What to Expect During a Massage

Getting a professional massage should be a relaxing experience, but if you’ve never had one before and don’t know what to expect, it may cause you stress instead. There’s no need to be nervous. A professional massage therapist will do everything he can to make sure your massage experience is relaxing, enjoyable and all about making you feel good.

When you arrive for your massage, your therapist should greet you and show you the massage room. If you let him know it’s your first massage, he’ll probably take a few minutes to tell you what to expect.

Some massage therapists use this time to ask which areas of your body need work. Other therapists wait until they start the massage to ask. In either case, you should be ready to tell your therapist of any spots where you’re having pain or tension. You should also be ready to let him know about any areas of tenderness or spots you’d like him to avoid. If you don’t know exactly what you want but just want an all-over relaxing experience, feel free to tell him that, too.

Your therapist will leave you alone in the massage room to get ready. In most cases, you may disrobe to the point that you’re comfortable with. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll get a better massage experience if your therapist can work directly on skin rather than through clothing. He’s a professional, and he will perform your massage in a professional manner. Many people disrobe down to their underwear for a thorough massage. However, if that will make you uncomfortable, leave more clothing on. A massage is about your comfort, not about adhering to someone else’s standards.

Once you’ve disrobed, situate yourself comfortably on the massage table. It should be made up with a sheet set and perhaps an extra blanket. Lie on your stomach (unless you’ve requested a face-up massage) between the sheets. The table should have a face rest which looks like a padded doughnut. It will cradle your face without squishing your nose.

Your massage therapist will knock before he comes back into the room to be sure you’re situated and discreetly covered. He will probably work in dim lighting, and there may be relaxing music playing. Again, if either of these things bothers you, feel free to ask for brighter lights or no music. The goal is your comfort.

During the massage, you may want to talk to your therapist while he works, or you may want to be silent. Either is fine, and your therapist assuredly has clients who do both. Be sure to communicate with your therapist if you’d like him to use more or less pressure, or if he’s not quite working the spots you want him to work. If you came in for a relaxing massage, you don’t want to lie there and let him work your muscles so hard it hurts. On the other hand, if you came in for healing work on problem areas, don’t let him simply skim over them.

Once the massage is over, the therapist will leave again to allow you to get dressed. There’s no reason to jump right off the table and hop into your clothes. Feel free to take a minute to move slowly, allowing your body to enjoy the deep relaxation. You may feel dizzy when you get up off the massage table. That’s normal. Just move slowly until you feel balanced again. It’s important, too, to drink plenty of water after you get a massage. Some impurities may have left your muscles, and water will help flush them from your system.

It’s customary to tip a massage therapist, generally about 15 percent of the cost of the massage. You can either add this in when you pay your bill, or you may give the therapist cash directly.

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