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Massage FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

 

Answers

When should I get a massage?

Any time is a good time to get a massage. You don't need to wait until you're stressed or injured. Too often I see clients who wait until they reach this state to see me. Massage works wonders as preventive care for a person's body and mind. Instead of waiting until your back hurts from overwork or stress, or the headaches that start at the back of your skull begin to pound, or the stress of every day life makes you want to pop your cork, get a massage before these things happen. A regular massage is a wonderful way to cope with stress, both physical and emotional, and to keep if from causing discomfort or harm to your body.

If you've found yourself dealing with a nagging minor injury, sore muscles, or are completely stressed out, find a massage therapist and see what he or she can do for you. First, check out the next question in the FAQ.

When should I not get a massage?

There are several contraindications for receiving a massage. If you have any of the following conditions, you should not get a massage:

  • Fever
  • Any type of infectious disease
  • Systemic infections
  • Severe cold
  • Fracture, bleeding, burns or other acute injury
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Blood clot
  • Pregnancy-induced diabetes, toxemia, preeclampsia/eclampsia
  • High blood pressure (unless under control with medication)
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer >
  • Open skin lesions or sores (therapist may work around them if localized)

The guidelines here are pretty straightforward. You don't want the massage to make an underlying medical condition worse, and you don't want to pass anything contagious to the massage therapist. If you're unsure about whether a minor condition should prohibit you from getting a massage, call your therapist before your appointment. If you have a chronic medical condition, check with your doctor before proceeding on a course of massage therapy. For some illnesses, other bodywork modalities may work well. If you're suffering from fibromyalgia, lupus, and other conditions, try to find a bodyworker who has some experience with these, since they should know what works best under certain conditions.

At your initial visit, you will most likely be asked to fill out a client intake form. Some of these are simple, some run for a couple pages. Not only does it provide the massage therapist with your name, address, and phone number, it should also have a place to list any underlying medical conditions. The therapist should be aware of any of these. Even if you have an allergy to something in the oil the therapist uses, you should list this. You should be asked at any subsequent visits about any new medical or physical conditions. If you're not asked, volunteer that information if there is anything the therapist should know.

What types of massage are there?

There is a wide array of bodywork modalities. The most common, and probably the best known, is Swedish massage. If you see a movie or television show with someone getting a massage, this is usually what they show. The client is undressed, draped with a towel or sheet, oil is placed on the skin, and the muscles are kneaded, rubbed, vibrated, or tapped. Most of this FAQ will concern itself with Swedish massage.

Esalen massage is similar to Swedish, except that usually involves long, lengthening strokes, stretching, and rocking. Both Swedish and Esalen massage primary body focus is with the muscles.

There are many types of Oriental bodywork, Shiatsu and acupressure are the most common. These are often done with the client clothed, and concentrate on applying pressure to different points of the body. The primary body focus of these are energy meridians, and bringing them back into balance. Practitioners of these arts believe that an imbalance in these meridians affect the inner organs of the body and causes illness. Some bodyworkers may combine one of these therapies with a Swedish massage.

There are a host of other types of bodywork: cranialsacral, myofacial release, postural or structural therapy (Rolfing, Hellerwork, and others), Reiki, and many, many more. They all have one goal in mind, to bring the body's systems back into balance. The accumulation of stress, misuse and overuse of the muscular-skeleton system, illness, poor posture, and just the normal routines of daily life bring the body out of balance, and some degree of suffering ensues. All bodyworkers try to bring the client back towards the state of natural equilibrium in their bodies. Note that this doesn't usually happen in one session.

What is not included in a therapeutic massage?

Sex. Let's get it right there out in the open. We all know that there are tons of places that call themselves massage parlors, and probably the last thing you'll get there is a real massage. It is pretty obvious from the ads these places have, and the way they present their businesses, that they are offering sex. They are not to be confused with therapeutic massage. These massage parlors may have licenses, they have have taken the minimum hours of training to become a professional therapist to get that license, but massage is not what they're selling. That's not the place to go complaining about tight hamstrings.

Many phone books have listings for therapeutic massage, and most of the people or businesses listed there are serious bodyworkers, not prostitutes. If you're unsure, make the call and ask. They will be up front with you about what not to expect from the massage. Most practitioners of therapeutic massage call themselves massage therapists, because the titles masseur and masseuse have sexual connotations associated with massage parlors. Massage therapists work out of their studios or offices, not parlors.

Don't even think about going to a serious bodyworker under the guise of wanting a therapeutic massage, and expect something sexual to happen. Don't ooh and aah and grind your hips into the table thinking they'll take pity on you and get you off. Don't think because they might catch sight of your genitals that they'll be unable to resist you. Don't ask for anything inappropriate, or indicate that you want sex in any way. Trust me, they can tell if that's what you're after. If you insist on any inappropriate behavior, the therapist is likely to end the session immediately, and you'll be required to pay the full price whether the massage lasted two minutes or an hour. Don't whine, "My penis is a muscle too!" or "I'd be even more relaxed after an orgasm!" Those won't get you anywhere but out the door, and other massage therapists in the area will be warned about you.

If you want sex, go someplace that specializes in that. There are plenty of them. A prostitute is the expert in delivering those services. Don't insult, offend, or intimidate a legitimate massage therapist by expecting it from them.

With all that said, I'm sure there are readers who will say, but can't massage be part of sex? Of course it can. Massage is a wonderful and sensual way for lovers to add pleasure to their sexual play and to learn the ins and outs of each other's body. It's a wonderful gift to give to another, and I heartily suggest that everyone find some way to incorporate massage into their interactions with their lover. It is wrong to assume, though, that every massage should lead to sex. Massage can be a wonderfully sensual experience, but sensual does not equal sexual. Not everything sensual has to lead to sex, not every sense of touch between human beings has to be construed as a sexual come-on. The world would be a much better place if we all could learn to accept touch in our lives without assuming that all touch is innately sexual. In the confines of professional massage therapy, you can receive a massage that is relieving, pleasureful, sensual, and if you try to make it into a sexual activity, you will rob yourself of the experience of enjoying it for what is offered.

Where do I find a massage therapist?

The best place to find a massage therapist is a referral from someone else. People who are happy with their massage therapist are usually eager to recommend them to you. Ask your friends and family, and see who they recommend.

