What Is a Massage Like?

Massage releases chronic tension and pain in muscles, improves circulation, increases flexibility in joints, and reduces mental and physical fatigue. In addition, massage is one of the most effective means available to combat stress. But the question most people want answered before first trying this enjoyable and healthful experience is "What is a massage like?"

Who Will Give Me My Massage?

Your massage will be given by a massage therapist with many hours of training, often in several types of massage. In addition, massage therapists have a basic competence in anatomy and physiology and knowledge of when massage is or is not appropriate. The Department of Health regulates, tests and registers massage therapists in Texas.

What Kinds of Massage Can I Get?

Swedish massage is what many people think of when massage is mentioned. It uses long, light strokes, deep kneading, small friction-type strokes, light tapping, and movement of the joints. The list of other specialized techniques is long. Ask your massage therapist to explain any other technique she or he uses.

What Is the First Appointment Like?

Your massage therapist will begin by asking some general health questions since there are some conditions for which massage is not appropriate. Your massage therapist will then leave the room while you undress and relax onto the table, covering yourself with a fresh sheet or, in the case of Thai massage, change into baggy pants and lie on the floor

Swedish massage will take place on a table especially designed for stability and comfort. Your massage therapist may offer cushions or an adjustable face rest for support. The room will be warm and quiet, often with soft music to set a relaxing mood. For a full body Swedish massage, most people undress completely, though you may choose to wear underwear. You are warmly and modestly draped at all times, except for the area being worked on. Your massage therapist will usually use a lubricant, such as light oil or lotion, which is good for your skin and absorbs well.

For Thai massage, no oil is used and you remain clothed.

Swedish massage usually begins with a light steady touch, followed by broad, flowing strokes. This starts calming your nervous system and releasing tension in your superficial muscles. Gradually, as your body becomes ready, your massage therapist works more deeply to relax specific areas. Thai massage begins with thumb pressure along energy lines, stretching and "applied yoga".

What Should I Do During a Massage?

Make yourself comfortable. If your massage therapist wants you to adjust your position, he or she will either move you (for instance lift your arm) or will tell you what is needed. Otherwise, change your position anytime to make yourself more comfortable.
Many people just close their eyes and relax completely during a massage. Others prefer to talk. It’s your massage, and whatever feels natural to you is certainly the best way to relax. Do not hesitate to ask questions about what your massage therapist is doing, or about massage in general.
The desire to sigh or take a deep breath is a sign that you are relaxing. In fact, deep natural breaths can actually help you relax.

Will a Massage Ever Hurt?

Massage on healthy tissue feels good, and the saying "no pain, no gain" is not true for massage. The most effective and the deepest massage works with the body’s natural responses, rather than against them. Always tell your massage therapist if you feel any discomfort so she or he can adjust to a more appropriate level.
Massage used to address a painful injury may at first cause some discomfort, which usually lessens noticeably in the first few minutes. Your massage therapist knows ways to minimize pain, and will work carefully within what feels right to you.

Will Massage Tickle?

Ticklish people are often surprised that massage does not tickle. The touch in a massage is completely different from tickling. The intent is relaxation, the pressure is gentle but firm. In addition, your massage therapist chooses strokes that gradually accustom you to the touch involved.

If you are extremely ticklish, tell your therapist so he or she can work carefully, or avoid your areas of sensitivity altogether.

How Long Is a Massage?

An hour is a common length for Swedish massage, an hour and a half to two hours or more for Thai massage. This is enough time for a deeply relaxing and therapeutic full Swedish body massage or more in-depth work on a particular area, for instance the back, neck and shoulders.

One and a half hours is enough time for a full body massage along with special attention to a problem area.

What Do I Do After A Massage?

When your massage is finished, your massage therapist will leave the room while you dress or change. Be aware that massage can be profoundly relaxing, and it affects all of your body’s systems. Give yourself a moment to reorient before slowly getting up from the table.

As stored up toxins have been released during massage, you will need to drink lots of extra water to flush the toxins and metabolic wastes to minimize any "massage hangover".

Feel free to participate in any activity you normally do.

How Will I Feel After My Massage?

After a massage, most people feel very relaxed and at peace. Many experience freedom from aches and pains that have built up from months of tension or repetitive activity in their daily life. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience an increase in energy that can last for several days.

Sometimes the immediate effects of your massage may seem mild. Watch for further changes over the following days, such as pain relief, increased mobility, or reduced stress as your body heals itself through improved circulation.

Be aware that one or two hours of even the best massage probably will not completely correct years of an ongoing problem. Of course, all massage is very helpful.

How Do I Find Out More?

You may still have questions after reading this. It’s your body, and you are right to be careful. Any massage therapist will be happy to discuss your questions over the phone or in person before you book an appointment. But finally, when you are ready, the best answers will come from experiencing a massage first hand. Enjoy in good health!