What should I expect during my first massage therapy visit?
Your massage therapist may require you to fill out a health history form. Afterward the therapist will begin by asking you general questions to establish what areas you would like worked on, if there are any conditions needing to be addressed, and to determine if massage is appropriate for you. Your massage therapist may perform certain assessments and testing to evaluate your condition and to see if you have any presenting complaints. It is important to list all health concerns and medications so the therapist can adapt the session to your specific needs without doing any harm. It is also important to list any allergies so the therapist is aware if he/she needs to use a different oil or lotion during the session.
Do I have to be completely undressed?
You should undress to the level you are comfortable. For a full body massage, most get completely undressed. However, if you will be more comfortable during the session leave your underwear on. The therapist will work around the clothes you left on as best as he/she can. If removing all your clothes makes you too nervous and unable to relax, then you are not getting the optimal benefit from the session.
Your massage therapist should give you privacy to undress and get comfortable on the table.
How long will a massage treatment last?
The average full-body massage treatment lasts approximately one hour. A half-hour appointment only allows time for a partial massage session, such as neck and shoulders, back or legs and feet. Many people prefer a 60 to 90-minute session for optimal relaxation. Always allow relaxation time prior to and after the session.
Will the massage hurt?
This depends on the type of massage and the depth of the strokes. A light, relaxing massage that doesn't probe very deep into the muscles, shouldn't hurt. With that being said, there is a 'feels good' hurt and an 'ouch, stop it' hurt. A good massage, even a really deep tissue massage, should always stay in the 'feels good' hurt range. Pain can be an indication that the muscle is possibly injured or inflamed and pressure should be adjusted. Also, pain can cause you to tighten up and negate the relaxing effects of the massage. The most effective and deepest massage always works with your body's natural response, not against it.
How often should I get a massage?
"Some is better than none."
What does that mean? Well, it varies from person to person. If you are just looking for some occasional relaxation, then a session every 3-6 weeks may be fine for you. However, if you are looking to address a specific condition, then it is recommended to go more frequently at first and then slowly taper down to a maintenance schedule. Sometimes more frequent 30-minute sessions can be effective until your goals are met and a maintenance schedule is in place. Frequency of sessions should be discussed with your massage therapist after your treatment when he/she has a better hands-on understanding of your particular muscular issues.
How will I feel after my massage treatment?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience a significant decrease or freedom from long-term aches and pains. Many feel a little slowed down for a short period and then notice an increase of energy, heightened awareness and increased productivity which can last for days. If you received a deep massage, you may be slightly sore the next day - much like a good workout at the gym. Sometimes a hot shower, or a soak in the tub can ease this soreness. After your session you should increase your water intake a bit. Just a glass or two more than normal is usually fine. This helps keep your body's tissues hydrated and healthy.
When should I not get a massage?
In my opinion there are few conditions which would prevent you from enjoying massage. You should not book a massage if you have a fever, cold/flu, or contagious skin infection. There are many other conditions in which your therapist may need to adapt his/her techniques (i.e. arthritis or osteoporosis) or avoid an area completely (i.e. cuts or burns). With some conditions it is a good idea to get an approval from your physician before you receive massage (cancer, certain heart conditions, pregnancy). This doesn't mean you can't get massage. But its always better to err on the side of caution.
Your therapist can advise you about your specific needs.