Many people have questions about massage therapy and aren't sure where to go for
the answers. This section will endeavor to answer the most common of those
questions. If you have any questions that aren't answered here, please feel free to
What are the benefits of Massage Therapy?
There are many benefits to massage therapy. It can speed healing, increase range of
motion, improve circulation and assist the body's natural healing system. Massage
therapy can also help to release stress, assist sleep, improve athletic performance and
help eliminate toxins.
Do I have to take my clothes off?
Most Western massage techniques do require some degree of disrobing. Some
people like to take everything off, other, prefer to leave on their undergarments. The
massage therapist will not be in the room while you get undressed. You will disrobe,
then get on the table under a sheet, blanket or towel before the therapist returns the
room. During the massage, only the part of the body being worked on will be
uncovered. If you are uncomfortable, discuss it with your therapist and you can
work together to find a pleasant alternative. There are some techniques such as
CranialSacral Therapy and Shiatsu that require that you wear comfortable, loose
clothing and not disrobe at all.
How does a massage feel?
The way a massage feels depends on the techniques used. Most massages start out
with smooth, flowing strokes to quiet the nervous system and relax the body. As the
muscle tissue relaxes, the therapist may choose to use deeper pressure to address
underlying tension in specific muscle groups. This depends on your preference which
you will communicate with your therapist before the massage. Your therapist should
always check in with you to see if the massage is comfortable. For the most part,
people find massage very relaxing and soothing.
Will it hurt?
Some areas of the body that have chronic muscle tension may feel tender when
massaged. Most people consider this a "good hurt" massage therapists call it
"therapeutic discomfort". Always let your therapist know if you feel like a massage is
painful or unpleasant.
Are there any preparations I need to make before my appointment?
Relax! Try to make sure that you are ready on time for your massage. Turn off your
cell phone, make sure someone can take care of the kids. A massage is time for you
and no one else.
Am I expected to talk during the massage?
It's entirely up to you. Some people like to chat during a massage, some people fall
asleep, most fall somewhere in the middle. Talk if you want to, let your therapist know
if you prefer silence. Your therapist will have to check in at times to make sure you
are comfortable but will not try to carry on a conversation if you prefer to stay quiet.
What if a massage wasn't quite what I wanted?
Be sure to communicate with your therapist before, during and after your massage.
The more your communicate, the better the massage experience will be. Do you like
really deep pressure? Is this your first massage? Do you have chronic pain in a
certain area? Be sure to let your therapist know. Your therapist may be able to tell a
lot from what is going on with your body but only you know how you feel. If you
don't communicate, you will not get the best massage for you. Be clear with your
expectations, massage will not magically cure any chronic problem in a one hour
session. If you have communicated with your therapist and are clear with your
expectations, you will be far more likely to enjoy your treatment. If after all that, you
still don't enjoy your massage, let your therapist know. They will be able to work with
you to make sure you can enjoy your next experience.
Why does a massage therapist ask about my medical history?
There are important aspects of your medical history that your massage therapist
needs to know. Be as honest as possible with your therapist, it is for your benefit.
What is not included in a therapeutic massage?
Sex. To be honest, some people use massage as a guise for prostitution. In the
phone book and on the Internet, there are many listings for these types of places.
Massage Therapists are required to undergo rigorous training and testing before they
are licensed. If someone is not licensed, it is likely that they are not practicing
legitimate massage. Massage therapists work very hard for their licensure, they are
not prostitutes. If you are expecting a sexual massage, you will not find one with a
Do I tip?
Generally, when receiving a massage in a spa environment, a 20% gratuity is
customary. When you work with an independent therapist in their studio, a tip is
When should I not get a massage?
There are certain conditions that are contraindications for massage. Following are
some of the major ones:
Always alert your massage therapist about any changes in your medical condition.
- Any type of infectious disease
- Systemic infections
- Severe cold
- Fracture, bleeding, burns or other acute injury
- Liver and kidney diseases
- Blood clot
- Pregnancy-induced diabetes, toxemia, preeclampsia/eclampsia
- High blood pressure (unless under control with medication)
- Heart disease
- Open skin lesions or sores (therapist may work around them if localized)
They can work with you to address many conditions and will err on the side of
caution when treating you.
What is the most important thing I can do to make sure I get the best
Frequently Asked Questions about Massage Therapy
Sarah D. Baker, LMT
Intuitive Touch Massage
Marina del Rey, CA 90292