Nothing beats a professional massage. It can soothe your body, mind and spirit by improving immunity, circulation and anxiety. You’ll even sleep better. But before you head off for your massage, there are some things you need to know. Avoid awkward moments, wasted cash and potential pain with these 15 tips.
1. Be on time, please
Your massage therapist wants to work on you for your entire scheduled appointment. But arriving 30 minutes late may mean cutting your time short to accommodate the next client. Most therapists will not work past their scheduled appointment time.
2. It’s okay to get butt naked, but…
While getting naked in front of a stranger may be uncomfortable, it’s totally normal for a massage therapist. They are trained professionals and undressing will lead to a better experience. Only undress to the point where you feel comfortable. And remember, you will be covered with sheets where needed.
That said, even if you are comfortable with nudity, that doesn’t mean your massage therapist wants to see your privates. Remember that they are trained to properly drape your body to avoid being too close and personal. They may be comfortable with the sides of your buttocks, but that doesn’t mean they want to see anything else.
3. It’s okay to ask for more or less pressure
Your massage therapist is happy to oblige your request for more or less pressure. They won’t take offense. In fact, they want you to tell them what you like and what you don’t like during the session. How else can they create the best experience for you?
4. No perfume or aftershave
While your perfume or aftershave may smell wonderful to you, it may be a bit overwhelming to your massage therapist. Since he or she will be working closely for about an hour, your perfume could irritate their noses. In addition, some clients may be allergic to perfume.
5. No, it’s not supposed to hurt
Some pain is necessary, right? Well, not really. While there may be slight discomfort during a stretch or when a tight muscle is worked on, it should not overtake the experience. If too much force is put on a muscle, the muscle tightens up more. The result is even more pain, possibly bruising and muscle damage. That’s why it is imperative to let your therapist know if something hurts or you need less pressure.
6. Let them know what ails you
If you have a health concern or condition, let your therapist know. if you’ve had a change in your medical condition since your last massage, let your therapist know that too. Telling them halfway through a deep-tissue massage that you bruise easily because you are on blood thinners may be too late.
7. You don’t have to talk
The objective is to relax. That’s why you’re there, and that’s what you’re paying for. So don’t feel that you have to make conversation with your therapist. But, on the other hand, if you need to speak — do so. If you want to speak because that makes you feel more comfortable, then that’s okay too.
8. Remember to breathe
Sometimes, without realizing it, we tend to hold our breath. But during a massage, particularly when the therapist is working out a knot, it’s crucial to breathe. In fact, it’s important to breathe fully and deeply. It’s especially important to oxygenate the blood supply to aid tense muscles. Deep and slow breathing, according to research, has even been reported as a complementary approach in the treatment of chronic pain.
9. Drink lots of water after your appointment
It’s particularly important to hydrate after your session. Like a workout, muscles become dehydrated after a massage, suggests Dr. Oz. You have to replenish all that lost water by drinking more. Then there’s metabolic waste, which is produced by muscles. When your muscles are tight or you have a knot, it constricts circulation in those areas. That inhibits the body’s ability to flush out waste. Drinking water post-massage allows the kidneys to effectively eliminate the new waste.
10. Have a warm pre-massage shower
For the best massage, have a warm shower first. Relaxing in a long shower loosens the muscles and will help relieve tension during the massage. In addition, feeling clean will mean less body insecurities. Plus, the therapist will appreciate your cleanliness — for obvious reasons.
11. Workout before your massage, not after
Massage or workout, which comes first? Definitely work out before, not after, your massage. Worked-out and exercised muscles will be tired and benefit the most from a massage. Working out immediately after a massage is not a great idea since you’re likely to stress and strain the muscles that were just relaxed. Plus, you’ll run the risk of being too tired and injure yourself. In fact, it’s best to wait about 24 hours before working out, suggests massagetherapy.com. Allow your body to heal after a massage.
12. Time your massage for the right time
There’s no perfect time to schedule a massage. But you still should consider the best time for you before booking an appointment. Consider what makes sense for you and your schedule. Some people feel invigorated after receiving a massage and prefer to make this the start of their day. Others use massage as a way to eliminate day-to-day stress, preferring to book at the end of a long day. You know your body better than a therapist, so trust your instincts.
13. Know that bodily functions may happen
While massages are sure to relax you, they can also improve digestion. That means an occasional stomach grumble or even flatulence. But don’t be embarrassed — it happens to the best of us. In fact, it’s completely normal and happens a lot during massages. But just in case that’s a road you don’t want to travel, avoid high-fiber foods before your appointment. You may also want to hit the bathroom before your session. Ideally make sure you urinate before laying down. Nothing is worse than having to pee while someone works out knots.
14. Avoid eating before your massage
Enjoying a big meal before you have a massage stimulates digestion. Not to mention it may leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Your best bet is to eat a light meal about two hours beforehand to allow for digestion. Being uncomfortably full will just ruin your experience.
15. Drink coffee before, not after
When booking an early-morning session, drink your morning coffee before — not after — your appointment. Drinking caffeine after your appointment can tense the previously relaxed muscles. Choose a caffeine-free herbal tea instead. Your muscles will thank you!
Massage is up-close and personal, and your therapist wants nothing more than to give you the best experience possible. So most importantly, get comfortable, relax and enjoy.
— Katherine Marko