The Massage Experience
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What Happens at a Massage Session?
  • During a first session, the practitioner will ask the client to fill out a medical history and clarify any condition that may affect the client's health and comfort. It is possible some conditions will require a physician's permission before proceeding.
  • The client and the practitioner will discuss the desired outcome of the session. This will determine which parts of the body require massage. A typical full-body session will include work on the back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck and shoulders. The client will not be touched on or near the genitals (male or female) or breasts (female).
  • Techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to clients what they want to wear. They should undress to their level of comfort. They will be properly draped (covered with a sheet or towel) for warmth, comfort and privacy during the entire session. Only the area being worked on will be exposed.
  • The practitioner will leave the room while the client undresses, relaxes on the table and covers up with a clean sheet or towel.
  • Many massage therapists use a form of Swedish massage, which is often a baseline technique for practitioners. In a typical Swedish massage, the session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help calm the nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension. As the body becomes relaxed, pressure will gradually be increased to relax specific areas and relieve areas of muscular tension. Often, a light oil or lotion is used to allow muscles to be massaged without causing excessive friction to the skin. The oil also helps hydrate skin.
  • Clients should communicate immediately if they feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massage and bodywork are most effective when the body is not resisting. Professionals are trained to solicit and receive client feedback and are expected to respond to such situations.
  • The practitioner will either gently move clients or tell them what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting an arm). Many people just close their eyes and completely relax. Others like to talk during the session. They should feel free to ask the practitioner questions about massage and bodywork in general or about the particular technique they are receiving.
  • There are numerous types of massage and bodywork — as many as 250 in a recent informal analysis; various techniques employ different strokes, including basic rubbing and rocking movement, posture and movement reeducation, application of pressure to specific points and more.
  • The average full-body massage or bodywork session lasts approximately one hour. A half-hour appointment only allows time for a partial massage session, such as neck and shoulders, back, legs and feet. Many people prefer a 60-minute to 90-minute session for optimal relaxation.
  • Most people feel very relaxed after a massage. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness and greater productivity, which can last for days. Since toxins are released from soft tissues during a massage, the consumer should drink plenty of water following the massage.

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