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Be prepared and comfortable to go to your first massage therapy appointment with these helpful instructions and answers to common questions.


More people are turning to massage and bodywork therapies to relieve body tension, help cope with stress and to address specific conditions and diseases. Dispel your reservations about trying something new with these suggestions to thoroughly enjoy your first massage.


Timeline of a Massage Therapy Session


Typically a massage is 30 to 60 minutes long, not including the intake form and exit conversation. Here is a standard massage timeline:

  • Client arrives 10-15 minutes early for appointment

  • Fill out contact information and health history form

  • Discuss specific needs or goals with the massage therapist

  • Practitioner leaves the room, client undresses and lies under the sheet and blanket on massage table

  • Practitioner returns to room when client is ready and begins massage

  • Half-way into massage the client will turn over on table with assistance from the therapist

  • Massage ends and practitioner exits room for client to redress

  • Observations are shared by both parties and goals and treatment plan is formulated for future sessions


    Communicating with Your Massage Therapist


    When arriving for the first appointment the massage therapist will ask you to complete a health history form. Be thorough and honest when answering questions on the form, some conditions may be contraindicated for certain massage techniques. The practitioner does not wish to aggravate a condition so she may ask you for further details if she is concerned about any of your past or current health. During this initial intake the massage therapist may also ask questions related to your stress levels, occupation and if you have any specific goals for the session.

    During the massage your practitioner will use various strokes and techniques to help relax and relieve muscle tension. Let your practitioner know if an area is too sore or needs some deeper pressure. The client’s job during a session is to relax and enjoy the therapeutic touch as muscles release tension and stress melts away. Speak up if the pressure needs adjusting or if the music needs to be changed.


    Who Gives the Massage?


    Commonly referred to as a massage therapist, this professional is specifically trained in massage therapy. The training may come from a massage school or massage institute. You can and should request to see certificates and appropriate licensing documents from your practitioner prior to your appointment. In accordance to Iowa Law, licenses should be hanging at eye level in the lobby or entrance of the treatment space.


    The Massage Session


    Massage therapy is typically administered on a padded table known as the massage table. Your massage therapist will direct you to remove as little or as much clothing as you prefer, or as necessary for the particular modality you have selected. The practitioner will leave the room for you to disrobe and get under the sheet and blanket on the table. Clients will always be draped properly in session.

    The massage itself should feel comforting and relaxing. In a Swedish massage session your back, legs, neck, shoulders and arms will be massaged. Strokes will range from broad, fluid movements of the practitioner’s hands and forearms to tapping motions and light friction. Oil, lotion or cream is used in a Swedish massage to facilitate gliding strokes.

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