Frequently Asked Questions
There are many things to understand for someone new to massage therapy. Before scheduling your first appointment, read over the information provided on this website. There is never an unseemly question, so if it is not answered here, please call for further consultation.
Where will my massage session take place?
Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable, quiet room. Soft music may be played to help you relax. You will lie on a table especially designed for your comfort.
Must I be fully undressed?
Most massage and bodywork techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. You should undress to your level of comfort. You will always be properly draped during the entire session.
Will the therapist be in the room when I disrobe?
Your therapist will leave the room while you undress, relax onto the table, and cover yourself with a clean sheet and blanket. To ensure you are fully ready, the therapist will knock on the door before entering.
Will I be covered-up during my massage?
You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable. Only the area being worked on will be exposed. You may be asked to shift positions during the massage, your therapist takes great care in ensuring your privacy during this transition stage as well. Always speak to the therapist about your concerns and adjustments will be made to keep you at ease.
What will be massaged in my session?
A typical full-body session will include work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck, and shoulders. If you have directed needs, your therapist may focus on fewer areas for the sake of time. Take the time to discuss your goals before your session starts, especially if you are experiencing pain, restricted movements or if have certain things you enjoy the most, i.e. a scalp or foot massage.
What will the massage feel like?
A Swedish massage, also called a Relaxation massage is often a baseline for clients. In a general Swedish massage, your session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help calm your nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension. As your body becomes relaxed, pressure will gradually be increased to relax specific areas and relieve areas of muscular tension. Often, a light oil or lotion is used to allow your muscles to be massaged without causing excessive friction to the skin. The oil also helps hydrate your skin. You should communicate immediately if you feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massage and bodywork are most effective when your body is not resisting.
How many different kinds of massage are there?
There are numerous types of massage and bodywork; various techniques utilize different strokes, including basic rubbing strokes, rocking movement, posture and movement re-education, application of pressure to specific points, and more. We can discuss which methods may be most appropriate for you. Certain types of therapy require additional education and hands-on learning. Ask for your therapists list of credentials to determine what choices you have available during your session.
What should I do during the massage?
Prior to the massage, feel free to ask your therapist any questions about the technique or the upcoming session. During the massage, make yourself comfortable. Your therapist will either gently move you or tell you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Many people just close their eyes and completely relax, communicating if/when they need more or less pressure, another blanket, or anything else relevant to the session. If you have any questions regarding the session or about the particular technique you are receiving, feel free to ask.
What if I need to use the bathroom during my massage?
As your therapist works your body will be discarding waste products, so it can happen that the urge to go will overwhelm you. Don't feel embarrassed or afraid to ask the therapist to stop the session to relieve yourself. Robes and slippers are provided for just such an occasion. The therapist will leave the room while you dress and use the facilities and will wait for you to be comfortable on the table again before entering and resuming your massage session.
How will I feel after my massage?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity which can last for days. Since toxins are released from your soft tissues during a massage, it is recommended you drink plenty of water following your massage.
What are the benefits of receiving a massage?
Massage and bodywork can help release chronic muscular tension and pain, improve circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress, promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture, and reduce blood pressure. Massage and bodywork is also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration, reduce anxiety and create an overall sense of well-being. See more benefits on the benefits page here.
Are there there conditions where you should not get a massage?
Yes. That's why it's imperative that, before you begin your session, the practitioner asks general health questions. It is very important that you inform the practitioner of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor's care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to any session. Depending on the condition, approval from your doctor may be required.
Is every situation massage cannot be performed if you have a fever, infectious skin condition, or you are showing signs or are recovering from an illness.
A therapist may decide to locally avoid working on a certain area for a number of reasons that will be discussed while reviewing your medical history and current condition.
Six Massage Questions You’re Afraid to Ask
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Considering massage but have a few concerns? Get your answers here!
1. I'm a bit uncomfortable taking all my clothes off when I go for massage. Do I have to be completely naked to receive massage?
