Whether professional massage is new for you, or it is already part of your regular health regimen, we can all increase our massage knowledge. Below you will find some tips on how to get the most out of your therapeutic massage experience.
Can I get a massage therapist to come to me?
Yes! This is referred to as an on-location treatment. If you are visiting from another city or state, the on-location would occur in your hotel room. Some things to consider before booking an on location: You must have a room that well sized so that a massage table can fit. There must be room around all sides of the table for your therapist to work comfortably. It would be helpful for you to have music available (if you are staying in a hotel, your therapist may bring their music), and a chair for your therapist to use during your treatment. In order for you to have a quiet, relaxing treatment, please have the room be away from any family or extraneous noise. Please note that generally, therapists charge more for on location treatments to account and be compensated for their time and travel.
Do I have to shave before my massage?
I love this question. I have been a massage therapist for 13 years, and I still apologize to my massage therapist when I haven’t shaved and I’m about to get a treatment. It’s a knee-jerk apology, and unnecessary. We don’t care if you are hairy. We are thinking a whole bunch about your anatomy, and what’s below the surface of your skin, and not very much about whether you’ve shaved or not. By the way, here’s a little trick: if you have a lot of body hair, it is helpful to use conditioner on your body hair before your scheduled treatment.
How often should I get massage?
As often as possible seems an easy answer, but I’m a realist. A better rule of thumb is this: Any amount of massage is better than no massage at all. Do you have an injury? Or an area that troubles you regularly? Then don’t be surprised to hear your massage therapist ask you to come more often, in order to treat that area. It’s very common to work with your therapist more regularly until your condition improves. Otherwise, a monthly massage is a realistic, healthy goal. Think of it as an oil change for your body. If we keep up with the maintenance that our bodies need, we can prevent injury or recurring areas of tension. It’s rumored that comedian Bob Hope received a massage every day until he died at the age of 100! What a lofty goal!
How to make the most of your massage experience
Be on time for your treatment. This helps both you and your therapist, who will want to interview you before the treatment begins to discuss your treatment and your medical history and let you know what you can expect during the treatment. This is a great time to ask any questions and share any concerns you may have regarding your treatment. Being on time is simply common courtesy to your massage therapist and his or her other clients. It’s also the best way to ensure you receive the entire length of your treatment, as your therapist may have to shorten the treatment if you are late in order to accommodate other clients.
Turn off or silence those cell phones! This is not only common courtesy to your therapist and any other clients in the building, it’s the best way to make sure your everyday stresses don’t intrude into your treatment time. If you’re concerned about being reached in case of an emergency, either choose a better time to receive your treatment, or give your friends and/or family the phone number of the place where you’re receiving the massage. That way, you’ll only be interrupted if it’s truly necessary.
Know your medical history. If you have any major medical conditions, it is always wise to speak with your doctor before scheduling massage. Know your medical history, because your massage therapist will need to be aware of any and all relevant medical conditions. The more you know, the easier it is for your therapist to provide you with the best, most appropriate treatment. There will be a brief interview before your treatment—that’s when your therapist will ask for more information regarding anything you’ve disclosed on your intake form that will be relevant to your treatment.
Relax! When you choose to work with a professional, licensed massage therapist, they do the work, you do the relaxing. Besides his or her therapeutic skills, your therapist has taken extensive anatomy and physiology classes, had hours of clinical practice, received all sorts of helpful feedback from mentors, and is comfortable working with a myriad of body types and conditions.
Communicate! The single most important tip we can give you is this: Communicate with your therapist. If you need more or less pressure, tell your therapist. If you’re nervous and unsure of the basics of getting a treatment, ask your therapist. If you’re too hot, too cold, hate the music, need to go to the bathroom, etc., let your therapist know. Be thorough when you fill out your intake form, as it’s your first real communication with your therapist. This is your treatment, and your therapist will want you to feel at ease. A good way to achieve that is to voice your concerns.
Don’t expect anything but therapeutic massage. Please be aware that if you are booking with a licensed professional, you are booking a therapeutic, nonsexual massage. There really isn’t much more to say about this other than that. Any inappropriate and/or sexual behavior will not be tolerated; your therapist will flag you as an undesirable client and may even call the authorities.
Find what works for you. Our bodies are complicated, and our needs are varied. You may find yourself wanting to experience all different kinds of modalities, as well as different therapists. It is very common to see the same therapist regularly, but just as common to prefer to see different therapists. Some therapists may even refer you to someone else if that person can better address your specific needs. Our needs change, and there is no one therapist that can address all of your changing needs over the course of your life. The majority of massage therapists and body workers understand this, and they encourage or support you, if that’s what you need. We hear from time to time that clients are concerned with hurting their therapist’s feelings if they see another practitioner. Let us assure you that you need not worry about that. It’s your body, your time, your money, and your choice.
What should I wear?
