When I say massage what’s the first word that pops into your head? For most people it’s “relaxing.” Let’s clarify that from your therapist’s perspective. Yes, relaxation is part of it, but therapeutic massage professionals are focused on a different word for you: “healing.”
My clients in Loveland and Fort Collins are mostly in need of treatment for both acute and chronic conditions. Therapeutic massage is unique in that it combines physical PLUS emotional and spiritual components, so “massage etiquette” can help you feel more comfortable. Here’s 7 tips to get all the benefits of your massage therapy:
- Showering. Some clients like to wait until after a massage to shower, because they think they will want to wash off all of the lotion. Most people don’t know it’s easier to relax and receive the benefits of your massage if you shower before! My mom always took a shower before her massage because she loved to leave the lotion or oils on, especially when it was fragrant. If you’re coming from work and don’t have time to run home, just shower the night before. You will ultimately feel better. (Not to mention it’s easier on your therapist’s nose.)
- Conversation. Most therapists will not initiate conversation. Why? Most people just want to rest quietly during their massage (some even doze off!), and the last thing your therapist wants to be is an annoyance to you. But if you love to chat, then chat away! More often than not, your therapist will engage.
- Communication. Although we are able to identify trigger points and tissue quality, we aren’t able to feel exactly what you are feeling. Let therapist know, especially about the amount of pressure used. If it’s too much, TELL US! If it feels like we are petting you, TELL US! If there is a spot that is super tender, TELL US! It’s important because we can immediately change our approach to benefit you.
- Should I get a massage if I’m sick? NO! Massage increases your circulation, so metabolic waste is released/pushed through your system faster, which will often make you feel worse. If you’ve had fever, nausea, or other cold/flu like symptoms, reschedule your appointment. Your massage therapist is also in constant contact with you for one hour. If you wouldn’t want a sick person touching/massaging you, then don’t have a person touch/massage a sick YOU.
- OH NO I DIDN’T SHAVE MY LEGS!!! This is OK, really. Hair isn’t a huge deal to us.
- Smoking. This is one not everyone thinks about. If you are a heavy smoker, the scent seeps through the pores of your skin. It’s your body’s way of ridding itself of toxins. If you smoke, try to do it 1-2 hours before your massage.
- Clothing. De-robe to your level of comfort. Most leave underwear on, others undress all the way, and I’ve even had people leave on jeans or undershirts! One of the first things every massage therapist learns is draping techniques. The only part of your body that will ever be exposed is the part your therapist is working on. That said, the less you have on, the better! It allows us to assess the temperature and quality of your body tissue. We can work through clothing, but our techniques become limited. BUT REMEMBER, your comfort comes first!
So your massage therapist is more focused on healing than relaxation. Massage affects the nervous system, so we are able to slow it down and help you feel more relaxed. But the point of this relaxation is to promote the healing process. These tips should help you be comfortable and get the most out of your massage therapy. Let the healing begin!
Lindsey Kohles, LMT, graduated with honors from the Institute of Business and Medical Careers in 2015 with her Associates Degree in Massage Therapy. She is trained in Swedish, neuromuscular techniques, prenatal massage, myofascial trigger point therapy, and sports massage.