My friend who was going to have her first ever massage e-mailed me a few days before her appointment. “I guess if I just wear shorts and a t- shirt, that will work,” her message said, “or is there a recommended attire for a massage?”
I replied, “The recommended attire for a full body massage is a sheet, which I will supply.”
If you’ve never had a massage, you probably don’t know what to expect the first time you visit a massage therapist. When you arrive at my office, before we enter the massage room, I ask you to complete a brief intake form. This form gives me the highlights of your medical history and tells me if you want your massage to focus on a specific pain or general relaxation.
The medical history is important because massage may negatively affect some medical conditions – kidney stones, rashes and varicose veins are a few examples. You should avoid massage while you have a fever or a contagious condition. If you’re pregnant, lighter massage strokes benefit you.
Information on the form and a few follow-up questions about what hurts, how much it hurts, and what aggravates or relieves the pain enable me to customize your session to your needs. Massage is not a one size fits all service; if you tell me pain burns between your shoulder blades when you work on your computer or your legs ache from your increased running schedule, I spend more time working those areas of your body.
In the massage room, I step out of the room to allow you undress to your comfort level and lie down on the massage table under the sheet. Most clients undress completely so I have better access to the muscles in the hips and lower back, but some clients aren’t comfortable doing that, especially if they’re new to massage.
During the massage, dim lights and soothing music enhance your relaxation throughout the session. A sheet covers you from neck to toes to keep you warm and preserve your modesty. I fold the sheet back from each area of the body as I work on it, then replace the sheet so you never feel exposed.
I don’t care – and I won’t tell anyone – if you shaved your legs before you came or if you have an interesting tattoo on your thigh. My goal during your hour on my massage table is to make you feel better, not to embarrass you or develop conversational topics for later.Unlike most business people with whom you work, I don’t care if you doze off during your session. Stress relief and relaxation motivated you to come to my office, and light snores signal that you’re relaxed.
Although an hour sounds like a long time to lie still on a massage table with no television, cell phone or book to distract you, it flies by. When I tell you our time is up, your stress level has dropped from off the chart to zero, your tight, aching muscles have relaxed and, I hope, you consider this the best hour of your week.