What if I am sick? Can I still get a massage?
If you have come down with a cold or the flu, or any contagious infection, please call and reschedule your appointment. Massage can worsen fever symptoms and spread localized infections to other parts of your body. Additionally, you don't want to spread the virus to your massage therapist and other clients (thank you!).
How often should I get a massage?
When you make bodywork a regular part of your life, you are helping your body to maintain a better state of balance. In the long run, you stand to enjoy much better health gains through consistent sessions. But determining how often is completely individual! It depends on your goals, time, stress level, and budget. Some people will come in weekly, biweekly or monthly. Others, once a year. If you are recovering from an injury or need support through a particularly stressful period, you may want to come more frequently for a period of time, and then start to space out your sessions. You need to determine what works for you. You should inquire with your therapist about discounts for purchasing multiple massage sessions.
Do I need to do anything special to prepare for the massage?
The benefits of your massage session will be enhanced if you can really devote time to taking care of yourself. Try and put everything on hold for a few hours - work, home, friends - they will be there after the massage! You should also try the following: limit your consumption of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants; don't eat a heavy meal within a few hours of the massage; give yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment, so that you won't show up rushed; take a nice bath or shower prior to help you start relaxing. Be sure you have eaten a balanced meal at some point in the day. Because massage lowers blood sugar, if you have not eaten lately you may be a little dizzy after a massage. Please turn your cell phone and other electronic devices off during your massage.
What happens when I arrive for my massage?
Your massage therapist will greet you as you arrive and offer you water and an opportunity to use the bathroom. Don't hesitate to empty your bladder - nothing is more frustrating than a full bladder in the middle of a relaxation massage. Your therapist will have you fill out a medical history form and talk with you for several minutes about any health considerations and how you are feeling that day (emotionally, as well as aches and pains). Your therapist will then give you a quick overview of the session and will ask you if any part of your body is calling for extra time. The therapist will then give you a few instructions and leave the room so that you can disrobe and get on the table. As you get on the table, climb under the top sheet, sink in and relax! After a few minutes your therapist will knock, come back in, and help you get even more comfortable - adjusting or changing the music, or adding bolsters or pillows to support any physical discomfort you may have.
Why does the massage therapist need to take my medical history?
One of the reasons that massage creates such deep relaxation is that it interacts with so many different body systems - increasing your circulation, reducing your blood pressure and heart rate, calming the nervous system, promoting better digestion, balancing muscle tone, among other things. There are some conditions that are completely contraindicated for massage, and others that require modifications to ensure your safety and comfort. The therapist inquires into your health history in order to ensure the massage is adapted for your optimal wellness. In some cases, the therapist may request a written recommendation from your doctor prior to your first session. If you are under a doctor's direct care, please tell your therapist when you make your first appointment. Please note that your conversations and sessions with your therapist are confidential and will not be released to any third party without your written consent or as required by law.
Do I need to take all of my clothes off?
Most traditional massage and bodywork techniques are performed with the client unclothed; however it is up to the client to determine what that means. Many clients prefer to remove all their clothing; others retain their underwear, others wear exercise shorts or other garments. The important part is that you are comfortable! Your massage therapist will completely respect your decisions. Please remove all jewelry as some pieces can get in the way, and they my be covered with the lubricant used during the massage.
Will I be covered during the massage?
Absolutely! The therapist will keep a sheet draped over your body throughout the session for comfort, warmth and safety. She will uncover only the body part that is being massaged at that moment. Genital areas (male and female), gluteal cleft (male and female) and female breasts will remain covered throughout the massage. The only exception is during a myofascial massage in which the client is instructed to wear loose shorts and a tube top or sports bra for women.
What parts of my body will be massaged?
This all depends on which parts of your body require massage. You and your massage therapist will discuss this before your session. Typically a one hour massage covers the back, legs, feet, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head and face. Additionally, the therapist will massage the gluteal muscles (usually through the sheet) and abdomen. As these are sometimes more sensitive areas for people, you should indicate to your therapist if there are regions of your body that you are not comfortable having massaged.
Will oils be used?
Light oil, cream, lotion, or cocoa butter will be used to help the massage strokes glide more easily over the skin and to let your muscles be more deeply worked without causing excessive friction on your skin. The type of massage and your preference determine the specific lubricant. Your therapist will be using highly natural lubricants, but you should let her know if you have any sensitivities. Occasionally, your therapist will use aromatherapy oils which have been infused with essential oils.
What happens during the massage?
The massage will start with gentle, flowing strokes that will help calm your nervous system and external musculature. As your tissue begins to warm and relax, the therapist will start adding more pressure to begin opening up deeper muscles. Your therapist will ask you questions to gauge how much pressure is appropriate for your body; it is very important that you communicate with the therapist so that she can tailor the session for your needs. Your therapist may also move your limbs and body to stretch particular muscles and joints; try to relax your muscles and release the urge to "help" - just let that limb go. Your therapist may also ask you to take several deep breaths and to "direct" the breath to certain areas of your body; all that this means is to use your breath to draw awareness and attention to any muscular tension in a particular area.
What should I do during the massage?
Let it all go and relax! Yes, that's easier said than done, and chances are for many people there will be a few moments on the table where your to-do list and that fight with your sister rushes into your mind. That's normal - just how our brains work. Don't criticize yourself for having trouble completely letting go. Instead, start focusing more and more of your attention on your breath and your experience on the table. One way to quiet your mind is to focus your attention on the session - following the sensations and movement. One of the great benefits of massage is the heightened sense of body awareness. Follow the therapist's hands as they highlight each muscle and body part. Is your therapist touching muscles you didn't know existed? Do strokes help you understand and feel how your arms are part of your shoulder? Are you surprised at which muscles and areas may be tense and which are not? Proper breathing helps you to relax and to reach your session goals. Slow, deep breathing (from the belly) will provide your body with much-needed oxygen, while signaling your body to let go of its tensions. Again, try not to focus on "goals" or "outcomes" for the massage session; instead, focus on opening to the experience and the sensations.
What does the massage feel like?
The massage should feel great! It should help calm your nervous system and release muscle tension. It should not hurt! If you have a lot of muscle tension that you want the therapist to address, you may experience mild discomfort as pressure is applied -- but the discomfort should be pleasurable, in the sense of "it hurts so good!" Your therapist will apply pressure to the depth that you want - if you are particularly sensitive, the massage will be extra gentle and superficial; if you have tension that requires deeper work, your therapist will apply more pressure. The point of the massage is to induce relaxation and comfort - your therapist will adapt the techniques to fit your body.
What happens at the end of the massage?
The therapist will indicate to you when the massage is over and tell you to rest for a few moments and to take your time getting up. She will then leave the room so that you can get ready. Remember to get up slowly - particularly if you have low blood pressure - and pay attention that you do not leave anything behind. After a massage you are usually in an ultra relaxed state and not aware of all the little details (such as the fact that you were wearing your favorite earrings). When you're ready, open the door and join your therapist. Feel free to ask your therapist any questions about the massage or stretching techniques. You will usually pay for your session at this time, as well as schedule any future appointments.
What should I do after I get a massage?
It's best not to do much of anything. The benefits of massage are enhanced by more self-care - take a long hot bath, curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, etc. You should also make sure to drink lots of fluids. Massage helps release toxins from your soft tissues, so drinking extra water will help flush these out of your system. If you experience any soreness from the massage, apply a cold gel pack for 15 - 20 minutes.