Massage therapy can be… magical. Some people know this very early on, others learn it by accident, and some are still very unsure about it. I am writing this directly for those who haven’t yet discovered massage.
Massage is a very natural thing. When you bump your elbow, the first instinct is to rub it, and moments later it’s forgotten. But in today’s society, touching another person has become quite taboo. The simple act of reaching out and gently putting a hand on an arm or shoulder is often disconcerting.
But we need touch. We are, for the most part, very tactile creatures. And touching another person helps us connect with them.
Massage therapy is an incredible tool, but for many people it can be downright frightening. So I thought I would talk about some of the myths or misconceptions.
1. “Massage Therapists are really prostitutes.”
There is no mistake as to why I made this point number one – it’s the biggest misconception! If I had a nickle for every time one of my own friends or family members (not even mere acquaintances) made a crack about my then-new profession, I’d be in Turks and Caicos right now. While there ARE people out there who advertise massage but really perform sexual acts for money, true massage therapists do not. We are professionally trained, can watch CSI/House/NCIS/etc and understand the medical terminology, and work very hard to maintain our reputations.
2. “They’ll make me get undressed.”
There are many different kinds of massage out there, and a lot can be performed while fully clothed (just take a look in any airport – chair massage is VERY popular there). However, you actually miss out on some amazing work by not disrobing. A therapist is best able to work your muscles by being able to actually touch them. You only need to take off as much clothes as you are comfortable with, but keep in mind that your therapist has:
-seen every kind of body type, from anorexic to morbidly obese
-seen every kind of tattoo, including the really offensive ones
-seen hair before, whether it was a man’s back or a woman’s legs
-seen blemishes of all kinds before
3. “What if I get…aroused?”
Sometimes it happens, to both men and women. Again, this is not new to a massage therapist, and the table sheets can easily be loosely bunched up to aid the modesty of a man, and sheets are always laundered after each client so women need not be concerned either.
4. “I’m still nervous, and how will they know if it’s too light/too deep?”
COMMUNICATE! Massage therapists are there to help you, and we are not mind readers. Many therapists will try and gently “check in” with their clients (i.e. “how is this pressure?” or “is this comfortable?”), but you should never feel bashful about telling your therapist what you want. If you’re nervous, let them know so you can both discuss what will happen throughout the session and make adjustments for your comfort. Do you find the room too cool? Ask for an additional towel or blanket to cover you. Is the therapist’s touch too light? Feel free to say “you can do deeper work there.” or if it’s too deep “ooh, I am a little sensitive there, can you ease up a bit?” Alternately, don’t be shy about telling your therapist that something he or she is doing feels fantastic – we LOVE to know we are on the right track.
5. “I don’t think I could be massaged by a (specific gender)”
If you’re not sure you’re comfortable with a male or female specific therapist, you certainly do not have to choose one. If you contact a spa or salon where you are not sure what gender the therapist you will get is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling the receptionist you feel more comfortable with one in particular.
Those are some of the biggest concerns new clients face, so if you have any questions I didn’t answer, I’d be happy to help! Aside from that, here are some tips to help make your massage the best part of your day…
– Be on time or even a few minutes early for your appointments (particularly your first, where you are likely to be asked to fill out a short medical form for your client file). By rushing in late, your adrenaline is pumping and your energy is sparking, which means it will take longer for you to settle in and relax. Additionally, your therapist wants to give you a full session, but appointments are often scheduled tightly to accommodate other clients so you may lose some very precious relaxation time.
– Don’t come directly from the gym. Muscles are often still stressed from getting a workout, and I find it’s best to allow at least a couple of hours rest so I can manipulate the muscles more effectively.
– Allow your therapist to move your body. Many clients want to “help” by picking up their arms, or moving their head, but don’t worry, we can do that for you!
– Drink plenty of water after your massage.
Be well, and enjoy!