How does massage therapy work?
Massage therapy affects the body as a whole, primarily your soft tissues, nervous system and circulation. Massage helps to loosen contracted, shortened muscles and stimulate weak, flaccid ones. This muscle balancing helps restore posture and promote more efficient movement. Massage also provides a gentle stretching action to both the muscles and connective tissues that surround and support the body, helping to keep these tissues soft and elastic. All forms of massage help to deactivate the sympathetic nervous system, thereby relieving stress while improving digestion, sleep, and immune function. Massage also increases the circulation of both blood and lymph, supplying fresh oxygen and nutrients that assist in eliminating toxins and waste products.
When is massage not advised?
Massage therapy should not be given if you have an uncontrolled heart condition, uncontrolled diabetes, liver or kidney failure, infection of the superficial veins (phlebitis) or soft tissue, blood clots, varicose veins, or bleeding disorders.
Please re-schedule your session if you are running a fever, if you have a severe cold or throat/nasal symptoms, if you have been prescribed an antibiotic for a contagious disease (i.e. strep. throat, tonsillitis, bronchitis, etc.) until you have been on the medication for at least 24 hours, or if you have had vomiting or diarrhea in the past 24 hours.
How do I prepare for my massage?
You can help maximize the effectiveness of massage with these few, simple tips…
Drink plenty of water. Human muscles are comprised of approximately 75% water. When we are optimally hydrated, we can respond very well to massage techniques. Please note that simply drinking a lot of water the day of a massage will not prepare the body as adequately for massage than if water intake is a continuous habit. An easy guideline is to take your weight and divide it in half; the number you get is the amount of water (in ounces) you should be drinking each day. If exercising or if caffeinated or alcoholic beverages are a part of your diet, then you’ll need even more.
Think about what you would like to get from your session. Is your goal relaxation? Is there a specific area you would like to target? This will help you and your therapist work towards the same goal.
Be aware that your individual areas of discomfort may need more than one session to feel a difference. Remember, it didn’t get that way overnight. Be patient with yourself and your body.
There is no such thing as a stupid question! We are pleased to address any of your concerns. Communication is key for a successful massage session!
What should I expect when I arrive at my appointment?
First, you will be asked a few health-related questions in the form of a questionnaire for you to complete and sign. This allows your therapist to get to know your background and any past/present medical conditions, and it also contains permission from you to allow the therapist to provide you treatment. The questionnaire may also request you to list specific areas that you would like addressed during your treatment. This is solely done for the purpose of helping you get the best results from the massage and to protect you from any possible health risks. Your therapist will briefly review what you have written on the questionnaire and address any issues with you at that time.
Your therapist will then show you to the treatment room, answer any additional questions you may have and leave you to undress privately and relax on the massage table. (Please remember to turn any cell phones, pagers, or alarms off before your session.)
Do I need to remove all of my clothing?
You will only need to undress down to your comfort level. For most massages, you will need to disrobe at least down to your underwear. (For females, removing your bra will allow the therapist to provide you the appropriate work to your back.) Your modesty is respected at all times as you are warmly covered with a sheet. Blankets and/or a table warmer may also be used to help you stay warm during your massage.
What should I expect during my massage session?
Once disrobed, you will lie on the table, face up/down (however instructed previously), and under the top sheet and blanket. Your therapist will then knock, wait for your response, then enter the room and check with you on your comfort.
The lighting of the room will normally be dim, yet not too dim. Dim lighting normally helps clients achieve ultimate relaxation. Calming music will also be playing. Your therapist will have an array of music to play, so if you do not care for the type of music playing, please speak up. After all, this is your time and your therapist wants you to achieve the relaxation you desire. In fact, you may request no music at all if you wish.
Massage oils or lotions will be introduced to reduce friction and to increase relaxation during the massage. (If you are allergic to any ingredients commonly found in lotions, be sure and let the therapist know ahead of time.)
Your comfort is of the utmost importance. Ask for what you need. While your therapist will be attuned to recognize signals of discomfort, you are the expert on your own body
PLEASE always ask for adjustments to:
- massage pressure
- body positioning
- room temperature
- lighting level
- music volume
- body draping
What parts of my body will you massage?
