So you've taken the plunge and booked your very first massage? Congratulations! Or maybe you aren't quite sure you're ready. Let's walk through what you can expect as you prepare to receive massage for the very first time.
When you schedule that first appointment, try to allow yourself time both before and after. Much like a physician's office, your therapist will need some health information. There are some things that can affect your ability to safely receive massage. Some health conditions and medications require special attention from your therapist to ensure the best outcome. Once your intake forms are complete, your therapist will review them. Then, he or she will call you into a massage room. There will be a brief confidential interview, where you will be asked about health issues or medications listed, as well as the purpose of the massage. This is the ideal time to specify areas of tightness or discomfort, or if you are simply seeking relaxation. Communication is key for a successful client-therapist relationship.
Once you have shared any potential issues and goals, your therapist will step out and allow you to get comfortable on the table. A massage room is usually set up for relaxation. It is warm and dimly or naturally lit, with quiet, soothing music or Earth sounds. Some therapists use essential oils or candles. The table itself is padded, and may be heated for comfort. While lying face down, there is a padded head rest to allow you to experience work on your back without having to turn or support your head.
You will be asked to disrobe to the lowest level of comfort. This simply means that in order to allow access to as much body as possible, clothing must be removed. Nothing inappropriate will be exposed, however. You will be asked to position yourself under the top sheet or blanket. Only the body part being addressed at the time will be uncovered, maintaining your modesty at all times. A professional, licensed massage therapist will never intentionally expose or directly contact genatalia. A good rule of thumb is this: If it's covered at the beach, it'll remain covered on the massage table. Undergarments can remain on at your discretion, however brassieres must be removed to allow access to the back. Breasts will never be exposed. The therapist will direct you as to position on the table, be it face up or face down. Once you are positioned, the therapist will knock before entering the room.
When he or she enters the room, the utmost care will be taken to ensure your comfort throughout the experience. As the massage progresses, the therapist will periodically check in with you regarding pressure, comfort, temperature, etc. Your input is vital, especially about the pressure. This is the single most important aspect of the massage. The pressure used during a massage is a direct result of client tolerance and condition of the tissue. You are encouraged to report if there needs to be adjustment. Rest assured a good therapist will be more than accommodating. After all, you have entrusted them with your well being.
While on the table, it is at your discretion how much conversation occurs. A massage is a relaxing, therapeutic and somewhat intimate experience. You can choose to enjoy the quiet time, or engage in some discussion. This is your time, and you should be comfortable.
Once the massage is complete, your therapist will again leave the room to allow you to dress. You should be encouraged to take your time and be cautious while leaving the table, especially after an extended massage, an hour or longer. You m briefly feel lightheaded or groggy. This is completely normal.
After dressing, you will be offered water. Massage increases fluid activity in the body, and can encourage the release of toxins. It is important to increase fluid intake for 24 hours after a massage to help flush these toxins from your system and prevent soreness. If you received deep tissue work, there is a possibility that there may be some residual muscle soreness. Increased fluid intake along with soaking in Epsom salts can help minimize this. Following your massage, try to allow yourself time to relax for a while and let the groggy feeling pass before reading your normal activity.
Always feel free to ask and questions or share observations about your experience. Massage therapists are trained, educated and knowledgeable. It is appreciated, but never required, to extend a gratuity. The quality of your massage should never be dependent on the expectation of a tip. If you are satisfied, feel a therapist went above and beyond, feel free to leave a tip, but never feel that it is a requirement.
Lastly, it is important to note that each therapist is different, and each massage a unique experience. Whether you have a specific issue that needs addressed, or are seeking a little "me" time, never expect the same exact massage twice, even from the same therapist. So now that you know what to expect, consider taking advantage of the tips here to confidently enter the arena of massage.
Namaste, and this brings our time together to a close.