This article explains what happens in a massage therapy session, start to finish.

If you have never had a massage you are really in for a treat!

Massage feels great! You might be surprised to find out that it doesn't tickle, and that it feels different than you had expected. Most of us live and work in very mental worlds and are not used to tuning into our bodies. The massage is all about the body, and as you tune in to the new sensations you are experiencing on the massage table, you might be mildly surprised to find out how much tension you hold in your body in what might seem unlikely places. I am always surprised, and I get massaged regularly. Massage is a marvelous inward journey that brings you back together again, uniting your mind and your body into the perfect whole it was meant to be.

Before we begin, you will fill out a confidential health questionnaire 

to find out about your current state of health, and to discover which medications, if any, you are currently taking. We do this because there are certain conditions and medications for which massage is not appropriate. We also do this to find out whether you will need to first obtain permission from your primary health care provider.

The massage room is inviting and relaxing

with soft music and low lighting. These physical cues tell your body and mind to relax and unwind, that you're in a safe place and can leave your worries behind. The actual massage takes place on a special massage therapy table that is comfortably padded and made up with clean, fresh linens.

The inviting and relaxing massage area at Shining Mountain Healing Center

The inviting and relaxing massage area at Shining Mountain Healing Center

After the intake, I will invite you to rest comfortably underneath the sheet and blanket. I usually begin by asking clients to start face down, but if this is not comfortable or not possible for you, we can begin in a position that feels right to you.

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Depending on the type of massage you are receiving, you may or may not need to undress

For Swedish Massage, most clients undress completely, but some choose to keep their underwear on. You will always undress alone in the complete privacy of the massage therapy room, and during the massage, you will be covered with a sheet except for the part of your body that we are working on at the time.

During massage, your body is always covered with a sheet, except for the portion I am working on at the moment. Sensitive personal areas are never exposed.

For an Acupressure massage, you will lie face-up on the massage table with your clothes on. During Acupressure I work through your clothes and you don't need to take anything off but your shoes.

 

Most massage techniques use oil or cream.

Most massage techniques use oil or cream.

For most Swedish techniques, I use special massage oil, or massage cream that nourishes the skin

This gives my hands the ability to glide across muscles and tissues to do our massage work. In some types of massage, such as chair massage and acupressure, no oil or cream is used. I take care to make sure I don't get this in your hair, or on any clothing you may wear during your massage. 

The massage itself begins with gentle contact to your body

This helps accustom your body to my touch and allows our energies to get acquainted. I may rock you gently at first - this is for a deeper relaxation response, and also to palpate how your spine moves, and how pliable your tissues are. Massage always begins with light touch and gradually becomes deeper as you become accustomed to my touch and your tissues relax to allow us in. I never work deeper than your comfort level, and I keep checking with you to make sure that my touch is comforting and not hurting.

I begin by massaging your back, where many people hold stress and tension. I then move to your hips and gluteals and the backs of your legs. After the backs of your legs have been thoroughly massage, I ask you to turn face-up and I will continue with your legs and feet. I then massage your arms and hands. I finish with your head, neck, and face. 

If there is any part of your body that you don't want to be massaged or where you don't like to be touched, let me know! I am happy to alter my regular pattern just for you so that you feel as comfortable as possible.

Your only job during a massage is to relax! 

Ask for anything that will make you more comfortable - your massage is entirely for you, not for me. I love it when my clients fall asleep! It makes me certain that I am doing a good job. Sometimes I may move one of your limbs to get to a certain spot more easily, or I may ask you to turn. If you ever have questions about anything at all during a massage, please ask. I am happy to answer any questions and to share information with you about what I am doing.

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Most sessions last about an hour. Longer sessions are available

If needed I may work slightly longer in order to give proper attention to a problem area. If the extra time is OK with you. 

If you are a new client, our first session may last longer than a clock hour. During our first session I take time during the interview process to make sure that my methods will be safe for your body. This extra time also helps us know whether any massage method is contraindicated, meaning that it should not be performed.

If you have time concerns, please do let me know so that I can accommodate your schedule needs.

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Jeffrey Rich, LMT 656, is a practitioner and educator in the healing arts living and working in Huntsville, AL. A Licensed Massage Therapist, he is certified in Orthopedic Massage by OMERI, Certified Systemic and Family Constellations Facilitator. Jeffrey is a Shamanic Practitioner and teacher who studies and practices the Andean Cosmology and Core Shamanism.
Being a true Gemini, he has two websites,
www.shining-mountain.com and www.waterwillowmoon.com
He owns waaay too many books for his own good.