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Frequently Asked Questions

You may have questions about what to expect when you come for your sessions. Questions like…

Where will my massage or bodywork session take place?

Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable,
quiet room. Soft music may be played to help you relax. You will lie on
a table especially designed for your comfort.

Who will perform the massage or bodywork?

Your session will be conducted by a professional who has received proper
training, often in a variety of techniques. Some massage and bodywork
practitioners are licensed by the state, while others are locally
regulated. Although no two massages are exactly alike, you may request a
certain technique or modality. You may also request your preference as
to a male or female therapist.

Must I be completely undressed?

Most massage and bodywork techniques are traditionally performed with
the client unclothed; however, you may decide what amount of
clothing you prefer to wear for your own comfort. You will be properly
draped during the session.

Will the practitioner be present when I disrobe?

The practitioner will leave the room while you undress, relax onto the
table, and cover yourself with a clean sheet or towel.

Will I be covered during the session?

You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable.
Only the area being worked on will be exposed.

What parts of my body will be massaged?

You and the practitioner will discuss the desired outcome of your session.
This will determine which parts of your body require massage.  A typical
full-body session will include work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands,
head, neck, and shoulders. You will not be touched on or near your genitals
(male or female) or breasts (female).

Will lubricant be used?

A light oil or lotion may be used to permit your muscles to be worked on
without causing excessive friction to the skin. The lubricants used should
hydrate the skin and be readily absorbed.

What will the massage or bodywork feel like?

It depends on the techniques used. In a general Swedish massage, your
session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help to calm your
nervous system and ease exterior muscle tension. As your body unwinds,
pressure will gradually be increased to relax and relieve specific areas
of muscular tension. You should communicate with your practitioner immediately
if you feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massage and
bodywork are most effective when your body is not resisting.

Are there different kinds of massage and bodywork?

There are numerous types of massage and bodywork. Various techniques utilize
different strokes, including basic rubbing strokes, rocking movement, posture
and movement reeducation, application of pressure to specific points, and more.
Ask the practitioner about the methods she uses.

How long will the session last?

The average full-body massage or bodywork session lasts approximately one hour.
A halfhour appointment only allows time for a partial massage session, for
instance the neck and shoulders, back, or legs and feet. Many people prefer a
sixty-to-ninety-minute session for optimal relaxation. Always allow relaxation
time prior to and after the session. Hot tubs, steam baths, and
saunas can assist in the relaxation process.

What should I do during the massage or bodywork session?

Make yourself comfortable. The practitioner will either gently move you or tell
you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Many people
just close their eyes and completely relax. Others like to talk during their
session. Feel free to ask the practitioner questions about massage and bodywork
in general or about the particular technique you are receiving.

How will I feel after the massage or bodywork session?

Most people feel very relaxed. 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 your soft tissues during a massage, it is recommended you drink
plenty of water afterward.

What are the benefits of massage and bodywork?

Massage and bodywork can help release chronic muscular tension and pain, improve
circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and
stress, promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture, and
reduce blood pressure. Massage and bodywork are also known to promote better sleep,
improve concentration, reduce anxiety, and create an overall sense of well-being.

Are there medical conditions that would make massage or bodywork inadvisable?

Yes. That’s why it’s imperative that before you begin your session, the practitioner
ask general health questions. It is very important that you inform the practitioner
of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor’s
care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage
or bodywork prior to any session. Many practitioners may require a recommendation
or approval from your doctor.

Am I to tip my therapist?

If you get a massage at a spa or hotel, a 15% to 20% tip is standard if you were pleased with the services. On the other hand, there are no real ground rules or norms when it comes to massage in a medical setting.

Some massage therapists and massage associations I asked said tipping isn’t appropriate in a medical or clinical setting. Others said that it is always appreciated.

If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask if tipping is customary. You can call ahead to ask if you don’t want to do it face to face.

If tipping isn’t the norm, you can always show your appreciation by referring friends, family, and co-workers to the massage therapist.


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© 2009 Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals