What to Expect (and How to Prepare) For Your First Full-Body Massage
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 19% of American adults received a massage between July 2015 and July 2016. Half of those cited health and wellness reasons, while 28% named relaxation and stress reduction as the primary motivator. But millions of Americans have never had a massage at all. If you’re about to experience a massage for the first time, you’re likely familiar with some of the benefits, but you might not know what to expect. There’s no need to be nervous - massage therapists are trained to make their clients feel comfortable. Nevertheless, knowing what to expect ahead of time can help to calm any jitters. Here’s what to expect before your first massage. *Note: For this article, we’ll focus on a standard full-body massage. Massage experiences for specific medical conditions or areas of the body may differ. Before the Massage The best way to approach your first massage is to relax and have an open mind. If you’re nervous, do some research on the massage therapist or practice you’ll be visiting ahead of time, and pick a business that sounds right for you before you book an appointment. You’ll want to avoid eating at least a few hours beforehand. It’s best to give yourself enough time to arrive 10 - 15 minutes early. When you arrive, your massage therapist may ask you to fill out a client intake form. These forms may ask about medical history, aches and pains, and emergency contacts. Once your paperwork is complete, your massage therapist will ask questions to tailor the massage around your specific needs. At this point, you’ll want to inform them of any specific areas you want addressed (such as shoulder tension) and any areas you want them to avoid. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at this stage - it can help you feel at ease and help your massage therapist understand your concerns as a client. During the Massage Your massage therapist will likely have a dedicated massage room with a massage table. They’ll direct you to undress to your comfort level and lie down face up or face down beneath a sheet. The therapist won’t expose any private areas and only the body part they’re working on at the moment will be in the open air. Don’t forget to remove any jewelry that might get in the way. The therapist will then begin to massage your body at an agreed-upon level of pressure. For a typical full-body massage, they could work your scalp, face, arms, hands, abdominals, legs, feet, sides of your glutes, and back, and they’ll pay specific attention to any areas you request. If at any point the pressure level is too light or too intense, make sure to let your therapist know, as all clients have different preferences. Beyond that, you can choose to talk or not during your massage. There may be relaxing music playing, but you can request it to be changed or turned off if you’d prefer silence. Beyond that, all you need to do is relax and enjoy as the therapist works out kinks, knots, and tight muscles! After the Massage When your massage is over, your therapist will let you know they’re done and leave the room so you can get dressed at your leisure. Some people feel dizzy right after a massage, so you should feel free to sit down and get your bearings. Once you leave the massage room, your massage therapist will be waiting to thank you and process payment if need be. While a tip is ultimately up to you, a good rule of thumb is: • $5 – $10 for a 30-minute massage • $10 - $15 for a 60-minute massage • $15 - $20 for a 90-minute massage Most massage therapists in a hospital or chiropractic settings do not expect tips, and may not even be allowed to accept them. As you go about your day, you may want to occasionally pause and take stock of how your body feels. Chances are, you’ll be ready for a repeat massage in no time!