If you haven’t had much experience with massage therapy, you might be wondering what to expect during a typical massage session.
1. Preliminary information.
The massage therapist will ask preliminary questions to determine your overall health and your desired results from massage therapy. She will assess your needs and explore your motivation in getting massage, including your health goals. The massage therapist will consider information about your physical condition, medical history, lifestyle, stress levels and any areas of physical pain. The information gathered in a brief interview will help the massage therapist determine how to structure the session to achieve your desired results.
2. Removing Clothing.
(Exception: See Chair Massage below)
Before your massage, you’ll be asked to remove clothing to your level of comfort. The therapist will leave the room while you undress and remove any jewelry or other articles that might interfere with the massage. Take off only as much as you are comfortable removing. Keep in mind that your massage will be most effective when the massage therapist can touch your skin in areas they will massage. Lay on the massage table, underneath the provided sheet or towel, which will cover your body except for the part being massaged.
3. The massage table.
The massage table is padded, and may have extra attachments or cushions, such as a face rest, which allows you to lie facedown without turning your head or neck.
4. The environment.
Expect a peaceful and comfortable environment for the massage. The massage therapist may play music during the massage. Some people enjoy the music, and some don’t. If you prefer silence or different music, ask the massage therapist to turn off or change the music.
5. The massage.
The massage technique or modality used will depend on what the massage therapist determines is best for your massage. The massage therapist will use oil, which reduces drag on the skin while performing the massage strokes. If you are allergic to oils or lotions, let your massage therapist know before your massage begins. Depending on your needs, the massage therapist will massage either the full body (except for private areas) or only specific areas that need attention, such as especially tight muscles. Remember to breathe normally. A typical table massage session is usually a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 90 minutes.
6. The end of the massage
The massage therapist will allow you to slowly get up and get dressed in privacy. Usually your massage therapist will offer you water after you’re dressed.
Chair massages, which often are offered in public spaces and workplaces, are an exception to the above descriptions. A specially-designed massage chair lets you lean forward a supports the front of the body. This allows the massage therapist to massage most areas to be massaged. You remain clothed and no oil or lotion is used. Seated massages last from 10 to 30 minutes.
Courtesy of the American Massage Therapy Association; 2011.
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