The extent of a massage will depend on several factors, including the length of the session, the specific need for treatment, the techniques used, and your comfort level with receiving massage.
When there is an injury or condition to be addressed, the entire session may focus on a single area. There may also be a need for treatment of other body areas that are affected by an injury. For example, if you have a sprained ankle and are using a crutch, your arm and shoulder muscles may need to be treated, as well as the non-injured leg which is compensating for the injury and temporary loss of function.
If you wish to have massage for stress-reduction or relaxation, we will discuss what will best help us accomplish that. A typical full-body session includes work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck, shoulders, facial area and scalp,with the abdominal and gluteal area as optional.
If you find you are uncomfortable with being massaged in a particular area, just inform your therapist of your wishes and they will adjust the massage accordingly. If you prefer additional time spent on any body part, just let your therapist know.
How deep will the massage be?
Your therapist will always strive to work within your comfort level; and, together, you will discover what this is. We do this in two ways:
One of the questions on the health form asked if you prefer light, medium, or deep pressure.
Throughout the massage session, you will be asked if the pressure is to your liking, or if it can be adjusted in any way.
It’s important that we maintain this communication during the session. Your therapist’s goal is not to create any pain; but should it happen, it means that they may need to work a certain area more slowly so that your body accepts the work properly. Some people believe the myth that when you’re receiving deep work, it should hurt (no pain, no gain). This is definitely NOT true.
The most effective massage works with your body’s natural response, not against it. Working in the area of injury or chronic pain may at first cause discomfort, which usually lessens in the first few minutes. You may also have tender spots in muscles that are injured or have been tight for a long time. This tenderness should never be intolerable, however, and you should tell me immediately if it is. It is important that you communicate with your therapist not only when there is not enough pressure, but especially when there is too much.
What should I do during the massage?
Aside from communicating your needs and preferences throughout the session, this should be a time for you to relax. It’s your massage. Many people just close their eyes and completely relax. Others like to talk during their session. You may talk as little or as much as you like, keeping in mind that most clients achieve the greatest therapeutic benefits by limiting their conversation and quieting their mind so that they may completely focus on their body.
What can I do after my session to extend the benefits of massage?
1. Enjoy! Your nervous system has just been soothed; your muscles have been relieved of tension…take some time to feel what it is like be more aligned and relaxed.
2. Drink more water! The human body is composed of 70% water, and water is involved in nearly every bodily function, including digestion, nutrient absorption, circulation and waste excretion. Eight ounces of purified water per twenty pounds of body weight, per day, is recommended to promote optimal filtration of the blood by the kidneys and to retain or keep the rest of your tissues (fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even bones) hydrated and improve their health (and your overall general health).
3. If you have received a deeper style of massage (which would have been discussed and agreed upon prior to the session), there may be some mild residual soreness after your treatment depending upon the current state of your muscle tissue. In this case, you may want to ice the treatment area. Alternating ice and heat (15 minutes of each) will encourage a quicker recovery of the tissue. It is not uncommon to be slightly sore after this type of massage, but it should go away a few days after the treatment. Drinking a lot of water after your massage will also help, as well as taking a hot bath with Epsom salts, and doing some gentle stretching.
4. Pay attention to how you feel. Did massage address your needs? Are you sleeping better? Can you stretch and move easier? Would you like to try something different next time? It’s helpful to come up with some questions or comments for your therapist to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sessions.
I’m pregnant. Can I still receive massage?
Yes! Massage is a very nurturing thing to do for yourself during pregnancy. It can especially help make the latter stages of pregnancy less stressful on your body, relieving backache, shoulder discomfort and sore feet.
During a pregnancy massage your therapist will avoid deep abdominal work, for obvious reasons. After the fourth month, general and gentle abdominal massage can be enjoyable for both you and baby. Aggressive stretching is usually avoided too, due to the relaxing of tendons and ligaments caused by pregnancy hormones. If you have certain medical conditions during pregnancy, such as excessive edema, hypertension or preeclampsia, we will need a doctor’s approval before massage.
At any time during pregnancy, you may find it difficult to lie flat on the table. We can position you on your side with pillow support to make you comfortable. At the end pf your session, always remember to sit up slowly to allow your blood pressure to normalize.