Frequently Asked Questions and Massage Etiquette
Do I have to shave before my massage?
As a massage therapist of 16 years and a mother, I have seen it all! Hairy legs or a hairy back doesn’t even make it on my scale as being gross. We don’t care if you are hairy. We are thinking about your anatomy and what’s below the surface of your skin, and not very much about whether you’ve shaved or not.
How often should I get massage?
As often as possible seems an easy answer, but I’m a realist. A better rule of thumb is this: Any amount of massage is better than no massage at all. Do you have an injury? Or an area that troubles you regularly? Then don’t be surprised to hear your massage therapist ask you to come more often, in order to treat that area. It’s very common to work with your therapist more regularly until your condition improves. Otherwise, a monthly massage is a realistic, healthy goal. Think of it as maintenance for your body. If we keep up with the maintenance that our bodies need, we can prevent injury or recurring areas of tension. It’s rumored that comedian Bob Hope received a massage every day until he died at the age of 100!
How to make the most of your massage experience:
Be on time for your treatment. Being on time allows the required pre-treatment interview to be completed which evaluates any medical conditions and potential risks. This is also the best time to ask any questions you may have about the treatment or products used.
Turn off or silence your phone. Not only is this a common courtesy for your therapist and other guests trying to relax, but also helps you relax. Being relaxed will ensure you will get the most out of your treatment.
Know your medical history. The more you know, the easier it is for your therapist to provide you with the best, most appropriate treatment.
Communicate with your therapist is something is uncomfortable. This may include pressure, temperature, music, or even a bathroom break. Let your therapist know if something should be amended to make you more comfortable.
What should I wear?
Getting undressed can be a stressor for some clients. Here’s something you’re likely to hear from your massage therapist that may put you at ease: Undress to your level of comfort—whatever that is, its fine with me. I mean it, too! Some of my clients leave their underwear on—that’s fine. Others feel the need to leave more clothes on—that’s fine. Some people get undressed completely, and that’s fine too. Again, this is your treatment, and our first concern is your comfort. And just so you know, you will be covered with a sheet, and very strict draping protocols are followed throughout your entire treatment.
Is it normal to be sore after a massage?
It is very normal to feel sore or achy after a massage. Even if you have not received a deep tissue treatment, it’s not totally abnormal to experience some soreness for as long as 36 hours. If you feel this soreness for longer than 48 hours, the work that you received may have been too deep. Consider discussing this if you see the therapist again, leave it as feedback in the rating section, and remember to listen to your body during your next treatment. If you resist the pressure, it’s too deep.
To talk or not to talk?
This comes up a lot, and there’s no single answer. Some people are talkers. Some clients are put at ease by carrying on a conversation. This is fine—it allows therapist and client to get to know each other better. However, if this is you, you may want to challenge yourself to try something different: stay as quiet as possible throughout your treatment, except for any treatment-related discussion. Take deep breaths and work on quieting your mind and just receiving the treatment you’re there for. I know: sometimes it’s hard. But there is no such thing as uncomfortable silence when you are receiving a treatment. If you are simply more comfortable with some light chit-chat, just be aware that your therapist may even ask you to be quiet so you can receive the full benefits of the massage. That said, you may come across therapists who invite conversation in the treatment. If you enjoy that, you have found a good match. If you don’t, remember our most important tip: Communicate! Let your therapist know that you would rather have a quiet treatment.
To tip or not to tip?
Tips are gladly accepted, but not expected. As in any relationship, open, appropriate communication is best. If you choose not to tip, let your therapist know. This informs the therapist that you’re not tipping is not an indication of how you felt about the treatment. It is fairly commonplace to tip massage therapists, but it is by no means required. Most therapists would rather have you as a client than not, so if tipping would keep you from being able to afford your treatment, do not tip. If your circumstances change, you can always “gift” your therapist with a larger-than-normal tip, or just begin tipping regularly, if you so wish. A good rule of thumb for tips is 20% of the service. That said, any amount of tip is still a tip.
What exactly is deep tissue?
There is a difference between deep pressure within a massage (something that most therapists can do), and deep tissue massage. If you have an area that needs specific work in order to relieve tension, trigger points, or adhesions, deep specific work is typically necessary. Your therapist will use specific, static pressure deep into the muscle—usually with their elbow or fingers—to release the tension in that area. It is important to remember that everyone has a different tolerance for deep work, so communication with your therapist throughout your treatment regarding your comfort is essential. Many people can get profound results from lighter pressure and lighter work. No two people are the same! If your body is resisting the pressure applied to it, then the treatment is too deep, and you need to tell your therapist.
Why Do I get so congested during a massage?
It is very normal to become congested while lying face down on a massage table. This usually clears up when you flip over, and can be helped by asking your therapist to use some essential oils in the face cradle while you are lying face down.