer.  I would constantly torque my body into strange positions to get out of pain.  Until one day, I made a decision that I wouldn’t stand for another bad massage.  So I started getting massages much more regularly again.  Except this time, I was saying no if I felt that the massage wasn’t adequate within the first 10 minutes.

Let’s face it, massage is expensive.  Not only is it expensive but it’s timely.  It takes time to get there, get the service and leave.  If you are anything like me, time is something you really value.  I always feel like I’m running out of time.  So to get a bad massage just increases my stress level when in fact it should be doing the complete opposite.  Here are things that I do to ensure that I’m not making a hasty decision in ending my massage early.  I also, don’t guilty about ending my massage early when I walk out.  Lastly, I understand that by ending my massage early, I may not be welcomed back. 

I am super clear

Let the therapist know exactly what I’m looking for in a massage.  Use phrases like ‘I want x, y, z worked on’.  You don’t have to do a full body.  I like medium to firm pressure. If you find something dig in. I’m going to zone out for the session, so I’m not going to talk.  If it’s too deep, I’ll let you know.  I try to answer all their questions so they understand my priorities because the session really is about me.  This is why I never short the intake time.  Use this time to the fullest so that I can get the best experience possible. I often see clients (new clients especially) of mine blow this time off because they are either shy or ready to get on the table.  Do not do that, rather, be clear in what your expectations are first and before every session.  Don’t assume that the therapist will know what your needs are every single time because you see them regularly.  Just take the time to set your goals for the session each and every time.

Check the time

This may seem a little odd but check the time in front of your therapist before you get a massage.  Or even be so bold to announce it out loud.  Or ask them what time it is.  All of these are psychological tactics but they are very effective at sending the message that you mean business.  You want a good massage.  It’s almost like you have to micro-manage your massage session.  I’m a massage therapist saying this but it’s true.

Give cues

If you want, you can cue the therapist for more pressure, more time spent on a certain body part or whatever.  I’ve had clients ask can I work on areas longer.  It’s perfectly OK to say these things.  At the same time, you don’t want to annoy the therapist to the point they then want to and can end the massage.  Just remember this is a two-way street.  Tread with caution here.

10 minutes or less

I once had a client tell me, he can tell if the massage is going to be good or not within the first few seconds of the therapist putting their hands on him.  And, he’s absolutely right.  Give your therapist a few minutes to get in their rhythm and flow before making a decision to end the massage.  10 minutes is the perfect amount of time to know if the massage is going to be beneficial to you.  It’s also the perfect amount of time to bail out without looking like you’re trying to cheat the system.  It’s like eating the full meal you ordered then telling the restaurant it wasn’t any good because you didn’t want to pay the bill.  This is definitely not the intention of this article.

Ending a session early

I  just say, “I’d like to end my session now.” If the therapist ask why, I’d tell them the truth.  Before doing this, understand why you are not a good fit and that you probably would not be welcome back on their table.

I am not in the practice of ending sessions early. Actually, I’ve only ended maybe 2-3 sessions of the hundreds I have experienced.  One was at a spa where I was paying $$$ for a deep tissue massage but got an oil lube.  The spa actually got me in with a person who could do deep tissue.  The other was at a local facility where the therapist talked non-stop and rubbed oil on me.  I left this facility and never returned.  Lastly, at another local facility where the sheets on the table were wet.  They person explained they pulled them out of the dryer early, changed them, and discounted my service. 

Create a win-win

I was prompted to write this article because I have come across many people who have received massages they didn’t like but were timid about ending the massage early.  Also, they didn’t want to offend the massage therapist.  So, they walked away from the session upset and never returned.  I personally define this as a lose-lose for both parties.  The establishment isn’t given the opportunity to correct the issue and you walk away disappointed.

Because there is no tangible object here, you really have to draw limits.  Make those limits known in the first few minutes before your session begins.  Followed by cues in the first 10 minutes.  Then know if your needs aren’t being met, 10 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to make the decision to end the massage without red flags.  Good luck on your venture to find the perfect therapist for you.

Learn more about Felicia Hayes, Licensed Massage Therapist here.

Hi. I’m Felicia. I’ve made a 20+ year career of massage and bodywork. And, I still love it. I also enjoy writing, playing music, photography, cooking, baking and painting. All of which I’m not very good at. I’m also a daily bike commuter.

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