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Common massage FAQs

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Are you new to massage? Here are some of the most common concerns and questions by people as they are getting ready for their first massage. Your question not listed here? Contact us!


    How much training do massage therapists have? Are you licensed?

    Massage therapists have differing amounts of training throughout the US. As there are no nation-wide regulations, each state or city has its own set standards. CA has undergone changes in recent years –moving from city-by-city regulations to a statewide certification system — CA Massage Therapy Council. Eligibility is determined by completion of a minimum of 500-hours of supervised classroom work/activities/hours from an accredited school. These hours are split between many disciplines including massage technique, safety and first aid, anatomy and physiology, and professional ethics. All of our therapists are registered with the state council as well as hold additional certification in pregnancy massage. In addition, several of us are also nationally certified by the National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork, and in general, quite over educated for massage therapists.  Like many professions, we complete ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain our certification.

    What if I am sick? Can I still get a massage?

    If you have come down with a cold or the flu, or any contagious infection, please call and reschedule your appointment. In our experience, massage can actually worsen fever symptoms and make you feel worse. Additionally, you don’t want to spread the virus to your massage therapist and other clients (thank you!).

    How often should I get a massage?

    When you make bodywork a regular part of your life, you are helping your body to maintain a better state of balance. In the long run, you stand to enjoy much better health gains through consistent sessions. But determining how often is completely individual! It depends on your goals, time and money. Some people will come in weekly, biweekly or monthly. Others, once a year. If you are recovering from an injury or need support through a particularly stressful period, you may want to come more frequently for a period of time, and then start to space out your sessions. You need to determine what works for you. You should inquire with your therapist about discounts for purchasing multiple massage sessions.

    Do I need to do anything special to prepare for the massage?

    The benefits of your massage session will be enhanced if you can really devote time to taking care of yourself. Try and put everything on hold for a few hours—work, home, friends—they will be there after the massage!

    You should also try the following: Limit your consumption of caffeine, sugar and other stimulants; don’t eat a heavy meal immediately before the massage; give yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment, so that you won’t show up rushed and frazzled; take a bath or shower prior to help you start relaxing

    What happens when I arrive for my massage?

    Your massage therapist will greet you as you arrive at her office. She will offer you water and an opportunity to use the bathroom. Don’t hesitate to empty your bladder—nothing is more frustrating than a full bladder in the middle of a relaxation massage. Your therapist will have you fill out a medical history form and talk with you for several minutes about any health considerations and how you are feeling that day (emotionally, as well as aches and pains). Your therapist will then give you a quick overview of the session and will ask you if any part of your body is calling for extra time. The therapist will then give you a few instructions and leave the room so that you can disrobe and get on the table. As you get on the table, climb under the top sheet, sink in and relax! After a few minutes your therapist will knock and come back in. She will then help you get even more comfortable—adjusting or changing the music, or adding pillows to support any physical discomfort you may have.

    Why does the massage therapist need to take my medical history? Isn’t massage just a relaxation technique?

    One of the reasons that massage creates such deep relaxation is that it interacts with so many different body systems—increasing your circulation, reducing your blood pressure and heart rate, calming the nervous system, promoting better digestion, increasing muscle tone, among others things. There are some conditions that are completely contraindicated for massage, and others that require modifications to ensure your safety and comfort. The therapist inquires into your health history in order to ensure the massage is adapted for your optimal wellness. In some cases, the therapist may request a written recommendation from your doctor prior to your first session. If you are under a doctor’s direct care, please tell your therapist when you make your first appointment. Please note that your conversations and sessions with your therapist are confidential and will not be released to any third party without your written consent or as required by law.

    Do I need to take all of my clothes off?

    Most traditional massage and bodywork techniques are performed with the client unclothed; however it is up to the client to determine what that means. Many clients prefer to remove all their clothing; others retain their underwear, others wear exercise shorts or other garments. The important part is that you are comfortable! Your massage therapist will completely respect your decisions. And we use sheets and blankets to keep your body covered for warmth and privacy.

    Will I be covered during the massage?

    Absolutely! The therapist will keep a sheet draped over your body throughout the session for comfort, warmth and safety. She will uncover only the part of your body that is being massaged at that moment. Your privacy and comfort are our key priorities!

