It’s your first time getting a massage. You may be a bit nervous, a bit excited, or possibly a mixture of both. Either way, it can be nice to know what to expect when you show up, whether this is your first massage ever, or your first massage at Dochas.
Prior to getting the massage, there are a few things you can take care of before even setting foot inside of the office:
Imagine that your muscles are similar to a container of play-doh (it might be a stretch, but I swear I’m going somewhere with this). When play-doh is properly hydrated, it’s very malleable and easy to construct into whatever your imagination can come up with. However, if you leave that play-doh out in the sun, it becomes dry and cracked, unable to be molded and take new form. Muscles work along the same lines. When you are properly hydrated, your body is more receptive to massage and able to release knots more quickly.
2- Get a good night’s sleep
When your mind is well rested, your body tends to be more rested as well. This allows the therapist to get to the problem areas more quickly and spend more time focusing on that, rather than having to spend more time working on relaxing your mind as well as your muscles.
#3- Foam roll if you can
Foam rolling helps to release myofascial restrictions, especially on the superficial level. Once again, this is a time saver for your massage. When the superficial restrictions are already taken care of, it is easier for your therapist to ease into the deeper, knotted up tissue. They can then spend more time focusing on your trouble spots, allowing you to receive the best amount of treatment for your time on the table.
You’ve taken care of the prep work- now it’s time for your appointment!
When you get to the office, your therapist will be there to greet you and most likely offer you some more water before your appointment. Be prepared to spend 5-10 minutes on filling out an intake form which includes your medical history. When writing out your medical history, it is important to include any previous bone breaks, fractures, dislocations, and sprains. While it may have happened over 10 years ago, if no one has ever worked on the restrictions that resulted from those injuries, they may still be affecting your body.
Following your intake, the therapist will offer for you to use the restroom before your appointment. If you even have an inkling that you may need to go, best to do it now before you get onto the massage table and become relaxed.
After the necessities have been taken care of, your therapist will review your medical history with you and ask what you would like to focus on during your session. Based on their experience, they may recommend working a few areas that may surprise you, but they will do their best to also address the spots in which you are feeling the most discomfort.
Once they have completed their intake, the therapist will go over disrobing with you. When they leave the therapy room to let you get ready and on the table, it is important to disrobe to the level at which you feel most comfortable. At all times during the session, the massage therapist will use appropriate draping techniques, which is the application of the top and bottom sheets on the table being used to ensure your modesty at all times. Keep in mind when disrobing that the more surface area you give the therapist to work with, the more they are able to do their job.
During The Massage
Your therapist will leave the room to let you get situated and will knock before coming back in to make sure you are decent. They will check in with you as to how comfortable you are, placing a pillow either below your ankles if you are face down, or beneath your knees if you are face up, to help support your lower back. There is a table warmer inside of the room, so if you are feeling chilly, be sure to let your therapist know and they can turn it up for you.
Communication is key when you are getting your massage. If at any time the massage becomes uncomfortable, be sure to let your therapist know. There may be occasions where slight discomfort can be felt when the massage therapist is working on an especially restricted area, but the discomfort should not be so great that you feel the rest of your body tensing.
Your therapist will do their best to address the issues that you came in with during your appointment time. Keep in mind that the longer it takes to work out an area, as well as the number of troubled areas you have, will affect how much can be addressed during one session. Generally, an hour long appointment is good for addressing one specific area, and possibly a little more. If you have two or more areas that need to be addressed, it is better to book at least a 90 minute massage. A two hour appointment is recommended for people who receive massage frequently and whose bodies can handle longer session times without feeling overly fatigued.
What To Expect After Your Massage
After your massage time is finished, your therapist will leave the massage room to let you redress. It is important to take your time getting ready as you may feel slightly dizzy upon first sitting up. This is very natural, especially with clinically based massages, so do not be surprised if you feel light headed.
When you meet the therapist back in the waiting area, they will provide you with more water so that you can start rehydrating and flushing out your system. During the massage, your body will be releasing debris into your bloodstream and it is important to drink water frequently over the next 24-48 hours to avoid achiness or a headache.
If you have a condition that requires multiple treatments, your therapist will go over a scheduling plan with you. In general, it is best to follow-up with your therapist for another session 7-14 days following your first appointment. This allows enough time for your body to heal after your massage, while making sure that the muscles don’t fall back into their old holding patterns. Based on how well and how long your body holds your massage, your therapist will come up with a treatment plan for you that will assist you in reaching your wellness goals.
At Home Care
Following your appointment, there may be a few things you will want to keep up with on your own. The evening of your massage, it is usually a good idea to take an Epsom salt bath. Epsom soaks have been used to ease pain and relieve inflammation. Continue hydrating, and keep a glass of water next to you to sip on if you decide to take an Epsom soak.
Your therapist may send you home with stretches or exercises. Trying to add these in will help your body to hold the benefits of your massage for a longer time period. It may also be a good idea to pick up a foam roller if you don’t have one already (read: How To Choose A Foam Roller).
Keep in mind that your body may feel sore or tender for a day or two following the massage. This is more likely to happen if your therapist worked through extremely adhered spots, or areas that have been tight for an extended period of time. It can take a while for your body to readjust to a new holding pattern, which is what can lead to the muscular tenderness. However, if anything feels out of the ordinary, never hesitate to contact your therapist and ask them questions. After all, that is why we are here.