Where will my massage session take place?
Your massage session will take place in a private, warm, comfortable, quiet room. Soft music may be played to help you relax. You will lie on a table especially designed for your comfort.
Must I be completely undressed?
Most massage and bodywork techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. For sessions involving significant time spent on range of motion exercises or facilitated stretching, it is advisable to bring a pair of shorts. After your intake interview, your therapist will leave the room, giving you privacy to undress to your level of comfort and get onto the table (under the sheet and blanket). You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable. Only the area being worked on will be exposed.
How often should I have massage?
The recommended length of time between visits and the duration of each session depends on your medical condition and what you hope to accomplish with massage therapy.
If you have a specific problem area, you may agree with your therapist on the following treatment schedule (this is just an example; your plan may vary):
- Months 1-2: Intensive Therapy. One or two 60-minute sessions each week.
- Months 3-4: Stabilization. One 60-90 minute session every week.
- Months 5-6+: Maintenance. One 60-90 minute session once, or preferably twice, a month.
If your purpose in seeking massage therapy is to reduce the damaging effects of stress or to improve overall general health, you will not need the intensive therapy or stabilization segments, but may go directly to a maintenance plan.
On the other hand, medical massage treatments for an injury must be done 2-3 times a week for four weeks (which is comparable to a physical therapy schedule).
As a therapist, I personally receive 60-90 minutes of massage once a week. For the average, healthy person with no specific complaints, I recommend massage therapy no less than 1-2 times a month. The benefits of massage are cumulative, one session building upon the last. Some people wait until they are feeling pain or discomfort before scheduling their next appointment, which is a mistake. Your treatments will be more immediately effective and longer lasting if you schedule them at regular intervals.
What parts of my body will be massaged?
A typical full-body session will include work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck, and shoulders. Medical massage (treatment work) is more specific, typically involving the affected muscle or joint as well as the immediate surrounding areas.
What will the massage or bodywork feel like?
In a general Swedish massage, your session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help calm your nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension. As your body becomes relaxed, pressure will gradually be increased to relax specific areas and relieve areas of muscular tension. Often, a light oil or lotion is used to allow your muscles to be massaged without causing excessive friction to the skin. The oil also helps hydrate your skin. You should communicate immediately if you feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massage and bodywork are most effective when your body is not resisting.
Deep work does not need to hurt to be effective. Treatment work is intense, but should not be painful, and crossing that line into a painful experience will trigger the body's trauma response, which is counter-productive.
Are there different kinds of massage and bodywork?
The following are different modalities in which Kristen has advanced education and experience:
Swedish Massage- is the most familiar form of massage in the US. It includes gentle, relaxing strokes: effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement and vibration. Among the many positive effects on the body are relaxation, release of muscle tension and increase in circulation.
Medical Massage - differs from relaxation massage in several important ways.
First, medical massage is outcome-based, not time-based, meaning that we are more interested in what is being done during your session than we are in how many minutes you are on the table.
Second, because diagnosis is outside the scope of practice for massage therapists, we do this work by prescription of a medical doctor only. The bonus here is that because it is "medically necessary," most insurance companies will pay for it.
Patients seeking medical massage as a treatment for an accident or injury should plan to schedule appointments 2 to 3 times a week for about four weeks and will be expected to be active participants in their own healing (applying ice at home, for example.)
Myofascial Release - is a form of bodywork that seeks to re-balance the body by releasing tension in the fascia (the body's connective tissue). Long, slow, stretching strokes are utilized to release muscular tension. Little or no oil is used.
Sports Massage - focuses on muscle groups relevant to a particular sport. Can help athletes prepare more efficiently for an event or recover from it more quickly.
Deep Tissue Massage - releases chronic tension in the body through slow strokes and deep concentrated pressure on the contracted areas, either following or going across the grain of muscles, tendons and fascia.
"Deep tissue" does not mean simply applying harder pressure. It is called deep tissue because the intention of this technique is to address the deeper layers of muscle tissue. When done properly, this should not be painful, but you may need to ice the area afterward.
Triggerpoint Therapy / Neuromuscular Facilitation - helps to release hyper-irritable points in muscle tissue which can cause local spasm and pain or refer/radiate pain throughout the body. Relieving a tense triggerpoint in your back, for example, could help ease pain in your shoulder or reduce headaches.
Reflexology - massage based around a system of points in the hands and feet thought to correspond to all areas of the body.
Facilitated Stretching - various stretching techniques used by a therapist after massage to lengthen muscle tissue and increase range of motion. These stretches may be passive, with the therapist doing the work, or they may require some effort on your part.
HOT STONE MASSAGE
Hot Stone Massage - involves heating various sizes of smooth basalt stones in water for several hours, then applying them to the body in a very specific way. This treatment releases and deeply soothes tight muscles, encourages relaxation and improves circulation.
Heavier "placement stones" are set at specific places on the body to begin "preheating" muscles. Meanwhile, smaller "working stones" are oiled and held in the therapist's hands, providing customized massage, one section at a time, using a variety of strokes and pressure.
Aromatherapy - is generally known for its psychological benefits (relaxing or uplifting qualities), but many people are not aware of the physiological benefits essential oils (EOs) offer, such as toning, soothing, and pain relief.
If EOs are added to the massage oil, the therapeutic chemical compounds will be administered to the blood stream via skin absorption. Those same compounds may also be delivered by inhalation (in a diffuser or mister during the session, for example.)
Aromatherapy can enhance all types of massage, including hot stone, relaxation and therapeutic massage.
Chair Massage - is administered while the client is clothed and seated in a specially-designed chair. A music CD is played to help with relaxation.
One session typically lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and is intended to relax the client mentally and physically while improving circulation. The therapist is often hired by a company to come into the building to provide this service to a number of employees as part of a regular benefits program or to boost morale and stimulate productivity.
What are Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques?
"Well-documented theories explain how joints become fixated from myofascial stressors; yet relatively unknown in the massage therapy community is how joint dysfunction creates protective muscle spasm and dysfunctional strain patterns, such as forward head postures, slumped shoulders and scoliosis. This reflexogenic relationship between muscles and joints is the foundation of the Myoskeletal Alignment Technique and is considered not only uniquely different from traditional thinking, but possibly an important next step in addressing abnormal strain patterns caused by muscle/joint imbalances." (From the Erik Dalton website. Click here to read more about mobilizing joints through muscle manipulation.)
During the massage, make yourself comfortable. This is a good time to focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Many people just close their eyes and relax completely (or even sleep!) during a session; others prefer to talk. It's your massage, and whatever feels natural to you is the best way to relax. The practitioner will either gently move you or tell you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Feel free to ask questions or give feedback at any time.
Regarding massage and sexuality: As a profession, we have worked hard to differentiate ourselves from those who would use the intimate setting of a treatment room for inappropriate activities. In my practice, SEXUAL ENERGY OR ACTIVITY OF ANY KIND IS NOT TOLERATED.
How will I feel after the massage session?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity which can last for days. Since toxins are released from your soft tissues during a massage, it is recommended you drink plenty of water following your massage.
Your therapist will often recommend that you ice your muscles after a massage. Don't ignore her! Some massage therapy, especially deep work, can make you sore the next day (similar to a hard day at the gym). This can be largely prevented with ice.
Last updated 14 June 2017