When should I get a massage?
When should I not get a massage?
- Any type of infectious disease
- Systemic infections
- Severe cold
- Fracture, bleeding, burns or other acute injury
- Liver and kidney diseases
- Blood clot (unless you have a doctor’s written permission)
- Pregnancy-induced diabetes, toxemia, preeclampsia/eclampsia
- High blood pressure (unless under control with medication)
- Heart disease
- Open skin lesions or sores (therapist may work around them if localised)
The guidelines here are pretty straightforward. You don’t want the massage to make an underlying medical condition worse, and you don’t want to pass anything contagious to the massage therapist. If you’re unsure about whether a minor condition should prohibit you from getting a massage, call before your appointment. If you have a chronic medical condition, check with your doctor before proceeding on a course of massage therapy. For some illnesses, other bodywork modalities/techniques may work well.
This is my first massage. What can I expect when I arrive?
Does the gender of the massage therapist make a difference?
Many people are nervous about receiving a massage from one gender or the other. This is a personal choice. While no professional wants their services refused based upon their gender, they also realize that if you’re too nervous about who is giving you the massage, then you won’t be able to relax and enjoy it.
What if I’m overweight or embarrassed about my body?
Massage therapists see bodies in every imaginable shape and size, from young to old, and they’re not there trying to judge your physique or ogle your body. They’re professionals who have found massage to be a wonderful gift to give to men and women alike, regardless of age and weight, and are proud of what they can offer to people in need of help or just wanting to enjoy the sense of touch.
What does a massage therapist’s license or certification mean?
Certification means that the therapist has successfully passed a specific course or test and been granted a certificate to bear out that fact. This may range from courses in pregnancy and neo-natal massage, to different modalities like Rolfing or Hellerwork. There is also a written national certification test for massage therapists.
What happens during a massage?
Once you’ve finished with the intake, the massage therapist will give you some privacy to get undressed and get on the massage table. A drape, either a sheet or towel, should be provided. The therapist should have advised you to start the massage lying on your stomach or on your back. If you’re to start on your stomach, there will be a cushioned doughnut-shaped device at one end of the table. This is a face rest, and you should place your face in there. This allows you to be face down, and keep your shoulder and neck muscles relaxed. If you lay your head on the table and turn it to one side, the muscles in your neck and shoulders won’t be in their relaxed state and won’t be able to receive the best benefits of the massage.
There may also be a pillow or bolster on the table. A bolster is a padded, cylindrical device. These are to be used for your ankles and knees. If you’re lying face down, the pillow or bolster goes under your ankles, so you’re not hyperextending your feet while lying that way for an extended period of time. If you’re lying on your back, it goes under the knees to prevent any hyperextension of your knee joint.
Once you’re undressed and under the drape, the therapist will come back into the room. For the most part, your work is done, and all you have to do is relax and enjoy. The therapist will undrape the section of the body that they will work on first, and apply a lubricant, either oil or lotion, to the skin. They will use a variety of strokes, some rubbing, kneading, vibration, percussion, whatever they think will work best for your muscles. Stretching, rocking, or pressure point work may all be added. If the therapist gives you directions for slow exhales, just follow along. If they stretch or rotate any joint, don’t try to help. Just stay as relaxed and limp as you can and let the therapist move that part of your body.
Every therapist has their own style of massage, strokes they like to use on different parts of the body, and prefer to work on different areas of the body in a particular order. One therapist may start you on your stomach and begin the massage with your back. Another may start you on your back and begin with your feet. So for a first visit with any massage therapist, don’t be alarmed if their style and direction is different from another therapist you’ve seen.
When the therapist finishes with one area of the body, they will put the drape back over that part, and undrape the next section to be massaged. At some point, you may be asked to roll over under the drape, and the therapist will continue with the other side of the body. When the massage is over, you’ll be left in private to get dressed again. If a towel was used for a drape, you can wipe off any excess oil with it. The therapist will return, and this is a good time to tell them how you feel, if you have any concerns, settle the bill, and make your next appointment.
What parts of my body will be massaged?
There are different reasons why some massage therapists skip different areas of the body. For some it may just allow them to concentrate on areas of the body that are typically the areas that need the most work. They would rather give fuller attention to these areas and not do areas that usually are not a problem for most people. If you would prefer these areas to receive some massage, you can ask the therapist to do so, and they may agree.
Some therapists will ask you during the intake if you have any areas of your body that you would prefer not to be massaged. This may be verbal or you might have to check off areas of the body on a chart on the intake form. The therapist will respect your wishes.
Should you request that any part of your body not be massaged? This is another area where the answer is not so easy. A person getting massaged should be relaxed. If anything during the massage causes them to tighten their muscles, than the benefits from the massage won’t be obtained. On the other hand, the body is one interconnected organism. Even though you may feel discomfort in one part of your body before a massage, the cause of the problem may rest in a different area of the body. Overcompensation for an ache or nagging injury by limping, walking differently, or carrying yourself other than your normal way will cause muscles throughout the body to suffer. To reap the most benefits from a massage, all areas should be addressed.
As a general rule, just try to stay relaxed as much as possible during a massage. If it’s your first massage, and you suddenly find yourself nervous as the therapist moves to a new area, just try to make your mind float and enjoy the feeling of having the stress worked out the muscles there. As you see more of the therapist in future visits, your nervousness about these areas will probably go away pretty quickly as you come to trust their strokes and professional approach to their work.
Do I have to be completely undressed?
The pieces of clothing left on the most often are either panties or boxer shorts. Certain styles of panties will allow access to most muscles in the buttocks if they are moved slightly. Boxers and panties that come over the bottom of the buttocks usually mean that no work will be done in that area. Some women wear thong panties to a massage. It allows the therapist access to all of the major buttock muscles, and also allows them the comfort and modesty they prefer.
Do I have to use a towel or sheet as a drape?
One more draping issue again concerns a woman’s breasts. When a woman is lying on her back, and the therapist is ready to work on her abdominal muscles, lowering the drape to expose the stomach also exposes the breasts. This is easily remedied by providing a second towel to cover the breasts. Many therapists will insist on this second towel to cover the breasts, for either their own comfort level, or to ensure the client’s comfort level. Others will offer the option to the woman to use the second towel to cover their breasts and leave the choice up to them.
Can I talk during a massage?
There are times when you should speak up during a massage. If anything makes you uncomfortable, bring it to the therapist’s attention. If you’re too cold or too hot, the room is too bright and hard on your eyes, or if you prefer the strokes to be deeper or lighter, mention it to the therapist. Feel free to speak up, if something about the massage isn’t working for you.
How often should I receive a massage?
Will my massage hurt?
Everybody has different thresholds of pain. The depth of a stroke may not be deep enough for one person’s liking and may cause pain for another. Some people want the massage as deep as possible regardless of the soreness. Others want something much lighter, more sensual and pleasing, to help them relax rather than deeper work that might be sore. So make your preference known to the therapist, and give feedback at any time during a massage that the depth of the strokes is more than you’d like.