Your First Massage
Discuss with the massage therapist any concerns you have about the upcoming session. It is important that you are comfortable during the massage, and that you know your options. Here are some commonly expressed concerns of newcomers to massage:
Modesty: In a standard massage session, you will be covered with a sheet. You may choose to be totally or partially unclothed. As each part of the body is being massaged, it is uncovered. Genital areas and women’s breasts are covered at all times. Many people prefer to wear underpants or shorts during a massage. The choice as to how much or how little you are clothed is totally yours.
Talking: Talking during a massage is optional. Some people prefer silence, especially if they are trying to reach a deeply relaxed state, while others like more social interaction. Always feel free to give the therapist feedback on anything causing discomfort. The therapist may request feedback from you, especially when addressing a specific physical problem.
Oil: Oil, lotion, creme, or other lubricant is commonly used to enable the therapist’s hands to easily move over the skin. Inform the therapist of any allergies you have which might be aggravated by the lubrication used. You may also inquire about removing the lubricant after the session if you are concerned that it may stain your clothing.
Make-up and Hair: Massage of the face, scalp, or neck may result in disturbing your makeup or hair style. Let the therapist know if this is a concern. The session may be modified to ensure that make-up and hair remain intact, or, depending on your wishes, that part of the massage may be left out altogether.
Pain: Whether you will feel any pain during a massage depends on many factors, including your physical condition, the reason for the massage, your pain tolerance, and the therapist’s technique. Discuss this before the message, and give feedback to the therapist during the session.
Tense muscles are often sore and may hurt a little when massaged. Sometimes soreness is delayed after a massage. This is a good sign that your body is ridding itself of toxins. Take a hot shower or bath, and drink plenty of water to help remove waste products flushed out during a massage. This is especially important after the first massage. The more massage you receive, the less likely you will experience post-massage soreness.
Length of the Session: Massage sessions generally last from 30 minutes up to 90 minutes. The amount of time depends on the purpose of the session, the therapist’s schedule, and the availability of your time and resources.
There are certain situations in which caution should be taken when receiving therapeutic massage. It is generally agreed upon that persons with uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, recent surgery or fractures, phlebitis, fever, or infections (especially those that can be spread by skin contact, i.e., bacterial, viral, or fungal), need to consult their physicians for any restrictions on receiving massage. In other acute or chronic medical conditions, limited restrictions may apply, and in rare cases, massage should be avoided altogether. If in doubt, check with your doctor.
You may be asked to provide certain information to the massage therapist about your past and current health. This information is used to help plan the massage session, and to ensure your safety. Important information includes any major health problems you have, medications you are taking, allergies, state of pregnancy, and recent accidents or injuries. There may be a written form to fill out and more information may be requested if a specific health problem is being addressed.
The frequency of massage is dependent upon the individual person and their lifestyle. Some people have chronic conditions and require weekly massage in order to function on a day-to-day basis. Others may have a good exercise/stretching routine built into their schedules which allows them to hold the benefits of massage a little longer and therefore come on only once every two or three weeks. After your first massage be aware of how your body feels and the sense of relaxation that has come over you. When you start feeling tense or aching again it is time to reschedule your next massage session. Eventually, you will find a pattern and should schedule on a consistent basis to beat the stress, tension, and pain of everyday life before it can get a hold of you.
After a massage session, you should try and drink plenty of water. During the massage, blood is forced to go through your muscle tissue, and by doing so it picks up toxins and lactic acid. These will be floating in your bloodstream and could be deposited elsewhere in the body. Water will help you flush these toxins out before that can happen.