I see it all the time. Someone comes in for a massage appointment and they just have the "look". A little nervous, a little unsure, a little wide-eyed. It's ok! We've all been there. I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with you my best advice for how to receive a massage and get the most benefit out of it.
Do I have to undress completely?
In short... No, you do not have to undress. If you are uncomfortable, let your massage therapist know and they can do work over your clothing to help relax you and ease your aches and pains. If you do not want to undress, please wear clothing that is light weight and close fitting like yoga pants or a tank top.
Most people undress for their massage. It is easiest to address your issues if your LMT can contact and glide on your skin. About half of our clients chose to leave their underwear on and the other half choose to remove them. It's totally up to you. That being said, all areas of modesty (breasts, genitals, gluteal cleft) will be covered by a sheet during your entire massage. Your massage therapist will ask if there are any areas you do NOT want to touched and it is a great time to say "Don't touch my feet" or "I don't like work on my glutes (aka rear end)". It's your body and your choice!
Do take your jewelry off
Remove your jewelry before you get on the massage table and leave it on the side table next to your chair. It is difficult to address the muscles of your neck while trying not to pull a necklace or avoid getting massage cream on it. If you have trouble with the clasp, we are happy to help! Rings are not terribly obtrusive to work around, if you prefer to leave them on.
Do breathe and pretend your are jello
This is your time to be cared for. If your LMT needs your arm in a different position, she/he will move it. You don't need to help! Just let every part of your body be heavy and sink into the table. If we lift your arm, we will continue to hold it for you. No need to hold it up! Sometimes, your massage therapist may wiggle or gently rock a part of your body to bring attention to the tension you are holding there. It can be hard to let go and we understand. You can even say "I can't let go!" and we can talk about it a little bit to see if we can help.
Do tell your massage therapist if you are taking medications
There are some medications that affect your ability to feel pain and discomfort. Totally awesome when you need it, but not so great for massage time. If you are unable to feel the true level of your pain or discomfort, you aren't able to give your massage therapist feedback if they are working with too much pressure or if a stretch is too much. Being on medication doesn't mean you can't have massage! It just means your LMT needs to know and adjust the work accordingly.
Don't be afraid to talk
If something is uncomfortable to you, please speak up! Your massage therapist is an expert in anatomy, but only you know how their work feels in your body. This isn't a "no pain, no gain" situation.
Is the table warmer too hot? Speak up! Music too loud? Let us know! Do you like aromatherapy? Holler! Your massage therapist is here to be the best part of your day. We try to set everything up to your liking, but everyone is different. Don't ever hesitate to speak up if there is something we can adjust to make you more comfortable.
Don't be afraid of silence
You do not need to entertain your massage therapist. We are very entertained with the work we are doing to help you feel great! Of course, we welcome the chance to chat and get to know you a bit if that is what helps you get the most out of your treatment. On the flip side, you do not need to make small talk. It is ok to close your eyes, stay quiet and let your mind rest.
Don't worry. I've done this before!
Your massage therapist is there to help. It's ok to tell your LMT that you are nervous and not sure what to expect! We want to be able to answer your questions and help you feel at ease. If I have someone that seems a little timid, I like to tell them, "Don't worry. I've done this before, so I'll get us through this!" It usually gets a laugh and helps set them at ease.
So, as my mom used to tell me when I was a teenager, "Just remember, Do, Do, Don't, Don't and you'll be just fine."
Take good care!
This blog is a combined effort of practitioners to keep you informed.
Body of Work Wellness, LLC
3220 NW 185th Avenue, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97229
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