What To Know Before Your First Massage
Everyone has been there, their first massage! You may have questions or insecurities or are nervous. One thing to know is that everyone is slightly nervous on their first time, yes, everyone! Some may pretend they are not, but we therapists can tell when someone is new. Everyone has questions, and some people are uncomfortable or shy about asking these things so I am going to lay it all out right here. If you would like me to cover more in this post, please leave me a comment of a question you would like me to answer, and I will be super happy to answer it. What do you wear during your massage? What areas will my therapist touch? What do you want out of your massage? What if I said I want firm pressure and change my mind during?
What do you mean “undress to your comfort level”? It goes about 50/50, some people leave their underwear on, and some people don’t. It is perfectly okay to wear nothing during your massage, it is actually much easier for the therapist to access all your muscles. I look at any clothing as a personal barrier the client does not want me to cross. If you leave your socks on, I will not massage your feet, if you leave your underwear on I will not massage your glutes (unless I do some kneading over the sheet, but will not go under them). Very rarely, but sometimes women will wear their bra during a massage. In that case I just work around it, but it is much easier for me to glide down your full back without the straps in the way. If you really are uncomfortable and want to wear one, I recommend a strapless or sports bra. With a strapless it enables me to get more into the shoulder and neck muscles while still feeling covered and a sports bra has more flexible material. It is perfectly okay though if you are comfortable without it, to go completely naked. So, the other confusion clients may have is, will you be covered? YES! You go under a sheet and blanket. So the therapist will step outside of the room while you are undressing, then you lay on the table either face up or face down (the therapist will tell you which one) and you go under the sheet and blanket. During your massage the therapist will uncover only the area they are working on. So one leg will be uncovered and when they are done working on that one, you will be covered back up with the blanket and the next leg will be uncovered and recovered and so forth around.
What areas will my therapist touch? I am comfortable massaging all of the following areas: face, scalp, neck, pecs/chest, shoulders, back, glutes/butt, legs, arms, hands, feet, abdomen. So basically almost everything. If there is an area you really do not want massaged please tell your therapist. Now on a typical session I do not add all of these things due to time, however, if you want everything massaged please say so. This is what some would call a “yummy massage” which can be very relaxing, but having to cover more areas takes more time so that just means each area will be massaged less time in order to fit everything into one hour. If you are looking for more of a therapeutic massage, I suggest having your therapist focus only on the areas contributing to your pain. The reason for that is more time for detailed massage on the area of pain which yields better results therapeutically. I do not massage abdomen every time for example. Generally I only do abdomen when the client has a specific pain issue or requests this. I also don’t always do face and that is because some people are not comfortable with that or they don’t want their make up messed with, or do not want oil on their face. For pecs/chest this just is the area by your collar bone, the nook of your shoulder, this is not breast, just to be clear, because some may not want pec massage by not knowing what that means. Pec massage is a very important muscle in relieving upper back, neck and shoulder issues. Are your feet ticklish? tell your therapist and they can maybe do deeper pressure on them or avoid them completely. Why would you want your glutes/butt massaged? It is not weird at all, it feels amazing! Your glutes have several muscles that can contribute to low back pain, hip pain or even knee pain. Of course if you are not comfortable with that, let your therapist know.
Pressure is another interesting topic because some clients will be vocal about what they want adjusted, and others will stay quiet with whatever is given. If you feel like your massage is too light, say something. If you feel like your massage is too deep or painful, say something. As a therapist I do try to cue in on what the client’s body is telling me, but I can’t know how they are feeling about what I am doing. So if someone winces I generally will lighten up, or if their is a stubborn muscle I may go deeper. I change my pressure throughout according to what I am feeling the muscle needs, but if there is something YOU want, tell me. This is YOUR massage, tailored to what feels good to YOU! We can’t read minds so please be vocal about your needs, likes, and dislikes. Feedback is always encouraged. Maybe the heat or coldness of the room is bothering you, tell me. Is the face cradle angled weird and you are not comfortable? tell me. Does the bolster feel not quite right, slightly crooked or uncomfortable? tell me. I want you to have the BEST massage, every client is different, feedback really helps me learn what you like.
What do you want out of your massage? What brought you in? What goals are you trying to achieve? Do you want to relax or do you have any area of pain or restriction that is bothering you? Do you have general soreness everywhere? If you want to relax I suggest a full body massage, maybe with some aromatherapy added. Hot stone can also feel quite relaxing if you like heat. So hot stone massage is when the therapist takes heated basalt rocks in their hands and runs them over your muscles throughout the massage. Hot stone can be used for just focused areas therapeutically or can be very yummy as a full body massage for relaxation. If you have a painful area, I suggest having your therapist focus only on that area and avoid the full body massage. You will get more out of your time this way to really dig deep within the layers and get the source of pain out. For pain relief I would probably do a lot of trigger point release, myofascial release, deep tissue, joint mobilization and active release techniques. What does that even mean? Trigger point release is when the therapist holds pressure on tiny millimeter points on a taut muscle. You may feel pain for 10-20 seconds while the pressure is being held and you will feel the muscle melt down and pain subside fairly quickly as it releases. Myofascial release is more of a slow dragging feeling which helps release the layers of muscle away from each other. Deep tissue does not necessarily mean deep pressure. Deep tissue just involves accessing deep layers of muscles, a more detailed approach to massage than your basic relaxation/Swedish strokes. Joint mobilization is when the joints, limbs, neck, etc are stretched and moved. A lot of times I am looking for the “end feel” or point in which the joint is showing me restriction. It is giving me clues into which muscles are pulling on that joint. Active release techniques are when I pin a muscle down and move that muscle in its action. An example would be pinning down the pec muscle with one hand and moving your arm with my other hand into it’s range of motion for that muscles action or extension. This really helps to release tight musculature. If you don’t have any area of specific pain and are just more sore everywhere I would recommend a full body deep tissue, intuitive style massage. Warm bamboo would pair nicely with this for an add on. Basically this is just allowing your therapist to seek out and feel what they notice is tense as they go along. The warm bamboo is nice because you have that added benefit or warmth, but also it can knead well (picture a rolling pin) and also getting deeper into broad muscles.
Please comment with anything you would like me to add! I am very curious what questions I have missed. I am sure there is plenty more to cover. No question is a stupid question . If you don’t want to post your question publicly, you can also email it to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to getting you all on my table so, you can experience your very first massage. You will not regret it, massage feels amazing, but warning: it can be very addicting to feel better!
“Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel” – Kevin Trudeau