If you’ve scheduled or are thinking about scheduling your first massage, I have only one question for you.
WHAT HAS TAKEN YOU SO LONG?
I mean, you’re (insert number) years old! It’s about time you start taking care of yourself!
Why should you include a massage in your self-care regimen? That’s easy. Just look at my before and after photos from a recent visit to Massage Envy in Clarksville, Maryland.
These photos were taken about one hour apart. In the first photo, I’m full of tension, mainly because I was running late, stuck behind slow construction vehicles, and just experiencing the daily drama of life.
In the second photo, I’m totally naked (more on that) and I’ve just re-entered the world of the living after a 50 minute full body massage. Usually at this point, when people ask me how I feel, the only word that comes to mind is groovy.
There are other benefits too: health, relaxation, relieving muscle tension, and helping with a long list of ailments. If you’re sold on the idea but just don’t know what to expect, I’m here to help you out.
My First Massage Experience
Back in the dot com boom, I worked for a start-up software company that required a lot of twenty-somethings to work long hours and subject themselves to unnatural levels of stress. Each week, the company president, in an effort to motivate us, would give out a “Stress of the Week” award (he later changed it to “Hero of the Week” when he realized he was rewarding stressful behavior).
When it was my week to win, I took the prize option of a one hour massage. I anxiously showed up at the location and shook hands with my massage therapist, a very small man with the limpest handshake I’ve ever felt.
I was almost mortified knowing I would be mostly unclothed and spending a full hour with this little man. When I entered the room, I told him that of course he didn’t have to do the full hour. That was just crazy and indulgent and… awkward. But a full hour later, he let me know he was finished and I said already?
I was hooked.
What to Expect at Your First Massage
It would have helped if I knew what to expect so here are a few tips for you that I jotted down after my recent experience at Massage Envy.
1. Don’t be afraid to take it all off. Or not.
You’ll be invited to undress to your comfort level but you’ll want to take as much off as you can so that nothing is restricted. For my first massage, I left my underpants on. Now, I take it all off, baby! Professional massage therapists know how to keep you feeling modest and even if anything did happen to show, they’ve seen it all before. (Just remember to shave – nobody likes hairy legs.)
2. Be prepared to share your medical history.
They’re not being nosy or trying to violate HIPAA. But they need to know medical conditions or medications that you are taking that could affect the massage. And then they’ll adapt accordingly.
3. Think about your areas of comfort.
Your body is made of muscle and every single muscle can be massaged. You decide what’s off limits. For example, at Massage Envy, I indicated that I don’t mind them massaging my gluteal region (it’s awesome for untensing your hips) but I kind of want to keep the front of me (pectoral and abdomen) off limits.
True story: I’ve had a massage therapist put on a latex glove and massage inside my mouth. It’s amazing for TMJ!
4. Choose what you wear wisely.
Most of what you wear is going to come off. So skip the tons of jewelry and layers of fancy clothes. Wear something that’s easy to take off and put on. And remember that you’ll be greasy from the massage lotion when you put those clothes back on.
5. Don’t make plans for after your massage.
Speaking of that greasy feeling, your skin will feel slick. Plan to feel it on your arms and legs and neck and chest. And your hair. No fancy hairdos on massage day. Plan to pull your hair up if you can and don’t plan to be looking your best when you leave. Usually, I like to take a bath or shower after a massage.
6. Go easy on yourself.
If you’ve never had a massage or haven’t had one in a long time, you may have a lot of muscle tension built up. Massage actually releases the lactic acid that’s stored up in your muscles creating those knots. If they are tough knots, you might feel sore, almost bruised, after the massage. And you’ll want to drink plenty of water to wash the toxins through your body.
7. You might feel this.
There’s a reason they call it massage therapy. It can be therapeutic as well as relaxing. For me personally, I usually walk out with my contacts feeling dry, my sinuses feeling stuffed up, and my muscles feeling bruised. I know it sounds like a bad day at the office but you’ll also feel a bit like jelly. And the more you do it, the more your body is happy.
Why I like Massage Envy
Years ago, I joined Massage Envy because I liked the idea of having a guaranteed massage every month. And the best part about a plan with Massage Envy is that you can use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to cover the cost.
With cost aside (and their monthly rates are extremely reasonable compared to spas), the staff at Massage Envy is happy to recommend a massage therapist that might be right for the massage style you prefer. I personally like a female massage therapist who has a firm touch (and Erica fit the bill perfectly!). But if for some reason, you don’t find a fit the first time, there are plenty of other staff members available to help you.
And new to me: Massage Envy also offers Murad facials. I haven’t tried that yet but I’m going to see if I can review that just for you as well (someone’s got to do it!).
Special thanks to the staff at Massage Envy in Clarksville, Maryland including Donna, who warmly greeted me upon arrival and gave me a tour of the facility, as well as Erica who reminded me than an hour is never really long enough! The massage was complimentary but always remember to tip your massage therapist (even bloggers pay for good service!).