Massage therapy can be extremely relaxing and therapeutic, but it’s important to have realistic expectations about what to expect before your first massage experience, especially if you’re just receiving your first ever massage from a licensed professional.
Massage therapists undergo rigorous training and must maintain their license to continue practicing, so you can rest assured that the person who will be working on you has the expertise and skill to help you feel better than ever.
However, there are still some things you can do before and after your massage session to ensure that you get the most out of your experience.
Step 1 – Do some research
Reading up on massage is always a good idea, especially before you have one for your first time. There are lots of different types of massages out there and knowing some of them can help you decide which one to try.
Having an idea about what to expect will also help ease your mind. You might be nervous about having a stranger touch you, so do some reading beforehand so that you can feel more comfortable during your session.
Step 2 – Choose your therapist wisely
If you live in a large city, there’s likely to be plenty of spas and massage therapists to choose from. It’s easy to look at price first when choosing a new therapist, but I’d encourage you to avoid making cost your first priority.
Instead, look for someone whose personality and style match your own. Remember, you’re going to be sharing a lot of intimate space with them—it’s vital that both of you are on board with that level of intimacy right off the bat.
(By all means, negotiate price if that makes it easier for you.) They should make you feel comfortable and happy about spending time together; otherwise things could get awkward down there!
Step 3 – Ask questions when you book your appointment
One of my favorite ways to get more comfortable is to ask questions and share concerns with my massage therapist. When I first started, I was embarrassed about discussing these things but found that it made for a better experience in many cases.
What kind of pressure do you use? Do you talk or remain quiet during a session? Are there certain areas that are off limits?
Before your next appointment, write down any questions you may have and review them with your therapist before meeting. Questions like these can go a long way towards making sure you feel more at ease and more prepared for your massage!
Step 4 – What to wear on your first massage
It’s best to wear as little clothing as possible during your massage. However, if you feel more comfortable wearing underwear, you can do so.
Just make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your massage session. If you decide to go without underwear, be prepared for a slight chill—it might be a good idea to bring a small blanket along with you if necessary.
In any case, some establishments require that clients remove their shoes before entering their premises (the rationale is that soft-soled shoes might damage floors). Even so, it’s best not to wear socks as they will take away from your massage experience by restricting proper circulation and contact between body and floor/bed.
Step 5 – Bring snacks and water (or don’t)
Remember that massages are physically demanding for both you and your massage therapist. If you feel faint or lightheaded during your massage, don’t hesitate to ask for water; it’s best not to get dehydrated.
While a good massage therapist will always have bottled water on hand, it never hurts to bring your own bottle of water or a snack for afterward.
It’s also not uncommon for people to be hungry or thirsty after a massage, especially if they’ve been exercising recently; perhaps bring along some fruit and nuts as well! This is especially important if you’re taking a hot stone massage – as hot stones can cause extreme sweating.
Step 6 – Book a massage near the end of your day
This can be done via phone or through your therapist’s office. This way, you will have minimal distractions.
Try to book a massage in about an hour before you go to bed, so it has time to soak in. That way you get all of its benefits. Remember though, everyone is different and your body might not soak up all of its benefits if you don’t give it enough time for recovery after your massage.
Step 7 – Relax during your drive home
After your massage, you may be feeling relaxed and ready to go about your day. However, for some massages you may feel deeply relaxed or even a little drowsy. If possible, find a ride home from someone else to keep yourself safe.
While being driven home after a massage, try not to do anything that would require too much mental alertness (like driving).
You want to avoid feeling lightheaded or dizzy by keeping physically alert until your body has had enough time to rest and recover from your treatment. Always ask your masseuse if they are okay with it before allowing anyone else to drive you home after a session.
Step 8 – Breathe slowly as you enter the room
Breathing deeply and slowly has a number of benefits to it. It’s relaxing, calming, and will help you avoid getting tense while being massaged. There are a variety of ways you can perform deep breathing.
You can inhale to a count of four as you breathe in through your nose, hold for two counts and exhale through your mouth for another four counts. Repeat five times.
Alternatively, if that feels too difficult, just hold your breath for three seconds when inhaling then release it after holding it for three seconds when exhaling.
Perform deep breathing exercises before each massage to ensure that your muscles are relaxed throughout treatment. It’ll also set yourself up well so you’ll be able to get more out of massage sessions than ever before!
Step 9 – Inhale before you exhale during the session (it helps)
When you exhale during a massage, your body releases tension. When you inhale, you fill your lungs with oxygen and can focus on relaxing even more. You’ll find that many therapists will guide you through deep breathing techniques as part of your session.
If it’s your first time receiving a massage, start by taking long, slow breaths in and out before turning over to receive any pressure from your therapist.
Many people feel comfortable keeping their eyes closed for a few minutes as they breathe deeply throughout their first session. This helps to prevent distraction during a new experience and lets you get into it more fully.
It can also help when having trouble letting go of thoughts or judgments so that you can fully enjoy being cared for by someone else for an hour or so!
Step 10 – Leave feeling refreshed, energized, pain-free, and relaxed!
Most of all, you should feel relaxed after a massage. Ideally, your body should not only be pain-free but energized as well. You may have a little soreness or tightness in places, but overall you will feel relaxed and refreshed once you leave.
Most people book follow-up massages within days or weeks of their first appointment so they can reap these benefits again and continue to enjoy relief from pain and other ailments! It is recommended that you take it easy for at least 24 hours post treatment (preferably 48).
When applying any lotion after your treatment avoid using products with camphor as it can be toxic on open skin, especially if you will be out in the sun.