Ten Tips to Get the Most from Your Massage

  1. Be as receptive and open to the massage process as possible.

  2. Don’t eat just before a massage session.  Let your body digest your meal first.

  3. Be on time. If you arrive in a frenzied, rushed state, it may take longer to relax.

  4. Take off only as much clothing as you are comfortable removing.  If you don’t want to remove your clothing, wear clothing that will be comfortable during the massage and will allow the massage therapist to touch and move the areas of your body you expect will need to be massaged.

    Privacy - The therapist will either leave the room or otherwise provide privacy while you undress. A sheet or towel is provided for draping during the massage and the therapist will uncover only the part of your body being massaged, ensuring that modesty is respected at all times. After the massage is finished, you will be provided with privacy while dressing.

  5. Communicate with your massage therapist

    • Before the session, give accurate health information and let the massage therapist know your expectations and reasons for the massage.

    • Allergies to Oils, Lotions, Powders – The therapist may use oil, lotion or powders to reduce friction on your skin.  If you are allergic to any oils, lotions or powders, tell your massage therapist, who can choose a substitute.

    • Some massage therapists play recorded music during the massage session. Others find music distracting. If it’s provided, let your massage therapist know if you have any music preferences or if you would prefer they turn off the music.
    • Some people like to talk during a massage, while others remain silent. Tell your massage therapist what you prefer.

    • During the massage session, report any discomfort, whether it’s from the massage or due to any problems or distractions related to the environment, e.g., room temperature, music volume, lighting, etc.
    • Give feedback to the massage therapist during the massage on the amount of pressure, speed of hand movement, etc.  If anything happens that you dislike or seems improper, you have the right to ask the massage therapist to stop.  If necessary, you also have the right to end the session.
    • Don’t be afraid to discuss any apprehensions or concerns. It’s important that you be as comfortable as possible during your massage. Your massage therapist is a professional dedicated to do his or her best to help you feel at ease.
  6. Remember to breathe normally. Breathing helps facilitate relaxation. People often stop or limit their breathing when they feel anxious or a sensitive area is massaged.

  7. Relax your muscles and your mind. Tightening up by contracting or hardening your muscles during the massage is counterproductive. Let your massage therapist know this is happening. They may need to adjust the massage technique they use and may also be able to help you relax the affected area. If you find your thoughts are racing during the massage, one way to be more body-centered and to quiet your mind is to follow the hands of the massage therapist and focus on how the touch feels.

  8. Drink extra water after your massage.

  9. Don’t get up too quickly and do allow for some open, quiet time after your massage session. If you’re dizzy or light headed after the massage, do not get off the table too fast. It also may take a little time to integrate or absorb the results of the massage session. 

  10. Be prepared to schedule several massage sessions. Massage has its greatest benefits over time. The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond. From one session to the next, relaxation deepens as the chronic patterns of stress in the body are affected and released. If you’re getting massage to address chronic muscular tension or recovery from a soft tissue injury, more than one session is usually needed. 




What to Expect at Your Massage Session

If you haven’t had much experience with massage therapy, you might be wondering what to expect during a typical massage session.

  1. Preliminary information.
    • The massage therapist will ask preliminary questions to determine your overall health and your desired results from massage therapy.
    • He or she will assess your needs and explore your motivation in getting massage, including your health goals.
    • The massage therapist will consider information about your physical condition, medical history, lifestyle, stress levels and any areas of physical pain.
    • The information gathered in a brief interview will help the massage therapist determine how to structure the session to achieve your desired results.
  2. Removing Clothing. (Exception: See Chair Massage below)
    • Before your massage, you’ll be asked to remove clothing to your level of comfort.
    • The therapist will leave the room while you undress and remove any jewelry or other articles that might interfere with the massage. Take off only as much as you are comfortable removing.
    • Keep in mind that your massage will be most effective when the massage therapist can touch your skin in areas they will massage.
    • Lay on the massage table, underneath the provided sheet or towel, which will cover your body except for the part being massaged.
  3. The massage table. The massage table is padded, and may have extra attachments or cushions, such as a face rest, which allows you to lie facedown without turning your head or neck.
  4. The environment. Expect a peaceful and comfortable environment for the massage. The massage therapist may play music during the massage. Some people enjoy the music, and some don’t. If you prefer silence or different music, ask the massage therapist to turn off or change the music.
  5. The massage. The massage technique or modality used will depend on what the massage therapist determines is best for your massage.
    • The massage therapist may use oil or lotion, which reduces drag on the skin while performing the massage strokes. If you are allergic to oils or lotions, let your massage therapist know before your massage begins. A powder might be available as an alternative.
    • Depending on your needs, the massage therapist will massage either the full body (except for private areas) or only specific areas that need attention, such as especially tight muscles.
    • Remember to breathe normally.
    • A typical table massage session is usually a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 90 minutes.
  6. The end of the massage The massage therapist will allow you to slowly get up and get dressed in privacy. Usually your massage therapist will offer you water after you’re dressed.

Chair Massages

Chair massages, which often are offered in public spaces and workplaces, are an exception to the above descriptions. A specially-designed massage chair lets you lean forward a supports the front of the body. This allows the massage therapist to massage most areas to be massaged. You remain clothed and not oil or lotion is used. Seated massages last from 10 to 30 minutes.

To take advantage of all the benefits of massage, see “Tips for Before, During and After Your Massage.”