healing hand

Massage Therapy - Relax with Bob



Mebane, NC - minutes from the Triangle

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Massage

Once I choose to receive a massage, how should I choose which therapist to use?

The most important aspect to choosing a massage therapist should be based on their qualifications and level of professionalism, and how you feel you connect with them.† References from others are a helpful way to contact a therapist. Many advertise in local health and healing magazines. Some post flyers at healing centers. If the therapist has a website, it is customary to visit the website first to gain information about technique and training. Then contact the therapist via phone or email. Feel free to ask questions. Very few therapists are offended by any questions and would rather clarify their position before the massage is booked. Once all your questions are answered and you are ready to book a massage, give the therapist your preferred time. Make sure to get good directions to the therapistís location. It is alright to ask if you are coming to a business or a home. The therapist may give you instructions on how to prepare for your massage. (The basic rules of thumb are to make sure youíre very clean).

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What is the difference between an incall and an outcall?

An incall means you travel to the therapistís studio or home for your massage. An outcall means the therapist comes to your home, office, or hotel.

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How is payment arranged?

Traditionally, the massage is given first, and payment is made after. Always ask, the therapist you choose may have a different arrangement.

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Is it customary to tip a massage therapist?

Most single proprietors do not expect a tip. Tipping is voluntary, and is based on how well you enjoyed the experience. The normal tipping range is $10, but your decision to tip and how much is personal, and entirely up to you.

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Do massage therapists use tables?

Most Western varieties of massage, like Swedish, utilize massage tables, which give support to the client as you lie on your stomach, and cradle your face in a comfortable position. If your massage is an outcall, youíll need to make sure you have room, if your therapist uses a table. Some therapists practice massage varieties that use the floor, like Thai or Ayurvedic. Some therapists prefer to work on a bed, if it is large enough. If the therapistís website does not specify, feel free to ask when you make your first contact.

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It is uncomfortable for me to lie on my stomach.† Is there any way I can still get a good massage?

† Absolutely.† It is important to find out why it is uncomfortable to lay on your stomach.† Many times expectant mothers, people who are overweight, women with large breasts, and people who have had a recent surgery find it uncomfortable to lie on their stomach.† In these cases, use of a special pillow that is placed on top of the standard massage table is helpful.† The pillow has more cushioning, and most people find that they are quite comfortable lying on their stomach when they use it.

If, on the other hand, you are uncomfortable lying on your stomach because of breathing problems, or other issues, massage can still be done while you are lying on each side, and then on your back.† The only drawback to this approach is that it may prevent your massage therapist from giving as deep of a massage as you would get if you were lying on your stomach.

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Which are better oils or creams?

Many styles of massage require the use of a lubricant between the skin and the hands of the therapist, and oils and creams are equally popular. Your therapist may have developed a preference for one depending on which technique is most effective. The therapist may give you a choice. For the most part, creams are water-soluble and wash off a bit more easily. Oils tend to soak into your skin and help moisturize more intensively. Many therapists scent their oils and creams with essential oils, commonly called aromatherapy. If you have sensitive skin, or specific allergies, it is always best to tell the therapist, so the use of scents which might be irritating can be avoided.

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What do I wear when I get a massage?

