What to Expect for Your First Massage

What to expect for your first massage.




I (Nina) got my first massage in massage school and had no idea what to expect.  I didn’t know if I needed to be totally undressed and what the pressure would be like.  Do I talk during the massage? What if I have areas that I want focused on? What if I only want one part of my body worked on rather than my whole body? Can I request this?  Will they touch my butt?  Will I be sore? Will I be judged based on my body size? I had so many questions.  Here are a few normal questions people ask me for their first massage and I hope to be able to answer these questions in this article.  We want my clients to have a relaxing, comfortable and enjoyable massage so we make sure to communicate clearly with our client to address their needs and concerns.


1.  Do I have to be completely undressed? Will I be covered?

You can undress to your comfort level.  Swedish massage (and deep tissue) is performed with lotion so you will want the massage therapist be able to apply lotion to the skin.  Most people undress but leave on their underwear.  Most women take off their bras as well so that the massage therapist can get to their full back but I don’t mind if someone leaves their bra on.  We have many people that undress fully; as I only expose the areas we are working on.  You will be covered (draped) during the session.  We want our clients to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible so they can enjoy a relaxing massage experience.


2.  Will the massage therapist work on my butt (gluteal muscles)?

Gluteus maximus and the supporting musculature are some of the strongest muscles in the body.  They more often than not need work.  With most clients I work through the sheet and with my fists lightly (as they are often tender because they never get worked on).  If the person has sciatica (due to piriformis syndrome), I can work through the sheet but usually recommend that I physically manipulate the tissue if this is permitted by the client.  If you do not feel comfortable with this though, not a problem.  As said above, I can work through the sheet and get to the attachment sites of the gluteus maximus and surrounding musculature. 


3.  I would like deep pressure (or light pressure).  How will my massage therapist know what type of pressure I want?

Every one of my clients is different.  What is deep for some people is medium or even light pressure for another.  We communicate clearly with my clients so that I work at the level of pressure that they are wanting, whether it is light or deep.  If at anytime you are uncomfortable, please let us know so that we can provide the most relaxing session depending on your needs and goals.


4.  What if I only want one part of my body worked on?

This (more often than not) would be considered a medical massage or “massage with a medical focus.”  I have many clients that only want their calves worked on, or just their back.  In a session such as this I will normally use myofascial release, muscle stripping, petrissage and trigger point therapy.  I will use the amount of pressure the client is wanting, whether that is light, medium or deep.  Working on one area of the body is of great benefit for someone who is having a trouble area, as using multiple techniques helps to soften, loosen and elongate fascia, primary muscle groups and supporting muscles.


5.  Is it ok to talk? (What if I don’t want to talk?)

I have many types of clients.  Some of them talk throughout the entire session and some of them do not talk.  I am fine with either.  Whatever makes the client relax the most is my first concern.</p> 


6.  What if I experience emotions during the massage?

Bodywork and massage can bring up a lot of emotions that are held.  Many theorists feel that there is a release of energy and this can bring up emotions such as sadness, anger, etc.  I try to hold the space for my client so they are free to express their emotions as they arise.  I wish to create a supportive environment where my clients can feel safe and at home.


7.  Can I exercise after a deep tissue massage?

This is generally not a good idea.  The muscles before the massage are usually bound up and held together and massage can release these muscles and elongate (and stretch the muscle if we incorporate stretching).  This new position of the muscle puts it at risk for strain or sprain as it is not used to a rested position.  I always tell my clients to wait 24 hours before engaging in any rigorous exercise.


8.  I am embarrassed about my body and I don’t want the massage therapist to judge me.

We have worked on all types and sizes of bodies.  We have worked on people that are much larger than me and much smaller.  We want my client to feel safe and free from judgment so that they can relax and have a comfortable massage experience. Our mission is to provide therapeutic and relaxing massage therapy in a supportive nonjudgmental and nurturing environment.

9.  Will I be sore after my massage?

If you are coming in for a Swedish massage, you shouldn’t be sore.  If there was an area or two that was focused on you may be sore in that area for a day or two but no longer.  If you are coming in for a deep tissue massage, you may be sore for the next 1-2 days.  This is because we are working tightly held musculature that has not had healthy blood circulation and we are bringing more circulation to the area.  It will feel as if you just worked out.  The types of techniques I use in a deep tissue massage include myofascial release, petrissage, muscle stripping and trigger point therapy.  Trigger point therapy typically creates more soreness than petrissage or myofascial release.  In trigger point therapy, I find the exact trigger point or area of pain/stiffness/soreness and hold that area from 10-30 seconds and then release.  So this can bring soreness the next day where the trigger point normally was.