What to Expect at your First Massage Therapy Session

istock_000002974686mediumAs someone who has spent over 20 years receiving massage and searching for the one therapist (preferably more, but that seems to be too much to ask) who meets all my needs, I am constantly concerned with meeting the needs of my clients.

Today, I want to focus on clients who are newcomers to massage. Perhaps they haven’t even had a massage yet, or they had a disappointing first massage and hesitate to return. Here are some questions, straight from the mouths of real clients.

“When I get a 90 minute massage, and my appointment is at 5PM, and the Therapist talks to me for ten minutes, then stops ABRUPTLY at 6:30. Is that normal? Does the massage time include the consultation?”

No. It shouldn’t. Not unless you are the one talking about non-treatment related stuff, and making it difficult to end the interview so that the therapist can step out. Sometimes it is hard to politely interrupt a client who is talking, but it needs to be done, unless it is related to the needs of the client. If, outside of this issue, you are happy with your therapist, you can let them know when you arrive that you are on a schedule, and need to begin the treatment promptly.

“Sometimes I just want to lay still, but I’ve had therapists who talk, talk, TALK. What’s a polite way to have quiet?”

There are two ways you can accomplish that, and if neither work, you may need to find a new therapist. The first thing you can do is, during the interview, let your therapist know that you would like a quiet treatment, that you really need to relax and not talk for the treatment time. (You may be asked some treatment-related questions during the session, just FYI) The second is to use the trusty one-word response to any conversation starters that your therapist may throw out there. Shut them down with a simple “yes,” “no,” or that sound people make when they agree, but don’t form a word. Something like “Mmmhmmm.”

“Can I ask for a change of music?”

YES! Although, in some spa environments, the music is *shudder* piped in. Which just seems mean. Check out some of our unique recommendations.

“Should I 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, leave it as feedback in the rating section, and remember to listen to your body during your next treatment. If you resist the pressure, it’s too deep.

“I know it may depend on spa/location, but is it ok to tell the therapist that it is cold in the room?”

PLEASE! I need my treatment room to be cool, so I don’t pass out, but that doesn’t mean my client should suffer. Blankets, hydrocollators, even heated tables can be utilized to keep the client warm while keeping the room temperature comfortable for the hard-working therapist. It’s a win-win!

“Seriously, the underwear on or off just gets me. I leave it on now, but I talk to others that don’t.”

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.

“Why can’t I breath when I’m lying on my tummy?”

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.

“Can I ask my therapist to use less oil? Or use lotion instead of oil?”

Sure. Therapists are generally flexible—and if they’re not, they should be. I suppose that some of us may exclusively use oil, but if you ask them to at least use less, then you will be more comfortable after the treatment. It may spark the therapist to have another type of lubricant on hand the next time they see you, too.

That’s all for today. If you have more questions, view our About section. Or, send any questions that you have by sharing them in the comments, and I will answer them for you. Next post I will share some feedback from clients regarding what they like best in a treatment!