What to Expect at Your Massage Session

Learn what you can expect from your massage and massage therapist.

Know What to Expect

Massage therapy is and always should be about health and wellbeing in a safe environment. This includes a comfortable environment before, during and after the massage, as well as privacy while changing and the right to remove clothing only to their level of comfort for the massage.

It’s important to understand the nature of therapeutic massage. AMTA wants people to know what to expect from both their massage and their massage therapist.

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Preliminary Information

  • Your massage therapist will ask preliminary questions to determine your overall health and your health and wellness goals.
  • The massage therapist will consider information about your physical condition, medical history, lifestyle, stress levels, medications and any areas of physical pain that could affect your massage therapy outcome.
  • This information will help the massage therapist structure the session to achieve your health and wellness goals.

Privacy

  • Before your massage, you’ll be asked to remove clothing to your level of comfort.
  • The massage therapist will leave the room while you undress. Take off only as much as you are comfortable removing.
  • Lie on the massage table, underneath the provided sheet or towel, which will cover your body except for the part being massaged.
  • Chair massages, which often are offered in public spaces and workplaces, are an exception. A specially-designed massage chair lets you lean forward and supports the front of the body. You remain clothed and no oil or lotion is used. Seated massages typically last from 10 to 30 minutes.

Environment

  • Music might be played. If you find music distracting, tell your massage therapist. The same goes for talking during your session.
  • Your massage therapist should check on pressure and comfort throughout your appointment. If you're uncomfortable at any time, tell your massage therapist.
  • The massage table is padded and may have extra attachments or cushions, such as a face cradle, which allows you to lie facedown without turning your head or neck.

Massage Therapy Session

  • Massage therapists often use oil or lotion. If you're allergic to oils or lotions, tell your massage therapist beforehand.
  • If you're receiving a hot stone massage, make sure you're comfortable with the temperature of the stones, and always tell your massage therapist if you are uncomfortable.
  • Depending on your needs, the massage therapist will massage either the full body (except private areas) or only specific areas that need attention, such as especially tight muscles.
  • Remember to breathe normally.
  • Table massage usually lasts between 30 and 90 minutes.
  • After your massage, the massage therapist will allow you to slowly get up and get dressed in privacy.
  • Depending on the environment, tips are appreciated to recognize outstanding service, but not required.

Follow Up

  • The benefits of massage therapy are cumulative, so work with your massage therapist to customize a plan to meet your health and wellness goals.

What to Expect From Your Massage Session

  • Mutual respect, courtesy, professionalism, confidentiality and dignity between you and the massage therapist
  • Being draped appropriately by a sheet, towel or blanket, with only the area being massaged exposed
  • A licensed/registered/certified professional massage therapist, working within their
    scope of practice and in an ethical manner. Expect them to be a member of a professional association with a code of ethics.
  • A health intake conversation about your medical conditions and your expectations for the massage
  • The right and option to ask questions of the massage therapist and receive professional responses
  • The right to determine if there will be conversation, music or quiet during the massage
  • An explanation of the nature of the massage and techniques to be used before the start of the massage
  • The right to consent to the massage techniques and approaches, including the level of manual pressure, used in the massage and the ability to request adjustments to pressure at any time during the massage
  • The right to stop a massage and report anything they feel is inappropriate during the massage. 

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Massage is Good Medicine

Massage therapy has become an important element in health and wellness, with a large body of research indicating its value for a wide variety of health issues, including stress relief and pain management

Seventy-two percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical (43 percent) or stress (29 percent) related, according to a 2017 consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association.

Learn more about massage therapy and health

Watch: What to Expect in Your Massage Session

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Members of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) are the most trusted massage therapists in the United States.

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