The Do’s And Don’ts Of Getting A Massage, According To Massage Therapists – Lifotravel

You lie down on the massage table to de-stress, get out a kink or simply engage in a little self-care.

As a client, there may be several things running through your mind: Should you remove all of your clothes? Is it bad practice to fall asleep during a treatment? What about engaging in conversation with the therapist?

Your massage therapist, who is well-versed in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology, has other thoughts — like making sure you have a pleasant experience (and not anything to do with your unshaven legs).

To see what goes on in the mind of a massage therapist, we interviewed several of them about what they wish their clients knew before lying down to unwind.

1. Don’t hide issues or conditions from us.

“Usually before every massage, there is some sort of medical intake done, whether it is done via a form you fill out [or] verbally with your therapist. We don’t do this for fun. If there are any medical conditions, such as past surgeries, medications such as blood thinners or other medical issues you have, it may change the way we do certain massage strokes or may even determine if it is safe to perform a massage in the first place.

Many people may avoid telling [us] this medical information because they think they may not get the massage they want if the therapist is made aware, or they are simply nervous about the therapist judging them. Nonetheless, it is important that we know what’s going on so that we don’t cause damage, injury or make a condition potentially worse.” — Karen Stoner, a Pennsylvania-based prenatal, infant and fertility massage therapist

2. We can’t get “knots” out in one session.

“These adhesions build over time due to incorrect posture. If you look at massage as preventative, however, it gives you the chance to address your aches and pains before they get unbearable.” — Chasity Wilson, a massage therapist based in Savannah, Georgia

3. We don’t need your help.

“The objective of a massage is to give you the opportunity to let go of any stress and tension so that your body can move from the ‘fight or flight’ division of your nervous system to the ‘rest and digest’ division. If you are giving us your hand or arm during a session, or you’re trying to keep control over how we move your body, it is counterproductive. Try not to contribute. Your only job is to breathe.” — Wilson

Try to avoid leading the massage therapist in one direction or another. Your body needs to be fully relaxed.

Dean Mitchell via Getty Images

Try to avoid leading the massage therapist in one direction or another. Your body needs to be fully relaxed.

4. We all experience bodily functions.

“Passing wind can be embarrassing, but it’s important to realize that it’s very common during massage sessions. It makes sense — the therapist is targeting the lower back and glutes area, and this may cause some gas to pass through. Don’t be embarrassed! It’s extremely common and not something to feel any shame over.” — Jean Campbell, a massage therapist and life coach

5. Our time is valuable and tight, so please respect that.

“Many massages are scheduled to start at a certain time and last a certain length of time. This is done so that we can give each client our full attention and the proper care they need in the best conditions possible. So if you have a 60-minute massage scheduled at 1 and you stroll in at 1:25, you probably won’t be able to receive a full 60-minute massage because there is likely another person scheduled at the end of your 60 minutes. Don’t get upset at the therapist for cutting your appointment short and still charging you for the full time slot that was reserved for you.

Yes, we understand that emergencies arise, and every therapist is different in how they are able to handle things like cancellations and lateness, but we wish our clients understood that if we don’t stick to our schedule, it makes for a big mess in a lot of ways. We respect our clients’ needs and time, and we only ask that they respect ours.” Stoner

6. You don’t need to apologize for falling asleep during a massage (even if you snore a little).

“I very often see clients who are so accustomed to running on adrenaline that they are surprised (and even embarrassed) by how easily they doze off on the treatment table. When they are finally given the opportunity to quiet their minds and drop into their bodies in a safe and nourishing environment, they are able to shift out of the frantic ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system state and slip into the restorative ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system state. This is totally normal, and a compliment to your therapist. As for snoring — it’s normal to experience a bit of congestion while you’re in the face cradle, which can make you more apt to snore.” Kaitlin Frady, a Philadelphia-based massage therapist and physical therapist assistant

7. When it comes to body hair, we’ve seen it all.

“There’s no need to apologize for not shaving before an appointment. In fact, avoiding shaving before a session lowers any risk of infection via any small nicks or abrasions in the skin.” — Frady

The only thing to note: Your therapist may need to use a little extra oil or lotion on areas of increased body hair to prevent any uncomfortable friction or skin irritation.

Don't worry if your legs aren't shaved — shaving can actually increase your risk of infection, anyway.

webphotographeer via Getty Images

Don’t worry if your legs aren’t shaved — shaving can actually increase your risk of infection, anyway.

8. Don’t be shy to give feedback.

“Even with over 20 years of experience as a massage therapist, I still can’t read the mind of my clients, hence why I stress the importance of vocalizing how you feel throughout the session. If something doesn’t feel right or the massage is getting too deep, please speak up and say something. Ninety-nine percent of therapists will appreciate the feedback as it helps us tailor the session to ensure the best results.” — Campbell

“We hear from many clients on our tables about terrible experiences they’ve had with prior services, from walking away irritated by a ‘too-chatty’ therapist to music that was being played that the client didn’t like. Your therapist wants to provide you with effective care, so please tell them if anything is bothering you.” — Gina Tibbs, a California-based massage therapist

9. What you wear (and don’t wear) is important.

“So often we have clients who are confused as to what they should keep on or take off. Some types of massage and bodywork are done clothed, so wearing movable athletic attire is a good idea. Other modalities are performed more easily with nothing on (just a towel or sheet). That being said, if you are more comfortable with undergarments or you prefer to be fully clothed, techniques can be modified.” — Tibbs

10. Every massage therapist is different.

“Many clients come in expecting their treatment to be the same as a prior experience with another therapist, but training and experience can be dramatically different between therapists, and their approaches will vary depending on their background.”— Tibbs

“Unless you have been seeing a particular therapist for multiple sessions, the preferred pressure tolerance on both ends may be unknown. Remember, this is your session and you should be comfortable. If the therapist doesn’t want to change their pressure, you either need to find another therapist or try a different modality.” — Stoner

Want to just keep it easy and get a massage at home? Here are some of the most highly rate devices.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

The Best-Rated Hands-Free Massagers On Amazon


A deep tissue kneading pillow

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Mimicking shiatsu massage, this contoured kneading pillow features three-dimensional nodules that work to relax tight and overused muscles along the back, shoulders and neck. It also offers a soothing heating function and elastic velcro straps for securing to an office chair or car seat.

