THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE ARE ENDLESS! There are many benefits of massage, especially of regular massage! Some of these include muscular relaxation, decreased muscular tension, stress and pain, increased muscle tone and balance, increased range of motion, increased circulation of blood and lymph (which enhances the immune system), decreased blood pressure, increased sense of well-being, heightened awareness of the mind-body connection, reduced feelings of depression, stress and anxiety and many other benefits both physical and mental!
What should I expect on my first massage?
At your first massage, you can expect to be greeted and asked to fill out an intake form. Then your therapist will show you to the massage room, review your form with you, ask you some questions in preparation for the massage, then leave the room for you to undress to your comfort level and get on the table. The therapist will wash his or her hands while you change, then knock on the door before coming back in to start the massage. After the massage, the therapist will leave the room again so that you can get dressed.
Why do I have to fill out an intake form?
The intake form includes information such as contact information, medical history and informed consent/release of liability. Contact information is important for follow-ups as well as for the therapist/business to inform you of special offers and maybe even to send you a gift card on your birthday! Of course, you always have the right to request that a therapist or business not contact you, but they will still need your contact information on file. Medical history is very important in massage therapy because of the direct effect it has on the soft tissues of the body and on body functions. Some medical conditions are contraindicated for massage, meaning that if you receive certain types of massage with certain medical conditions, you may be putting yourself in harm's way! Informed consent & release of liability basically is you signing your name saying that you are an adult, you have requested therapeutic massage treatment, you know what it entails, you know what it does not entail, you know that you and your therapist reserve the right to end the session at any time in case of inappropriate or unacceptable behavior/comments, or in case of emergency, and that you are ultimately responsible for yourself in the universe. It also confirms that you assume responsibility to inform your therapist if your medical condition should change.
What if I have a contraindication and how do I know?
If you have a contraindication you will most likely know it. Then again, sometimes you may not. That is why it so important that you honestly fill out your medical history form. Your massage therapist will review it carefully before your massage to ensure that your massage will only benefit you. If you do have a contraindication, it may be local or systemic. If it is locally contraindicated (for example, if you have a deep fresh bruise or an open wound), the contraindication is easily resolved by locally avoiding that area. If you have a systemic (something that affects your whole body) contraindication (for example, if you have low blood pressure or a fever) you may only be contraindicated for certain types of massage, or you may need to reschedule your massage for another day. In most cases, you will still be able to have a massage, but the modality may have to be adapted so that you can safely and healthfully receive it!
How long will my massage last?
Depending on the setting in which you receive your massage, the type of bodywork you are receiving and what you and your therapist have discussed, your massage may be anywhere from 5 to 120 minutes long. Most in-office and home visit massages are 60 or 90 minutes long. 30 minute massage and 2 hour massage are also available. Most Chair Massage sessions (at a corporate office or special event) will usually last 5-15 minutes, and are usually scheduled back to back in set intervals or on a first come, first served basis.
Do I have to get naked?
NO! In fact, you don't have to do anything! First and foremost, you should only undress to your comfort level-- if your therapist is trying to coerce you into undressing beyond your initial instinct, then you're probably not with the right therapist for you. Some techniques may need to be modified to accommodate whatever clothing you choose to leave on, but where there is a will, there's a way, and massage therapy is rich in various modalities and techniques that can be used to accommodate you at any comfort level. In fact, some modalities, such as sports massage, are designed and best applied for when the client leaves their clothes on!
Don't I get to get naked?
If you're comfortable undressing completely, yes, of course, then get under the sheet, blanket or towel (a.k.a. "drape"). Even if you choose to be completely undressed, you will be appropriately draped at all times during your massage. That means that women's breasts and male and female genitalia will always be covered and won't be touched. There are some benefits to being completely undressed for certain types of massage (including traditional Swedish and deep tissue) because it allows for more continuity in stroke quality and access to the full length of many muscles or muscle groups. However, even if you are receiving Swedish or deep tissue work, you still don't have to take it all off!
I'm really hairy/out of shape/stinky/annoying/have really dry skin... Can I still get a massage?
Big resounding yessss! I can't count the number of times I have had clients apologize for being hairy, overweight, having rough feet, not fixing their hair, not putting on make-up or forgetting to shave their legs... You come to me (or your massage therapist) to get a massage, not to impress me with how impeccably groomed you are! Of all the places you go in your daily life, I sincerely hope that your massage is at least one place that you truly feel comfortable to come as you are. That said, of course I greatly appreciate it if you come clean, but you don't have to be 5 minutes out of the shower to get a massage. Actually, it is better for the therapist if you don't have on make-up, heavy hair products or lotions. If you do from your day, no big deal, but please don't get your hair all fixed up just so I can mess it up when I'm massaging your scalp! I believe that each individual is a whole and complete person. So, if you're really hairy, that is how you are supposed to be and if you lie on my massage table apologizing for that then you are not honoring your body. I want my clients to come to their massage honoring their bodies and respecting themselves. In my opinion, that is an essential first step in having a successful massage experience.
