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Taboos, The client, The massage

Is massage for me?

Massage in Frankfurt, GermanyImage via Wikipedia

Yes. I can answer yes to that question without hesitation. Practically all people can receive a massage. Due to various contraindications, the type and style of massage that suits you the best might vary. But everybody can benefit from and enjoy a massage.

Many people let questions and uncertainties stop them from trying massage. They might have the desire for years or decades, but due to fears or lack of knowledge never get around to it. There are many reasons why to massage get massage, as I’ve covered in previous articles: 7 good reasons to get massage, Why get massages, Massage and stress, Massage relieves burnt-out, and many more.

In this article I will focus the questions and excuses that often hinders people from getting that first massage.

I’m worried I might get an erection
Erections are a completely normal bodily reaction during a massage, especially in the beginning. The therapists are aware of this and do not get offended. We’re taught at the massage schools why those things happen and how to deal with it.

I don’t like the thought of being naked
Every massage therapist will respect your privacy and modesty. While you get undressed they will leave the room and you can crawl under the sheet/towel without them seeing you. You can always ask the therapist for more cover if you’re uncomfortable. Some massage styles, such as Lomi Lomi are best done with the client nude, so don’t  hesitate to ask the therapist about his or her particular massage. In the US it’s required to use draping during a massage, and in many other countries it’s the norm.

Is my weight a problem?
Severe overweight pose challenges to the therapist when dealing with specific injuries and pains. Some might not be trained to deal with it, or possess the best tools. That said, you can still benefit from other styles of massage, so ask your therapist about your particular case and what you wish to achieve. There are more details in my article Massage and overweight.

I don’t like my (insert body-part) being touched/massaged
Tell the therapist and simply request that you’re not massage there. Unless there’s a medical reason to massage that particular area, any therapist will respect your wishes.

I haven’t shaved/waxed my legs
It doesn’t matter. We as therapists pay much less attention to how well waxed/shaved your body might be and the amount of body-hair present. There will be no difference in the quality of the massage with shaved or unshaven legs. Excessive amounts of body-hair pose a different challenge, but therapists are trained and has tools which to deal with it. In my article Massage and body hair you can find more information.

I suffer from a skin-condition
Speak to your therapist about your skin-condition and together you can find a massage that suits your particular case. The therapist will appreciate to  be notified so she can prepare the massage.

I want a female/male therapist only
For many the gender of the therapist plays a role and it’s completely natural to have preferences. Don’t be shy and simply ask your spa/clinic about the therapists and request what you want. Once you’re comfortable about massages, I encourage you to try the other gender as well.

What if I fart during the massage?
Don’t worry. We’re used to it and it happens to every one. Farting is simply a symptom of you relaxing and your system working. The therapist won’t comment upon it afterwards, nor look at you oddly.

I’m pregnant
Pregnant women can greatly benefit from massage. Just make sure that your therapist is trained in pregnancy massage as there are certain things to be aware of and take into consideration.

I can’t afford it
While money always is a problem and a hindrance for many things, it also comes down to your priorities and choices. An option could be to try a shorter and cheaper session instead of a full body massage. Perhaps try a 20 minutes shoulder and back massage, a 10 minutes chair massage or perhaps a 15 minutes foot massage. It is better to do a shorter treatment at a good massage therapist, than do a full massage by a poor massage therapist. Avoid the discount places and go for quality.

I don’t like being passive
Massage can be a rather passive experience and some people become restless. There are massage styles which suit any type of personality, so ask around and study the different forms of massage. Thai-massage and Shiatsu can feel much more active than a Swedish massage and Watsu (shiatsu in water) requires your full engagement. You can also start by a short session and see where your time-limit lies. For many of us it’s a challenge to just let go and receive. We’re so used to being active and busy all the time and idleness is frowned upon in our society. Sometimes it’s really good to challenge ourselves and just do nothing, letting the body and mind find a new balance and allowing us to truly feel ourselves.

I’m allergic
Always notify your massage therapist if you’re allergic. There are many products out there that the therapist can use. So by telling what you’re allergic to, the therapist can ensure that you’re not exposed to anything bad for you.

I’m on medication
Notify your therapist and let him know what you’re medicated for and what you’re taking. You might get a referral to another therapist or be recommended to wait until you’re no longer on medication. If it’s long-term medication, there are massage methods and techniques which are safe to give.

I don’t like to be touched
Massage is a touch therapy and touch is part of it. That said, there are techniques and methods where the therapist’s hands don’t touch you or only touch you minimally. Instead tools such as bamboo sticks, stones and tampons do the actual touching and massaging. Styles such as Shiatsu focus more on helping you stretch or works on pressure points which again reduces the amount of touching.

I don’t like the music played
This is easy. Simply notify the therapist and ask for some other music. Many therapists will allow you to look through their collection so you can pick what you like. Alternatively you can even bring along some of your own music. The important factor is that you relax and enjoy the session.

What if I need to go to the toilet in the middle of a massage
Speak up, ask the therapist to pause while you visit the bathroom. It’s better for you and your relaxation that you go to the toilet than holding it for 45 minutes.

A few general things to mention:
- Don’t get a massage if you’re influenced by alcohol or drugs (the illegal kind). Wait at least 24 hours so it’s entirely out of your system.
- Wait at least an hour after eating a meal so your system has a chance to digest the food. Neither come just before a meal as your hunger might distract you from the massage.
- If you’re sick, wait until you’re well again. For long term illnesses, certain styles of massage can be very beneficial, but speak to the therapist about your particular case.

This should cover the most common questions asked. If you have any further questions, please post them in the comments below and I will gladly answer them.

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About Pia Poulsen

Pia Poulsen is educated as a wellness massage therapist at Institut FIGARI in Paris, from where she passed her certification exam in January 2008. Since then she has expanded her skills to become the first Advanced LaStone® practitioner in France as well as a certified LaStone® instructor.

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