Clients often have questions about Massage that may be uncomfortable to talk about. The bravery comes in being bold enough to ask the difficult questions. In order to ease the tension a bit, I will do my best to address these issues head on, right here, so you have the facts before you decide to make the appointment.
What if I talk too much?? Am I supposed to talk at all?
There is never any such thing as too much talking. I sincerely enjoy sharing the time that I share with my clients. It is important to remember that, as humans, we are social creatures. We thrive when we feel heard and understood. Now, here’s the disclaimer… I am not a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist, and I may not be able to provide advice, however, sometimes just the simple act of listening is more than enough to leave feeling rejuvenated and revived. I do have a second disclaimer.. Sometimes I will use cues to bring you back to your breath or to what is going on in the session so that we are able to release tension that gets built up in specific areas where we tend to hold stress. An article featured by the Association of Massage and Bodywork says, “Our job as massage therapists is to help people integrate into their bodies. We are here to help people not only heal from physical pain and injury, but also from emotional traumas that can be held in the body.”
On the Converse, what if my Massage Therapist talks to me the whole time??
There are 3 kinds of people in this world. Some enjoy chatting and asking questions, some like a mix of “sometimes we chat sometimes we don’t”, and yet others are the “for-the-love-of-God I am not paying you to talk to me” type… I connect with all three! That being said, I will always let the client lead the conversation. I do try to keep talking to a minimum until I figure out which category you fall into. Basically, I’m happy to engage in conversation if you initiate it, however, I will never be the one to initiate the conversation until after your session. This is your massage. I cater to you.
Let’s talk bodily functions…
I believe there is value in being open and frank with the difficult conversations in our lives. It gives us a sense of security when you know how uncomfortable situations will be handled. Erections, needing to use the bathroom in the middle of a massage, passing gas, menstruation, and nausea are all natural bodily functions. I’m not saying Massage causes these things to happen, but they can happen during a massage. (i.e., massage does not lead straight to nausea and erections.) However, the goal of a massage is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, aka our “rest and digest” rhythm. During that cycle, it is very common to hear tummy rumblings, and relaxation causes gas expulsion, and erections. It is a natural part of life.
An article in Massage and Bodywork Magazine states the following:
‘Pia Poulsen, a massage therapist living in France, maintains a blog called Massage and Wellness . After writing about massage and nudity, she received many questions about involuntary erections and ejaculations during massage. “It is one of those questions only a very few dare ask openly,” she writes. “When a person receives a massage and trust exists between the therapist and client, oxytocin is released into the blood. High levels of oxytocin can lead to erections and, in some cases, ejaculation (the hormone is needed for the contractions during an ejaculation).” Our job as massage therapists is to help people integrate into their bodies. We are here to help people not only heal from physical pain and injury, but also from emotional traumas that can be held in the body. We are here to accept clients’ bodies so they can accept their whole selves. While erections may be an uncomfortable topic to address in the context of a professional massage, we as massage therapists should practice enough understanding and empathy to encourage well-behaving, well-intentioned clients to return to the table.’
In short, anatomy and functions of the body are the facts of life. It is not weird or unusual and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed if something happens. If you need a glass of water, a tissue or to get up to use the restroom, please let me know, otherwise I won’t even notice nor will it be mentioned. This is a safety and comfort zone.
I’ve had so much going on in my mind lately, what if I have an emotional release?
First of all, a cool science-y fact is that with just 15 minutes of therapeutic touch, Massage Therapy releases the same amount of dopamine and serotonin as antidepressants… for the giver as well as the receiver. The benefits greatly outweigh the fears here.
I will say, it is not uncommon, especially in deep tissue massage to experience random bursts of laughter or tears. We store incredible emotion in our muscles. I didn’t exactly believe this until it happened to me.. Once, when I was fairly fresh out of massage school, a senior therapist gave me a massage and she came to a particular place in my mid back that I hadn’t felt since I had rolled my car 2 years prior. It was a very emotionally traumatic car accident and I hadn’t been able to let go of the guilt I had experienced in losing my dog because of it. I couldn’t help myself, tears just welled up and expressed all down my cheeks. While, I’m sure the therapist was a bit caught off guard, she was very compassionate. Should this happen, I vow to allow you the emotional release, you have so greatly needed. Admittedly, as miraculous as it sounds, I no longer experience the “Locked up” feeling in my back muscles that I once did. It truly is incredible. (Thank you, Dar!)
