On the one hand relaxation doubles as both one of the most common goals for clients in a session as well as one of the most generally agreed upon benefits of massage. On the other hand, a massage is usually something that you’re paying good money for, and it makes sense that you would want to experience and enjoy as much of it as possible. I have several clients who apologize nearly every session either for sleeping or, in some cases, for snoring during their session and even a small few who get a bit frustrated with themselves for having fallen asleep thinking that they’ve ‘missed out’ on some part of the massage. So…is it better to sleep or is it better to try and stay awake?
While I cannot speak for all Massage Therapists, I personally view a client falling asleep during a session as a telltale sign of job well done. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, massage is at its most effective when the client is able to shift their nervous system out of the sympathetic, “fight-or-flight” state that we tend to live in a majority of the time and into the parasympathetic, “relaxed and healing” state. The act of falling asleep is a solid indicator that the body is doing just that…letting go of the stress, tension, and worry that can sometimes overwhelm our conscious state and entering a state of rest and relaxation instead.
It should be noted that accessing the parasympathetic system is not dependent on a person being asleep. There are many meditative practices or activities that can be done in a mindful way that can help people access this relaxed state, but for many sleeping may be the only time that their nervous system is ‘allowed’ to access this state. This can create a sort of ‘muscle memory’ type connection between the parasympathetic system and sleeping. For some, as they begin to relax during a massage, some subconscious process in the brain or nervous system says to the rest of the body “Hey, we’re feeling relaxed so it must be time to sleep.”
So please know, if you have a hard time staying awake through a massage…that is not a problem at all. It just means that your body is sensing that it needs rest or recovery and is responding accordingly. And, if you do want to stay awake to consciously experience as much of your session as possible, I would recommend incorporating more of whatever mindful or meditative practices you find most calming or relaxing into your daily routine. As you become more familiar with consciously accessing the parasympathetic part of your nervous system the automatic response of falling asleep as soon as your body experiences relaxation should gradually diminish as well.
"What pressure range do you work at?" is probably among the top questions asked of any massage therapist. And the answer of 'light', 'medium', 'firm', or 'deep' (the terms generally used in the massage industry) may give a general idea of what to expect, it doesn't fully answer the question. Everybody perceives pressure and touch differently. I've had clients asking for deep work unable to tolerate anything more than what I consider my lightest pressure as well and those asking for lighter pressure who ended up needing much firmer work than I would have ever imagined being considered "light".
Pressure range preference in massage is something that is incredibly subjective and can even vary for a client during a single session. My level of pressure as a therapist would fall under what I call the "Therapeutic Range". This can be anywhere from very light to very firm depending on both client preference and how the muscle tissue is responding throughout the session. Working at this "Therapeutic Range" helps keep the client in a relaxed state, even when working deeper into the tissue. Fans of lighter and heavier pressure alike marvel at how good they feel in the days following a session with me.
Just as you would find in almost any profession in the service industry, gratuity is typically something that a massage studio or therapist expects from clients. Despite this, there are many aspects to the expectation of tipping that I don't agree with on a personal level which is why I've opted to go with a No Tipping policy in my practice.
One of the most important aspects to a healthy client/therapist relationship is clear, open communication but the subject of tipping and gratuity is often considered taboo. And, while gratuity should be and most often is intended as a little bonus for a job well done or great service, at many studios and practices the session compensation for therapists makes gratuity less of a bonus and more a necessity for earning a living wage.
It's also no secret that good massages are typically not cheap. Plus, massage is something that works best for most people on some sort of semi-regular routine. That extra $20-$30 dollars that is *nudge nudge* "Not expected" *wink wink* after every session can really add up over time.
Considering all of this is what ultimately led me to my decision to go with the No Tipping policy in my practice. All my rates are as advertised, as are my session times...but that I think may be a post for another day :)
"Undress to your comfort level". Though this is a common phrase in the massage industry, and long time massage clients generally understand what to expect and what's expected of them going into a session, for those newer to massage it can be a confusing directive. And, because leaving on certain articles of clothing, jewelry, or accessories can possibly limit treatment options or hinder the flow of the session, it is definitely something you don't want to be confused about!
While there are several massage techniques that can be done over clothing, in what most would consider a traditional massage, the client undresses completely and is covered by a sheet and blanket for the session. Any Massage Therapist should be well familiar with Draping; a technique of folding and tucking the sheets to allow access to arms and legs for massage while protecting the client's modesty. Draping is something I take very seriously as that feeling of comfort and security from being properly covered throughout the session is crucial to achieve any effective amount of relaxation.
In some cases, though, no amount of professional draping or familiarity with massage will be able to overcome the fear or anxiety that some may have being completely undressed...and that's OK! As I said, comfort and security are vital in massage so if leaving on undergarments or other articles of clothing is what feels safest to you then that will always be your best option. Regardless of what your personal comfort level happens to be, chances are there are some massage techniques or modalities that work for you and will help address your needs.
Just as 'Massage' is a term that can describe a wide variety of different techniques and modalities, there are many different practices and philosophies that could be described as 'Energy Work'. Having studied and been practicing Polarity Therapy for the past few years, along with having read a bit about Quantum Healing and Reiki, I believe that 'Energy Work' describes just about any practice that focuses on the intangible and imperceptible systems of our bodies that supplement the more easily noticeable physical ones.
These intangible systems include, among others, the layers of the Aura, Chakras, and the Elemental Pathways. Broadly speaking it is these systems that make up what we might think of as the human spirit or soul. These energetic systems, much like your muscles, can become tense and tired without proper rest and recovery...which is where Energy Work comes in. Polarity Therapy, for example, places a large emphasis on getting the nervous system into it's parasympathetic, or relaxed, state and out of the sympathetic, or 'fight-or-flight' state in order to take full advantage of the body's own innate healing ability. I have personally found, both as a practitioner and as a client, that a Polarity Therapy session can feel like something between a massage and a deep meditation and leave you feeling both physically and mentally refreshed.
Book a session for yourself today or feel free to send me a message with any questions you might have!