What should I expect during my first massage therapy visit?

Please arrive ten minutes early for your first appointment. When you arrive, your massage therapist will require you to fill out a health history form. Afterward the therapist will familiarize him/herself with your health history and begin by asking you general questions to establish what areas you would like worked on, if there are any conditions needing to be addressed, and to determine what therapies would best achieve the results you want. You and your therapist will talk about goals for the session. The therapist may perform certain assessments and testing to evaluate your condition, especially if you are coming in for therapeutic work with an injury.  Please let your therapist know if you have any problems historically lying on your stomach, back, or side.  Your therapist has many tools and techniques to work on your muscles without putting you in an uncomfortable position!

It is important to list all health concerns and medications so the therapist can adapt the session to your specific needs without doing any harm. It is also important to list any allergies so the therapist is aware if he/she needs to use a different oil or lotion during the session.

Depending on the primary massage technique used, you may or may not need to fully undress. For a full body massage, most people undress completely. Most importantly, you must feel safe and comfortable, so undress to your personal comfort level. Your therapist will advise you to start the massage lying on your stomach, on your back, or on your side. If you’re to start on your stomach, there will be a cushioned doughnut-shaped device at one end of the table. This is a face rest, and you should place your face in there. This allows you to be face down, and keep your shoulder and neck muscles relaxed.

The therapist will leave you in privacy to undress and settle yourself on the padded massage table underneath the sheet and blanket. Many massage therapists utilize a heating pad under the sheets on the table to help you relax. If you find this to be too warm, he/she can turn it off. If you are chilly, feel free to ask them to turn it up or for an additional blanket. Your therapist will knock to ensure you are ready, and then return to the room. He/she may position cushions under your knees, ankles, or neck and place you in a more natural position. If you are uncomfortable or feel a strain on your low back, upper back or neck, please let your therapist know.  They can use bolsters and cushions to position your body more comfortably.  The room will be warm and quiet, with soft music to set a relaxing mood.

During the massage, you will be covered with a clean sheet and blanket. Only the area being worked on (ie. back, one leg) will be exposed at any time, and your genitals will never be exposed. Your therapist will apply a lubricant (cream or oil), which is good for your skin and allows the therapist’s hands to glide well on your body and not cause uncomfortable friction. For certain types of bodywork, no lubricant is used. Many lubricants are unscented, but some have a light scent. If you are sensitive to scents, please check with your therapist to ensure an appropriate product is used.

A massage or bodywork session usually begins with relatively gentle pressure to calm your nervous system, begin relaxing superficial tension, and evaluate which areas need to be worked first. Gradually, the therapist will work more deeply to address specific areas. During the massage the therapist may move your arm or leg to facilitate the massage. You should try to relax, let go, and allow him/her to do all the work. Only the body part that is being worked on is uncovered, and your modesty is always maintained. Always let your therapist know if anything is uncomfortable or irritating.

When the massage is over, the therapist will leave the room so you may get dressed.

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