What to expect from your first massage

“Do I have to take my clothes off in front of you?”
“Should I talk during my massage?”
“Is it normal for a massage to hurt?”

These are just a few of the questions people ask before and during their first massage. The important thing to remember is that we want you to relax and enjoy your massage experience. Even a therapeutic massage should feel good!

Harbor Health Waiting Area

So, I made an appointment: Now what?

We ask you to arrive at least ten minutes early for your first appointment. Since your hour is reserved for you—and more than likely someone else is booked after you—it’s important that we stay on schedule. By arriving early, you can complete your paperwork, get a feel for the space, use the restroom if needed and just start relaxing.

What happens when we go into the room?

Your massage therapist (MT) will take you into the treatment room and review your paperwork with you. You’ll be asked questions about your health history, what brings you in, etc. Basically, we want to know how we can help you.

Here’s what I really want to know: Do I take all my clothes off?
  Do you stay in the room while I do that?

For many people, this is the hardest part of the first session. We know that, and we’re happy to make it easier. The first thing to know is that we want you to be comfortable. If you’re not, you won’t relax. If that means you leave all your clothes on, that’s fine. Admittedly, if we can reach your skin you’ll get a better massage, but we’re all about working at your comfort level. You are always welcome to bring a bathing suit, shorts and a sports bra—anything you’ll be comfortable wearing on the table. Your MT will leave the room and let you get ready in private. You will be covered by a sheet the entire session. We don’t see any of your most private areas because we uncover only the area we are currently working on.

So, what happens when the MT comes back in the room?

First, we’ll check that you’re comfortable. Is the table warm/cool enough? Is the music too loud or soft or do you just dislike it? Those are all considerations we can take care of it when we come in. Every MT proceeds a bit differently, but they can explain each step of your massage.

Should I talk to my MT during the session?

We believe that your massage is all about you; therefore, you get to decide how we proceed. So, if you’d like to chat, that’s fine. If you want to just relax and zone out, go for it. The one thing we ask: Tell us what we can do to make your session better. If something we’re doing is painful, say so. Massage doesn’t have to hurt to help! Repeat: Massage doesn’t have to hurt to help! If we’re working on an area that is tight or uncomfortable, you will know we’re there working, and there’s even a concept called “hurts so good,” where it’s a bit painful, but you can feel things releasing and getting better. That’s o.k., but if it just plain hurts, you’re probably tightening up something in your body. We don’t want to trade one pain for another!

Can I go to work or exercise after my massage?

You should feel relaxed after your massage. There is often an initial period of feeling slowed down. But many people enjoy that time and then experience heightened awareness, increased energy and greater productivity. We suggest that you plan to have some quiet time for at least a half hour after your session, but then you can go back to any activity you prefer.

As far as exercise, we suggest you try to exercise before your session. It warms up your muscles before your massage. It allows you to be done with the physical stress on your body. However, you can exercise after your session if you’d like. Since your muscles will be relaxed and feeling good, you might feel like you want to run longer, do an extra set of weight training or in some way work our more. We’d prefer you don’t do that. Give your muscles the chance to enjoy the benefits of the massage before you ask more of them.

Anything else I should know before I come in?

It’s best to avoid eating a heavy meal right before a massage session. We don’t mind if you haven’t shaved your legs. We don’t judge you. Not by your size, your shape, your hair, your height or anything else. We believe bodies are beautiful and we want yours to function as well as it can.

Are they any times to avoid massage?

The most common reason we send someone away is because of a fever. If you have a fever you are contagious. We love you, but we don’t want what you have! Also, massage increases heat in your body, and that’s a bad idea when you’re already warm.

If you’ve been in a car accident in the last few days, and you haven’t seen a doctor, we will ask you to do that before we work on you.

There may be a few other cases where an illness or condition will affect what we do. If you have anything unusual going on, it’s best to call ahead and ask before coming in. We also ask you to let us know if you’re pregnant or have any physical disabilities when you make your appointment. We welcome you, but we want to be prepared for your session so you get the best care possible.

What happens if I’m late or I have to cancel?

If you’re late, we can still give you a massage. However, we won’t be able to give you the full amount of time booked. Most of the time, someone is scheduled soon after you, and we don’t want to inconvenience them by running late. If we’re behind schedule, you will still get your full appointment time.

We ask you to give us 24 hours notice to cancel your appointment to allow us time to rebook your appointment. If you don’t show up for your appointment or if you cancel with short notice, you will be charged for your session. However, if you are able to send someone else to take that time, we can charge them for the appointment instead.

How long should I wait to come back?

We know you’d come every day if you could! However, that’s not necessary (or even desirable) for good care. If we’re working with you on a specific issue, we often suggest coming once a week for at least 3 or 4 weeks. At that point, we can evaluate your improvement to start spreading out the appointments. Most people who want continuous care come about every 4 to 6 weeks. This allows us to work on any issues before they become larger.