You slept wrong last night and your neck is stiff and sore. Maybe you have been working in the garden all weekend and your back hurts from being bent over. You are under a lot of stress from your job and can’t seem to relax or sleep at night. A friend suggested you get a professional massage to help ease the pain. It sounded like a great idea, but you have never been to a massage therapist. You are a little apprehensive because you are not sure what to expect.
If you are reading this, you have taken the first (and right) step to improving your health and well-being. There are many benefits of massage. But how does it work? What really happens in a massage therapist office?
What are all these forms? I just want a massage.
In a professional massage therapist office, the first step to receiving a beneficial massage will be the filling out of some basic forms. They include a client intake form, a health history, and an informed consent form.
Okay, I filled out the forms, what’s next?
Your therapist will take you to the massage treatment room. Before the massage begins the two of you will discuss your concerns and health history in a little interview. This interview usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. This is when you and your therapist will start to get to know each other. You will discuss your expectations of the massage. Your health history, if there is information that will determine the massage techniques used during the massage. This is a good time to ask your therapist questions. After the interview, the massage therapist will leave the room so you can get undressed.
Undressed? Do I have to take all my clothes off?
Massage is best received fully unclothed. But you may undress to the level of your comfort. What does that mean? If you are not comfortable with removing all your clothes, you may leave some or all of them on. The therapist will adjust the massage to what you leave on. Keep in mind that it will limit the therapist to what techniques may or may not be used. It can effect the over-all outcome of your massage.
But He’ll See Me Naked If I Remove All My Clothes!
NO, he won’t. A professional massage therapist is bound by standards of practices and codes of ethics to provide draping for you, the client. What do you mean draping? Draping is a technique that uses the sheets on the table to keep all private areas of your body covered at all times. There are techniques used during the draping process that ensures you are not exposed at any time. This is accomplished with a bed/table sheet, pillow case, and/or towels.
How Does Draping Work?
The massage table you will be receiving treatment on, has a full set of bed sheets on it. A bottom sheet you will lay on, and a top sheet you will use to cover yourself with. When the therapist leaves the room, you will undress. You will then get on the massage table between the sheets. Your therapist will give you time to do this. He or she will knock on the door, awaiting your authorization to enter. When you are ready, the therapist will enter the room.
After the therapist re-enters the treatment room, you will receive pillows or bolsters to provide comfort while you are on the table. The therapist will adjust the face cradle and check with you for anything else you may need at this time.
During the massage, your therapist will lift back the top sheet exposing only the area he or she is working on. What does that mean? If the therapist is working on your back, the sheet will be pulled down exposing your back for treatment. When the treatment is complete, your back will be re-covered. Your therapist will move on to a new area of your body. That area will be uncovered (ie: gluts, leg, arm), receive bodywork and then recovered. This will continue in this fashion throughout the massage.
How Do I Turn Over To Have The Other Side Of My Body Massaged
Your therapist will help you turn over on the massage table. The technique for this is simple. Using his legs, the therapist will “pin” one side of the top sheet to the edge of the massage table. Then reaching over your body, he will hold the other side of the sheet. Lifting the sheet slightly to form a “tent.” This provides room for you to roll over, all the while without being exposed.
I’m A Female And Want My Stomach Massaged. How Will This Be Done Without Exposing My Breasts?
This is where the therapist uses the extra towels or pillow cases. The pillow case will be placed over your breasts, on top of the sheet that is covering you. The sheet will then be slid out from underneath the pillow case. The pillow case remains in place, covering your breasts. The sheet is pulled further down to expose your stomach for treatment. After the bodywork is complete, the sheet is returned to it’s original position. This time it will be placed on top of the pillow case. The pillow case will be removed from under the sheet.
I Still Don’t Understand Why I Have To Undress Completely
Your body and the muscles that control all of your body’s movement are a complex system. Do you remember that old song about your bones? “My toe bone’s connected to my foot bone. My foot bone’s connected to my leg bone. My leg bone’s connected to my thigh bone.” If you remember this song, it is probably playing through your head now. Massage is the manipulation of the soft tissues (such as muscles) of your body. You can replace the word “bone” in that old song with muscle. Although it is a little more complex than that song, you can get a little mental picture of how your muscle structure is connected throughout your body.
I’m going to use low back pain (the most common complaint) for an example as to why massage is best received fully unclothed. Most of your back muscles are connected to the top edge of your pelvic girdle. Your gluteal muscles are also connected to the top edge of your pelvic girdle. While your back muscles extend from the pelvic girdle upwards, your gluteal muscles extend from pelvic girdle downwards. If your “gluts” are tight, they are pulling on the top of your pelvic girdle. This in turn, is pulling on your low back muscles. You are feeling the pain in your low back. It is not the “cause” of your pain, it’s the result.
To relieve low back pain, a massage therapist may have to work on your gluteal muscles. While this can be accomplished with clothing on, it limits the techniques the therapist can use. It is not as thorough and will take longer (more visits to the therapist) to achieve the desired results. If your clothing is completely removed, your therapist can use a variety of techniques. Achieving more positive results in a shorter time.
Communicate With Your Therapist
All aspects of massage therapy requires communication between the therapist and the client. Draping is a big concern for most clients. Do not be afraid to talk with your therapist about draping techniques. Your comfort and understanding is a top priority of your therapist.