If you are new to massage, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
1. In my practice it is not mandatory to disrobe. I tell clients that “you may undress to your level of comfort; you will be covered (flannel sheet and coverlet), but you need to feel comfortable.” Some clients leave all their clothes on (best to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that won’t be ruined if a little massage oil gets on them); some take everything off, and the rest are somewhere between. Two comments here if you are undecided: many people like the gliding massage strokes, but these cannot be done over clothing (I substitute compressive strokes in this case), and two, it is helpful for me to be able to see the area I’m working on, especially if it is the area of pain or injury. In candor, most clients take off everything except their underwear. However, the bottom line remains- you must feel comfortable; otherwise we are just working against each other.
2. Massage should not hurt beyond what some describe as a “feel-good” level of discomfort or “it hurts in a good way”. I also instruct clients to report whenever they feel tenderness or pain so that I may make adjustments to pressure or technique.
3. Most people request a one-hour, full body massage with relatively more time spent on problem areas. However, remember that you are in control. I understand that for some, touch has not been safe in their past (eg. trauma, abuse). If so, and you are willing, let me know what is comfortable. There are always options. A whole session can be done on the feet, for example. On a separate but related note, I also recall a client who had such severe neck pain at his first visit that I could not massage it at all. Instead, I worked with acupressure points elsewhere on the body so that by his next visit the pain had subsided enough to begin gentle neck work.
4. How often should I get a massage? This depends on a number of factors. People eventually determine the best frequency for themselves based on their goals, finances, and commitment to self care. However, for general wellness I suggest you begin with a monthly massage. If you are having pain or recovering from an injury, I suggest more frequent visits initially, decreasing the frequency as your condition stabilizes. Keep in mind that regularly scheduled massage has an additive effect where as those that come in once or twice a year tend to remain at the same place as their last visit.