If nobody you know receives massage, or you're too embarrassed to ask, there are a variety of sources. The phone book is a good place to start. Some newspapers carry ads for massage, use the ones in the health section, not the ones in the entertainment section. There are a host of web sites for massage therapist listings, although there's always a question of how up-to-date those listings are. The AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) will provide a listing of therapists in your area, but they may restrict that list to therapists who are members of their organization.

In an urban area, there are a multitude of massage therapists from which to choose. Make sure you find a legitimate massage therapist, not someplace using massage as a front for sexual services (unless of course, that's what you're looking for). As a general rule, any place that advertises how beautiful, exotic, or young their masseuses are, is offering sexual services. The age, gender, or attractiveness of the massage therapist has no bearing on the quality of the massage you'll receive. In suburbs or smaller towns, look around to see the therapists in your area. Then ask around to see what others can tell you about him or her. Many therapists work in together in group practices, work for chiropractors, or work for resorts and spas.

When you have decided on which therapist to try, give them a call. Be aware that therapists who have their own studio, or work from home, will not have a receptionist answering the phone. That's normal. If they're not there, or they're with a client, they'll let the answering machine pick up. Don't hang up because they're not answering immediately. Leave a message, and they should call back within a few hours most of the time, or within a day almost all the time. Ask them about their rates, the type of massage they offer, the length of the massage, what type of hours or days they usually work, and explain the reason you want a massage. Just saying that you want to treat yourself is a perfectly good reason. If it's because of soreness or an injury, explain that too. Believe me, they'll be doing their darnedest to make you feel at ease already, and want you to come see them.

The massage therapist will describe the type of massage they do. There are therapists who practice what's often referred to as "medical massage." They prefer to work with clients recovering from an injury or trying to live with an underlying medical condition. They work closely with their clients' doctors. Some, but not all, aren't interested in doing a general stress-relief massage. If this is the case, you're better off with someone who does, who centers their practice around using massage as preventive care and relieving stress. Find a therapist who is more inclined to provide the kind of massage you want.

There are massage therapists with restrictions on accepting new clients. In some cases this is because they're booked solid with regular clients, and can only take a few new clients. It is not uncommon for a female massage therapist to take only female clients, or they will only take a new male client only upon a referral from an existing client. This is because they've been harassed too many times from men seeking sexual relief instead of a massage from them. They don't want to deal with this harassment anymore, or put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.

Does the gender of the massage therapist make a difference?

The short answer is no. There is a perception that male therapists can give a deeper massage, and in many cases this is true. I've had massages from petite women, however, that have been deeper than massages I've received from some men. In general, nothing about a therapist's gender will give you a clue about the style or quality of the massage they give.

In reality, many people are nervous about receiving a massage from one gender or the other. Most women prefer a massage from a woman, and most men prefer a massage from a woman. Some people are more comfortable receiving a massage from a person of the same gender, some from a person of the opposite gender. While no professional wants their services refused based upon their gender, they also realize that if you're too nervous about who is giving you the massage, then you won't be able to relax and enjoy it. I've had several people over the years, both men and women, who could never relax during the massage, and I can almost hear them thinking the whole time, "A man is touching my body!"

One result from the constant linking of touch or massage with sex, is a thought that hangs in the back of many people's minds that female massage therapists are there to service men's sexual needs, and that male massage therapists are on the prowl trying to bed their female clients. Fortunately this mindset appears on the wane as legitimate massage therapy takes hold and becomes more widespread and accepted.

What if I'm overweight or embarrassed about my body?

You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard someone say they'd get a massage if they lost weight first or didn't have that cellulite on the back of their thighs. Don't let this stop you. You're denying yourself quite a pleasurable experience.

Massage therapists have seen bodies in every imaginable shape and size, from young to old, and they're not there trying to judge your physique or ogle your body. They're professionals who have found massage to be a wonderful gift to give to men and women alike, regardless of age and weight, and are proud of what they can offer to people in need of help or just wanting to luxuriate in the sense of touch.

How much will a massage cost me?

This will vary widely depending on where you live and what type of place provides the massage. In rural areas, you could get a massage as low as $35. I've heard of places in large cities or at resorts that charge $100 or more. Most likely your cost will fall somewhere in the middle of that range. Spas and resorts typically charge the most. Expect to pay more than average on cruise ships or at expensive hotels. Many therapists offer different prices for different lengths of massage. A chair massage could be $1 per minute with a minimum of $10. You can get half-hour massages in some places. I offer two lengths of massages, 1:15 and 1:40 minutes long. If a client wants something shorter, I can accommodate that too.

Some therapists also offer a sliding scale for those unable to afford the regular fee. It can't hurt to ask about it. Some will barter for other services. Many therapists offer discounts for a client's first visit, so be sure to ask if one is available. New massage therapists often offer a discounted rate at first so they can start building a clientele.

What does a massage therapist's license or certification mean?

A license means that a massage therapist has met the requirements and paid the fee to legally practice massage in that area. In some places the massage is regulated by the state, others are regulated by the town or municipality. Many places have no licensing requirements. To get a license, a massage therapist will usually have to have a minimum hours of training at an accredited or accepted school or training center. This varies widely, from 100 hours in some places to over 1000 hours in others.

Certification means that the therapist has successfully passed a specific course or test and been granted a certificate to bear out that fact. This may range from courses in pregnancy and neo-natal massage, to different modalities like Rolfing or Hellerwork. There is also a written national certification test for massage therapists.

Ask a group of massage therapists about licensing and certification, and you'll get a neverending argument among them. Some are insistent that licensing and certification are a necessary protection for the public to ensure that every massage therapist has the correct training in massage methods, ethics, contraindications of massage, and understands all the local laws pertaining to massage in their area. Others are just as vociferous that licensing and certification are tools of those who would attempt to control the industry so that they can maximize their profit from it, driving up the prices for everyone, driving therapists out of business, and providing no real protection for consumers. Learning facts and passing a written test says nothing about a massage therapist's palpitation skills, interpersonal skills, personal ethics, or anything else that can't be measured on a written test. Some states that license do insist on an actual evaluation massage before granting that license.

If a jurisdiction requires licensing, it also means that a set of laws governing massage exist. Some places still can't get out of the mindset that massage always equals sex. Massage therapists in these areas must have fingerprints and blood tests taken, and might be restricted to doing business in areas zoned for adult entertainment. Other places have laws that control nudity, draping, and even force the consumer to use a same-sex massage therapist. In most cases, these aren't laws that were drawn to protect the consumer, but are anti-sex laws used in an attempt to restrict massage parlors that are really offering sexual services. The number of hours of education required to obtain a license often is also used to make it difficult for sex workers to get a massage license, not to ensure that the therapist is properly educated.

