These basic bodywork etiquette guidelines will help you get the most out of your massage, create a healthy client-therapist relationship, and address some of those unknowns.
It's All About Timing...Be good to yourself and show up 15 minutes early for your session. This allows you to transition into calm, healing space and focus on the massage. It also ensures you will receive your full time allotment for the massage. The therapist will probably not be able to give you a full session should you arrive late and understand that your session must end on time, regardless of when you arrive.
Honor Your Body...Please arrive with a clean body. Some people have a hard time even considering massage because they are so unhappy with their body. Primarily a female issue, poor body image can be extremely damaging. While it's hard to imagine that taking your clothes off and lying on a massage table will make the situation better, massage therapy can do wonders to bring an individual back into body awareness. Body work can help mend the body-mind chasm that is created through self-hate, bringing the two pieces back together into a peaceful, healthy union. Massage therapists and bodyworkers not only have advanced knowledge of tissues and structure, they also have a great appreciation for the human body as a whole, no matter its shape or size.
Communicate...One thing that will make your massage both more enjoyable and more beneficial is communicating with your therapist. If the room is too warm, if the bolster under your legs isn't the right spot, if the music is driving you batty, whatever the issue, let your therapist know right away so you can get back to the business of enjoying your massage. You are not expected to carry on a conversation during your massage. Just breathe, relax, and communicate about the massage when needed.
Skip Alcohol for Water...There are several downsides to being under the influence during a massage, the most important being how alcohol wreaks havoc on the body and can have negative interaction when combined with bodywork. The result can be dizziness and nausea. That's no fun and a waste of good massage time and money. Leave alcohol for another time. Water, before and after a therapeutic massage, is what the body really wants.
Won't Find That Here...It's unfortunate that massage therapists even have to address this subject, but they do. Therapeutic massage has nothing to do with sex. If a misinformed client somehow ends up in the massage room of a professional therapist and asks for something other than therapeutic massage, they will be asked to leave. Flirting, inappropriate touching, and sexual innuendos will not be tolerated. Keep the relationship above board and your therapist will be a valuable member of your healthcare team.
You're Human...The body can have a lot of responses to therapeutic massage. While avoiding food at least one hour before your massage will help, there's still a chance that you will have tummy gurgles or even pass gas. It's okay. As the body relaxes and systems get moving, the body can play all kinds of tricks. Your therapist has seen it all, yet sees well beyond those kinds of issues.
For men, there's even a possibility that massage will cause an erection, a normal response to nervous system activation. It rarely occurs, but if it does, your therapist will likely shift the focus of the work.
Time To Wake Up...When your massage concludes, your therapist will say something along the lines of, "Our session is over. Take your time getting up." That's your cue to take a moment as you come back to he here and now. Carefully sit up, allowing your body enough time to readjust. Go slow or else your body will knock you for a dizzying loop. Also, be careful not to slip getting off the massage table, especially if your therapist used oil on your feet.
Insights on Tipping...While it's customary to tip 15-20 percent, most experts say it's ultimately the client's decision. Like in other service industries, providing a tip is usually done in response to excellent service. Unsure what to do? Ask if tipping is customary and what is the policy. Payment is expected at the time of your session.