Your First Massage at Healing Hands - Charleston SC
If you've never had a massage before, it's only natural to wonder what to expect. Massage is a relaxing, wonderful experience, so don't worry about what you need to do. The most important thing is to be present, and to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. The focus should always be on your needs and comfort.
What do I wear? Do I have to be naked?
Your massage therapist will give you privacy to undress to your level of comfort. For some, your level of comfort may mean leaving on under-clothing. Very modest clients may prefer to remain clothed during a massage, and there are many massage moves that can be accomplished over clothing. In fact, some forms of massage, such as Shiatsu or chair massage, are done traditionally over clothing. If you choose to have this type of work, then please wear loose fitting clothes such as a t-shirt and sweat pants. Whatever you feel comfortable with, your therapist will accommodate you.
Most people who receive massage regularly find it perfectly safe to undress completely, allowing the therapist access to the lower back and hip area. A responsible therapist will always drape you adequately to maintain your privacy. If you have further concerns, let her know, and she will err on the modest side.
How do I lie on the massage table?
She will tell you to lie underneath the sheet and blanket and will ask you to start either face up or face down (with your head in the face cradle), according to her preference or yours. I personally start either way, depending on what the focus of the session will be. You may like a bolster or pillow under your knees when you are face up, or under your ankles when you are face down. This can take pressure off your lower back, and can be more comfortable too for those whose ankles are not very flexible. Do not be afraid to speak up if you are uncomfortable, as your therapist wants you to feel great. Our table is padded with fleece and a table length heating pad to keep it warm and cozy.
What about music?
During a massage, there is usually soft music playing. A therapist may ask you for your preference or just play what she likes to massage to. It may be New Age, classical, or contemporary. Don't be afraid to speak up if it's distracting or if you just don't like the music choice. If you have your own favorite CD that you like to relax to, you may think about bringing that along, as long as the therapist approves. (if you relax to Metallica, the therapist might find that a bit distracting :)
Do you use oil or lotion?
We use our own custom blend of high quality, cold pressed oils obtained from Mountain Rose Herbs, including grapeseed and jojoba oil. These oils are highly superior to their health food store counterparts in both consistency, fragrance, and color. They are highly nourishing and pleasing to the skin. We use only hypoallergenic oils and do not keep any nut oils on the premises. If you are pregnant, we use only oils safe during pregnancy. For facial massage, we use a medium weight cream that will not clog your pores.
Should I stay quiet, or can I talk?
You can do either. After a few minutes of catching up, most of my clients find it most relaxing to lie back and just experience the massage. Some even fall asleep, while others do prefer a conversation. The most important thing is to communicate your needs. Massage therapists are talented at picking up subtle body cues, but we can't always read your mind. If you jump, it may be because we hit a sensitive spot, or because you're just falling asleep. Let us know what feels best to you: the depth of pressure, your favorite moves, anything you feel needs more attention, and definitely let us know if you experience discomfort.
Massage should hurt to be effective, right?
No. No pain, no gain? Definitely not. It can be a "good hurt" - that's the right experience. If the pressure is too much, your muscles contract instead of relax, and that is counterproductive. For specific work, such as addressing triggerpoints or working out scar tissue, etc., you may experience some discomfort, but it should not be to the level of real pain. Communicate with your therapist what your tolerance is and don't feel like you have to "take it" in order for the massage to be effective. Profound psychological changes and muscular relaxation can occur with even the most gentle massage, so be sure to communicate what you are looking for.
How will I feel after my massage?
Many people feel deeply relaxed and refreshed after massage. Your aches and pains may be reduced, your mobility and flexibility enhanced, and your mood improved. You may move a little slowly at first, so take your time getting up, and make sure you're ready before you drive. If you have had deep tissue work, you may experience some muscle soreness, which generally resolves in a day or so. Massage is in a way like passive exercise, and many people feel thirsty afterwards. The best way to maintain the benefits of massage is to take time afterwards to integrate it, rather than rushing back into your life. Take good care of yourself afterwards, and have massage and other wellness experiences in your life as often as possible.
What's this I hear about a detox reaction?
Although we don't entirely understand the reasons, some people may experience what is called a detox reaction, or a healing crisis after a massage. It may manifest in fatigue and flu type symptoms. Though science has not yet shown what exactly is happening, it is viewed broadly in the holistic health community as a positive sign that deep healing has occurred. Since massage stimulates your immune system, it could be that a die-off of bacteria, such as when you take an antibiotic, is responsible for the symptoms. Soaking in a bath, if that's appropriate for you, drinking lots of pure water, eating fresh food, and taking good care of yourself are generally recommended to help the discomfort pass, leaving you with more energy and vitality than before.
Why do I have to tell you my medical history?
Massage affects your body in ways that go far beyond your skin and muscles. Massage affects your cardiovascular system and your immune system, and stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system. It has an effect on all of your body's systems, so it is important to provide your massage therapist with the information to determine that massage is safe and appropriate for you. A full medical history can also help your therapist assess which strokes and techniques may be most helpful for you, and makes clear any areas that need to be avoided, such as recent injury sites or skin conditions. In some circumstances, an okay from your physician may be required before you receive a massage.