So I'll leave it to each person to draw their own conclusion as to what a license or certification means about any massage therapist. The bottom line is that a good recommendation from a therapist's clients actually says more than any piece of paper can.

What happens during a massage?

When you first arrive at the massage therapist's studio or office, you'll be asked to fill out a client intake form. This will give the therapist the personal information about you that will guide them to give you the style of massage most appropriate for you. Don't hesitate to ask questions about anything which you're unsure, or any concerns you might have. If you're expecting something in particular from the massage, make sure this is told to the therapist. For example, if you've been having a lot of tightness in your right shoulder, and you'd like some extra attention given to it, tell the therapist. If you prefer a lighter or deeper massage, make that preference known. The massage therapist will discover your tight and sore areas during the massage, and will prioritize the time spent on these areas, and may do less work on areas that don't need as much attention. Letting the therapist know ahead of time about these problem areas, lets them prepare to spend some extra time there.

Once you've finished with the intake, the massage therapist will give you some privacy to get undressed and get on the massage table. A drape, either a sheet or towel, should be provided. The therapist should have advised you to start the massage lying on your stomach or on your back. If you're to start on your stomach, there will be a cushioned doughnut-shaped device at one end of the table. This is a face rest, and you should place your face in there. This allows you to be face down, and keep your shoulder and neck muscles relaxed. If you lay your head on the table and turn it to one side, the muscles in your neck and shoulders won't be in their relaxed state and won't be able to receive the best benefits of the massage.

There may also be a pillow or bolster on the table. A bolster is a padded, cylindrical device. These are to be used for your ankles and knees. If you're lying face down, the pillow or bolster goes under your ankles, so you're not hyperextending your feet while lying that way for an extended period of time. If you're lying on your back, it goes under the knees to prevent any hyperextension of your knee joint.

Once you're undressed and under the drape, the therapist will come back into the room. For the most part, your work is done, and all you have to do is relax and enjoy. The therapist will undrape the section of the body that they will work on first, and apply oil to the skin. They will use a variety of strokes, some rubbing, kneading, vibration, percussion, whatever they think will work best for your muscles. Stretching, rocking, or pressure point work may all be added. If the therapist gives you directions for slow exhales, just follow along. If they stretch or rotate any joint, don't try to help. Just stay as relaxed and limp as you can and let the therapist move that part of your body.

Every therapist has their own style of massage, strokes they like to use on different parts of the body, and prefer to work on different areas of the body in a particular order. One therapist may start you on your stomach and begin the massage with your back. Another may start you on your back and begin with your feet. So for a first visit with any massage therapist, don't be alarmed if their style and direction is different from another therapist you've seen.

When the therapist finishes with one area of the body, they will put the drape back over that part, and undrape the next section to be massaged. At some point, you may be asked to roll over under the drape, and the therapist will continue with the other side of the body. When the massage is over, you'll be left in private to get dressed again. If a towel was used for a drape, you can wipe off any excess oil with it. The therapist will return, and this is a good time to tell them how you feel, if you have any concerns, settle the bill, and make your next appointment.

What parts of my body will be massaged?

This will vary from therapist to therapist. The one area you can be assured that won't receive any stimulation will be the genitals. Different therapists may skip other areas of the body, Some work only on the back side of the body. Some won't work on the buttocks or inner thighs. Some skip the abdomen. Some won't work anywhere in the chest area of a woman. If one area of the body takes a lot longer than expected to massage, the therapist may skip other areas of the body to finish within the allotted time.

There are different reasons why some massage therapists skip different areas of the body. For some it may just allow them to concentrate on areas of the body that are typically the areas that need the most work. They would rather give fuller attention to these areas and not do areas that usually are not a problem for most people.

Some therapists would rather not work on areas of the body, either out of their own discomfort with those areas, or not wanting to provoke any discomfort in a client by working on those areas. You must respect the therapist's decision not to work on those areas. If you would prefer these areas to receive some massage, you can ask the therapist to do so, and they may agree.

Some therapists will ask you during the intake if you have any areas of your body that you would prefer not to be massaged. This may be verbal or you might have to check off areas of the body on a chart on the intake form. The therapist will respect your wishes.

Should you request that any part of your body not be massaged? This is another area where the answer is not so easy. A person getting massaged should be relaxed. If anything during the massage causes them to tighten their muscles, than the benefits from the massage won't be obtained. So if having your buttocks massaged makes you suddenly steel every muscle in your body, then massaging this area is a waste of time. On the other hand, the body is one interconnected organism. Even though you may feel discomfort in one part of your body before a massage, the cause of the problem may rest in a different area of the body. Overcompensation for an ache or nagging injury by limping, walking differently, or carrying yourself other than your normal way will cause muscles throughout the body to suffer. To reap the most benefits from a massage, all areas should be addressed. Skipping an area like the buttocks will ignore all the large and important muscles in that area that connect the torso to the lower limbs.

A massage therapist has seen and massaged hundreds or thousands of different bodies. They won't get excited seeing or massaging any part of your body. You'll find that even on parts of your body you might be nervous about having touched, that the therapist will use the same sure, confident strokes that they've used everywhere else. Numerous times I've started on a new client's buttocks, and felt a small twinge of nervousness from them as I did, but by the time I was finished with it, they were relaxed, and often made the comment that they didn't realize they were sore there.

The other area besides the buttocks that cause a lot of nervousness is working around a women's breasts. Some therapists skip this area completely so as not to make the client nervous. Others work the pectoralis muscles (your pecs) above the breast, and sometimes to the side of the breast near the armpit. They keep as much of the breast draped as possible while working these areas. Again, it can be an important area, especially if you have upper back problems. Tightness in the chest muscles can affect the muscles in the upper back. The same caveat applies, though, that if you cease to be relaxed because this area is being worked, then the benefits of the massage will be lost.

As a general rule, just try to stay relaxed as much as possible during a massage. If it's your first massage, and you suddenly find yourself nervous as the therapist moves to a new area, just try to make your mind float and enjoy the feeling of having the stress worked out the muscles there. As you see more of the therapist in future visits, your nervousness about these areas will probably go away pretty quickly as you come to trust their strokes and professional approach to their work.

Do I have to be completely undressed?

