Generally, you will lie on a massage table, covered by a sheet or large towel. Make sure you are comfortable and let the therapist know if you are not. Tell the therapist if you are cold, want to be covered, don't want an area of your body touched, don't like the music, or are experiencing discomfort with the technique or how it is being applied. Remember, you are in charge, and can ask for changes or stop the session at any time.
A professional massage therapist will never expose genitals or breasts, or any other areas you identify. Only the area the therapist is working on will be exposed.
The therapist may play music, but be sure to tell your therapist if you would prefer a different type of music or if you would like quiet. Typically, you can also bring your own music to play during the session.
How to get the most from your massage
Be as open to the process as you can.
Relax and try let your thoughts go. One way to do this is to focus on how the touch or technique feels.
Remember to breathe, as this helps you relax. Sometimes people hold their breath when a sensitive area is massaged, but it is best to breathe through it.
In the same way, tightening your muscles during the massage is counterproductive. If you can't seem to relax your muscles, let your massage therapist know. They may need to adjust the massage technique.
Some typical techniques
Some typical techniques you might experience include the following. Click on each for a photo or video.
Answers to common questions
Is it common to experience emotions? It depends. You might be having a day filled with emotions: sadness, joy or exhaustion. Sometimes the safe touch, music that brings up memories, dates that are linked to events, or the smell of the massage oil may release feelings. The body can react by crying, laughing, or "shivering from cold." The mind can also become absorbed in the feelings rather than the massage. Your therapist will simply ask if you are okay to continue receiving touch and given your answer, he or she will monitor how you are doing and adjust the session goals accordingly. For example, he or she may shorten the time, change the strokes or the music or add more draping.
Is it okay to talk? Yes, it is okay to talk, but you may get more benefits from a relaxation massage if you let go of your everyday worries or concerns. If you are nervous about the process of receiving massage and need to talk to feel safe, your therapist will understand. They are trained not to talk about themselves during your session, but will simply answer your questions with a yes or no. If your session is rehabilitation-based, the therapist will need to stay in constant contact with you regarding pain levels and measuring relief. Because it's important that you offer specific feedback to the therapist, she may keep talking to keep you from drifting off.
What if I am embarrassed about my body? Remember that massage therapists are professionals who are sensitive to possible client issues with touch and are non-judgmental about your body weight, amount of hair, skin conditions, scars, disabilities, medical conditions, or personal history of trauma.
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