Spending precious time and money on a massage treatment is, for most people, considered a luxury. More and more people are becoming attuned to the long term effects of regular massage, however, for many it is still a rare treat. For this reason, it is so important that this precious hour does for you what you want it to!
Don’t take this time for granted, there are a few things to consider before, during and after a massage that will ensure you get the most out of your session. This will allow the therapeutic benefits of the treatment to last beyond the hour on the table, giving you the confidence to make massage a regular part of your lifestyle, not just a luxury. So make it work for you!
What do I want from this treatment?
This should be a question you always ask yourself before you head to a treatment. This will generally be one of the first things your therapist will wish to know. So come prepared with an answer! Remember it’s sometimes difficult to answer questions on the spot, especially if it’s regarding yourself, and even more so if it’s answering to a stranger. Think about the specific areas of your body that may have been causing you pain or discomfort, especially muscle tension. Think about any old injuries that you may need to mention. It’s easy to forget about something that doesn’t currently cause you any pain . . .unless of course it’s pressed! Your therapist may well be intuitive, but a mind reader they are not. Do you love getting your arms massaged perhaps, but can’t stand having your feet touched? It’s important to discuss these things beforehand, so that once you are on the table you can switch off and tune in, knowing there’ll be no uncomfortable surprises! Of course anything can be voiced during a treatment, so please let your therapist know if you think of something that perhaps should have been mentioned earlier.
Is that pressure ok for you?
Depth of pressure is something that you are, by all means, welcome to speak up about at any time, so that the therapist can alter his/her pressure accordingly. Of course, the therapist themselves should be checking on this periodically, especially if they move to a different area of the body, or alter their technique. However, if at any time you are feeling that the pressure, whether too light or too firm, is making it difficult for you to enjoy that moment, take control! Your therapist is more than happy to be guided, as the correct pressure means you are enjoying your massage, rather than enduring it! This is very important in ensuring you are satisfied with your treatment.
Are you comfortable?
Once on the table, take a minute to wriggle into a comfortable position, take a few deep breaths into your stomach, and contemplate how you feel. Hopefully, you are warm, relaxed, and ready! However, if you are too hot or cold, don’t particularly like the music or would maybe like an extra pillow, please speak up. Your therapist certainly won’t be offended, unless perhaps you wish to swap her Japanese meditation C.D for Meatloaf! But seriously, it’s always best to get the environment right from the start, so you are not distracted by anything during your treatment. Your mind needs to stay on the task at hand, concentrating on every sensation your body is feeling!
It’s never hurts to be early!
Arriving at 1.30 for a 1.30 appointment will probably mean losing some of your precious relaxation time! Bear in mind if it’s your first treatment with a therapist, there may be a brief health questionnaire to fill out. Also remember that your therapist will want a few minutes to discuss your reasons for coming, as mentioned, so you can then agree on a treatment plan. Coming earlier allows you to go the toilet if need be, have a drink of water or tea, and just begin to slow down your breathing. This will enable your body and mind to tune in and begin responding to the treatment right from the start. Rushing in off the street and up the stairs to get to your appointment on time will have you arriving with your nervous system locked into ‘fight’ mode, with your heart racing and your breath heavy. We need the exact opposite of that for the muscles and mind to relax!
Don’t come on a full stomach
Try not to have a large meal in the 2 hours prior to treatment. If you have a freshly full stomach, your body will struggle to switch into rest mode. It will be directing its energies toward digesting the food, rather than harnessing the energy from the treatment. Also, it’s fairly obvious that lying on your tummy for an hour after curry and rice isn’t going to be ideal! Sip on some water and have a snack instead.
It is a brave step for many, to undress and have a stranger give them a massage. Fear not, you are not alone on this one, and being nervous is completely understandable. We all have our little insecurities about our body, but your therapist is more interested in assisting your body tune into the intricate power it has to heal itself from within. They don’t care what it looks like on the outside! If it is your first time on a massage table, communicate this with your therapist, so they can be extra mindful and help put you at ease. On the flip side, don’t strip off all your clothes until the therapist has left the room! Modesty is important for both of you.
Try and stay present during the treatment
This can sometimes be much easier said than done. If you find your mind has wandered to whether or not the milk in the fridge has gone off, try and bring your awareness back into the room and to your body. It can help to take a few deep breaths and focus your mind on the sensations your body is feeling. Tuning in to the music can also help you stay present. It is generally ideal to try and cultivate silence as much as possible during the treatment. Try and keep conversation to a minimum and if possible, related to the treatment. It is difficult for your body to concentrate on healing, if your mind is focused on an otherwise unrelated topic of conversation. Remember your body and mind work best as one!
Have some downtime afterwards
Of course many of us have very busy lives, and squeezing in a massage can often mean juggling other things around. However, if at all possible, try and plan your treatment so you are able to have some down time afterwards. Go for a gentle walk, have a nice warm bath with some oils, and allow the rejuvenation process to really begin. Rushing back to work and nailing another 5 hours on the computer should be avoided if at all possible! The body is infinitely complex – it will take some time for it to absorb and begin working with the effects of the treatment. Allow yourself this time to really experience what is happening.
Massage for maintenance
The idea of maintenance is a good one. Regular massage can, over time, contribute to overall health and wellbeing in several ways. It can relieve stress, reduce fatigue, improve sleep, improve circulation, relieve pain and boost immunity. Plus it can make you happier! What’s not to like? Try and make massage an ongoing part of looking after your self. You will discover that the energy it nourishes your body and mind with, will nurture a less stressful, more relaxed lifestyle. It’s a pure, simple form of healing, and now armed with some advice to get the best out of your massage treatment, nothing should be stopping you. Enjoy!
Written by Massage Therapist Catherine Rice
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