Last time I got a massage... it hurt really badly/felt uncomfortable the whole time/the therapist wouldn't stop talking/etc....
Please, please, pretty please don't write off massage therapy if you've had a bad massage experience! Just like most things in life, you can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time. That really annoying massage therapist who wouldn't keep her mouth shut? She probably has 50 clients who love her and are just as chatty. All that means is that she's not a good match for you.The therapist who wouldn't let up on the pressure? Probably has 50 clients who insist he stay deep no matter what. You get the idea. Those are personality mismatches. It doesn't mean they don't do good quality bodywork, (maybe they do, maybe they don't) but most likely you just need to try someone else. A really good, sensitive therapist should be able to adjust their pressure, conversation and even techniques to accommodate you.
What if I want more or less pressure?
The best thing you can do is ask. Most therapists will check in with you during the massage by saying something like "How does the pressure feel?" or " Would you like more or less pressure?" They are not asking you for the fun of it, they really care and really want to know! And, being human, they may occasionally be caught up in how a muscle feels or thinking about the source of your tension and forget to ask, so if they do forget to ask, just let them know! Ultimately, it’s your body and you are the only one who knows what you are experiencing on the receiving end, so just speak up.
Why do they always tell me to drink lots of water?
Think of your body as a giant and intricate filtering device. Everything we put into our bodies (voluntarily or involuntarily) goes through a series of processes in which the body tries to keep the good things (things it needs to thrive, grow & heal) and tries to get rid of the bad things. We are made mostly of water, and water serves a huge role in the whole filtering process as part of the storage, transport and delivery system (within the body and out of it--think sweat, urine and feces). When you get a massage, blood and lymph circulation are both stimulated, and guess what blood and lymph also help do? You guessed it, filter and transport nutrients and waste. In addition, muscles can store memories, traumas and toxins, any or all of which may be released during your massage. So, suddenly, you've got extra toxins floating around that your body is happily trying to remove, but it needs more water!!! Just imagine that each toxic chemical or memory requires a certain amount of water to make it all the way out of your body. Clearly, if you've released more toxins than you usually do on an average day, you're going to need more water to get them all out. The side effect of not having enough water may include muscle aches, feeling queasy, sluggish, tired, generally upset, and/or re-storing those toxins (in the same place or somewhere else) thus nullifying the longer-term benefits of your massage! Ick.
When is the best time to get a massage?
The BEST time to get a massage is when you're feeling GREAT! Think, "preventative healthcare."
That being said, most clients will wait until they feel like they are going to have a nervous breakdown from the stress at work or they can hardly lift their arm to come in for a massage. That is okay and understandable, but not ideal. Barring traumatic injuries (injuries that occur all of a sudden, like from a car accident or fall), most injuries are cumulative. Cumulative injuries are gradual, and are the result of small things in our daily lives that add up over time. They are usually the result of repetitive movements, poor posture and/or faulty body mechanics. Every human being exhibits some degree of postural deviation which may or may not culminate in potentially chronic injury. The trick is to determine where your biomechanics are out of synch and start working to correct them! If you wait to experience the straw that breaks the camel's back, "I just bent down to pick up my pen and threw my back out... It's the darndest thing!..." your road to recovery will generally be significantly longer, more involved, more painful and more expensive.
How many sessions do I need?
It really depends on you! Your goal in receiving therapeutic massage, what your life experience has been so far and how you are using your body on a daily basis will determine how frequently you should receive massage. If you are generally free of pain, tension, discomfort and stress and realize the physiological and psychological benefits of massage and are using it as part of your general healthcare and preventative maintenance and wellness plan, a monthly or every other week massage should be plenty. If you are a serious athlete, have high stress, chronic pain, or are recovering from an injury, your massage needs may be increased to 1-3 massages per week. Most of the time, when more massage is needed, it is in cycles or phases. For example, an athlete may get weekly massage while in season, then reduce to monthly in the off season. Someone recovering from an injury may receive 2 or more massages per week for the first couple months of treatment, and then gradually reduce the frequency as they return to normal range of motion and muscle balance. You and your therapist can work together to determine what is best for you.
Will there be a “happy ending”?
NO. There will not be a “happy ending” in any massage session I provide-- EVER. I like to think of the whole massage as a happy time. However, your own personal happy ending will only come for you once you have fulfilled your personal legend (like in the Alchemist) and discovered your life and heart's fulfillment. Seriously though, I only provide and support therapeutic, non-sexual massage. While on the topic, let's also clarify that I do not engage in any mutual massage nor will I ever perform massage in the nude, topless, etc. Whew! Glad we got that cleared up! I choose to run my practice this way based on general principles of respect for my body, my client's body, our therapeutic relationship, human relationships, my own personal and professional code of ethics as well as the standard of professional ethics set forth by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) and last but not least to be in accordance with local law.