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How to Prepare for your Massage

Updated: May 30, 2020

It's normal to have a little anxiety or some lingering questions before a massage (especially if it's your first professional massage). After all, are you really supposed to get naked in a room with someone you just met? This post will answer questions, clarify expectations, and empower you to set boundaries for your upcoming massage.

There's no form of healthcare more enjoyable than massage - so let's get you to a place where you can look forward to it and get the most out of it!

Should I shave for a massage?

This is a very common question. The answer: Come as you are.

It's OK to have body hair, back acne, fat, stretch marks, varicose veins, cellulite... Trust me, I've seen it all, I barely even notice anymore. Chances are, that thing you're self-conscious about is more common than you think.

Please know that your massage therapist is not judging you; this is a safe space for all bodies.

Sometimes I tell an anxious client, "Massage is not about beauty. Massage is about function." I want to help your body become more functional. I'm too focused on the mechanics of the soft tissue underneath to notice an "imperfection" on the skin.

You don't need to shave for a massage or worry about stretch marks, massage therapists are body positive.
Massage is judgement-free and body-positive.

If you have a skin rash, it's polite to give your therapist a head's up so we can know to avoid the area, or if it's safe to massage over it.

There's no need to put on make-up or do your hair for your massage. I love seeing a client arrive unmade and in their pajamas, ready for some relaxing healing! Of course, if you're already wearing make-up, that's fine and you won't have to take it off.

The one thing you should do before your massage is take a shower, or, if you have the time, a long hot bath. This creates a more hygienic treatment, and it allows your muscles to warm up and soften before your session.

If you really want to take extra steps to prepare for your massage, you may consider skin exfoliation. I offer scrub gloves and dry brushing if you need help exfoliating your back.

Get the most out of your therapeutic massage.

If your goal is pain relief, keep track of your symptoms in the week before your appointment. Try to notice which activities aggravate or relieve your symptoms, where exactly you feel the pain or tension in your body, and any limitations in your range of motion.

Know the answer to questions like: "Is your pain worse in the morning, or after work? Does it stay in one spot or does it travel? Is it dull or sharp?"

At your appointment, describe your symptoms and goals to your massage therapist. All information is confidential and the more we know, the better we can treat. Sometimes something that seems unrelated can have a big impact on your myofascial balance.

You'll get the best results if you focus on what you're feeling in your body and what you want out of this session, rather than describing the plan. That is, saying "I'd like to treat my upper back pain today," is much better than saying "I'd like a back massage today."

That's because not just any back massage will help with back pain. When you focus on the outcome you want, you've given your massage therapist the freedom to design the best treatment plan for you. To treat upper back pain, it's usually most helpful divide time between the back, shoulders, and chest (learn more).

What happens during a massage?

Ready to schedule?

Same-day appointments are rarely available; plan on booking at least one week ahead of time.

Enjoy your massage - your body will thank you!


Jesse Martel is a Licensed Massage Therapist who practices in Seattle, Washington. She has helped many people overcome neck/shoulder injuries and chronic back pain with Upgraded Myofascial Release massage. Treatment includes Aromatherapy, Myofascial Release, Cupping, Lymphatic Drainage, and Kinesiology Tape at one flat rate. Her website is



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