Initially, a stiff neck or an even stiffer schedule may have sent you to a massage therapist. But chances are your repeated returns will be a result of the overall sense of well-being you experience from this healing bodywork.
Although I am doing most of the hard work during the massage session, after a few sessions clients soon discover the quality and scope of relief they receive during a massage session is very much in their own hands. Your influence and attention can boost the benefit of each and every massage. To reap the optimum benefits from this renewing ritual, here are some simple strategies.
Before I arrive for your appointment, do what you can to keep the house quiet. Silence your cell phones. If you are expecting contractors that day, make sure you call and tell them they can’t come during certain hours. Then, breathe slowly, relax your shoulders, and quiet your mind. Let this place and time become your sanctuary in a frantic world.
Communication is the ultimate tool for enhancing your massage experience.The most vital information I need from you involves your primary intention regarding your massage. Did you schedule the massage to reduce anxiety? Are you searching for relief from an injury? Or do you need to release some suppressed emotions? I will rely on your comments and feedback to devise the best plan of action to accomplish your goal.
Just as an informed doctor has a better chance of honing in on health issues, an enlightened therapist can target trouble zones and generate solutions. Use the brief conversation with me at the beginning of each session to create your own hybrid experience. On your first appointment, mention any chronic conditions, bothersome injuries or serious ailments during this consultation. The greater the insights into your individual history, the more tailored your treatment will be. For instance, a golfer might present symptoms in their hands and wrists related to golfer’s elbow that will need to be addressed using trigger point and deep tissue techniques around the elbow. Another individual that works at a desk might have similar issues with their hands and wrists but could be the result of bad posture and body mechanics in their chest, shoulders, and elbows. I can ease many diverse conditions, but only if I know of your concerns and problems. When going for repeated visits, fill me in on any new developments — a new job, a recent fall, a new workout regimen or sport– which might have an affect on the session and your health.
Be clear about whether you’d like some focused attention on tender areas or whether you’d like those sensitive spots avoided altogether. If you do request some pointed concentration — on a touchy back, for instance — expect some discomfort as your muscles release. But let me know immediately if the massage crosses your pain threshold.
Cold muscles are tense muscles. Since body temperature can fluctuate throughout the massage, don’t hesitate to say something if you need more or less coverage. Tell me if you get cold easily so I can bring my table warmer or if you sweat easily, we will be sure to leave the warmer out and open some windows or turn on a fan instead.
Some clients have difficulty enjoying their massage because they feel self-conscious undressed. Massage therapists are trained clinicians and, in many ways, share the ethics of medical professionals. We work with burn victims, mastectomy patients and disfigured people. In my practice, I’ve seen un-movie-star-like bodies and less-than-athletic physiques. Clients will not receive comments on their cellulite, criticisms on their lack of muscle tone or commentaries on calorie control. Indeed, these corporal qualities pass by many skilled practitioners’ eyes completely unnoticed. Therapists are trained to care for each and every body, yours included.
If you still feel you will be unable to enjoy the massage unclothed, inquire about treatments — like reflexology — which allow clients to remain dressed. Another alternative is to have just the upper part of your body worked on until you’re willing to indulge in a full body massage.
I will check with you several times during the massage to verify the pressure feels just right. But, if at any time you would like more vigorous action or less intense effort, don’t be afraid to speak up. Because everyone has a different tolerance to touch, I depend on your instructions and reactions to determine the depth of pressure to apply. And, although I can read visual clues for a client’s discomfort — tense facial expressions, curled fingers and toes, tightened tendons — your feedback ensures clear communication. After all, moans and groans can signal both agony or bliss. Depending on sighs and other sounds to convey your current state of pleasure or pain is an iffy tactic at best.
Your massage experience might be a wordless one. Unlike salons, where continuous conversation seems to be a requisite, massages are quiet for the most part. You are welcome to converse with me but don’t expect me to lead the conversation. Outside of inquiring about your comfort, I will be quiet unless you initiate conversation.
Not all therapists are trained in every mode of massage. Depending on their specific schooling, practitioners may specialize in certain types of therapy. Add to that variable the unique educational background of each therapist, as well as their individual styles and strengths, and clients have the opportunity to explore a wide spectrum of approaches and techniques.
Tracking what works and what doesn’t ensures favorable outcomes in the future. Use every session to build your knowledge of massage, to learn what feels good to you and to observe which procedures improve your state of mind. When certain maneuvers or manipulations feel wonderful — or if you’d like to avoid them in the future — ask your therapist to describe or name the movement. Then, armed with this information, you can replicate or evade similar results in the future.
Embarrassing as it may be, bodywork can produce some interesting bodily noises. It’s possible with the release of so much tension, your body lets go of something else. I am accustomed to flatulence. In fact, it’s a healthy side effect of massage. Often a client will be so relaxed that they fall into a quasi-sleep mode, often awakening to their own snoring. I will be respectful of each and every body and all that comes with it.
When the body is touched in a healthy and safe environment, there oftentimes can be an emotional impact. Some clients find themselves crying during or immediately after a massage. If this happens to you, think of this reaction as a positive one. I am familiar with this kind of release and will help guide you through it. If you hold a lot of trauma within, it is often helpful to pair your bodywork sessions with talk therapy sessions to process what has just happened to you on the massage table.
Many massages end with the client asleep on the table. So, when your time is up — and that moment always comes way too soon — I will make certain you know I am leaving the room. I will also advise you to take your time getting up. There are a number of reasons for this, one being that raising your head too quickly after a lengthy therapeutic session can cause dizziness. At your leisure, dress, retrieve your belongings and let me know you are dressed. Be aware that because of an elevated metabolism, clients often need to visit the restroom after their massages and menstruating women will likely experience an increased flow.
Allow time for a gentle re-entry into real time. Be tender with your body — and your mind — immediately after your massage. And be sure to drink lots of water. Massage is a detoxifying rite and you’ll want to flush your system of the freed contaminants. If there is a hot tub available, a 10-minute soak is just what the therapist ordered, but be conscious of your water intake so as not to dehydrate. The best part about receiving a massage in your home is that you don’t have to go anywhere! So continue to unwind on you sofa, in a lounge chair, or in bed and you will be sure to get the most out of your session.
The actual massage may be over, but you will carry its positive effects with you throughout the day — and night. Utilize massage on a frequent basis, and you might just get accustomed to “feeling good.”