I think with a few notable exceptions, most people I work with have some notion that there exists some massage called 'good.' But what does the goodness of a massage refer to? Is it that a good massage is relaxing? If yes, then does it need only be relaxing during the massage treatment, or does it need to continue to relax the recipient long afterward or maybe just shortly afterward for it to have been 'good.' Or maybe it needs to be productive? I know a lot of clients have the notion that productivity of work is recognized by the pain it elicits (both during and sometimes afterward) and that one can feel a good massage in the way it produces soreness. These two notions might be related or they might not. One might experience soreness and a sense of relief that one could describe as a relaxed state. Or these notions might not at all be related as one person might find pain the antithesis 0f relaxation. To me, the notion of a "good massage" is just a catch all term for whatever it is someone wants. So then I ask you, what do you want from a massage? That is an all together different question than whatever might result in the answer "a good massage." It's all together different because it means acknowledging and articulating not only what you want from the work but what you bring to the work. Different people are different. That's a truism (it doesn't say anything new or interesting), but it's also often forgotten by the individual who sees massage as a service, a broad and generalized service of which they might partake. Think of a good restaurant: it serves good food regardless of who patronizes it—that's what makes it good. But a good massage therapist sometimes fails because unlike good food, a good massage depends on the person experiencing it. Are you a sore and achy athlete with a specific problem? Then you probably want us to address that problem. But are you also stressed and anxious? Have you been over-exercising because of personal or family or professional anxiety? Well, although a massage therapist isn't a counselor and you don't need to mention any specifics (it's actually better I think that you don't), it's sometimes good to acknowledge that maybe your specific issue could be better helped by just taking some time to experience your body for one hour in a safe and relaxing place. It's perhaps not an obviously rewarding idea (you might really want to stop feeling pain in your calves, for example—I understand that), but maybe the reason your stretches aren't helping and you have this desire to push yourself past the point of reason in your exercise is because you're stressed out. Now a one hour massage probably isn't going to resolve that stress (a very serious question I might ask is "how could it?" Seriously, how could it?), but by putting you in a place (a mental and physical place) where you feel at ease, safe, comfortable, aware of your body without effort or stress or fatigue or exertion, might make the distinction between your everyday experience of your body as tense and tight and maybe painful and the experience on the table as soft, supple, and relaxed seem really far apart. It might draw your attention to how much tension you hold (not just tension that is just somehow affecting you but that you might have a relationship to).

Now I'm not suggesting that everyone ought to get relaxation massage in lieu of other work. The above example is just an example. What I am suggesting is that one consider what one brings to the table and how one is related to the success of the work achieved by them with the help of a massage therapist. A good massage isn't just a formula. It's really hard to sometimes achieve something good (as a massage therapist or as a client) because one or neither of us knows what's needed, wanted, or warranted given what one brings to the table.