If you’ve never gotten a massage before, the process can seem intimidating or confusing. Do you have to get naked, or can you leave your underwear on? What happens if you fall asleep, and will the therapist touch your butt if you don’t want them to?
Massage can come with some amazing benefits, and the best way to enjoy it is to know how to prepare for a massage. If you know what to expect, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the process more. Read on to learn more about how to prepare for a massage and what to do after it’s over.
Benefits of Massage
Massage offers a number of benefits both physically and mentally. On the physical side of things, massage can help relieve both chronic and temporary muscle pain. It can also improve your circulation, help you get better sleep, and improve recovery time for minor muscular injuries.
On the mental side, massage can do a ton to lower your stress levels. This can help you sleep better, too, and can reduce the number of headaches you get. It can reduce symptoms of anxiety and provide an important form of self-care.
1. Do Some Research
When you decide to get a massage, it’s a good idea to do some research first. There are dozens of different types of massage that can work well for different complaints, including Swedish, hot stone, myofascial, deep tissue, and several other approaches. Research which one will work best for you and try to find a massage therapist who specialises in one or more of those styles.
You should also do some research into different massage therapists in your area. Read reviews, check out what they specialise in, and look at their different massage offerings. Find a therapist whose values and methods work with your needs and who will work with your budget.
Both before and after your massage, it’s very important that you drink plenty of water. Your skin is your body’s biggest organ, and the more hydrated you are, the easier it will be for your massage therapist to work with your skin. You also need to prepare for the dehydrating effects a massage can have.
A massage is surprisingly hard work for your body, and it’s normal to feel somewhat sore afterwards. The massage can cause your body to release lactic acid related to the knots that were worked out during the massage. Drinking water can help flush that acid out of your body and help you recover faster.
3. Take a Shower
Before you go for your massage, it’s a good idea to take a hot bath or shower. For one thing, this will make the massage a more pleasant experience for your therapist. No one likes to massage a dirty, sweaty body.
Taking a shower will also start loosening up your muscles and relaxing your body. Having your muscles warmed up will make them easier to massage and manipulate to loosen up knots. It will also help your mind relax in preparation for your massage.
4. Fill Out Your Paperwork
Arrive ten or fifteen minutes before your scheduled appointment to make sure you have time to fill out any paperwork. This is especially important if this is your first time getting a massage at this location. You can also use this time to start getting yourself into a state of relaxation and letting go of worries outside the massage clinic.
You may need to sign some forms listing an emergency contact and any injuries you have or medications you’re on. You’ll also be able to list tender areas or areas you prefer not to have touched. Once your forms are filled out, you may want to take this time to go use the bathroom in preparation for your massage.
5. Communicate Clearly
After you’ve filled out your form, your massage therapist will come sit down and talk with you for a few minutes. They’ll ask you about why you’re getting the massage and ask more about the problem areas you’ve listed. This is the time to communicate any questions or concerns you have to your massage therapist so they can address them before, during, and after the massage.
Let your massage therapist know whether or not you prefer to talk during the massage and if you have strong feelings about music during the massage. Don’t be shy letting them know about sensitivities or injuries you have (including during the massage) so they don’t inadvertently make you uncomfortable during the massage. Also let them know about any allergies you have since many massages use oils, lotions, or powders.
6. Undress to Your Comfort Level
Once you finish talking to your massage therapist, they’ll leave the room and give you time to undress. There will be a blanket or sheet covering you at every point during the massage to provide you some modesty. The massage therapist will uncover only the area they are working on at any given time and none of the areas you asked to be left alone will be uncovered.
Undress to the level you’re comfortable at; some people prefer to leave their underwear on, some take it off, some take their bra off and leave their other underwear on. If you feel more comfortable fully clothed, be sure to wear loose clothing that your massage therapist can manipulate as needed during your massage. Once you’re undressed, lay on the table (your therapist will tell you whether to start face-up or face-down) under the blanket.
7. Breathe Deep
There will be a few minutes after you undress before your massage therapist comes back into the room. Take this time to relax, letting go of any worries outside that room and becoming present in the moment. Focus on your breathing, taking slow, deep, even breaths.
As you breathe, pay attention to the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your nose. Focus on your chest and abdomen rising and falling, allowing yourself to sink into this sensation of your breath. As thoughts arise, let them drift away like a balloon into the sky.
8. Relax Your Mind and Body
After a few minutes, your massage therapist will come into the room and your massage will begin. During this time, focus on the sensations of the massage, letting your mind and body become relaxed and pliant. This will make it easier for your massage therapist to work and will help you enjoy the massage more.
If anything starts to hurt during the massage, don’t be shy about letting your therapist know. Also don’t worry if you start to drift off to sleep. Your massage is supposed to be your time to relax, and falling asleep is the ultimate compliment to your massage therapist.
9. Give Yourself Recovery Time
Once the massage is over, your therapist will leave the room and give you time to recover and get dressed. Don’t feel like you have to leap off the table immediately, especially if you had a long massage. Give yourself a few more minutes to breathe and return slowly to yourself and your day.
When you get up, sit up slowly, being sure to breathe deeply. You may feel a little dizzy or lightheaded; this is normal, but let your massage therapist know if it does not pass within a few minutes. Once you feel sure on your feet, get dressed again.
10. Tip and Make a Follow-Up Appointment
When you’ve gotten dressed again, head out to the lobby of the massage clinic to check out and make your next appointment. Like with any service industry, it’s good etiquette to tip your massage therapist. For good service, 20 per cent is considered appropriate, and if they did an exceptional job, it’s a good idea to tip more.
It’s also a good idea to make a follow-up appointment for your next massage before you leave. The benefits of massage compound over time and most therapists recommend you get a massage at least once a month. Take a look at your budget and figure out when you can afford to go back again.
Learn How to Prepare for a Massage
Knowing how to prepare for a massage can help you get the most out of the experience. Be sure to communicate with your massage therapist, drink plenty of water before and after, and let your worries go while you’re on the table. You’ll come out of your massage feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the world again.
If you’d like to get the benefits of a full massage at home every day, check out the rest of our site at Osim. We provide the world’s most pampering massage chairs, as well as a number of other products to inspire wellbeing. Shop our massage chairs and bring relaxation into your every day.