You should undress to your comfort level. The massage therapist will work around the clothes left on the best they can. You should realize that this may mean that certain areas of the body may not be massaged at all, or may only receive minimal work there. I suggest to my clients that they be completely undressed under the drape, but they should leave on whatever clothes are necessary for them to be relaxed during the massage. If removing all your clothes makes you too nervous and unable to relax, then receiving a massage that way won't allow you to obtain the optimal benefits from it.

The pieces of clothing left on the most often are either panties or boxer shorts. Certain styles of panties will allow access to most muscles in the buttocks if they are moved slightly. Boxers and panties that come over the bottom of the buttocks usually mean that no work will be done in that area. Some women wear thong panties to a massage. It allows the therapist access to all of the major buttock muscles, and also allows them the comfort and modesty they prefer.

Some therapists will insist that you leave on your panties or underwear. This will be for the therapist's own comfort level, and in some cases is required by law.

Do I have to use a towel or sheet as a drape?

This again depends on the therapist. I think the vast majority of therapists will insist on draping. In some cases, it's required by law. The key is that you should always have the option to be draped. A drape should be available when you undress. For those of you who would prefer not to use the drape, check with your therapist first.

I allow my clients to receive a massage undraped if they wish. The proper way to do this is to ask before the massage starts. Most of the time, though, I'll come back into the room after the client has gotten undressed and on the table, and find them on top of the drape instead of underneath it. I check to make sure that they know they can use it if they want. I have regular clients, both men and women, who prefer not to use the drape.

Personally, when receiving a massage, I prefer not to be draped, but it's not a big deal if I am. I prefer to have the therapist spend their time doing the massage, and not folding and unfolding the drape. I'm perfectly comfortable receiving a massage in the nude, and if the therapist is comfortable with me being that way, so much the better. If they want me draped, I respect that too.

If the therapist insists on draping, accept it and comply. It's essential to build a bond of trust between the therapist and the client. Neither should be forced to exceed their own comfort level during the massage. The key to all facets of massage is relaxation, and if the client or the therapist is uncomfortable, the benefits of the massage will be lost.

You should also be aware of your reasons for wanting to be undraped. If it's just a level of comfort with your own nudity, the feeling of freedom unencumbered by the drape, those are valid reasons for preferring an undraped massage. If you want to be undraped to put your genitals on display with the hopes that it will foster a sexual atmosphere in the room, then you're not even approaching the massage experience in the right frame of mind. It's too many people using this latter excuse for not wanting a drape that has most therapists unwilling to allow it.

One more draping issue again concerns a woman's breasts. When a woman is lying on her back, and the therapist is ready to work on her abdominal muscles, lowering the drape to expose the stomach also exposes the breasts. This is easily remedied by providing a second towel to cover the breasts. Many therapists will insist on this second towel to cover the breasts, for either their own comfort level, or to ensure the client's comfort level. Others will offer the option to the woman to use the second towel to cover their breasts and leave the choice up to them.

Can I talk during a massage?

The key to a massage is relaxation and allowing yourself to enjoy the experience. Many therapists will discourage you from talking during the massage. They want you to relax, to just let your mind float free, and let the massage transport you to an almost subconscious bliss. It's not uncommon for many people to be more relaxed talking. After all, they're lying undressed on a table with a stranger touching their skin. Talking makes the therapist become more human and personal to them, and having this interaction makes it easier for them to place their trust in the therapist, and therefore make it easier for them to relax. Many clients talk in the initial stages of a massage, and as the massage progresses, they slip farther into a state of total relaxation and become quiet.

There are times when you should speak up during a massage. If anything makes you uncomfortable, bring it to the therapist's attention. If you're too cold or too hot, the room is too bright and hard on your eyes, or if you prefer the strokes to be deeper or lighter, mention it to the therapist. Bear in mind that some therapists only do a light massage, so they may not go deeper even if you request it. It is just not their style of massage. Feel free to speak up, if something about the massage isn't working for you.

Will a massage hurt?

That depends on the type of massage and the depth of the strokes. A light massage that doesn't probe very deep into muscles shouldn't hurt. At the same time, the light massage won't be able to work out any stress that's deep within those muscles. A muscle that is relaxed will be supple and soft and won't hurt when rubbed. Muscles that are tight, and in many cases have been chronically tight for a long time, may have that "good hurt" feeling with a deeper massage. Think of that "good hurt" as the feeling you get when you stretch a sore muscle during exercise or a yawn. Muscles can be very sore from overuse or tightness, and that good hurt can become painful. A sharp pain may indicate a muscle that has been injured and has some sort of inflammation. In this case, you don't want the deep work to continue in this area. A deep massage with tight muscles may leave some residual soreness the next day.

Everybody has different thresholds of pain. The depth of a stroke may not be deep enough for one person's liking and may cause pain for another. Some people want the massage as deep as possible regardless of the soreness. Others want something much lighter, more sensual and pleasing, to help them relax rather than deeper work that might be sore. So make your preference known to the therapist, and give feedback at any time during a massage that the depth of the strokes is more than you'd like.

What if a massage wasn't quite what I wanted?

Every massage therapist has their own style, their own approach to massage, the strokes they like to use, and the depth they like to work. Some prefer a more clinical approach, some a more personal approach. Not every client clicks with every massage therapist. The key is to find one who can deliver the type of massage you like best. When you find one you like, stick with them and sing their praises.

I've had many massages over the years from both men and women. Some have been astoundingly good, others just so-so. Some have skipped areas that I would have would have preferred to have been massaged. Others have had a quiet, impersonal approach and I prefer it the other way around. This doesn't mean they've given you a bad massage, or that you haven't reaped any benefits from it, just that it wasn't quite what you're looking for. This is one reason why personal recommendations from friends and family can be so valuable. You can get a good sense of the therapist's style from them, and know how well it matches your expectations before you visit them.

How often should I receive a massage?

The answer here depends on the reasons for receiving the massage. If a client comes for some injury relief, and to relieve chronic tightness that is interfering with their daily lives in some way, weekly sessions may be necessary for a while to build on each session's improvement in their relief and healing. For those who use massage as preventive care and managing the daily stress in their lives, once a month is about the norm. They may shorten the time between massages during stressful periods. Some come more often just because they enjoy it that much.

For most people, the frequency of the massages they receive is limited by their pocketbook. It's an unfortunate fact, but once many people realize the benefits it provides them, and the pleasure they receive from it, they find a way to incorporate a regular session into their budget.  

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This FAQ was written by Bill Greer and original published here.

