If there is one thing I can count on as a massage therapist it’s being asked a lot of questions. But all too often, the questions clients want the answers to the most are the ones they feel too awkward or uncomfortable to ask. So here are my answers to an array of questions that come up frequently about massage.
Before I jump into the questions however, I want to say one thing that really goes for ALL these questions. Communication between you and your therapist is absolutely vital! If you don’t like something, want something changed, are unsure, or have a question during your session, speak up! A good therapist should be able to pick up a lot of non-verbal cues about things, but even the best of us can’t read your mind. So tell us what you want/like/dislike/have a question about, so that we can make your session as perfect as possible for you!
Do I have to get completely undressed to get a massage?
You should undress to the level that makes you comfortable. Most people do get fully undressed when receiving a full-body massage, but if leaving your underwear on makes you more comfortable, that is totally fine. If undressing at all makes you uncomfortable there are also options such as Thai Yoga Massage, Shiatsu, Chair Massage, etc. in which you remain fully clothed for the entire session.
Will I be covered during a massage?
Yes. Any professional therapist in the United States will use proper draping. In fact it is illegal to perform massage without draping in the majority of states (These standards may vary in other countries based on their cultural norms, but for the sake of this article all answers are pertaining to massage work in the United States). Areas being worked on should be undraped as you go along and no area should be undraped without your consent.
What if I get too hot or cold while on the table?
Communicate this to your therapist! If you are hot they most likely will offer to undrape your back and/or lower legs or may be able to get a fan to allow more air flow in the room. If you are cold they should have a blanket available, turn up the heat, or turn on a table warmer. If you know that you tend to run hot or cold during a massage session let your therapist know before you start, so that they can adjust things to hopefully the perfect temperature for you.
Can I talk during my massage?
Of course. This is your time and if you want to talk during your session that is totally fine. But if you want to just be silent and relax that is totally fine too. During my massages I will respond to anything you say or ask during our session, but I will not initiate conversation during our session aside from checking in about things directly related to the massage.
What if my massage therapist is talking too much?
Most therapists will be very respectful about not initiating too much talking during your session, but there is always that occasional therapist who wants to strike up conversation during your massage (as much as they have been taught not to). I would recommend politely telling them that you just want to relax or zone out. If they continue to talk when you have requested them not to, feel free to end your session early and only pay for the portion you have completed.
What should I do if the massage is painful for me?
Speak up! Immediately! There are people who think that for a massage to be beneficial that it needs to hurt and that is absolutely not the case! There is so much benefit that can come out of lighter work. Sure, there is a certain amount of “good pain” that many people like to experience on the massage table and some deeper work to help fix certain problems can be a bit uncomfortable at times. But when working deeper your therapist should be communicating with you and making sure that you are finding the right edge for you. A good rule I like to use is that if you are unable to take steady deep breaths then the work needs to lighten up or slow down.
What if my therapist isn’t giving me enough pressure?
Again, speak up! Let them know that you would like deeper pressure. But also keep in mind that if you like super deep work that your therapist is going to need to work more with their elbows, forearms, knuckles, etc. and every therapist has a limit to how deep they can work without hurting themselves. Of course, if a therapist is not able to achieve the level of pressure you like in a massage, you should find someone else who can (and if you are a client who likes super deep pressure it never hurts to ask how deep they typically work when booking).
What if I have a hard time laying face down on the massage table?
Ask your therapist about other position options for your massage. Side lying massage can be a fantastic option (and is something many people find super relaxing). A lot of work can be done with you face up as well. I find myself doing a large amount of shoulder work and almost all of my neck work with clients face up. And if the problem is that you get congested while laying face down, aromatherapy could be helpful to help keep your nasal passageways open.
What if I get an erection?
Don't worry! This happens all the time as it is a natural reaction that can happen to the male body when in a relaxed state. Sadly the fear of this causes many men to avoid massages. You will be properly draped and unless the way you are positioned makes you uncomfortable there is no need to do anything about it.
What if I pass gas?
This also happens all the time and is not a big deal. However, I would definitely recommend not eating immediately before a massage and if you are having any serious digestive distress it may be best to reschedule your appointment.
What if I am sick?
If you have a cold or flu you should contact your therapist. Most therapists (myself included) will ask that you reschedule your appointment for when you are feeling better. We work in close contact with you and are putting ourselves at risk when working on someone with a contagious illness.
Should I tip?
Tipping is a topic that is hotly debated in the massage industry with points of view on both ends of the spectrum. Generally speaking, if a therapist is working in a spa or clinic that they do not own, you definitely should tip 15-20%. They are only getting a percentage of whatever you are paying and tips likely are a substantial part of their living. If a massage therapist is self-employed or owns the establishment you are visiting then tips are not as vital to survival, but they are always greatly appreciated and let them know that you are happy with your service.
How often should I get a massage?
As often as you can! In a perfect world I think everyone would get a massage every week! But obviously that is not realistic financially or schedule-wise for a lot of people. For some people massage is an occasional treat or something they use only in specific times of injury. For those who are wanting to use massage as a part of their ongoing wellness routine I recommend getting a massage at least once a month.
What are the benefits of massage?
There are too many benefits to list them all in this article. But luckily I have already written about a bunch of them previously and you can check them out HERE!
These are some of the most common questions I hear, but I'm sure that there are plenty more you all may have. If any others, please shoot me an email at michael@mdbmassage to let me know, so I can include them in the next edition of Massage Questions Answered!