Massage is a very personal experience, and as such it often takes time to find a therapist that you are comfortable with. Depending on the therapist and your own needs, you can expect different circumstances. For example, for some therapies such as cranial sacral, you do not need to undress at all. For others, such as Swedish massage, you may need to undress completely, except for your underwear. If this is the case, it helps the therapist if you wear sensible underwear, as the therapist will use your underwear to help with draping. Draping is a technique that uses a sheet or blanket to cover the areas not being worked upon, while exposing the area that is being massaged.
Before you even have to worry about undressing, the therapist will require a health history from you. This includes all medications, supplements and herbs that you currently take, as well as any medical diagnoses you may have. The more comprehensive you can be the better, as there are many circumstances that may contraindicate massage, or require the therapist to modify their massage techniques. Generally, a health history will also include your problem areas, or areas you would like addressed, and your expectations of the massage. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, you may have to indicate on a diagram what areas you feel pain in, as well as describing the nature of the pain (i.e. burning pain, stabbing pain, pain that comes and goes rather than constant pain). Based upon your history, the therapist may perform some tests and assessments to determine how best to treat you.
Once the intake and assessment process are complete, you will be taken to the massage area. Usually this is a smaller room that has subdued lighting, and may even have soft music playing and/or candles or aromatherapy to promote relaxation. You will be left alone in the room to undress, and climb under the sheet or blanket. The therapist will knock on the door after a few minutes to see if you are ready for the massage to begin.
The massage itself is as unique as you are, and depending on the therapist and the modality they use it will vary. It is important to remember to communicate any discomfort you are experiencing to the therapist as massage should not be a painful experience. There are some techniques, such as trigger point release that are somewhat painful, but these will be explained by the therapist to prevent any surprises during the massage. Most therapists use a lubricant such as a massage lotion or oil to reduce friction on the skin, and if you have any skin sensitivities that you did not disclose in your health history, or you are curious, do not hesitate to ask your therapist what they are using on your skin.
The length of the treatment is also variable. Many therapists offer ½ hour, full hour and even 90 minute sessions, with variable prices to match. You will be at the therapist’s clinic longer than the 30 or 60 minutes for the massage though. Remember to include time for your history, assessment, and for relaxation prior to and after the massage.
After your massage there are many things you may feel. Some people are simply relaxed, while others may experience fatigue. Depending on the techniques used there may be some residual pain, or tired muscles. Often clients need a few minutes of lying still before they get off of the massage table as they may feel dizzy or cloudy. Massage promotes the release of toxins from your tissues and as such, you may find that you feel tired and have cloudy urine as your body processes and removes the toxins from your system. It helps to drink plenty of water and have an Epsom salt bath to assist the toxin release.