Massage FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

 

Answers

When should I get a massage?

Any time is a good time to get a massage. You don't need to wait until you're stressed or injured. Too often I see clients who wait until they reach this state to see me. Massage works wonders as preventive care for a person's body and mind. Instead of waiting until your back hurts from overwork or stress, or the headaches that start at the back of your skull begin to pound, or the stress of every day life makes you want to pop your cork, get a massage before these things happen. A regular massage is a wonderful way to cope with stress, both physical and emotional, and to keep if from causing discomfort or harm to your body.

If you've found yourself dealing with a nagging minor injury, sore muscles, or are completely stressed out, find a massage therapist and see what he or she can do for you. First, check out the next question in the FAQ.

When should I not get a massage?

There are several contraindications for receiving a massage. If you have any of the following conditions, you should not get a massage:

  • Fever
  • Any type of infectious disease
  • Systemic infections
  • Severe cold
  • Fracture, bleeding, burns or other acute injury
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Blood clot
  • Pregnancy-induced diabetes, toxemia, preeclampsia/eclampsia
  • High blood pressure (unless under control with medication)
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer >
  • Open skin lesions or sores (therapist may work around them if localized)

The guidelines here are pretty straightforward. You don't want the massage to make an underlying medical condition worse, and you don't want to pass anything contagious to the massage therapist. If you're unsure about whether a minor condition should prohibit you from getting a massage, call your therapist before your appointment. If you have a chronic medical condition, check with your doctor before proceeding on a course of massage therapy. For some illnesses, other bodywork modalities may work well. If you're suffering from fibromyalgia, lupus, and other conditions, try to find a bodyworker who has some experience with these, since they should know what works best under certain conditions.

At your initial visit, you will most likely be asked to fill out a client intake form. Some of these are simple, some run for a couple pages. Not only does it provide the massage therapist with your name, address, and phone number, it should also have a place to list any underlying medical conditions. The therapist should be aware of any of these. Even if you have an allergy to something in the oil the therapist uses, you should list this. You should be asked at any subsequent visits about any new medical or physical conditions. If you're not asked, volunteer that information if there is anything the therapist should know.

What types of massage are there?

There is a wide array of bodywork modalities. The most common, and probably the best known, is Swedish massage. If you see a movie or television show with someone getting a massage, this is usually what they show. The client is undressed, draped with a towel or sheet, oil is placed on the skin, and the muscles are kneaded, rubbed, vibrated, or tapped. Most of this FAQ will concern itself with Swedish massage.

Esalen massage is similar to Swedish, except that usually involves long, lengthening strokes, stretching, and rocking. Both Swedish and Esalen massage primary body focus is with the muscles.

There are many types of Oriental bodywork, Shiatsu and acupressure are the most common. These are often done with the client clothed, and concentrate on applying pressure to different points of the body. The primary body focus of these are energy meridians, and bringing them back into balance. Practitioners of these arts believe that an imbalance in these meridians affect the inner organs of the body and causes illness. Some bodyworkers may combine one of these therapies with a Swedish massage.

There are a host of other types of bodywork: cranialsacral, myofacial release, postural or structural therapy (Rolfing, Hellerwork, and others), Reiki, and many, many more. They all have one goal in mind, to bring the body's systems back into balance. The accumulation of stress, misuse and overuse of the muscular-skeleton system, illness, poor posture, and just the normal routines of daily life bring the body out of balance, and some degree of suffering ensues. All bodyworkers try to bring the client back towards the state of natural equilibrium in their bodies. Note that this doesn't usually happen in one session.

What is not included in a therapeutic massage?

Sex. Let's get it right there out in the open. We all know that there are tons of places that call themselves massage parlors, and probably the last thing you'll get there is a real massage. It is pretty obvious from the ads these places have, and the way they present their businesses, that they are offering sex. They are not to be confused with therapeutic massage. These massage parlors may have licenses, they have have taken the minimum hours of training to become a professional therapist to get that license, but massage is not what they're selling. That's not the place to go complaining about tight hamstrings.

Many phone books have listings for therapeutic massage, and most of the people or businesses listed there are serious bodyworkers, not prostitutes. If you're unsure, make the call and ask. They will be up front with you about what not to expect from the massage. Most practitioners of therapeutic massage call themselves massage therapists, because the titles masseur and masseuse have sexual connotations associated with massage parlors. Massage therapists work out of their studios or offices, not parlors.

Don't even think about going to a serious bodyworker under the guise of wanting a therapeutic massage, and expect something sexual to happen. Don't ooh and aah and grind your hips into the table thinking they'll take pity on you and get you off. Don't think because they might catch sight of your genitals that they'll be unable to resist you. Don't ask for anything inappropriate, or indicate that you want sex in any way. Trust me, they can tell if that's what you're after. If you insist on any inappropriate behavior, the therapist is likely to end the session immediately, and you'll be required to pay the full price whether the massage lasted two minutes or an hour. Don't whine, "My penis is a muscle too!" or "I'd be even more relaxed after an orgasm!" Those won't get you anywhere but out the door, and other massage therapists in the area will be warned about you.

If you want sex, go someplace that specializes in that. There are plenty of them. A prostitute is the expert in delivering those services. Don't insult, offend, or intimidate a legitimate massage therapist by expecting it from them.

With all that said, I'm sure there are readers who will say, but can't massage be part of sex? Of course it can. Massage is a wonderful and sensual way for lovers to add pleasure to their sexual play and to learn the ins and outs of each other's body. It's a wonderful gift to give to another, and I heartily suggest that everyone find some way to incorporate massage into their interactions with their lover. It is wrong to assume, though, that every massage should lead to sex. Massage can be a wonderfully sensual experience, but sensual does not equal sexual. Not everything sensual has to lead to sex, not every sense of touch between human beings has to be construed as a sexual come-on. The world would be a much better place if we all could learn to accept touch in our lives without assuming that all touch is innately sexual. In the confines of professional massage therapy, you can receive a massage that is relieving, pleasureful, sensual, and if you try to make it into a sexual activity, you will rob yourself of the experience of enjoying it for what is offered.

Where do I find a massage therapist?

The best place to find a massage therapist is a referral from someone else. People who are happy with their massage therapist are usually eager to recommend them to you. Ask your friends and family, and see who they recommend.

