• Katie Campbell

I've Never had a Massage Before! (A Guide to Walking Through the Studio Door)

Updated: Mar 18

So you have decided that you want to get a massage, but either you've NEVER had a massage before, or your sessions have been few and far between. When you walk in, you aren't sure what to expect, and you certainly may not know what to do. It's a question I am often asked, "Alright, so what do I do?"

Well, every massage studio and/or massage therapist is different. There are a few fairly universal things we go over with you, but what I am here for today is to walk you through what your massage therapist may say or need from you, and expectations you SHOULD have when walking into a massage facility.

It's Tuesday. Your appointment is at Noon. First thing's first. If you have never been to this facility before, your therapist may have asked you to come in a few minutes early to fill out paperwork. This paperwork takes the shape of a Health History Form. This can vary in it's questions, but it tends to be general health information (such as medications, surgeries, sometimes occupation) that give us an idea of your day-to-day. Now, some facilities do not require a Health History Form, and this is something that, in my opinion, should not be so. When we take this form, we are keeping track of how your body is doing that day, we have a reference so that we can keep your safety in mind. For instance, if you are diabetic and you wanted a sugar scrub... Well, that is contraindicated (fancy way of saying big no-no). We would have to alter this treatment to a salt scrub. If your therapist had only seen you once before, say several months before this appointment, and forgot this very important diagnosis, it could put you in an unsafe situation.

Alright, so you walk in, they hand you the HHF (Health History Form), and you fill it out (Always check the back!). Now your therapist may ask some follow-up questions. How are you feeling today? Oh, I see you have migraines, are you having one today? Things like this. Now, we know you are super stoked to get on the table, but be patient with us. These questions can guide us to where we may need to focus our attention. It may change the protocol we had in mind, and we may add or subtract something to address this issue. The walk through of questions and observations are to fully customize your treatment to YOU. (Because we care and you are one of a kind!)

Now, here comes the part most are fairly unsure of: what do I take off? Do I leave my underwear on? How do I lay on the table? Well, here is what I think is a good layout for you:

  • You will undress to your level of comfort (and ladies, we take off the bra so our entire back can be worked on). Many clients leave their underwear/boxers on. Clients who get comfortable with their therapist, or are comfortable in general, will be nude on the table. The important thing to remember is no matter what you choose, you are draped appropriately the whole time so that you do not feel exposed. Normally, we drape with a flat sheet. For some treatments, your therapist will drape you with two towels (common in spa treatments like sugar scrubs or techniques like Sacred Lomi Lomi). These towels still cover you appropriately and, if it's just not enough coverage, your therapist should be able to adapt the treatment to your needs. ALWAYS.

  • The normal table setup is a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a blanket. There is a headrest (almost always) where your nose and mouth should go through the hole so that your face and neck rest comfortably. Most therapists also have an arm rest or arm sling for comfort of the shoulders.

  • Often times we start you face down (prone for those of you wondering if we have a term for that. We do.). This is how clients are usually comfortable starting, especially since most of us now have back issues. Relaxing the back can help relax the whole body.

  • After your therapist walks you through these things and asks if you have to go to the restroom (if they don't ask, simply ask where their bathroom is. Unless you are positive you will not have to use the restroom, it's best to go. You don't want to be uncomfortable on the table. If you DO need to use the restroom during your session, don't be afraid to bring this up with your therapist. They will gladly step out and let you have a bathroom break), they will step out, let you get undressed, and knock before they come in. Also, they will usually let you know where you can put your clothes, but there is almost always a chair to throw them on if nothing else.

During your massage, if the pressure is ever too much, or you are ever uncomfortable in any way, please speak up to your therapist. No matter what, this is your massage. You should always enjoy and be comfortable.

After the session, the therapist will quietly let you know the treatment is over and step out to let you get dressed. Tips are never expected, always appreciated. At least, that has always been my rule of thumb. Your therapist will probably ask how you feel, if any issues you had that day before your session have subsided, and if you would like to rebook. Keeping a semi-regular massage schedule can help with your body maintenance, but we also understand that a lot of the time, massage is a treat. If you return to the same facility, you should only ever have to update your HHF if there are any changes OR once every 1-2 years. We always appreciate your business, every single one of us! I hope this helps inform some of you so that you have all the confidence in the world when coming to get your first, second, or thousandth massage!

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