Jennifer DiFrancescoThe word connoisseur comes from the 18th Century when the word was used for a person who had a great deal of knowledge about gastronomy, art or any other discipline that pleased the senses. Today, the word connoisseur sometimes comes across with an air of pretension, yet when it comes to our own personal health, we should all strive to be connoisseurs.

Becoming a connoisseur requires enough experience and exposure to something to be able to cultivate exceptional taste. We’ve hopefully all had enough massages to say one was good and another not so good. Simply knowing the subtle nuance of touch through the healing practice of massage will help you to become a connoisseur.

Massage is a healing modality for the body when performed with focused intention and adept knowledge of the anatomy by the practitioner. It is prescribed for a variety of ailments these days and research continues to prove its many therapeutic values.

How do we know when a massage is high caliber? To ensure maximum value, the following qualities must be present:

  • Connectivity: Massage is a dance of sorts. When a massage therapist approaches the body with the discipline of dance where the body is never broken away from, then the rhythm and continuity of the massage stays intact. If the recipient feels interruption and restarting along with disjointed movement, the flow will not lead to ideal results.
  • Use of Varying Techniques: A great massage has special techniques to approach and trigger muscle memory. When working muscular discomfort, a skilled massage therapist knows how to penetrate the area where the belly of the muscle resides. Through compressions, deep tissue, dynamic stretching and other techniques, great relief occurs. The use of massage oil is another important tool. Using too much oil is similar to a cook over seasoning in the kitchen as it prohibits the therapist’s ability to feel the muscle. There is nothing pleasant in feeling a lot of flowing strokes that graze over the muscle as the therapist’s hands slide with lack of control. Use too little and the massage falls short.
  • Intention: The most important element of an excellent massage is intention. This involves a therapist working from the heart. This starts the moment one is greeted and with every step thereafter. When a massage therapist comes from a place of healing and selflessness it is apparent. The nuances of engaged eye contact, minimal conversation and the integrity of touch elevates the massage from a procedural service to a magical memory.

A massage that delivers all of these elements will help set your bar as a true massage connoisseur.

Seeking to become a connoisseur of wine, food or art are great pursuits, yet an even greater aspiration is to become a connoisseur of the wellness practices that affect our physical, mental and spiritual life day in and day out. By becoming a “wellness connoisseur,” you become an advocate for your own well-being and will seek and receive better care.

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