East Bay Massage: What to Expect During Your First Session

If you’ve never received a massage before, you may have mixed feelings about calling to make an appointment for yourself. If the very idea of being touched by a ‘stranger’ causes a knot in the pit of your stomach, you may have unanswered questions about what getting a massage is really like.

Do I have to get undressed? Do I have to shave my legs? I’m ticklish– does that make massage impossible? I’m not happy with my weight– what if the massage therapist judges my body? Will it hurt? I have a medical condition, is it okay for me to get a massage? Can I get a massage if I’m pregnant? What is the facility like?

If any of these questions struck a chord, then this post will help ease you into the possibility of receiving bodywork.

Contrary to popular assumptions, you actually don’t have to get undressed to receive massage. There are lots of different modalities of massage, some of which can be performed over your clothes. I always encourage clients new to massage to undress to their comfort level. Some are comfortable being naked under the sheet, while others prefer to keep on their underwear. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable. To that end, and in order to uphold the strictest ethical standards, I always keep my clients draped with a sheet and a light blanket. Typically, a table warmer is used to keep from getting chilled. Only the area being worked on is exposed, and it is always up to the client if there are areas they would prefer to be left alone.

This would be covered during a brief intake process before your first session. It would be at this time to let your massage therapist know if you have any medical concerns that could effect the massage. Because massage stimulates verifiable physiological changes in the body such as lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, and increasing range of motion, your massage therapist needs to know if you are on any medications or have recently been diagnosed with a condition or have had an injury or surgery. This will ensure that your massage is not only enjoyable, but safe for you.

Feeling safe is the basis for relaxation. Sometimes clients overlap the idea of receiving massage with exposing their bodies to scrutiny. It may be hard to believe, but massage therapists are not only comfortable working with the body, we actually believe it is therapeutic and want people to receive the work. We have probably worked with dozens of people with your body type, and have probably not thought twice about it. Take heart– we’re not judging. And, no, you never have to shave your legs or do your nails to receive massage. Basic standards of cleanliness are all that are expected– hop in the shower before-hand to wash off any funk and you’re good to go!

Massage should not hurt in a bad way. Sometimes, if your massage therapist has discovered an area of tension, you will notice a “hurts so good” kind of sensation. You should not feel like you are really being hurt. I encourage all my clients to speak up right away if something doesn’t feel good for any reason at any time. Certain areas of the body may not be ready for a release of tension– I honor the body’s coping mechanisms and would not intentionally push a client beyond their tolerance. Of course, if you ever receive massage and feel that you are not being listened to or that the massage therapist is not respecting your boundaries, you can end the session. The session is yours!

If you are pregnant, massage is an great way to release lower back tension, shoulder tension, and fatigue. Generally speaking, massage is safe after the first trimester and the embryo has had a chance to securely implant. As the fetus grows, the uterus expands to accommodate it, and side-lying techniques will be used for the mother’s comfort.

The room you receive your massage in will obviously vary by practitioner. I have two offices and each has a private room for massage therapy. They are quiet, cozy, clean, and dimly lit for the best atmosphere of relaxation. Relaxing music is played to help you clear your mind and enter into the realm of massage-land. If the table warmer is too warm, the lights are too bright, or the music is not to your taste, you have complete authority to request a change.

If you have further questions or are ready to schedule your first massage, you can contact me at (510) 282-6248 or amandaflasck@massagetherapy.com.

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!


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