    What parts of my body will be massaged?

    This all depends on which parts of your body require massage. You and your massage therapist will discuss this before your session. Typically a one hour massage covers the back, legs, feet, arms, hands, shoulders, neck, head and face. Additionally, the therapist will massage the gluteal muscles (usually through the sheet) and abdomen. As these are sometimes more sensitive areas for people, you should indicate to your therapist if there are regions of your body that you are not comfortable having massaged.

    Will oils be used?

    Light oil will be used to help the massage strokes glide more easily over the skin and to let your muscles be more deeply worked without causing excessive friction on your skin. Your therapist will be using highly natural, unprocessed, pure oil, but you should let her know if you have any sensitivities. Occasionally, your therapist will use aromatherapy oils which have been infused with essential oils.

    Alternately, we use a professional massage creme that doesn’t leave you feeling as greasy. We use an all organic, paraben-free creme. It is nut-free.

    What happens during the massage?

    The massage will start with gentle, flowing strokes that will help calm your nervous system and external musculature. As your tissue begins to warm and relax, the therapist will start adding more pressure to begin opening up deeper muscles. Your therapist will ask you questions to gauge how much pressure is appropriate for your body; it is very important that you communicate with the therapist so that she can alter the session for your needs. Your therapist may also move your limbs and body to stretch particular muscles and joints; try to relax your muscles and release the urge to “help”—just let that limb go. Your therapist may also ask you to take several deep breaths and to “direct” the breath to certain areas of your body; all that this means is to use your breath to draw awareness and attention to any muscular tension in a particular area.

    Many people fall asleep for part of their massage. That is ok. You are still receiving all the benefits of massage and is a good sign that you are “letting go.”

    What should I do during the massage?

    Let it all go and relax! Yes, that’s easier said than done, and chances are for many people there will be a few moments on the table where your to-do list and that fight with your sister rushes into your mind. That’s normal—just how our brains work. Don’t criticize yourself for having trouble completely letting go. Instead, start focusing more and more of your attention on your breath and your experience on the table. One way to quiet your mind is to focus your attention on the session—following the sensations and movement. One of the great benefits of massage is the heightened sense of body awareness. Follow the therapist’s hands as they highlight each muscle and body part. Is your therapist touching muscles you didn’t know existed? Do strokes help you understand and feel how your arms are part of your shoulder? Are you surprised at which muscles and areas may be tense and which are not? Proper breathing helps you to relax and to reach your session goals. Slow, deep breathing (from the belly) will provide your body with much-needed oxygen, while signaling your body to let go of its tensions. Again, try not to focus on “goals” or “outcomes” for the massage session; instead, focus on opening to the experience and the sensations.

    And, you should speak up. Do you need an extra blanket? Is the pressure too much? We are working hard to pay attention to those details, but we need a little help from you, too.

    What does the massage feel like?

    The massage should feel great! It should help calm your nervous system and release muscle tension. It should not hurt! If you have a lot of muscle tension that you want the therapist to address, you may experience mild discomfort as pressure is applied—but the discomfort should be pleasurable, in the sense of “it hurts so good!” Your therapist will apply pressure to the depth that you want—if you are particularly sensitive, the massage will be extra gentle and superficial; if you have tension that requires deeper work, your therapist will apply more pressure. The point of the massage is to induce relaxation and comfort – your therapist will adapt the techniques to fit your body.

    What happens at the end of the massage?

    The therapist will indicate to you when the massage is over and tell you to rest for a few moments and to take your time getting up. She will then leave the room so that you can get ready. Remember to get up slowly—particularly if you have low blood pressure—and pay attention that you do not leave anything behind. After a massage you are usually in an ultra relaxed state and not aware of all the little details (such as the fact that you were wearing your favorite earrings). When you’re ready, open the door and join your therapist. Feel free to ask your therapist any questions about the massage or stretching techniques. You will usually pay for your session at this time, as well as schedule any future appointments.

    What should I do after I get a massage?

    It’s best not to do much of anything. The benefits of massage are enhanced by more self-care—take a long hot bath, curl up with a cup of tea and a good book, etc. You should also make sure to drink lots of fluids and listen to your body.