The most important thing to remember about receiving a massage is that this time is your time -- time carved out of your busy day for you.
People often worry about basic things like how much of their clothing to remove, or what happens if they get thirsty during a session. Here are some quick answers to the most basic questions that so many people want to know:
Your therapist will likely instruct you to remove your clothing to the “degree that you feel comfortable.” This means you get to decide what you leave on and what you take off and the therapist will work around whatever you decide. If you are more comfortable leaving on your panties or briefs, then do so. Having said this, it makes sense to give the therapist access to the areas you want her to work on. For example, if you want a back massage, take off your shirt. If you have sore hamstrings, give your therapist access. The therapist will either leave the room or provide you with privacy while you undress and dress afterwards. She will maintain your modesty at all times during the massage with draping, and only uncover the part of the body she is working on. The bottom line is: this is your time and you get to choose.
The best rule of thumb around eating is basically the same as when you work out or take a yoga class: allow your body enough time to digest. I recommend you have your last meal or snack approx. 2 hours prior to your massage, if possible.
This is your hour to use as you like. It’s up to you if you’d like to talk to the therapist, but it’s not necessary. Feel free to close your eyes and relax, which is what most people do.
Be sure to speak up if the room is too hot or cold, you experience pain, you have any questions related to the massage, or there’s anything you forgot to mention during the consultation. Remember to give feedback for pressure, speed, or anything you like or dislike.
We all know it’s always good to be well-hydrated, but if know you’re a bit behind in your water intake, ask your therapist for a glass of water before your massage. In addition, you can ask for water anytime during your massage. And of course, stay well-hydrated after your massage in order to assist your body in flushing out toxins that have been released during your massage.
It’s a good habit to use the bathroom before your massage. If you find you need to use it during your massage, rather than lay there feeling uncomfortable and tense, let your therapist know and she will give you privacy to wrap in a sheet to take a quick break. This is your time to take care of yourself -- there’s really no point in feeling uncomfortable.
It is very common for people to drool when then fall asleep or their sinuses drain when they’re face-down on the table. If you need a tissue, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist.
It’s important to breathe normally during the massage. Breathing helps facilitate relaxation. People often stop or limit their breathing when they feel anxious or a sensitive area is massaged.
The rule of thumb is if you are receiving a massage in a spa or hotel, a 15-20% gratuity is standard. In a medical or clinical setting, it is not expected, but appreciated. In a home practice, it is your decision. You can always show your appreciation by referring friends, family and co-workers to your therapist.
Be prepared to schedule several massage sessions. Massage has its greatest benefits over time. The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond. From one session to the next, relaxation deepens as the chronic patterns of stress in the body are affected and released. If you’re getting massage to address chronic muscular tension or recovery from a soft tissue injury, more than one session is usually needed. If you’re still unsure how often to get bodywork, consult with your therapist.
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