When someone finds out I’m a licensed massage therapist, I get a lot of questions about what massage therapy actually is and what it’s like to work in my profession. I love answering these questions! The more questions people ask, the better able they’ll be able to understand how massage therapy can transform their health and well-being. Here I answer the five most common massage therapy questions people ask me on a regular basis.
#1. Don’t your hands hurt at the end of the day?
Occasionally, yes, but when I use proper body mechanics during massage sessions my hands do not get tired or sore. Most people have never given professional massages and can only relate by rubbing someone’s shoulders or feet for a few minutes, which can tire out your hands. But professional massage is different because the massage table is at the proper height to protect my body. Massage therapists are taught good body mechanics in massage training. I also use self-care like chiropractic and stretching to keep my back, shoulders and hands in good shape.
Tip: When giving someone else a shoulder massage, have them sit in a chair or on the floor so they are low enough that you can put your body weight into the technique. Not only will it be easier on you, it will feel better to them.
#2. Will massage really help with [insert ailment here]?
Yes. Massage therapy does not heal or cure your body, but rather it gives your body support to heal itself. I can confidently answer yes to this question because at the most basic level, massage therapy relieves stress and tension in the body while increasing circulation of blood and lymph. So whether you are looking for relief from a particular health issue or just wanting to improve your overall health, massage therapy is a great choice.
Tip: If you have tried massage therapy and been disappointed, try again. There are many therapists and many types of massage to choose from. Ask a friend or your doctor for a referral.
#3. How often should I get a massage?
At least once a month. If you are looking to relieve chronic pain and stiffness or if you are recovering from an injury, more frequent sessions might be needed. I tell my clients to listen to their bodies and it will let them know when they need to make an appointment again. If you commit to including massage therapy as part of your wellness plan by getting a monthly massage, you will notice a difference in how you feel.
Tip: A good time to book a massage is right after traveling. Whether by car or plane, your body has been in the sitting position for a long time and massage will help with stiffness and soreness.
#4. Do I have to undress?
Absolutely not. Some people are just not comfortable undressing for a massage, even though they are always modestly covered with a sheet. If this applies to you, then ask for a massage while still clothed. It will limit the techniques the therapist uses, but the massage will still be beneficial and feel good, and an experienced massage therapist will not judge you for your request.
Tip: If you are concerned about undressing and want to try massage, get a chair massage. You do not have to undress and you will have the opportunity to ask the therapist about receiving table massage while still clothed.
#5. Do you have to go to school for this?
Definitely. In the past, massage therapy was not always regulated by state or municipality. Now it is and there is a requirement that a massage therapist go to an accredited school, receive a diploma and then pass a national exam. We also have to get continuing education hours every year. If you are ever in a situation where you think a massage therapist is not properly trained, please ask questions. If not properly trained, someone could cause harm or discomfort.
Tip: If you are trying out a new massage therapist, ask to see his or her license. We are required to keep it posted for the public and it should be easy to spot.
Have a burning question about massage? Ask your massage therapy questions in the comments below!