What should I expect during my first massage or bodywork session?
Your massage therapist will require you to fill out a health history form. Afterward the therapist will ask some general questions to establish what areas you would like worked on, find out if there are any conditions to be addressed and find out if massage is appropriate for you.
Where will my massage or bodywork session take place?
Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable, and quiet room. You will lie on a sturdy massage table especially designed for your comfort. Soft music may be played to help you to relax.
What should I wear during the massage?
Your massage therapist will ask you to undress to your comfort level. For a full body massage, most people undress completely, however, you may choose to wear underwear. The therapist will give you privacy to undress. Then, you will relax on the table and cover yourself with the sheet and blanket provided. You will remain completely covered at all times, exposing only the body part or area that is being worked on.
What parts of my body will be massaged?
You and your massage therapist should discuss the desired outcome of your session. This will determine what parts of the body require massage. A typical full body session will include work on your head, neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, hands and feet. You will not be touched on or near your genitals (male or female) or your breasts (female).
What will the massage or bodywork feel like?
It will depend on the technique being used. Many massage therapists use a form of Swedish massage, which is a baseline for practitioners. At times, during your session, firmer pressure may be needed to relax a contracted muscle or "knot". This may feel uncomfortable while the area is being focused on, however, it should never feel painful. Do not hesitate to let your therapist know if you experience pain, so that they can adjust their pressure or technique, as everyone's pain threshold is different. Usually a light oil or lotion is used to allow your muscles to be massaged without excessive friction to the skin. If you have any allergies or sensitivities, make sure to disclose this information to your therapist, so that they may choose a product that is safe for you.
Light pressure is light, gentle and smoothing strokes that are calming.
Medium pressure is firm stroking meant to flush metabolic wastes from sore muscles. It does not
include deep focused work on tightly contracted "knots".
Deep pressure is very firm focused work on contracted muscles.
What should I do during the massage or bodywork session?
Always report any discomfort you may feel. This includes lighting, volume of music, room temperature or or any other distractions. Many people close their eyes and relax while others prefer to talk. It's up to you. If the massage is too light or too hard, ask your therapist to change the pressure. Do not hesitate to ask questions at any time. Your comfort during your session is your therapist's primary concern.
How long will the massage or bodywork session last?
The average massage or bodywork session lasts for 60 minutes. A 30 minute appointment only allows time for a partial session, such as upper body or lower body. Most people prefer a 60 to 90 minute session for optimal results.
How will I feel after the massage or bodywork session?
Most people will feel very relaxed. Many experience relief from long-term aches and pains developed from muscle tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down (not everyone experiences this), people often experience increased energy levels and greater productivity. Because massage and body treatments help clear metabolic waste by increasing the circulation rate of blood and lymph, these chemical reactions require water. Since toxins are released from your soft tissues during a massage, it is recommended that you drink plenty of water afterward.
Should I tip the therapist, and if so, what is customary?
A gratuity is a good way to acknowledge your therapist and express your appreciation if you are happy with the service. As with the rest of the service industry, gratuities are typically between 15-25%.
Are there any medical conditions that are inadvisable for a massage or bodywork session?
Yes. That's why it is so very important that, before you begin your session, the therapist asks general health questions and requires you to fill out a health history form. It is necessary that you inform the therapist of any health problems that you may have or any medications that you are currently taking. If you are under a doctor's care, it is advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to your session. Your therapist may require this recommendation or approval from your doctor.
It is also suggested that you not receive massage or bodywork if you have:
- A severe cold, flu, or sudden onset of an infectious disease. A massage while experiencing these symptoms may overload your system with toxins and make you feel worse.
- A high fever.
- An sudden injury immediately following an accident which resulted in whiplash, sprains or soft tissue damage. It may be necessary for your therapist to work in conjunction with your physician, chiropractor, or physical therapist at a later time, when massage or bodywork would be more effective.
- Alcohol intoxication or drug use - Massage will not be performed because of increased circulation.
- Pregnancy - Massage during pregnancy is very controversial and should be avoided especially during the first trimester.
Can I expect confidentiality between massage or bodywork professionals and their clients?
An open line of communication is the key to building a trusting relationship between you and your therapist. It is the therapist's job to protect the client by following a strict Code of Ethics. Keeping client information confidential or private, helps establish trust and respect between the client and the therapist. If the client wants to tell people what is said or experienced during the therapeutic session, it is up to them to do so. Confidentiality is a standard of care that is imperative to the professional therapeutic relationship, by guaranteeing the client that whatever happens in the therapeutic setting, is private and protected.