If nobody you know receives massage, or you're too embarrassed to ask, there are a variety of sources. The phone book is a good place to start. Some newspapers carry ads for massage, use the ones in the health section, not the ones in the entertainment section. There are a host of web sites for massage therapist listings, although there's always a question of how up-to-date those listings are. The AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) will provide a listing of therapists in your area, but they may restrict that list to therapists who are members of their organization.

In an urban area, there are a multitude of massage therapists from which to choose. Make sure you find a legitimate massage therapist, not someplace using massage as a front for sexual services (unless of course, that's what you're looking for). As a general rule, any place that advertises how beautiful, exotic, or young their masseuses are, is offering sexual services. The age, gender, or attractiveness of the massage therapist has no bearing on the quality of the massage you'll receive. In suburbs or smaller towns, look around to see the therapists in your area. Then ask around to see what others can tell you about him or her. Many therapists work in together in group practices, work for chiropractors, or work for resorts and spas.

When you have decided on which therapist to try, give them a call. Be aware that therapists who have their own studio, or work from home, will not have a receptionist answering the phone. That's normal. If they're not there, or they're with a client, they'll let the answering machine pick up. Don't hang up because they're not answering immediately. Leave a message, and they should call back within a few hours most of the time, or within a day almost all the time. Ask them about their rates, the type of massage they offer, the length of the massage, what type of hours or days they usually work, and explain the reason you want a massage. Just saying that you want to treat yourself is a perfectly good reason. If it's because of soreness or an injury, explain that too. Believe me, they'll be doing their darnedest to make you feel at ease already, and want you to come see them.

The massage therapist will describe the type of massage they do. There are therapists who practice what's often referred to as "medical massage." They prefer to work with clients recovering from an injury or trying to live with an underlying medical condition. They work closely with their clients' doctors. Some, but not all, aren't interested in doing a general stress-relief massage. If this is the case, you're better off with someone who does, who centers their practice around using massage as preventive care and relieving stress. Find a therapist who is more inclined to provide the kind of massage you want.

There are massage therapists with restrictions on accepting new clients. In some cases this is because they're booked solid with regular clients, and can only take a few new clients. It is not uncommon for a female massage therapist to take only female clients, or they will only take a new male client only upon a referral from an existing client. This is because they've been harassed too many times from men seeking sexual relief instead of a massage from them. They don't want to deal with this harassment anymore, or put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.

Does the gender of the massage therapist make a difference?

The short answer is no. There is a perception that male therapists can give a deeper massage, and in many cases this is true. I've had massages from petite women, however, that have been deeper than massages I've received from some men. In general, nothing about a therapist's gender will give you a clue about the style or quality of the massage they give.

In reality, many people are nervous about receiving a massage from one gender or the other. Most women prefer a massage from a woman, and most men prefer a massage from a woman. Some people are more comfortable receiving a massage from a person of the same gender, some from a person of the opposite gender. While no professional wants their services refused based upon their gender, they also realize that if you're too nervous about who is giving you the massage, then you won't be able to relax and enjoy it. I've had several people over the years, both men and women, who could never relax during the massage, and I can almost hear them thinking the whole time, "A man is touching my body!"

One result from the constant linking of touch or massage with sex, is a thought that hangs in the back of many people's minds that female massage therapists are there to service men's sexual needs, and that male massage therapists are on the prowl trying to bed their female clients. Fortunately this mindset appears on the wane as legitimate massage therapy takes hold and becomes more widespread and accepted.

What if I'm overweight or embarrassed about my body?

You wouldn't believe how many times I've heard someone say they'd get a massage if they lost weight first or didn't have that cellulite on the back of their thighs. Don't let this stop you. You're denying yourself quite a pleasurable experience.

Massage therapists have seen bodies in every imaginable shape and size, from young to old, and they're not there trying to judge your physique or ogle your body. They're professionals who have found massage to be a wonderful gift to give to men and women alike, regardless of age and weight, and are proud of what they can offer to people in need of help or just wanting to luxuriate in the sense of touch.

How much will a massage cost me?

This will vary widely depending on where you live and what type of place provides the massage. In rural areas, you could get a massage as low as $35. I've heard of places in large cities or at resorts that charge $100 or more. Most likely your cost will fall somewhere in the middle of that range. Spas and resorts typically charge the most. Expect to pay more than average on cruise ships or at expensive hotels. Many therapists offer different prices for different lengths of massage. A chair massage could be $1 per minute with a minimum of $10. You can get half-hour massages in some places. I offer two lengths of massages, 1:15 and 1:40 minutes long. If a client wants something shorter, I can accommodate that too.

Some therapists also offer a sliding scale for those unable to afford the regular fee. It can't hurt to ask about it. Some will barter for other services. Many therapists offer discounts for a client's first visit, so be sure to ask if one is available. New massage therapists often offer a discounted rate at first so they can start building a clientele.

What does a massage therapist's license or certification mean?

A license means that a massage therapist has met the requirements and paid the fee to legally practice massage in that area. In some places the massage is regulated by the state, others are regulated by the town or municipality. Many places have no licensing requirements. To get a license, a massage therapist will usually have to have a minimum hours of training at an accredited or accepted school or training center. This varies widely, from 100 hours in some places to over 1000 hours in others.

Certification means that the therapist has successfully passed a specific course or test and been granted a certificate to bear out that fact. This may range from courses in pregnancy and neo-natal massage, to different modalities like Rolfing or Hellerwork. There is also a written national certification test for massage therapists.

Ask a group of massage therapists about licensing and certification, and you'll get a neverending argument among them. Some are insistent that licensing and certification are a necessary protection for the public to ensure that every massage therapist has the correct training in massage methods, ethics, contraindications of massage, and understands all the local laws pertaining to massage in their area. Others are just as vociferous that licensing and certification are tools of those who would attempt to control the industry so that they can maximize their profit from it, driving up the prices for everyone, driving therapists out of business, and providing no real protection for consumers. Learning facts and passing a written test says nothing about a massage therapist's palpitation skills, interpersonal skills, personal ethics, or anything else that can't be measured on a written test. Some states that license do insist on an actual evaluation massage before granting that license.

If a jurisdiction requires licensing, it also means that a set of laws governing massage exist. Some places still can't get out of the mindset that massage always equals sex. Massage therapists in these areas must have fingerprints and blood tests taken, and might be restricted to doing business in areas zoned for adult entertainment. Other places have laws that control nudity, draping, and even force the consumer to use a same-sex massage therapist. In most cases, these aren't laws that were drawn to protect the consumer, but are anti-sex laws used in an attempt to restrict massage parlors that are really offering sexual services. The number of hours of education required to obtain a license often is also used to make it difficult for sex workers to get a massage license, not to ensure that the therapist is properly educated.

