So you’ve decided to book yourself in for your first ever massage, but you have no idea what to expect or how to prepare. Today, we’ll look at everything you need to know to make your first massage go smoothly. Obviously, every clinic and therapist works slightly differently, but this guide should help to steer you in the right direction.
Booking your appointment
- Therapists often offer a range of different massage styles. If you already know what type of massage you want, that’s great. If not, ask the therapist or receptionist what styles they offer and what the differences are when booking the appointment. If you’re booking your appointment online, you could contact the therapist to discuss the options prior to your appointment or you could discuss it with them at the start of the appointment.
- Massage sessions can be of different lengths. From a quick 30 minute session, up to 2 hours or sometimes even longer. For your first massage, I would suggest selecting a session that’s about an hour long. This will give you plenty of time to enjoy the experience, but won’t be too long or intense for your first session. Remember: if you love the experience you can always come back another time for a longer session.
- If you have a medical condition and are unsure whether massage therapy is OK for you, you should mention it to the therapist when booking your appointment so they can advise you further. Depending on your condition, you may be asked to provide written clearance from your Doctor or Consultant to receive massage therapy.
Before you arrive
- Try not to eat just before your appointment and don’t eat a heavy meal within two hours of the appointment start time. You’ll feel more comfortable whilst lying on the table and your system will have one less thing to do during the session.
- Make sure you are hydrated but don’t drink too much as you don’t want to feel as if you need the bathroom halfway through your session.
- Don’t drink any alcohol before your appointment, most therapists won’t treat anyone whom they suspect has been drinking and besides the massage won’t be as enjoyable for you.
- If possible, have a shower shortly before your appointment. This, again, will make you feel more comfortable and your skin will be easier for the therapist to work with.
- Wear comfortable clothing to your appointment, it will be easier to undress for the massage and dress again after the session. You will likely feel pretty relaxed after the massage, and the last thing you’ll want is to be trussed up in tight, restrictive clothing when your body just wants to enjoy the feeling of freedom.
- Wear small stretchy underwear, most types of massage are performed directly on the skin so you will be asked to undress. It’s up to you how much or how little you wish to take off, but most therapists will prefer you undress down to your pants as this gives them the greatest access to your body whilst also protecting your modesty.
When you arrive
- Try to arrive several minutes early for your appointment, this will give you a little time to get accustomed to the surroundings of the therapy centre or clinic and to complete any paperwork.
- Most therapists will require you to complete an intake form which will include questions about your medical history. Sometimes this is available to complete before you arrive, but usually you will complete it just before your appointment. Try to complete the form as accurately as possible and if you take medication, it would be a good idea to bring it with you to the appointment.
- Before the session starts, the therapist will have a short consultation with you. At this time, the therapist will go over your intake form and any relevant medical history, as well as discuss your lifestyle and any complaints you may currently be experiencing such as stress, injuries, pain or discomfort.
- You may prefer to have a full body massage or want to focus on specific areas that are bothering you. Discuss with the therapist what would be best for you given your individual situation and medical history.
- Ask the therapist what clothes they need you to remove. Your comfort is paramount, so tell them whether you’d prefer to keep on any items of clothing, such as your bra. If you’d prefer to be completely undressed for your session, make sure you check that this is OK with your therapist before undressing.
- If you have any further questions, now is the time to put them to the therapist to make sure you are comfortable and happy before moving onto the next stage.
- The therapist should now leave you alone in the room for a few minutes to undress, prepare yourself and get on the table under the covers.
- Please give the therapist the same courtesy and wait for them to leave the room before you start to undress.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the therapist to change something during your massage.
- If you are too warm or not warm enough, tell them.
- If you don’t like the music or would prefer no music, tell them.
- If you need to move or are uncomfortable, tell them.
- If the pressure is too much or if the massage is painful or hurting, tell them.
- If the pressure isn’t enough, tell them.
Please be aware when asking for more pressure that therapists can only work within their capabilities and level of training. No therapist wants to, nor should they, hurt themselves or shorten their career by applying more pressure than they can. If you feel as if you need more pressure, you would be advised to seek out a therapist specifically trained to use deep tissue massage techniques.
After the massage
- Don’t jump straight up off the massage couch once the massage has finished, take a few minutes to readjust to your surroundings, you may feel a little light headed for a few moments after getting up, so take your time.
- Again, the therapist should leave the room for a few moments for you to get dressed, they may return to the room to see you after the session or may ask for you to come out of the room once you are up and dressed.
- If you feel thirsty ask the therapist for a glass of water if they haven’t already offered you one.
- Many therapists will ask whether you’d like to rebook another appointment now. If you want to, by all means do so, but don’t feel pressured into it, you can always book in again later.
- Make sure you have all your belongings with you before you leave and don’t forget to pay your therapist. You are welcome to leave a tip if you feel it is suitable.
- Try to make sure you have a little time to yourself after your massage. Maybe just time to stroll for a little before you have to join everyone else in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I think we’ve covered everything to make your first massage go smoothly, but if you’re unsure of anything do ask the therapist. They want you to be comfortable, happy, and have an amazing experience!
Written by Trevor Chisman – The Massage Specialist