|Frequently Asked Questions about Massage Sessions
What benefits are there from getting a massage?
The list of benefits from regular massage is great. Of course a massage feels great, but the reason for this is that so many healthy things are happening as you receive your massage. As time goes on, more and more people depend on regular massage sessions as a part of their health-care regimen like a vitamin or regular exercise, and for good reason. Consider the following list, which includes just a few of the benefits of therapeutic massage:
- Increases circulation. This allows the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, including the skin.
- Stimulates lymph flow. This is the body's natural defense system against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.
- Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles.
- Reduces depression and anxiety, which strengthens the body's immune system (proven in recent studies).
- Reduces the frequency and severity of insomnia.
- Reduces spasms and cramping.
- Increases joint flexibility.
- Reduces recovery time. This helps athletes of all levels prepare for exercise. It can also eliminate pain after working out.
- Releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. These relieve pain associated with chronic illness, injury and surgery.
- Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema (swelling) and can help reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.
- Improves range of motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.
- Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication.
- Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.
- Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers and reduces the need for medication.
What happens when I arrive for my appointment?
On your first visit, expect to fill out a brief health-history form. This will provide me with important
information to maximize the benefits of your session. I will also provide an initial consultation where we
can discuss your current state of health, areas of discomfort and pressure preferences. If you are not sure
how much pressure you would like, I will simply use a medium to light amount and communicate with you
to find out if you would prefer more or less.
How will I be dressed on the table?
This is a matter of personal preference. It is best to have fewer clothes on, so undressing to your under-
wear is best (if you feel comfortable, you may also remove your underwear). At no time during the session
will I expose or come in contact with the groin area. For female clients, I do not expose the breast area. If
you wish to only have your upper body worked on, then you may choose to leave on warm-up pants or
other loose-fitting clothing. After we complete our initial consultation, I will step out of the room to allow
you to undress and get onto the table in private. Once you are under the sheet and blanket, I will re-enter
the room and begin your session.
What happens once I'm on the table?
The table always has clean flannel sheets and a thick blanket. Once you are under the sheet and blanket,
I will uncover only the body area that I am working on, like your arm or leg. I apply a small amount of
massage oil to that area and proceed with the massage. Once that area is done, I re-cover it and move on
to the next one.
May I request a scent-free session?
If you are sensitive to smells, please let me know. In most of my sessions, I add 4-5 drops of an essential
oil to my base oil. The only oils I use in my practice are essential oils derived from pure plant oil essences. Many people who experience problems with heavy artificial scents (like Febreeze type scents) do not experience a problem with real essential oils. If, however, you still prefer to have a scent-free session, I can easily leave the essential oil out of yours. My base oil is unscented, and I always launder my sheets with a scent-free detergent.
Will I be able to specifiy what areas are massaged?
Of course! Feel free to request work in any area you want. If for any reason at all you prefer to have any specific body part or area left out of the session, it is fine. Furthermore, if you want an entire session devoted to just one area, that is also fine. I am also glad to provide a head to foot massage, like you would receive in a spa. Remember, it is your session, and it's important to me that you know you are in control of the type of work we do.
Does a massage have to be painful to be effective?
No, it does not. If you have chronic tension or an area that has been tight for a long time, then initially
you may experience a bit of discomfort. During such times, I will be sure to check in with you to make
sure that you are not in pain. There is a certain amount of a "hurts so good" type of feeling that many of
my clients describe. This is an acceptable amount of discomfort. Some therapists feel that if it does not
hurt, then you will not benefit. I, however, feel that you should not be in pain at all. I welcome comments when working in problem areas. This communication is vital to the effectiveness of your session. While I can accommodate requests for applying a lot of pressure, using as much pressure as possible is not my goal. It is best to use as much as you are comfortable with, and that will make the most difference in your individual condition.
How will I feel after the session is over?
Most importantly, after your session you must drink plenty of good water - preferably distilled or filtered
water. While massage loosens the muscles, it also encourages the release and detoxification of the body.
Once these toxins are released, you must have plenty of water to help flush them out. Neglecting to drink
water after a session can result in feeling sore or unpleasant. You may feel a bit sore regardless, especially
if you had a chronic area of tension that has been released. But this feeling usually passes after a day or
so, followed by a feeling of well-being. It is also important to note that your muscles will continue to release
and soften for 24-48 hours following your session if you drink enough water. You should also avoid any
physically demanding activities. In other words, to get the most out of your session, plan to take it easy
for the rest of the day, and you will feel immensely better.
I feel like I may have a cold - should I wait until I'm better before getting a massage?
If you feel the need to stay in bed, then that is what you should do. But if you can make it in, then you will
probably get better faster by receiving a massage. The immune system receives a significant boost from
massage, so you may be able to defeat your cold sooner than if you wait.
Are there any times I should avoid massage?
Yes there are. There are some conditions that may not be addressed with massage. When you are
experiencing conditions such as unmedicated high blood pressure, acute or weeping poison ivy, third
stage diabetes, pitting edema, and acute or weeping eczema (mild eczema is not a problem), you should not
be massaged. Feel free to consult your doctor if you are unsure about your condition. I will be happy to
give my opinion as to whether or not you are a good candidate to receive a massage, but if you are
working with a physician on any specific condition, then I recommend you ask him/her about the safety
of massage in your case.
How often should I receive a massage?
Although benefits from massage can be felt whenever you make time for it, to maximize the effects,
regular visits are best- weekly or every other week (especially if you are experiencing an acute condition).
For basic wellness maintenance, once every four weeks is effective to take advantage of progress
from your previous session as well as receive new health benefits. You can't overdo massage- even a
session every day is not too much. There is no way to over dose, have as many sessions as you want.
I have more questions. Jeffrey, can you answer them?
Jeffrey Jacoby, LMT, trained and certified at Atlanta School of Massage. Please call or email if you have any questions not answered in this guide.
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