First Massage 101

First Massage 101

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  1. What are you waiting for?

    Your friends have had great results. Less stress, more relaxed, less pain and you could desperately use a good dose of relaxation. The problem is you’ve never had a professional massage by a licensed massage therapist and you don’t know what to expect. Since knowledge is power lets discuss those burning questions and put your mind at ease so you can relax and enjoy your first massage.

    Licensed or not licensed?

    Forty out of fifty states, including the District of Columbia, require license to practice massage. Even though the licensing requirements vary from state to state they all require graduation from an accredited school that offers a massage program of at least five hundred hours. The body of the curriculum includes anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, Swedish massage techniques and an introduction to additional massage modalities such as, Chinese medicine, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, spa treatments, chair massage and Hot Stone massage. A prospective therapist will also learn important aspects of client/therapist relationships, healthy boundaries and ethics, contraindications, pathology and business and marketing skills. With a lot of hands on training the students perfect their skills and techniques as well as complete graduation requirements in the schools student massage clinic. After passing finals and completing all class and clinic requirement the student therapist usually has to take an additional exam required by the state. If passed they are clear to apply to the state but each state has specific requirements that must be met before a license is issued. When all requirements are met and the application fee is paid all documents are reviewed then if the state has no further requirements they will issue you a license to practice massage therapy in their state. If the therapist moves to another state they have to meet that’s state requirements and reapply for a new license. Most states also require a therapist to complete continuing education requirements in order to renew their license. To become a licensed massage therapist one has significant educational requirements to meet and will have invested time and money to practice their profession. While licensing and diplomas on the wall are not a guarantee of a great massage, being comfortable your therapist has received adequate training is an important first step.

    To tell or not to tell?

    Please be honest with your massage therapist, especially about any health problems, injuries and medications you take. Let your therapist know if you have had any recent accidents resulting in injuries, if you are under a doctors care, if you have any allergies, if you have any skin conditions, and if you could be pregnant (women only). Let your therapist know if this is your first massage and if you are experiencing pain and for how long. Typically a full body, sixty minute massage includes head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet and back. A professional licensed massage therapist should never massage genitalia. It is unethical and against the law. A professional massage therapist can have specific training to medically massage breast tissue. This type of therapy has been found to be beneficial to women who have undergone breast surgery. Your therapist should review your medical history and confirm the type of treatment you have scheduled. They should inform you of the plan of treatment, tell you they will insure your comfort throughout the massage and make any adjustments to pressure or techniques per your feedback.

    Keep it on or take it off?

    You will undress to your comfort level, meaning you can leave your underwear on or take it off because the therapist will keep you draped with a sheet at all times except for the area being massaged i.e., leg, arm, back. The therapist will let you know whether they will begin with you face up or face down and will leave the room while you get undressed and comfortable on the table. They will knock and reenter the room when you are ready, check to see that you are comfortable, wash their hands and begin the treatment. Most therapist use either oil or lotion on the skin, provide soothing music and darken the room to promote relaxation plus provide bolsters, table warmers and comfortable linens to sooth and support the body.

    Do I talk or keep quite?

    To promote the highest degree of relaxation, conversation should be kept to a minimum for both client and therapist. Your therapist should ask you questions pertaining to the massage such as does the pressure of the stroke need to be adjusted but they shouldn’t be discussing the latest episode of their favorite soap. You should always inform the therapist if you need any adjustments made during the massage. If the pressure is too much, speak up. Massage is an avenue for you to tune into your body so the more you can focus on relaxing the muscle tissue the more beneficial your treatment will be so don’t forget to breath. Some types of massage require more client feedback but for this article we are talking about a general relaxation massage.

    I’m relaxed now how do I get off of the table?

    Once your therapist has completed your treatment they will let you know your treatment has concluded and leave the room. You should sit up slowly. When you are dressed, join your therapist in the check out area where you will pay for your treatment and book your next appointment. Your therapist may suggest products or self help guides to extend the benefits of your massage.

    Massage Etiquette

    1. Arrive at least 15 minutes early for an appointment.

    2. Call 24 hours in advance to cancel an appointment.

    3. Leave your jewelry, make-up or heavy perfume at home.

    4. Leave your children with a friend or spouse – this is your time to relax.

    5. Turn off your cell phone and/or pager – this is your time to relax.

    6. If you enjoyed your massage treatment please consider leaving a gratuity, 15 – 20% is standard.

    7. Be considerate of your therapist time and profession.

    Relaxation is such a wonderful health benefit and massage is the perfect avenue to allow the body to take a mini vacation. Find a therapist or spa in your area and enjoy all the benefits they have to offer. There are many treatments, products and therapists to choose from so don’t let your friends have all the fun. Relaxation is waiting for you!

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