Each massage technique is different. Some are performed on top of clothing. Most are performed on bare skin. Some people choose not to wear any clothes, while other people prefer to leave on their undergarments.† In the case of a general or relaxation massage, or what is often called "Swedish" massage, there is an almost universal procedure among massage therapists in the U.S. You are asked to undress to whatever point you are comfortable. This means you may remain fully clothed, you may undress completely or anything in between. The massage therapist leaves the room and gives you sufficient time to undress. You lie on the table under a sheet or towel or other covering. During the massage, only the part of your body currently being worked on is uncovered. Those parts of your body generally considered private are not uncovered or worked on. If you have any particular preferences about parts of your body to be exposed and worked on or not exposed and not worked on, you should discuss this with the massage therapist before the session. If you are uncomfortable with any aspect of the massage, you should inform the therapist immediately. As you get to know the therapist over repeated sessions, some of your preferences and your level of comfort may very well change, at which time you may discuss any aspect of your treatment with the therapist. In the case of pain relief work, or problem-solving therapy, the matter of undressing and covering will depend primarily on two factors: 1) what and where the problem is (and remember, the true cause of the pain may not be where you think it is), and 2) what approach, modalities and techniques the particular therapist uses. The therapist will generally let you know where and how he or she intends to work on you, and ask you to undress to whatever degree is necessary for effective work to take place. You may be covered by a sheet or towel, or an examination gown may be provided. As in all health procedures, all treatment is subject to your informed consent. It is a good idea to discuss these issues with the therapist before treatment begins. In the case of posture alignment therapy, the therapist needs to be able to view your whole body at once, and work on broad areas of your body at a time. For this reason you are minimally clothed, usually in just your underwear, during treatment. The therapist is entitled -- in fact, obligated -- to establish treatment policies according to his or her best judgment, and you are entitled to decline any procedure which is not acceptable to you.

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When would I know that something is inappropriate and what would I do?

You will know that something is inappropriate for you if you feel uncomfortable. Let the therapist know immediately what you are feeling. You may choose to end the session or continue. The therapist should understand and help guide you to resolve whatever discomfort arises.

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How long are sessions and how much does it cost?

Massage therapy is generally purchased in 30, 60 or 90 minute increments (except for chair massage). The cost will vary but the general range is $1.00 a minute and up.†

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† †

Does insurance cover massage therapy?

It is rare for an insurance company to pay in full for a massage service.† Currently the 3rd party pay system is more designed for ďsick careĒ as opposed to wellness care.† Therefore, many insurance restrictions are placed on services that include massage.†† ††

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Are there contra-indications for massage therapy?

Massage should obviously not be done over the site of any recent tissue damage, such as a broken bone, a bruise, or a wound. Care should be taken with deep work on persons with fragile or brittle bones. Areas of internal organic problems should be avoided. If there is any doubt, you may certainly consult with your massage therapist for advice, or if you prefer, you may visit your primary health care provider. Be sure to tell the therapist beforehand about any recent health problems, injuries or surgeries.

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I pulled a muscle while working out or jogging. Should I get a massage?

Muscle strains are common problems. The fascia (connective tissues which surround our muscle fibers) can tense up under stress, which causes muscles to retain lactic acid, and keeps out lymph, the fluid which bathes muscle cells in oxygen and eliminates waste. Massage is an excellent way to help heal these problems. But you should choose a variety of massage that is medically therapeutic in nature, like Deep Tissue or MyoFascial, and ensure that your therapist is well-trained. Communicate very clearly about how you injured yourself.

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Iíve been in a car accident and my neck and back are really sore. Should I get a massage?

Anytime youíre involved in a serious accident of any sort, you should first check with your doctor if youíre planning on getting a massage. Massage can be an excellent way to help treat pain from auto accidents, but you should be thoroughly checked to ensure that you have no herniated discs or skeletal injuries before a massage therapist works on you. Also, make sure you explain your pain and injuries to your therapist before the massage begins, and speak up if you feel pain or discomfort during the massage.

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Iím really stressed from work, and my back and neck are killing me. Should I get a massage?

This is an excellent time to book a massage, especially one of an Eastern variety, like Thai, Reiki, Esalen, or Hot Stone Therapy, or even lighter Swedish work. These massages were designed to help calm and balance the body, and are extremely relaxing. Deep therapeutic work, like Deep Tissue, may not be advisable at this time, as it can provide additional stress to the body.

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Iím diabetic. Is it okay to book a massage?

Advanced diabetes can cause a decrease in circulation to the extremities. Massage can help revitalize circulation. It can also directly affect blood sugar levels, which can be both good and bad. Consult your doctor before booking a massage, and make sure your therapist knows youíre diabetic.

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Is there a bad time to book a massage?

You shouldnít book a massage when youíre sick. Massage causes a release of toxins from the muscles into the bloodstream, and if your immune system is already under attack from sickness, this can make you feel worse. If youíve just had a major operation, ask your doctor before booking a massage. Likewise, if your immune system is compromised due to medication or disease (like diabetes or HIV) you should also consult your doctor before booking a massage.

