- To undress or not to undress? Your therapist will expect you to get undressed to a degree depending on the area you are having treated. Alarm bells should ring if your therapist expects to get completely undressed for a foot and leg massage! Good therapists should insist that you keep your underwear on, bra’s may be removed if the client is comfortable however they can be worked around so it should not be expected. Exceptions to this are chair massages over clothing at work or at events, but the best results come from treatment applied directly onto the skin.
- No pain, no gain right? Not quite. Deep tissue massages may be a bit uncomfortable and even a bit sore when working on tense knotted areas, but the pain should be a ‘nice‘ pain, the sort that feels it is doing some good. If the pain is really uncomfortable ask your therapist to back off. There is no point being in so much pain that you end up feeling tense, really sore and bruised. Too much pain will make the muscles tense and you will not gain any benefit whatsoever. No point trying to be hero either, you don’t have to experience a lot of pain for that gain.
- Breathe! Remember to breathe when the therapist is working on that tense area, the tendency is to hold your breath and this will stop you benefiting as much as you should. Breathing deeply helps the muscles to relax and increases oxygen supply to the circulation so blood and aids healing.
- Relaxing or invigorating? Remember to relate clearly to the therapist what sort of treatment you want. A good therapist should ask and then confirm with you that they have understood your needs. If you are looking for a relaxing holistic (whole body healing) massage make it clear you do not want the therapist to work too deeply. In contrast if you want deep work in particular areas, make that clear. A good therapist should check with you from time to time that the pressure is correct for you, but don’t be afraid to ask for more, or less, the therapist will not be offended, it is your treatment and it is important you get what you want.
- Help yourself to relax! If possible have a long hot shower or bath before a massage, this will relax your muscles and your mind. It is not always possible when visiting a salon, but might be something to think about if you book a home massage.
- Want to work out, do some boot camp or fitness class, training hard for an event? Make sure you book a massage after and not before. Relaxed muscles can be easily damaged if working out occurs too soon after a treatment. If you have had deeper work done, micro tearing of the muscle fibres can occur, like when you train hard, so a wait of 12-24 hours is recommended to allow the muscles to repair themselves.
- How often? Sure you will get some benefit from one treatment, but because you are constantly moving, living, breathing, that benefit will not last. Some muscle problems will not be sorted out in one session, some regular visits may be required especially if you have endured muscle imbalance for a long period of time. This is not a way for the therapist to make more money! It is a known fact that regular massage can help keep the body working in balance and aid overall health. That is not to say massive benefits cannot be gained from one off treatments though, so don’t be put off it you want just the one at this time.
- Remember to drink plenty of water after a massage. Water assists the removal of toxins from the body. You know those knots in your back? Well they are packed full of toxic waste from cell respiration that has not gone anywhere when the muscle was too tense. The massage will release those toxins and water helps your circulation to remove them. You will want to wee a lot after a massage and that is good! Avoid coffee or tea straight away as caffeine can cause muscles to tense again and may reverse the benefit of your massage.
- Feeling worse before you get better. If you have had a deep tissue massage you may experience some soreness after. You may even feel worse before you feel better. After twenty four hours you should feel the benefit, but in the meantime if you are uncomfortable you can treat the area with an ice pack initially – ten minutes on ten minutes off, three times. Then later use heat – a hot water bottle or a heat pack and leave on until it becomes cool.
- Consider the timing of your treatment. Some people may want an invigorating massage to make them wake up and prep them for their day. Others may want a relaxing, stress release massage. Make sure you schedule your appointment around your day so it suits you and what you need.
I hope this has helped explain a little more about massages if you have any questions please feel free to ask me, I am always happy to chat.
Related: Women’s Health Magazine – How to have a massage without feeling like an idiot