If you’ve never experienced a massage before, you might not know what to expect. You may be wondering “What’s a massage like? Do I have to take off my clothes? What am I supposed to do?”
If so, you’re not alone. According to the recent ABMP 2013 Consumer Research Study, only 32% of American adults have experienced a massage in their lifetime.
Let’s break down what a massage therapy appointment is like, so you’ll feel comfortable knowing what to do when you decide you’d like to try out these great things called massages!
When you first arrive, your therapist will have some paperwork for you to fill out. This will include things like contact information, health history, and office policies. You won’t have to fill this out every time, but please be thorough with your health history, and keep your therapist updated with any changes. You may not think the rotator cuff surgery you had 5 years ago is important information, or that the blood pressure medication you take is a big deal, but that is exactly the kind of information your massage therapist wants to know.
Afterward, your therapist will go over the intake form with you, and ask some follow up questions about your health, and what your expectations of the session are. Do you want to focus on improving the pain and range of motion in your neck? Or are you hoping to zone out with a full body massage? Do you absolutely love hand massage? Or hate people touching your feet? Now is the best time to let your therapist know, so they can begin formulating a plan for your massage. It’s okay, and encouraged, to let them know what you like, dislike, or are unsure about.
Once you’ve had a chat with your therapist about your massage, they’ll let you know whether to start face up or face down, and leave the room to allow you to get undressed and get in between the sheets. Most clients get completely undressed, but you do not have to remove any clothing you don’t feel comfortable removing. A lot of people also leave their underwear on. I’ve even had clients lay completely clothed on my table. We’re trained to work with and without clothes, what we want is for you to feel comfortable.
That being said, the fewer layers of clothes in between us and the muscles, the better the massage will feel, and work. If your legs are sore, maybe don’t wear jeans. If it’s your upper back that’s hurting, ladies, bra straps can get a little in the way; perhaps you can unclasp the bra band.
Either way, you can be sure you won’t be exposed during the massage. Since you’re laying under a sheet (and often a blanket as well), nothing is uncovered except the part of the body that’s being worked on. It’s very professional, and we respect your privacy at all times.
Once the therapist comes back in the room, the magic begins! It’s also incredibly easy on your part, because you usually don’t have to do anything. You aren’t required to stay awake, or make conversation with your therapist. Just breathe and relax. Your therapist will move your arms and legs around sometimes to work different muscles, but you don’t even have to help. Let your limbs be a dead weight, that’s totally fine. Occasionally your therapist may ask for certain movements from you (“now extend your arm above your head”) or ask you to hold the sheet nice and tight for certain stretches. But other than that, for the majority of the time, you are allowed to zone out, or even fall asleep!
Let your therapist do all the work…that’s what you’re paying them for!
Once the massage is over, your therapist will step out of the room so that you can get dressed. Sometimes people feel a little dizzy getting up quickly after a massage, so it’s okay to take a moment to get your bearings before you hop off. Then your therapist will talk with you a bit after the massage about how you’re feeling, what they noticed in your body, what massage regimen would work best for you, and any homework that you need, like stretching. Then it’s time to pay and schedule your next massage.
Congratulations! You made it through your first massage, don’t you feel wonderful?