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What is the difference between massage therapy and chiropractic?

Chiropractic addresses the function of the nerve system based on the alignment of the vertebrae. Massage therapy addresses the soft tissues -- that is, the muscles, fascia, tendons and ligaments. Chiropractors acknowledge that if muscles are too tight, adjustments either may be difficult to perform or will not last very long. "Bones go where muscles put them. Bones stay where muscles keep them."†

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When children are worked on, is the parent present?

The parent is always welcome in the room during a child's session, and if the parent is ever to be absent for any length of time, it is made clear that there are no secrets in the therapy room -- that the child should feel free to tell the parent any and everything that happens -- and that nothing will be done in the parent's absence that would not be done in the parent's presence. Clearly, a parent should always be present during a session with a child of six or younger. Equally important to understand, there is no particular need for the presence of a parent during the session of a seventeen-year-old, unless the client prefers it.

NOTE: When a parent of a school-age child is present during a session, I suggest that he/she bring a book or something else to do. The relationship between the therapist and the client is very important, and this is an excellent opportunity for a child to learn to relate to a health professional without a high degree of parent involvement.

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Does massage therapy hurt?

Most varieties of massage are not intended to be painful. General relaxation massage should not hurt. Most energy-related therapies are painless, except acupressure or shiatsu, which may access painful points. Any therapy that directly addresses myofascial (soft-tissue or muscular) problems (such as deep tissue, trigger point, or similar therapies) may be painful when treating problem areas; the pain comes not from the work itself but from the tissue pathology. If you are experiencing pain, let your therapist know! You will be told if you need to endure it, or the pressure and technique will be changed to ensure that there is no pain. If you are having a therapeutic massage which is painful, it is best to breathe deeply and evenly and not panic. In any case, the client needs to let the therapist know if the pain is more than he or she cares to tolerate. And many clients describe the therapeutic work as "hurting good," meaning that they feel the difference between constructive and destructive pain.

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Can massage be dangerous?

In the hands of a good masseur, massage is overwhelmingly beneficial. In the hands of an untrained therapist who is working very deeply, however, stress to the muscles and connective tissues can in some cases be damaging. If you are seeking a therapeutic massage like Deep Tissue, Acupressure, Sports, or Trigger Point, it is best to ensure that your therapist is licensed, well-educated, and has been in practice for awhile. It doesnít hurt to get feedback from clients, either.

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What if the pressure is too hard or not deep enough?† How can I say something without hurting my massage therapistís feelings?

Each personís body is different, and responds to different things. Your therapist knows this, and wonít take anything personally. They want you to enjoy your massage, so if something doesnít feel exactly right, speak up, and they will try and change things more to your liking.

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Why do people say to drink water after getting a massage?

A:† When you get a massage, the kneading motion releases many toxins from your muscles into the body. By drinking water, it helps flush these toxins out of your body. If you donít drink water, you may end up feeling really sore, or even nauseated. †

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Do massage therapists have to be licensed?

North Carolina requires that massage therapists are licensed. It depends on the state and/or city in which you live. Many states require a certain number of training hours, followed by a test. If the state in which you live does not require the licensing of massage therapists, the city where you reside may. California is an example that has no state-wide regulation, but most cities have very strict regulations for licensing massage therapists.

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What is RMT, CMT, MTI, NCETMB, LMBT, etc?

RMT stands for Registered Massage Therapist and is a common way for states to refer to legal practitioners of massage. CMT is the same thing, just meaning Certified Massage Therapist. MTI stands for Massage Therapy Instructor, and generally indicates a higher level of education, as an MTI therapist can also train others to become therapists. NCETMB is a test administered by a national organization and accepted by most states, and any therapist who has passed this test can be considered well-educated. In addition, you may see many credentials listed by therapists on their websites which relate specifically to the style of massage they practice. LBMT stands for Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist and is often followed by the license number (i.e. LMBT #471).

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© Copyright 2008 Bob Brame - BobBodyWork.com