Is a Massage Like?
Massage releases chronic tension and pain in muscles, improves
circulation, increases flexibility in joints, and reduces mental
and physical fatigue. In addition, massage is one of the most effective
means available to combat stress. But the question most people want
answered before first trying this enjoyable and healthful experience
is "What is a massage like?"
Who Will Give Me My Massage?
Your massage will be given by a massage therapist with many hours
of training, often in several types of massage. In addition, massage
therapists have a basic competence in anatomy and physiology and
knowledge of when massage is or is not appropriate. The Department
of Health regulates, tests and registers massage therapists in
What Kinds of Massage Can I Get?
Swedish massage is what many people think of when massage is mentioned.
It uses long, light strokes, deep kneading, small friction-type
strokes, light tapping, and movement of the joints. The list of
other specialized techniques is long. Ask your massage therapist
to explain any other technique she or he uses.
What Is the First Appointment Like?
Your massage therapist will begin by asking some general health
questions since there are some conditions for which massage is not
appropriate. Your massage therapist will then leave the room while
you undress and relax onto the table, covering yourself with a fresh
sheet or, in the case of Thai massage, change into baggy pants and
lie on the floor
Swedish massage will take place on a table especially designed
for stability and comfort. Your massage therapist may offer cushions
or an adjustable face rest for support. The room will be warm and
quiet, often with soft music to set a relaxing mood. For a full
body Swedish massage, most people undress completely, though you
may choose to wear underwear. You are warmly and modestly draped
at all times, except for the area being worked on. Your massage
therapist will usually use a lubricant, such as light oil or lotion,
which is good for your skin and absorbs well.
For Thai massage, no oil is used and you remain clothed.
Swedish massage usually begins with a light steady touch, followed
by broad, flowing strokes. This starts calming your nervous system
and releasing tension in your superficial muscles. Gradually, as
your body becomes ready, your massage therapist works more deeply
to relax specific areas. Thai massage begins with thumb pressure
along energy lines, stretching and "applied yoga".
What Should I Do During a Massage?
Make yourself comfortable. If your massage therapist wants you
to adjust your position, he or she will either move you (for instance
lift your arm) or will tell you what is needed. Otherwise, change
your position anytime to make yourself more comfortable.
Many people just close their eyes and relax completely during a
massage. Others prefer to talk. Its your massage, and whatever
feels natural to you is certainly the best way to relax. Do not
hesitate to ask questions about what your massage therapist is doing,
or about massage in general.
The desire to sigh or take a deep breath is a sign that you are
relaxing. In fact, deep natural breaths can actually help you relax.
Will a Massage Ever Hurt?
Massage on healthy tissue feels good, and the saying "no
pain, no gain" is not true for massage. The most effective
and the deepest massage works with the bodys natural responses,
rather than against them. Always tell your massage therapist if
you feel any discomfort so she or he can adjust to a more appropriate
Massage used to address a painful injury may at first cause some
discomfort, which usually lessens noticeably in the first few minutes.
Your massage therapist knows ways to minimize pain, and will work
carefully within what feels right to you.
Will Massage Tickle?
Ticklish people are often surprised that massage does not tickle.
The touch in a massage is completely different from tickling. The
intent is relaxation, the pressure is gentle but firm. In addition,
your massage therapist chooses strokes that gradually accustom you
to the touch involved.
If you are extremely ticklish, tell your therapist so he or she
can work carefully, or avoid your areas of sensitivity altogether.
How Long Is a Massage?
An hour is a common length for Swedish massage, an hour and a half
to two hours or more for Thai massage. This is enough time for a
deeply relaxing and therapeutic full Swedish body massage or more in-depth
work on a particular area, for instance the back, neck and shoulders.
One and a half hours is enough time for a full body massage along
with special attention to a problem area.
What Do I Do After A Massage?
When your massage is finished, your massage therapist will leave
the room while you dress or change. Be aware that massage can be
profoundly relaxing, and it affects all of your bodys systems.
Give yourself a moment to reorient before slowly getting up from
As stored up toxins have been released during massage, you will
need to drink lots of extra water to flush the toxins and metabolic
wastes to minimize any "massage hangover".
Feel free to participate in any activity you normally do.
How Will I Feel After My Massage?
After a massage, most people feel very relaxed and at peace. Many
experience freedom from aches and pains that have built up from
months of tension or repetitive activity in their daily life. After
an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience
an increase in energy that can last for several days.
Sometimes the immediate effects of your massage may seem mild. Watch
for further changes over the following days, such as pain relief,
increased mobility, or reduced stress as your body heals itself
through improved circulation.
Be aware that one or two hours of even the best massage probably
will not completely correct years of an ongoing problem. Of course,
all massage is very helpful.
How Do I Find Out More?
You may still have questions after reading this. Its your
body, and you are right to be careful. Any massage therapist will
be happy to discuss your questions over the phone or in person before
you book an appointment. But finally, when you are ready, the best
answers will come from experiencing a massage first hand. Enjoy
in good health!