One of the many advantages of booking an outcall massage is that you get to choose what music to play. And while it’s probably best to hold the thrash metal and opt for wind chimes, there are other things to think about.
“Instrumental music is usually preferable during a relaxing massage, but if you’re choosing something with lyrics, choose long, sustained lyrics – something like Enya,” said Costas Karageorghis, Author of Applying Music in Exercise and Sport.
“The melody and rhythm should be fairly simple to have an immersive effect – you want to become lost in it, as if it’s an aural bed to lie on. Sounds of nature such as leaves rustling or a babbling brook mixed with music can work very well as the body is programmed to react positively to nature,” Costas adds. “The sound of the harp, oboe and ethnic woodwind instruments such as panpipes and the ocarina also work particularly well.”
Make sure your playlist is long enough to last the entire massage – you don’t want it cutting out in the middle or – even worse – starting back at the beginning so that the music becomes repetitive. Try to choose tracks which don’t have sudden changes in rhythm. “Think about the track duration – when you’re dancing, you want variety but with massage tracks should be long or ideally merge into each other. I often prescribe music for hypnosis for athletes to aid relaxation,” Costas suggests. “The volume should be relatively low – in the range of 60 to 65 dBA – the client should be able to comfortably maintain a conversation with the therapist.”
The type of music you choose may also depend on what kind of massage you’re having, of course. For an invigorating Thai or sports massage you might want to listen to something a little more upbeat than you’d choose for a reflexology session, for example.
“Picking music that’s 60 to 80 beats per minute is optimal during a massage aimed at relaxation as your body reacts to the music – your heart will slow empathetically and your muscles and brain will also respond,” says Costas. “As you near the end of your massage playlist, you might want to include something with a slightly faster beat per minute – perhaps 90 to 100 – to help get yourself energised for whatever you are doing next.”