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What to expect with your first therapeutic massage

Occasionally someone will receive a gift voucher or decide to have a massage for the first time, and will feel a little nervous if they have had no prior experience. (The fear of the unknown).

If this could apply to you, rest assured it will be a pleasant, comfortable experience and you will soon wonder what you ever worried about, as long as you follow the few quick tips below.

Selecting a massage therapist

Ensure that you either get a referral from someone you know or choose from the correct section of the Yellow Pages, under Massage – Health & Fitness. I speak as an authority on therapeutic massage, which is entirely different from the massage advertised under the adult section. Therapeutic massage is not at all sexual and in New Zealand the genitals and breasts are kept covered at all times.

So, having chosen a reputable therapist, an appointment time is made and the treatment options decided upon.  You may require a massage for general relaxation, stress relief, relief from muscular tension, pain relief, and general maintenance or for a specific injury or condition.

If you feel self-conscious about any bumps, lumps, moles, scars or tattoos- don’t worry because most bodies have some and your therapist will not comment unless you do.  We also work on people with prosthetic legs etc so it will not bother us if you have something similar or different.

Your appointment and the massage

On arrival at the appointment you will be greeted by your therapist and asked to complete a simple health questionnaire so that we are aware of any medical conditions, or recent injuries, operations or changes in mobility. At this time you could also mention anything that you are particularly sensitive about if you wish the therapist to avoid that.  (For example some can’t stand having their feet touched, others their scalp or head…others love it, everyone’s different).

Then you will be shown to the massage table and left there to disrobe in private whilst the therapist leaves the room. You leave your underpants on and lie on the table, covered by a sheet or towel. Your face rests in a special cradle that has been designed to support the head in a downward facing position allowing an opening for the mouth and nose to be unobstructed so that you can breathe comfortably without having to turn your head to the side.

After a few minutes the therapist returns to the room to begin the massage. To start she will apply an oil or massage balm to the area to be first worked upon. The rest of the body is kept covered and warm. Do ask for more heating if you feel cold or less if you are too warm.

The massage will begin with effleurage strokes to gently prepare the body for some more friction and pressure. The therapist should check with you to see if you are comfortable and you can tell her if you would like a firmer or more gentle massage.

During the massage, the therapist may work deeper into areas of tension. You will most likely feel very relaxed by now. If you are not, try focusing on your breath, breathing slowly in and out rather than holding your breath.

After the massage

At the end of the massage  (which will occur way too soon!) you will be left alone to get up and dressed.  You will then be offered a glass of water and the chance to rebook another appointment and pay the required fee.

You can expect to feel a little light and floaty when you first get up, but once you get going you should feel energised and alive.

It is recommended that you drink lots of water after a massage as it is a detoxifying process and the water helps to flush toxins through the kidneys and release them via the urine. If you become dehydrated you could feel headachy or nauseous.

You should feel fantastic but please advise your therapist if you feel any ill effects and she will discuss this and assess what the possible cause might be.

What next?

Most of my clients love the experience so much they wish they could have a massage every day and they swear by the benefits; better sleep, ease of movement, improved skin and muscle tone, relief from pain or discomfort and feeling of rejuvenation.

Try it for yourself and see what you think.

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