One of my favourite days is the day I am the client receiving a massage but I recently remembered one appointment when it took me at least half the massage to mentally arrive. I know this might seem daft, but I’d done everything wrong that morning. Remembering this, I decided to share with you my tips I use so that you can ensure that you make the most of your massage appointments.
- Be on time - if you are running late, this will reduce the length of your appointment and time on the table. Likewise, if you are rushing to get to your appointment on time (as I was!) whilst you might be on time, it will take a while for your body to stop feeling like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.
- Food - This one might seem strange, but please don’t arrive having just had an enormous three course meal. A snack or nibble is fine, and having eaten an hour or two before your appointment is perfect, but lying on the table whilst your body is struggling to digest a heavy meal isn’t going to be an enjoyable experience. Likewise, if you haven’t eaten for 8 straight hours, your mind is likely to start focusing on how empty it’s feeling.
- Check in - At the start of our appointment, each practitioner takes a few minutes to check in to see how you are and what you would like to focus on that day. Consider taking some time as you walk to your appointment, or sitting in the car before arriving to see how your body feels, so that I can tell the practitioner if there’s an area you'd like specific attention.
- Health - Please do let your practitioner know if anything has changed in your medical circumstances between appointments. It might not seem relevant to you, but you never know. Somethings you can’t hide, like turning up to your appointment full of cold. If you are really sick (we're talking ‘take the day off work’ sick) not only is the massage likely to make you feel worse, but you are potentially bringing contagion to your practitioner and all our clients, some of whom may have compromised immune systems. Therefore, if you feel unwell, please call before your appointment to check whether it’s ok.
- Clothes - You need to feel comfortable, safe and secure having a massage. As such when it comes to undressing, your practitioner will invite you to “undress as far as you feel comfortable”. This means if you want to leave your clothes on that’s ok, please make sure you wear clothing that will be comfortable during the massage and will allow the massage therapist to touch and move the areas of your body you expect will need to be massaged. Likewise, if you want to remove every last stitch, then that’s ok too. Your privacy will be maintained at all times. Whilst you undress and redress you will be left in privacy. We only ever work with drapes so that the part part being worked on at that time is all that's uncovered and ensures your modesty is maintained at all times. If you are unsure or nervous, ask, discuss and know that your decision is absolutely perfect.
- Conversation - During the massage, if you want to talk, that’s great, and if you don’t, that’s great too. Please remember that your appointment is about you getting what you want and need from the massage, and that will be different each time - maybe in a subtle way, perhaps in a very obvious way. Sometimes I will chat my whole way through my time on the table, and other times I’ll wake myself up snoring! However, if you experience any discomfort, whether its from the massage or any distractions (i.e. you are cold, the light is too bright etc) - that’s the time to speak up.
- Let it go - When you feel yourself holding your breath. Let it go. When you feel yourself tensing against the work. Let it go. When you feel that fart brewing. Let it go. It’s fine. Honestly. As you relax your body switches from an ‘Alert’ state into a ‘Reset’ state (as I describe more fully in my article Massage for Anxiety) it undergoes all sorts of near magical transformations, one of which might well see your digestive system wake up, your tummy gurgle and perhaps even a little wind to move through your gut to the outside world. Please don’t worry. It’s a body doing what it needs to do, and as a body geek I find a tummy gurgle as rewarding a sign that you are exactly where you need to be.
- Gently does it - Don’t rush to get off the table. You’ve hopefully enjoyed your massage, and that state can continue. Slowly sit up and take your time getting off the table. If you are feeling a little light headed, sit back down and try again when you are feeling a bit better. I sometimes find I can take a while to come ‘back in the room’ after a massage, and find I need to just be gentle and take time to myself before the whirl of the day comes back in. This is why I don’t see any clients for several hours after any treatments. Also be aware that depending on the work, sometimes it may take a little while for your body to know what’s what. When I was little and would see an osteopath, you could guarantee that within 24 hours I would have walked into a door frame because everything had shifted ever so slightly and my brain hadn’t caught up! So perhaps don’t go to that MetaFit class straight afterwards. This is why I do try to consider what you are doing for the rest of the day when I work!
- H2O - After a long walk or hard training session at the gym, you are thirsty because your body and your muscles have moved a lot and pumped the fluid around your body. On the massage table, whilst you are not physically moving your muscles, they are being worked and moved, so drinking water after a massage is a good idea. Remember, by the time you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated, so get ahead of the game!
- It’s a date - Some people have their car serviced, or visit their dentist on a regular basis. Others wait until there’s something not quite right, whilst some wait until the car won’t start or that toothache is keeping them up all night. The same is true with massage clients. The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, and the greatest benefits are experienced over time, so if you are seeking massage to resolve a chronic issue, you may be better off scheduling several appointments to help relieve the patterns of tension and stress.I’m a ‘regular appointment’ kind of client because I know that that works well for me. I’ve done the whole emergency appointment thing, and found it time consuming and financially draining as I then needed several treatments in quick succession to get be back on the road. This isn’t always the case, but I am always happy to discuss treatment plans and frequency of appointments. After all, I want to help you be the best you can be in your body.
I hope that with these 10 tips, next time you come to Bristol Massage Therapy, you are able to make the most of your massage appointment too.