Do I really have to get naked?!
No. You do not. Most therapists will tell you to “Undress to your comfort level,” but what exactly does that mean? There are all kinds of different massage modalities, a vast majority actually take place completely clothed! In the style of Massage that is most prevalent in the US, it is helpful to have the shirt, bra, and necklaces removed so that we are able to glide with long strokes to permeate the muscle tissue in the back, neck and shoulders. Pants typically come off, just because it is more comfortable between the bedding to not have bulky fabric, if you’d like you can substitute with shorts. Underwear can most definitely be left on. There is really not much reason that they need to come off. Some people are more comfortable that way, which is perfectly fine. Some therapists can do greater hip work if they are unclothed. For me, I am able to work the hip effectively over the sheet. This means that whether you leave your undies on or not, has very little significance because you will remain securely draped with the sheet at all times. In fact, clothing can help signify areas that you would rather not be touched. For example, extremely ticklish feet are welcome to stay “socked”. 😉
“Do you prefer a Male or Female Therapist?”
There are cultural and religious implications that may determine whether or not you choose a therapist based on their gender. The way I view it, male massage therapists are no different than chiropractors or physical therapists. They are professional, compassionate healers that care about the work that they do. Some believe male therapists are stronger than females, however I debate that due to the fact that massage is about leverage, not brute force. In the end, it is truly your preference.
Is it going to Hurt?
Massage Therapy should never hurt. I will apologize on behalf of the entire profession if you have ever walked away bruised. Massage should always be on the threshold of “It hurts so good” but not cross that threshold. If you ever experience sharp pain, pressure on bones, uncomfortable stretching, too deep of pressure, please speak up! It is very important for you to communicate if anything is uncomfortable during your massage session. A quality massage therapist should always perform a thorough intake with you before the treatment begins. We will go over things like: Do you have any range of motion issues? Any surgeries, injuries, or spinal implications? Are you sensitive or allergic to product, nuts, essential oils? If you are uncomfortable with the volume or quality of music, if you get cold, if anything ever hurts, please please say so. Sometimes people think, “Well, she’s the professional, she knows what she is doing.” To a degree this is true, however I do not know what it feels like to be in your body. Some areas are much more sensitive than others. Clear communication is imperative.
On the converse, deeper isn’t always better. A common misconception is that it needs to hurt so that tomorrow I will feel better. Not true. Please don’t over do it by asking for more and more pressure. There is a fine line between an effective massage and too deep. If you don’t say anything, you may end up sore and sick the next day and shy away from future massages. If the pressure is genuinely too light, there is a perfect place to ask for more pressure, but brute force will not break up your knots or leave you feeling at peace – which is the goal.
How do I know what to ask for in a massage?
I always start my Massage sessions with the question: “What is it that you are most looking forward to in this massage?” Sometimes therapists will ask what your goals are in this massage? Goals can be intimidating, but what they are looking for is quite simple. We want you to tell us:
- Are you looking to simply relax and have an hour to yourself in peace?
“Oh my gosh, we have been traveling and I just need a break from the kids.”
- Is there an area (or two or three) that has really been bothering you?
“Oh man, the left side of my neck has a kink and I can’t turn my head!” or “My sciatica is killing me, I can barely function!”
- Maybe you are an athlete or a guide and your calves and back are killing you from climbing and carrying gear.
- What about looking for a way to destress? You don’t drink, you don’t smoke pot, you are looking for a safe, healthy outlet…
We want to know why you are here. It gives us context to know what type of healing you are seeking.
I sincerely hope this provides some comfort and security around the delicate topic of being vulnerable around a stranger. If you allow yourself to try something new, you may find that it is just the stepping stone you were seeking on your journey.
Now that we have covered the insecurities surrounding massage, check out “8 Reasons Massage will Change your Life” to give you a better understanding of the power healing can hold.