If you’ve been feeling tense lately, you may be interested in getting a massage. Massage therapy has been shown to alleviate stress and muscle tension by increasing blood flow and promoting a host of other health benefits. As a result, massage therapy has become an increasingly popular way to relax, unwind, or even incorporate as a part of a regular health regimen.

5 Things You Should Tell Your Massage Therapist

While you might think that getting a massage is a one-sided experience, you’d be wrong. In fact, there are plenty of things you can tell your massage therapist ahead of time if you truly want to have a great experience. Here are five things your massage therapist should know before you head to their table.

Tell your massage therapist whether you’ve ever had a massage before.

This may seem like common sense, but if your therapist doesn’t know whether or not you’ve had a massage before, they can’t cater to your needs as well! Whether being new to the benefits of massage means that you’re interested in a little more communication, or you just need some clarification as to the different types of massage, being open and honest about your experience level with massage therapy is crucial to having a great experience.

Talk to your therapist about any painful or sore areas on your body.

Just as you want to be honest about your experience level with certain massage techniques, it’s just as important to be open about your health conditions. Especially when it comes to your muscle strength, a deep-tissue massage could be painful if you don’t fully communicate with your massage therapist about any sensitive areas. Of course, you probably are seeking out the positive effect of massage in order to address certain pain points in your body, but if your therapist doesn’t know how you’re feeling getting onto the massage table, they’ll be hard-pressed to actually address your problems.

Be open about regular stressors in your life.

Beyond what work gets done on the massage table, a good massage therapist can help you regulate and address other stressors in your life, too. Whether that’s understanding how your posture at your office desk affects your neck and shoulder tension or how to better lift weights as part of your morning gym routine, there are plenty of physical therapy tips and tricks your massage therapist can give you to help ease stress each day. They might even give you a few different massage techniques you can use on yourself if you feel your muscles tensing up after a long day.

Speak up during your session!

Massage therapy doesn’t have to be passive! In fact, the more you speak up when something feels good (or hurts a little too much) the more likely you are to get the total effect of massage. Especially if there are certain massage techniques that seem to be benefiting your body more than others, letting your therapist know that that type of massage is working for you is a good way to keep reaping the relaxation. Massage offers so many benefits, that if you don’t let your massage therapist know what’s working for you, you may not know how to ask for it again in the future.

Let your massage therapist know you intend to tip them.

In the United States at least, it’s customary to tip your massage therapist regardless of whether you’re enjoying a Swedish massage or sports massage. If you visit them for massage therapy regularly, Forbes even recommends a gift in the value of one of your sessions to show your appreciation. Otherwise, you’ll likely want to tip about twenty percent for any services you receive. Either way, letting them know you want to tip them ahead of time avoids any awkward exchanges and allows them to facilitate that payment at the appropriate time.