So I'll leave it to each person to draw their own conclusion as to what a license or certification means about any massage therapist. The bottom line is that a good recommendation from a therapist's clients actually says more than any piece of paper can.

What happens during a massage?

When you first arrive at the massage therapist's studio or office, you'll be asked to fill out a client intake form. This will give the therapist the personal information about you that will guide them to give you the style of massage most appropriate for you. Don't hesitate to ask questions about anything which you're unsure, or any concerns you might have. If you're expecting something in particular from the massage, make sure this is told to the therapist. For example, if you've been having a lot of tightness in your right shoulder, and you'd like some extra attention given to it, tell the therapist. If you prefer a lighter or deeper massage, make that preference known. The massage therapist will discover your tight and sore areas during the massage, and will prioritize the time spent on these areas, and may do less work on areas that don't need as much attention. Letting the therapist know ahead of time about these problem areas, lets them prepare to spend some extra time there.

Once you've finished with the intake, the massage therapist will give you some privacy to get undressed and get on the massage table. A drape, either a sheet or towel, should be provided. The therapist should have advised you to start the massage lying on your stomach or on your back. If you're to start on your stomach, there will be a cushioned doughnut-shaped device at one end of the table. This is a face rest, and you should place your face in there. This allows you to be face down, and keep your shoulder and neck muscles relaxed. If you lay your head on the table and turn it to one side, the muscles in your neck and shoulders won't be in their relaxed state and won't be able to receive the best benefits of the massage.

There may also be a pillow or bolster on the table. A bolster is a padded, cylindrical device. These are to be used for your ankles and knees. If you're lying face down, the pillow or bolster goes under your ankles, so you're not hyperextending your feet while lying that way for an extended period of time. If you're lying on your back, it goes under the knees to prevent any hyperextension of your knee joint.

Once you're undressed and under the drape, the therapist will come back into the room. For the most part, your work is done, and all you have to do is relax and enjoy. The therapist will undrape the section of the body that they will work on first, and apply oil to the skin. They will use a variety of strokes, some rubbing, kneading, vibration, percussion, whatever they think will work best for your muscles. Stretching, rocking, or pressure point work may all be added. If the therapist gives you directions for slow exhales, just follow along. If they stretch or rotate any joint, don't try to help. Just stay as relaxed and limp as you can and let the therapist move that part of your body.

Every therapist has their own style of massage, strokes they like to use on different parts of the body, and prefer to work on different areas of the body in a particular order. One therapist may start you on your stomach and begin the massage with your back. Another may start you on your back and begin with your feet. So for a first visit with any massage therapist, don't be alarmed if their style and direction is different from another therapist you've seen.

When the therapist finishes with one area of the body, they will put the drape back over that part, and undrape the next section to be massaged. At some point, you may be asked to roll over under the drape, and the therapist will continue with the other side of the body. When the massage is over, you'll be left in private to get dressed again. If a towel was used for a drape, you can wipe off any excess oil with it. The therapist will return, and this is a good time to tell them how you feel, if you have any concerns, settle the bill, and make your next appointment.

What parts of my body will be massaged?

This will vary from therapist to therapist. The one area you can be assured that won't receive any stimulation will be the genitals. Different therapists may skip other areas of the body, Some work only on the back side of the body. Some won't work on the buttocks or inner thighs. Some skip the abdomen. Some won't work anywhere in the chest area of a woman. If one area of the body takes a lot longer than expected to massage, the therapist may skip other areas of the body to finish within the allotted time.

There are different reasons why some massage therapists skip different areas of the body. For some it may just allow them to concentrate on areas of the body that are typically the areas that need the most work. They would rather give fuller attention to these areas and not do areas that usually are not a problem for most people.

Some therapists would rather not work on areas of the body, either out of their own discomfort with those areas, or not wanting to provoke any discomfort in a client by working on those areas. You must respect the therapist's decision not to work on those areas. If you would prefer these areas to receive some massage, you can ask the therapist to do so, and they may agree.

Some therapists will ask you during the intake if you have any areas of your body that you would prefer not to be massaged. This may be verbal or you might have to check off areas of the body on a chart on the intake form. The therapist will respect your wishes.

Should you request that any part of your body not be massaged? This is another area where the answer is not so easy. A person getting massaged should be relaxed. If anything during the massage causes them to tighten their muscles, than the benefits from the massage won't be obtained. So if having your buttocks massaged makes you suddenly steel every muscle in your body, then massaging this area is a waste of time. On the other hand, the body is one interconnected organism. Even though you may feel discomfort in one part of your body before a massage, the cause of the problem may rest in a different area of the body. Overcompensation for an ache or nagging injury by limping, walking differently, or carrying yourself other than your normal way will cause muscles throughout the body to suffer. To reap the most benefits from a massage, all areas should be addressed. Skipping an area like the buttocks will ignore all the large and important muscles in that area that connect the torso to the lower limbs.

A massage therapist has seen and massaged hundreds or thousands of different bodies. They won't get excited seeing or massaging any part of your body. You'll find that even on parts of your body you might be nervous about having touched, that the therapist will use the same sure, confident strokes that they've used everywhere else. Numerous times I've started on a new client's buttocks, and felt a small twinge of nervousness from them as I did, but by the time I was finished with it, they were relaxed, and often made the comment that they didn't realize they were sore there.

The other area besides the buttocks that cause a lot of nervousness is working around a women's breasts. Some therapists skip this area completely so as not to make the client nervous. Others work the pectoralis muscles (your pecs) above the breast, and sometimes to the side of the breast near the armpit. They keep as much of the breast draped as possible while working these areas. Again, it can be an important area, especially if you have upper back problems. Tightness in the chest muscles can affect the muscles in the upper back. The same caveat applies, though, that if you cease to be relaxed because this area is being worked, then the benefits of the massage will be lost.

As a general rule, just try to stay relaxed as much as possible during a massage. If it's your first massage, and you suddenly find yourself nervous as the therapist moves to a new area, just try to make your mind float and enjoy the feeling of having the stress worked out the muscles there. As you see more of the therapist in future visits, your nervousness about these areas will probably go away pretty quickly as you come to trust their strokes and professional approach to their work.

Do I have to be completely undressed?

