When I think back on my massage career, there is a client I will always remember fondly. She came to me for a treatment and her first words were "I hate massages, but my health fund covers me for them so I thought I'd better use it". As a young massage therapist, I was a little taken aback by her response, but was curious what had caused her to hate massage - turns out she had never actually had one!
I often think about that client and her first massage experience. If you have never had a massage treatment, it can be a bit daunting wondering what to expect.
So today I hope to alleviate some of that anxiety and give you the run down on your first massage treatment.
What to Expect.
Firstly, there will be an intake form to fill out. This gives me an idea of your health history. We'll talk about why you've come in for a massage and what your goals are for the session. Are you in pain? Do you need to relax? Are you preparing for an event?
As well as discussing area's you'd like to have worked on, I'll also check in if there are area's you don't want to have worked. I want you to feel safe and comfortable on the massage table and if there are any area's you'd prefer not to have massaged, please let me know.
After we've worked out together the type of massage you're after and what area's we will work on during the session, I will leave you to disrobe and get comfy on the massage table underneath a sheet or towel (you will be properly draped throughout the whole treatment).
Now, a lot of people don't feel comfortable to disrobe down to their underwear for a massage - and again this is totally fine! If you'd prefer to keep items of clothing on we can still do a great remedial massage treatment. Also, if the thought of having to put your face in the hole of the massage table brings any anxiety, the massage can be tailored so you don't have to.
During the Massage
It’s great if you can let your body relax and sink into the table. If I need to move your arms or legs, etc, I’ll do the work! This takes practice.
It’s really important for you to tell me if any massage techniques I use cause pain. Pain is not okay. I've had a lot of clients tell me in the past they have felt like they've been beaten up by the end of their massage - I don't operate this way. There may be a certain level of discomfort and ‘good ache’ if we’re working on a problem area, but I like to keep it at a level where you can relax into it.
I’ll check in with you as we go, but please let me know if you become too warm or too cool, if you are not comfortable on the table, need more or less pressure, need another pillow, or if you just hate the music!
After the Massage
You should expect to feel mellow and relaxed after your massage. If we addressed pain issues, you may feel a reduction in pain, or it may take a day or two before you feel that relief.
There can sometimes be residual soreness (a bit like after a heavy work out) for a day or so, but if you are ever very sore following a massage or have any concerns, please call me so we can discuss the best course of action, and so that I can make notes to adjust your next massage.
Massage is such a great resource for self care, and I'd love to see more people utilising it. So if you have been feeling a little anxious or hesitant about getting a massage, I hope this helps. If you'd like to book a massage, you can do so here
As for the client who "hated" massages...after a couple of treatments she said "You know - I really love massages now!"
A couple of months ago, I had a beautiful experience. It was incredibly simple, but lately its been popping back into my head again, and I think the reason for that is there were some things I took away from the experience I feel are quite valuable, particularly at this time of year.
I love trail running. There’s something quite amazing about it. It brings out a playful side in me that I love – dodging branches, skipping over rocks, jumping in puddles. And I also find it much more interesting and kinder to my joints than road running.
On a trail run through the Royal National Park a couple of months ago, something quite strange happened. About 500m into my run, I had the urge to stop. Take my shoes off. And walk bare foot for a while. So I followed the urge and ended up walking that way for about 2km.
Now, I’m not suggesting everyone go out in the bush and rip their shoes off, but what that barefoot 2km reminded me of were these three things:
Firstly – Be mindful.
When we’re practicing mindfulness, we’re bringing attention to our experiences in the present moment. On my barefoot adventure I was focused on each foot placement. How the surface felt right there and then. It became an exercise in mindfulness. Instead of looking ahead and planning where my foot would go in four or five steps time, I was just mindful of that present step and how I experienced it.
There is so much planning going on at this time of year, that I think sometimes we forget to just be mindful of the present moment, and how we’re experiencing it. Just be here, now.
Which leads me to Slowing down.
It’s hard to be mindful when you’re rushing around. When you slow down, it’s amazing what can happen. For me that day I was able to be more mindful because I had slowed down…and that actually made everything work better. I moved more efficiently. If I rushed, I’d step on a rock, or stub my toe...so in a weird way, slowing down actually made things faster.
Going a million miles an hour isn’t always the fastest way to get things done. Slow. Down. Give your nervous system a break. Stop and mindfully watch the sunrise. Or just sit for a moment with the sand between your toes. You might find by slowing down for a moment, the Christmas stress and anxiety decreases a little, and your To Do List suddenly doesn’t seem quite so daunting.
Thirdly – and I think most importantly – Connect.
By slowing down and being mindful, I felt more connected. Connected within myself, and also to my surroundings. I felt like I was moving with the terrain, not trying to fight against it. I felt part of a bigger picture. It was peaceful - and we could all do with a little of that!
Connection can come on a lot of different levels. It can be social connection, connection to nature, to ourselves…but we are wired for connection. Our systems love it. And if we take a moment to be mindful and slow down, we give ourselves a chance to truly connect.
So as 2018 draws to a close, lets just slow down for a moment, be mindful, and connect.
Wishing you all a safe, slow, mindful and connected festive season,
Your Barefoot Massage Therapist.