A typical massage therapy session is between 40 and 90 minutes (15 to 20 minutes for chair massage). Your massage will begin with a brief consultation and review of symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle.
Step 1: Pre-Session: Consultation
During your first exam, your massage therapist will spend time getting to know you and your health concerns. You may be asked a wide range of questions about your symptoms, eating, exercise, sleep habits, emotional states and anything that may offer insight into your health.
Typical consultation intake form should include at the minimum:
- A Medical History and Questionnaire – the medical questions should cover physical contraindications to massage include infectious diseases, blood clotting issues or recent surgeries and injuries.
- Client Personal Information – Name, address, phone number and email if available are all tools therapists can use to keep in touch.
- Bodywork Session Goals – This is important for a massage therapist to cover, as it will help the therapist design the bodywork session to cover the client’s desires, give both a starting place for dialog, and help the client explain what areas of the body are of greatest concern.
- Disclaimer for Therapist Policy Information – This is usually at the bottom of the intake form or located on a separate sheet of paper. It commonly explains that the therapist is not a doctor and will not diagnose illnesses or prescribe medicine. This is also a good place for a disclaimer regarding inappropriate sexual conduct.
Review client expectations during the massage
Step 2: During Session: Prepare for massage
After your consultation, your massage therapist will then take you to a treatment room where a comfortable massage table dressed with clean sheets awaits. A small shelf for your personal belongings and a chair are also provided for your use. Your massage therapist will leave the room and wait outside while you disrobe to your level of comfort. The massage etiquette varies for patients. Some patients prefer to completely disrobe, while some will remain partially clothed. Either option is fine. Once disrobed, you will lie on the massage table, under the top sheet. Your massage therapist will give you a few minutes for this process and will knock on the door to ask if you are ready before entering your room. The therapist will adjust the face rest and pillows to ensure that you are comfortable and properly positioned for the session. Tell the massage therapist if you are too warm or cold.
You will always be draped with the top sheet during your massage session and an additional blanket is available at your request. The etiquette your massage therapist will follow is to only uncover the part of the body they are working on, ensuring that your personal space is respected at all times. The massage therapist will use a light oil or lotion on the skin and begins the massage. Areas massaged will be dependent on the course of treatment.
You should expect a peaceful and comfortable environment during your massage. The massage table is padded and a blanket is placed beneath the sheet, which you can have adjusted to your preference. There will be relaxing music playing, unless you request otherwise, and the room should be quiet, with no outside distractions.
After the massage, the massage therapist leaves the room so you can get changed.
Take your time getting up. If you sit or stand too quickly you may feel lightheaded or dizzy due to the massage lowering blood pressure.
Drink extra water after a massage to help flush out the toxins released during the massage.
Allow for some open, quiet time after your massage session if possible. Sometimes one needs a little time to integrate or absorb the results of the massage session or may need some “re-entry” time.
Step 3 Post session: Next Steps and Treatment Plan
The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so talk with your massage therapist about a recommended treatment plan to meet your health and wellness goals for the next session. The patient and the therapist will then schedule the next appointment.