Promising review: “I bought this product back in March of 2021 after researching the top rated massagers of the year. Let me tell you, I use this thing almost every single day. As someone who has had severe scoliosis for over a decade, this is a game changer. It is extremely easy to use and very relaxing to lay on after a long day. It’s small but mighty, which was super important to me to have a significant amount of pressure. Not to mention the heat option is next level. I love that you can turn it off, because sometimes laying on it for an hour can make your skin a bit warm, but I almost always keep it on.” ― Ray


A heated neck-and-shoulder massage sling

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This sling offers both gentle heat and four modes of bidirectional kneading massage along with two loops for resting hands and creating resistance. Although this is designed to target the neck and shoulders, the maker also claims this can be used for working on muscles in the lower back, feet and legs.

Promising review: “This massager is unbelievable. It is so good. Someone had one and recommended it and said it was great, but I was skeptical. However, it is fantastic and hits the spot. It is really nice because you can easily control whether you want a really hard massage on your back or a light massage.” ― Charity


A heated foot massager

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Made by the same brand responsible for the internet-beloved Renpho eye massager, this machine has ergonomic foot chambers that squeeze, knead and roll sore feet. In addition to the three compressive massage settings and intensities, there’s an optional heating setting. This massager accommodates foot sizes up to a men’s 12.

Promising review: “I was skeptical about buying a foot massager because I don’t like throwing money away at things that don’t work. But let me just say this is my new favorite thing ever! I am a preschool teacher who spends all day running around and on my feet so at the end of the day my feet are completely worn out and in pain. So I thought why not try out one of these things and see if it does anything . I am so happy with this purchase and even more surprised at how relaxing it is. This massager has three speeds and three settings to work on your feet. Also has a heating option. It’s easy to use and does its job well. It’s light to pick up and not as heavy as I would have thought.” ― Katie M.


The Renpho heated eye massager

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

The Renpho eye massager, which has earned itself a formidable TikTok following, claims to alleviate eye strain, reduce eye dryness and more using oscillating pressure, rhythmic percussion massaging and built-in heating pads. These wireless goggles also offer Bluetooth connectivity so you can put on a song or relaxing music of your choice.

Promising review: “As a sufferer of migraines, I was really excited/nervous to try this out. I tried it on when I first got it and worried it’d be bad when I had an actual migraine as the compression part isn’t quiet; however, my first (and only so far) migraine was greatly helped with this regardless of the noise from the compression. My only complaint is that it’s timed so it does eventually turn itself off announcing that the massage is complete. I easily just restart it until I’m satisfied or fallen asleep (which probably explains why they have that auto off function). That being said, it actually wasn’t too bad to sleep in lol. It heats up quickly and the bluetooth option is great. I’m definitely in love with this thing. I’ve used it every day so far (mostly as a wind down ritual from my day) and it’s my new favorite item.” ― Rachel


An adjustable massage gun wall mount

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

If you swear by your massage gun but have trouble reaching areas of your back on your own, this adjustable wall mount might be useful. Compatible with most massage guns, this mount uses ratcheting buckles to hold the massage gun securely, along with powerful suction cups that stay on multiple wall surfaces.

Promising review: “Works just as described. [It] holds the massager so I can get my sore back without having to ask my husband to help.” ― Michelle


A kneading massage seat cushion

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Great for the car or an existing office chair, this plush massage cushion is equipped with full seat-and-back-warming therapy and four kneading massage modes that can target specific areas of the back (or the entire back) at three varying intensities. The no-slip back also ensures that the cushion stays secure while in use and the seat provides a vibrational massage.

Promising review: “My husband ordered me this as an anniversary present and this is the best thing he has bought in years hands down!! I have a lot of shoulder, lower back and sciatica problems and I love that with this I can choose where I want massaged, how long, and it’s got the vibration in the buttocks like the nail salon chairs! If you download the app for it you can control the time more also. I just downloaded it so I haven’t played around it it a lot.” ― kerensafrog


A leg and foot compression massager

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Address aches and improve circulation in calves and feet with this compression massager that simulates kneading motions. It has two massage modes and three intensities that can be controlled using the attached remote.

Promising review: “I love the way this product gently massages your calf, leg, and feet area. It seems to adjust to your leg size and applies the perfect amount of pressure. It’s a must have for me, as my circulation is poor, and my feet are always cold. And, the customer service was on point. When I contacted the company about an issue, they were prompt, they communicated well, and they did EXACTLY what they said they would to resolve the issue. I’m very impressed!” ― Johnny W.


A compression hand massager

Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars

This cordless hand and wrist massager claims to combine heat with air compression and kneading to relieve soreness and arthritis symptoms. You can choose between two heat settings, three massage modes and three intensities.

Promising review: “I’m a massage therapist and sometimes my hands are stiff and sore. I put ice mitts on my hands for a few minutes and then use this heated massager. It works by filling the chambers with air and then rolling along the hand. Mild stretching and compression. It is very useful for relieving achy hands. Not as great as a massage with a therapist, but good for self care.” ― Jonquil29

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