You should undress to your comfort level. The massage therapist will work around the clothes left on the best they can. You should realize that this may mean that certain areas of the body may not be massaged at all, or may only receive minimal work there. I suggest to my clients that they be completely undressed under the drape, but they should leave on whatever clothes are necessary for them to be relaxed during the massage. If removing all your clothes makes you too nervous and unable to relax, then receiving a massage that way won't allow you to obtain the optimal benefits from it.

The pieces of clothing left on the most often are either panties or boxer shorts. Certain styles of panties will allow access to most muscles in the buttocks if they are moved slightly. Boxers and panties that come over the bottom of the buttocks usually mean that no work will be done in that area. Some women wear thong panties to a massage. It allows the therapist access to all of the major buttock muscles, and also allows them the comfort and modesty they prefer.

Some therapists will insist that you leave on your panties or underwear. This will be for the therapist's own comfort level, and in some cases is required by law.

Do I have to use a towel or sheet as a drape?

This again depends on the therapist. I think the vast majority of therapists will insist on draping. In some cases, it's required by law. The key is that you should always have the option to be draped. A drape should be available when you undress. For those of you who would prefer not to use the drape, check with your therapist first.

I allow my clients to receive a massage undraped if they wish. The proper way to do this is to ask before the massage starts. Most of the time, though, I'll come back into the room after the client has gotten undressed and on the table, and find them on top of the drape instead of underneath it. I check to make sure that they know they can use it if they want. I have regular clients, both men and women, who prefer not to use the drape.

Personally, when receiving a massage, I prefer not to be draped, but it's not a big deal if I am. I prefer to have the therapist spend their time doing the massage, and not folding and unfolding the drape. I'm perfectly comfortable receiving a massage in the nude, and if the therapist is comfortable with me being that way, so much the better. If they want me draped, I respect that too.

If the therapist insists on draping, accept it and comply. It's essential to build a bond of trust between the therapist and the client. Neither should be forced to exceed their own comfort level during the massage. The key to all facets of massage is relaxation, and if the client or the therapist is uncomfortable, the benefits of the massage will be lost.

You should also be aware of your reasons for wanting to be undraped. If it's just a level of comfort with your own nudity, the feeling of freedom unencumbered by the drape, those are valid reasons for preferring an undraped massage. If you want to be undraped to put your genitals on display with the hopes that it will foster a sexual atmosphere in the room, then you're not even approaching the massage experience in the right frame of mind. It's too many people using this latter excuse for not wanting a drape that has most therapists unwilling to allow it.

One more draping issue again concerns a woman's breasts. When a woman is lying on her back, and the therapist is ready to work on her abdominal muscles, lowering the drape to expose the stomach also exposes the breasts. This is easily remedied by providing a second towel to cover the breasts. Many therapists will insist on this second towel to cover the breasts, for either their own comfort level, or to ensure the client's comfort level. Others will offer the option to the woman to use the second towel to cover their breasts and leave the choice up to them.

Can I talk during a massage?

The key to a massage is relaxation and allowing yourself to enjoy the experience. Many therapists will discourage you from talking during the massage. They want you to relax, to just let your mind float free, and let the massage transport you to an almost subconscious bliss. It's not uncommon for many people to be more relaxed talking. After all, they're lying undressed on a table with a stranger touching their skin. Talking makes the therapist become more human and personal to them, and having this interaction makes it easier for them to place their trust in the therapist, and therefore make it easier for them to relax. Many clients talk in the initial stages of a massage, and as the massage progresses, they slip farther into a state of total relaxation and become quiet.

There are times when you should speak up during a massage. If anything makes you uncomfortable, bring it to the therapist's attention. If you're too cold or too hot, the room is too bright and hard on your eyes, or if you prefer the strokes to be deeper or lighter, mention it to the therapist. Bear in mind that some therapists only do a light massage, so they may not go deeper even if you request it. It is just not their style of massage. Feel free to speak up, if something about the massage isn't working for you.

Will a massage hurt?

That depends on the type of massage and the depth of the strokes. A light massage that doesn't probe very deep into muscles shouldn't hurt. At the same time, the light massage won't be able to work out any stress that's deep within those muscles. A muscle that is relaxed will be supple and soft and won't hurt when rubbed. Muscles that are tight, and in many cases have been chronically tight for a long time, may have that "good hurt" feeling with a deeper massage. Think of that "good hurt" as the feeling you get when you stretch a sore muscle during exercise or a yawn. Muscles can be very sore from overuse or tightness, and that good hurt can become painful. A sharp pain may indicate a muscle that has been injured and has some sort of inflammation. In this case, you don't want the deep work to continue in this area. A deep massage with tight muscles may leave some residual soreness the next day.

Everybody has different thresholds of pain. The depth of a stroke may not be deep enough for one person's liking and may cause pain for another. Some people want the massage as deep as possible regardless of the soreness. Others want something much lighter, more sensual and pleasing, to help them relax rather than deeper work that might be sore. So make your preference known to the therapist, and give feedback at any time during a massage that the depth of the strokes is more than you'd like.

What if a massage wasn't quite what I wanted?

Every massage therapist has their own style, their own approach to massage, the strokes they like to use, and the depth they like to work. Some prefer a more clinical approach, some a more personal approach. Not every client clicks with every massage therapist. The key is to find one who can deliver the type of massage you like best. When you find one you like, stick with them and sing their praises.

I've had many massages over the years from both men and women. Some have been astoundingly good, others just so-so. Some have skipped areas that I would have would have preferred to have been massaged. Others have had a quiet, impersonal approach and I prefer it the other way around. This doesn't mean they've given you a bad massage, or that you haven't reaped any benefits from it, just that it wasn't quite what you're looking for. This is one reason why personal recommendations from friends and family can be so valuable. You can get a good sense of the therapist's style from them, and know how well it matches your expectations before you visit them.

How often should I receive a massage?

The answer here depends on the reasons for receiving the massage. If a client comes for some injury relief, and to relieve chronic tightness that is interfering with their daily lives in some way, weekly sessions may be necessary for a while to build on each session's improvement in their relief and healing. For those who use massage as preventive care and managing the daily stress in their lives, once a month is about the norm. They may shorten the time between massages during stressful periods. Some come more often just because they enjoy it that much.

For most people, the frequency of the massages they receive is limited by their pocketbook. It's an unfortunate fact, but once many people realize the benefits it provides them, and the pleasure they receive from it, they find a way to incorporate a regular session into their budget.  

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This FAQ was written by Bill Greer and original published here.