Getting Your First Massage? Here's What to Know Beforehand
I am someone who physically internalizes my emotions to a large degree. This means that oftentimes, my body just hurts, and I am desperate to find relief. I have tried a few things to remedy the big muscle knots in my back: yoga, meditation, and (when I can afford it) massages. By far, in my experience, massages do the best job at alleviating my pain. But because they can be pricey, getting a massage can be the ultimate act of self-care. Personally, I often ask for a massage gift certificate instead of material objects for the holidays and seek out deals in my city at less established spas in order to subsidize my need for massages.
Massages can be great, but they can also be unpleasant if you are not prepared for the experience. Because they are an expensive indulgence and a treat, it can be a real bummer to not have it go as you had hoped. Here are some of the things I wish I knew before getting my first massage. And if you are preparing for your first massage, lay back, enjoy, and have a great time!
Not All Massages Are the Same, So Do Your Research
There are dozens of different types of massages, all designed to aid your body in different ways. (Here is a good guide to a few of the most common types of massage.) In general, each type of massage employs different techniques to help alleviate pain in a targeted area of the body. That can mean the use of hot stones, an emphasis on stretching, or the use of aromatherapy, for example. If you are considering getting a massage, it is worth considering which type will work best for what you are dealing with and want to accomplish through the massage.
If You Have a Gender Preference For Your Massage Therapist, Let It Be Known When You're Booking
Massage therapists can be any gender, of course. While massage therapists of all genders will be totally professional, you may be more comfortable with a specific gender. Be aware of this, and if you have a specific preference, state it while making the booking and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Go to the Bathroom Beforehand
There's nothing worse than needing to pee during a massage! You want to be able to fully relax, and that won't happen if you need to go to the bathroom. So, take the time to use the bathroom before your massage starts, and thank me later.
You Will Be Naked
With the exception of a few styles of massages, like a Thai Massage, you will be expected to undress. It is a matter of practicality; clothes can impede the massage therapist's ability to do their job. However, you will most likely still remain mostly covered during the duration of the massage, as massage tables are often covered in sheets and towels for you to cover up with and the coverings can be moved around as the massage therapist works on different parts of the body. If you are having a full-body massage, there may come a time when you are asked to flip over. When this happens, the massage therapist will lift the sheet being used to cover you, hold it up to block their view of you while you flip around, and then place it back on top of you.
Given that a massage is about providing you with a comfortable environment, you can keep your underwear on if that suits you better!
Communicate With Your Massage Therapist
At the end of the day, the whole point of getting a massage is to enjoy it. Don't be shy to speak up if at any point you don't like something that is being done, want a change in pressure, feel uncomfortable, would like special attention on a problem area, or anything else that may come up during your massage. The massage therapist is there to help you, and will be happy to hear from you (it will make their job easier!)
Sometimes, Massages Can Hurt
Massages aren't always 100 percent relaxation. If you are especially sore and going for an intense style of massage (like deep tissue or a sports massage), the massage can hurt at times. But be aware that there are two different kinds of hurt in massages: the kind that hurts because it's actually getting into the tight knots and sore muscles, which will actually feel great a few hours or days down the line, and then the kind of hurt that is due to a bad massage therapist. Be in tune with your body and speak up.
Be Aware of Your Preferences When It Comes to Oils and Lotions
More likely than not, your massage will involve oils or lotion of some kind. This allows the massage therapist to glide over your skin with less friction. If you have sensitivities to scent or sensitive skin, be sure to communicate beforehand to ensure that whatever product is being used is good for you. Or, bring along some CBD oils, if that's your thing. And if you really like certain scents, consider an aromatherapy massage!
Don't Worry About Your Hair, and Know It May Get Dirty
Massages can often include the neck and scalp areas. Because oils or lotions are often used, this means the same product being used on your body may also get in your hair. Don't worry about it! Scalp massages are divine, and it's a great addition to any massage experience. That being said, don't plan on getting your hair blown out right before if you want it to be immaculate post-massage.
You Will Likely Be Oily Afterward, So Bring Some Cozy Clothes (and Fresh Undies!)
A massage should be a comfortable experience at all its stages, so make sure to wear or bring some comfortable clothes and a fresh pair of underpants that you don't mind getting residual oil or lotion on to change into once the massage is over.