Getting undressed can be a stressor for some clients. Here’s something you’re likely to hear from your massage therapist that may put you at ease: Undress to your level of comfort—whatever that is is fine with me. They mean it, too! Some of our clients leave their underwear on—that’s fine. Others feel the need to leave more clothes on—that’s fine. Some people get undressed completely, and that’s fine too. Again, this is your treatment, and our first concern is your comfort. And just so you know, you will be covered with a sheet, and very strict draping protocols are followed throughout your entire treatment.
Is it normal to be sore after a massage?
It is very normal to feel sore or achy after a massage. Even if you have not received a deep tissue treatment, it’s not totally abnormal to experience some soreness for as long as 36 hours. If you feel this soreness for longer than 48 hours, the work that you received may have been too deep. Consider discussing this if you see the therapist again and remember to listen to your body during your next treatment. If you resist the pressure, it’s too deep.
To talk or not to talk?
This comes up a lot, and there’s no single answer. Some people are talkers. Some clients are put at ease by carrying on a conversation. This is fine—it allows therapist and client to get to know each other better. However, if this is you, you may want to challenge yourself to try something different: stay as quiet as possible throughout your treatment, except for any treatment-related discussion. Take deep breaths and work on quieting your mind and just receiving the treatment you’re there for. I know: sometimes it’s hard. But there is no such thing as uncomfortable silence when you are receiving a treatment. If you are simply more comfortable with some light chit-chat, just be aware that your therapist may even ask you to be quiet so you can receive the full benefits of the massage. That said, you may come across therapists who invite conversation in the treatment. If you enjoy that, you have found a good match. If you don’t, remember our most important tip: Communicate! Let your therapist know that you would rather have a quiet treatment.
To tip or not to tip?The Basics: This is one of the most debated questions among massage therapists. On the one hand are many therapists’ personal beliefs about their profession; on the other are practical considerations. It is acknowledged that many clients consider massage to be preventative health care, and because healthcare providers do not receive tips, many clients in turn, do not tip their massage therapists. Nevertheless, some therapists rely on tips, while others don’t. As in any relationship, open, appropriate communication is best. If you choose not to tip, let your therapist know. This informs the therapist that your not tipping is not an indication of how you felt about the treatment. Further Thoughts: It is fairly commonplace to tip massage therapists, but it is by no means required. The therapist would rather have you as a client than not, so if tipping would keep you from being able to afford your treatment, do not tip. If your circumstances change, you can always “gift” your therapist with a larger-than-normal tip, or just begin tipping regularly, if you so wish. A good rule of thumb for tips is 20% of the service. That said, any amount of tip is still a tip.
What exactly is deep tissue?
There is a difference between deep pressure within a massage (something that most therapists can do), and deep tissue massage. If you have an area that needs specific work in order to relieve tension, trigger points, or adhesions, deep specific work is typically necessary. Your therapist will use specific, static pressure deep into the muscle—usually with their elbow or fingers—to release the tension in that area. It is important to remember that everyone has a different tolerance for deep work, so communication with your therapist throughout your treatment regarding your comfort is essential. Many people can get profound results from lighter pressure and lighter work. No two people are the same! If your body is resisting the pressure applied to it, then the treatment is too deep, and you need to tell your therapist.
What is integrative massage?
Please note that most massage therapists are trained in many of the treatment modalities described on our treatment description page, and they are not always separated into different treatments, but more commonly are used in combination within a single treatment, as warranted. A massage should be very fluid, and the therapist should be adept at addressing the needs of the body with whatever technique is called for. This is called integrated massage, and it is extremely common among bodywork practitioners, as we are required to complete a number of hours of continuing education each year or every other year. Once we complete a class, we typically like to integrate any or all techniques that we have learned, as necessary, so as to best treat the client. This is why you will notice that no two massage or bodywork treatments are the same, even if you are receiving from the same practitioner time after time. As your needs change, so do our techniques.
When should I get a massage?
A better question may be: when should I not get a massage! We believe in the healing power of massage and the transformative effect it can have on your mind, body, and spirit. Studies have shown that massage is effective in lowering heart rate and blood pressure and improving circulation—in short, alleviating stress. Stress can exacerbate health issues we may already be dealing with—illness, injury, emotional turbulence, soreness, or chronic pain. Massage therapy can lighten the load on our bodies and improve our sense of well-being. It can help decrease pain, increase range of motion, and make us aware of how we use our bodies day to day. Really, the list of benefits is endless—and unique to each person, just like your treatment!
When should I not receive a massage?
Please do not receive a treatment after consuming any amount of alcohol. Do not receive a massage when you have a cold or other illness—you are putting your therapist at risk, and, quite frankly, you will not enjoy your treatment. If you have had surgery in the last 4 to 6 weeks, please speak with your doctor before scheduling a massage.
Why Can’t I Breathe?
It is very normal to become congested while laying face down on a massage table. This usually clears up when you flip over, and can be helped by asking your therapist to use some essential oils in the face cradle while you are lying face down.