Getting your first massage can be quite intimidating. The fear of the unknown and visions of poorly played out massage scenarios from movies or TV can set the wrong tone, making you feel overwhelmed or sometimes unsure if you even want to get a massage. Having just a little insight of what to expect should ease your mind and have you well on your way to a relaxing massage!
You should do a little research first about your choices of establishments where you can receive your massage service. Massage therapy is available in many hair salons, day spas, chiropractic offices and private massage studios, choose the environment that is most inviting to you.
Arriving to your appointment 10-15 minutes earlyis ideal, as you will most likely be asked to fill out a brief health history intake form. This will provide your licensed massage therapist with information that will help them customize a massage that’s right for you. If you are allergic to nuts, let them know, they will want to use a nut free lotion or oil to ensure you will not have an adverse reaction during your session. Many times clients do not feel some details are important, but trust me, they are! If you are naturally warm natured, your therapist will want to adjust the table temperature (if they use table warmers) so you do not feel as though you are having your massage in a sauna, as that does not sound relaxing for anyone involved!
The receptionist or massage therapist may ask if you need to use the restroom first. That’s another great reason to arrive early, it’s always better to use the restroom before your service than to have to interrupt your Zen moment by having to get up and wander off to the bathroom. This will also avoid reducing your overall massage time, you don’t want to miss out on any time on the massage table once you get started.
Now onto the massage! Your massage therapist will take you into the massage room and do a quick review of the information you provided on your intake form. You do not need to discuss every detail, they will ask you to elaborate on the points they feel are important to your session. The therapist will typically ask you to undress to your level of comfort or sometimes to undress leaving only your underwear on. Keep in mind that if you want your back massaged, the therapist needs to be able to touch your back, so usually the less clothing left on, the better. Take comfort in knowing you should also be instructed to lay under a sheet, sometimes also a blanket. During the massage the therapist will practice proper draping techniques only uncovering the area they are working on while protecting your modesty at all times. If for any reason you are not comfortable undressing, discuss this with your massage therapist and they should be able to massage through your clothing, although it is not the best way to receive a massage, your comfort is the most important factor during your session. The therapist should also instruct you on how to get on the table, some therapist will have you start face up, others may prefer face down, it is just a matter of how they work, what techniques they use and what areas they will be focusing on. After confirming that you are clear on what to do, the massage therapist will leave the room allowing you time to undress and get comfortable on the table, before knocking as they return to start your massage therapy session.
During the first few minutes of the massage is the perfect time to ask any questions or talk about any additional concerns you may have. Being that it is your first massage, try to be open to receiving the full massage experience, however, if you know your feet are just too ticklish that it will feel like torture, by all means request that they do not touch your feet. A lot of people are just curious about massage and the life of massage therapists so it is fine to ask questions if it helps you to feel more comfortable. If you just want quiet time do not hesitate to ask for a quiet massage session, it will not offend the therapist, after all it is your massage! Always communicate if you are uncomfortable during your session, whether you are too cold or hot, the music is too loud or the lights are too bright, as well as if you experience any pain or discomfort during the massage, all of these things are important to your therapist as they all contribute to your overall experience.
When the massage is over, your therapist will excuse themselves from the room giving you time to dress before you emerge as many say “feeling like a new person”, refreshed and renewed, ready to float into the next part of your day. It is quite common to leave your massage already anticipating your next massage. As a massage therapist I “warn” (in jest) my clients that the is no such thing as one massage, it can feel quite addictive if I have done my job well, and it just might be ok to have a new habit that reduces stress and pain as well as give you a more positive mental outlook. …. And that is something they do not portray accurately in movies or TV, so aren’t you happy that you now have a better outlook on what to expect?
By Lori Smith-Linder, LMT and Owner of Tranquil Vibe Day Spa in Bloomington Indiana