It’s true. Some people feel a little awkward the first time they get a massage. It’s mostly concern about the unknown; wondering what it’s like and if you will enjoy the experience.
In reality, awkward feelings fade away very quickly when you’re in the hands of a qualified professional massage therapist. They provide a safe and comfortable experience. They will talk you through the experience so you won’t feel embarrassed or uninformed.
There are a few things to know beforehand, though, that will help you feel more comfortable when you arrive for your massage. Here’s a short list:
1. Be clean. If you can take a shower before you visit the massage clinic, that would be great. While all massage therapists are used to all levels of cleanliness, it sure makes the experience better for both you and your therapist.
Clean skin will also allow the therapist to better apply the oils, lotions or creams used in the massage session. If you can’t shower just before the massage, it’s ok. Maybe take one when you get up in the morning, in stead. In any case, do not try to cover up for the fact that you haven’t showered with perfume or cologne. It doesn’t work and you’ll just introduce a whole other problem in to the typically scent-free environment of a spa or massage clinics.
In some cases, like sports massage after a half-marathon, where therapists regularly work on clients that are hot and sweaty. That’s perfectly fine, of course, because the therapists are there to work and know what to expect. No need to be shy about it.
2. If you have long hair, put it in a ponytail. That makes everything easier for your therapist when working on your back and neck. Leave your jewelry at home or put it in your pocket or purse.
3. Talk. Yes, talk. Be prepared to communicate with your therapist whenever you have a question, or if you don’t want a specific area massaged for some reason (we don’t care why, just tell us!), or if you want more or less pressure during the session. This is about YOUR comfort and wellness. Massage therapists very much want you to speak up to help make sure session better, even if it’s in the middle of the massage. Do not be shy. There will be no offense taken or judgements rendered. Just talk to the therapist if you need to!
4. Get to the appointment a few minutes early. There will be some forms to fill out. Mostly to collect basic information and let your therapist know the goals of your session, and if you have any medical issues that might change the techniques your therapist uses. ALWAYS be honest on your forms. Nobody but the therapist will see what you write and the records are kept under lock and key. Withholding information can just lead to misunderstandings at least, or unintended injury at most.
5. Don’t expect the unexpected. Massage therapists are professionals. We know what we’re doing and won’t cross professional or ethical boundaries. You can feel safe knowing that we won’t ask you for a date, gossip about your body, or make (or tolerate) any advances outside the scope of practice of massage. We will drape your body to preserve your modesty at all times. We will treat you with respect and dignity. We expect that same treatment from you.
6. Expect to leave a tip if you liked the service. Like many service professionals, massage therapists are usually paid a flat rate for massage and “the house” gets the bulk of what you pay. As with most services, a 15-20% tip is customary. Tip in cash or via credit card. It’s especially important to tip if you came in on a Groupon or some other discount. That discount frequently comes out of the therapist’s pocket, so be kind.
7. Finally, tell your friends if you find a place and/or therapist you really like. As with any business, massage therapy relies heavily on word-of-mouth to spread the news of great service and professional services that leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed or rejuvenated. A quick check-in or post to social media, mentioning the business name, will go a long way to helping keep you favorite therapist employed.