Some people go under the sheets without a stitch on, others wear underwear, and some people prefer to wear shorts, sweatpants, or even their regular street clothes. No, you don't have to take off more clothes than you are comfortable with to receive massage. Talk to your therapist and he or she will adapt to your needs. Be aware that wearing more clothes can interfere with the use of certain techniques, but there's no reason you can't enjoy receiving massage in casual clothes. Therapists won't be able to use lotion and may be unable to work as deeply, but they can adapt to your comfort level and still deliver a satisfying massage experience.
People who are self-conscious about their bodies might get massage more often, and with less apprehension, if they had the added underwear barrier. For some, it creates a psychological boundary that allows them to more fully relax during the massage, and that's okay, too. Rest assured, massage therapists work with all kinds of bodies, from the very young to the very old and all shapes and sizes in between. Massage therapists are a very caring and giving group. To be successful at what they do, they have to be. Your therapist strives to strike a balance between engaging with you as the complex individual you are, as well as seeing your body and all its unique qualities from a clinical perspective. Bodywork is about the careful application of techniques to muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue as a means to enhance your whole being; it's not about judgment.
2. I'd like get massages more often, but I can't afford it. Do I talk to my massage therapist about this?
Yes, talk to your massage therapist. Your practitioner may have a client loyalty or frequent-buyer program in place to bring down the total cost of massage, or a time-pay option to spread out the cost.
Many therapists take credit cards, and some will take postdated checks or a series of postdated checks to work out a payment plan. Some therapists have a sliding scale of fees depending on annual income and financial hardship, or they may accept coupons from bartering networks.
If you have some flexibility with your schedule, ask your therapist if she/he does a standby list. Your therapist might consider a discount fee if you can pop in for a last-minute appointment and fill a late cancellation.
You may also want to check with your employer or insurance carrier to see if you might be covered for massage therapy.
If you love massage and communicate to your therapist how much you value it, you might be able to work out an arrangement that's fair to all parties.
3. I'm never sure about gratuities for massage services. What should I tip?
Massage therapists working in spas don't usually receive the full fee charged for their services. They work on a percentage split with the spa owner or receive a salary. If you are visiting a spa, tipping is common (15-20 percent) and therapists may depend on tips for their income, just as restaurant servers do.
Your solo practitioner will likely appreciate tips as well, although not all massage settings accept tips (a doctor's office with a practitioner who offers massage, for example). Bottom line is, if you feel like tipping, offer. If you don't feel tipping is appropriate, don't.
4. What should I do when I feel ticklish on the massage table?
Some people are sensitive to particular techniques, which make them feel uncomfortable and want to giggle. If that happens, your therapist may use a broader stroke or deeper pressure so it doesn't tickle. In the unlikely event you're still way too ticklish with those variations, the therapist can skip that part of the body and concentrate on less sensitive areas. It's your massage, so you can dictate what works and what doesn't. Be sure to tell your therapist beforehand about any sensitive or particularly ticklish areas of your body so he or she can accommodate you more effectively.
5. Isn't it true that massage has to hurt to do any good?
Massage does not have to hurt to help. You can gain therapeutic benefits from a relaxing massage, which doesn't hurt a bit, or you can seek out more aggressive treatment options, which can cause some discomfort. Trigger point therapy and friction are examples of techniques, which are briefly uncomfortable, but very helpful for many conditions. If you don't want heavy pressure, say so. Massage therapists want to help you. If you're wincing under the pressure and tightening up, that will work against the goals of massage, which is to invite your body to relax, reduce pain, increase well-being, and have long, supple muscles. Massage therapists aren't in the torture business. Let your therapist know what feels good and what doesn't. Recognize that your needs and pain threshold might change with each visit.
6. From the male client: What if I get an erection during a massage?
It rarely occurs, but if it does, don't panic. Sometimes as a result of your nervous system going into relaxation mode (or because of certain medications) erections happen. Therapists know that this is a physiological reaction and will treat the situation accordingly. Usually your therapist will try to redirect your attention with a shift in the focus of his or her work, maybe by altering pressure or moving to a different area of your body. Your unintended erection, and any embarrassment, will soon pass.
Any more unspoken questions for your therapist? Ask. Your honesty will strengthen your therapeutic bond with your caregiver and let you deepen your relaxation time and feeling of healing. And that's what it's all about: You.