As my very first blog post, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about what you, as a new client, should expect when visiting a massage therapist for the first time. Just as I am feeling a little exposed right now as I start my first blog, you may feel vulnerable when you prepare for your first visit. This is expected and perfectly normal. The relationship that you share with your massage therapist is a very personal one. But, it is also important that you feel comfortable in order to really enjoy the benefits of your massage session.
Choosing The Right Type Of Therapist
When a person is thinking about getting a massage, they are normally looking to treat some type of pain or for relaxation purposes. Depending on which of these goals you have in mind, you should look for a therapist that specializes in that type of treatment.
Relaxation This type of massage is usually found in the spa setting. Often times a relaxation massage can be packaged with various other spa services making it perfect for an afternoon of pampering and well... relaxation. Depending on your location, these types of massage do not always have to be performed by a licensed therapist. That is normal and it should not turn you away. Many spas have great massage services without necessarily having board certified therapists.
Medical Massage This type is a little more technical and it involves using massage to treat some type of injury or pain. Certification for a licensed massage therapist usually involves schooling and a license from the states medical board. This is very important and we do not recommend that you visit an unlicensed therapist for pain management treatment. Some conditions and injuries should not be treated with massage, a licensed therapist is going to be able to help you decide if massage is the right treatment for you.
You can find a massage therapist several different ways. Word of mouth is great way because you can get feedback from someone that you already trust. Some online locations that can help you in your search are MassageTherapyFinder.com which is massage specific or directories such as yelp and yellow pages would also be a good source. You can search social media sites like Facebook or Twitter for local massage therapist, this gives you the ability to read reviews and interact with the page manager to narrow your search.
*Within these two general categories, there are several different types of massage such as deep tissue and Swedish Massage. This will be the subject of a future article.
Preparing For Your First Visit
Congratulations, you have found the right therapist and your first session is scheduled, now what? Here are some easy tips to make your massage more enjoyable and effective.
Hydrate Drinking plenty of water helps keep the muscles pliable and more receptive to massage.
Limit Caffeine This may not be necessary, but showing up after 4 cups of coffee will leave you jittery and make it difficult for you to relax.
Get Plenty of Rest Not many things will put you to sleep faster than a good massage when you are tired. For your first massage, communication is key to helping your therapist give you the best experience... so rest up.
What To Expect From Your Therapist
When you arrive for your appointment you should be prepared to complete some type of intake form. If you are visiting a spa, the form can be as simple as collecting your contact information and the goals that you are hoping to achieve with the massage. If you are going to a massage clinic the form will likely by a little more detailed. It will ask about
medical conditions and possibly even about the medications you are taking. It is important to provide accurate information because the therapist is going to use this information to provide the best experience to you.
Remember, some conditions can alter the techniques your therapist uses and some may not be recommended for massage at all. The form will help your therapist make those required decisions. The form should also include a place to list allergies. Some allergies will determine what time of lotion or oil is used, be sure to be thorough.
Finally... The Massage
Your therapist will take you to the massage area and allow you some privacy to get ready. When the they leave the room and shut the door this is the time where the most common question seems to come up. What level are you supposed to dress down to?
There are a couple things to consider here, but most importantly is your comfort level, the ultimate decision is yours. In our experience and with most types of massage, dressing down to your underwear bottoms is the norm. If you feel more comfortable putting on a pair of shorts, we can usually work around them. After you have undressed you'll want to get under the sheet on the massage table. Most states require you to be draped during your massage and the therapist will uncover the areas that they are working on.
After a few minutes, the therapist will knock on the door to make sure you are covered and the massage will begin.
During your massage you may feel like enjoying the experience with little or no talking, this is completely your choice. However, if at anytime you feel uncomfortable be sure to speak up. This is especially important if you are receiving some type of pain management. Your therapist is looking for some feedback so that they know how much pressure to use or if they have found an especially tender area. As you visit the same therapist more, they will have a better idea of what your comfort zone is.
Feedback after your massage
After your therapist gives you some privacy to redress, there should be a quick after massage interview. This is your time to give feedback to your therapist. Even the best massage therapist does not know your body, so don't feel like you are critiquing their skills. Some things that you may want to discuss before you leave are:
Any at home exercises or stretches that you can do to further your treatment
Concerns about any of the techniques that were used during your session that caused excessive pain or pressure
Temperature in the room, too hot or too cold
Your therapist will likely add these to their client notes to make any future visits more suited to your needs.
Your therapist will probably go over what they found (or felt) and discuss future treatment with you. Massage therapy for injury and some conditions is usually a continuous process and more than one session should be recommended.
Hopefully you feel a little more confident about trying massage therapy for one of it's many benefits. Nothing will substitute what you will learn after your first session, but this article should give you a good idea of what to expect. Now all that is left is to find yourself a therapist. Good luck and we know that you will enjoy your first and hopefully many massage sessions.
Let me know what you think of the article below and feel free to let me know if you think I left anything out.