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Frequently Asked Questions About Massage:

This is my first massage. What will it be like?

First, I will welcome you and offer you a seat so we can do a medical intake. This involves recording a history of past injuries/surgeries and noting any current chronic pain or illness. I will use this information to design a treatment plan for your massage, and also to ensure that nothing is contraindicated, or indicated against receiving massage.

Next, I will leave the room while you undress and lie on the heated massage table, under both layers of draping. You will remain covered at all times by a sheet and blanket, except for the region of the body being worked on. These regions include the back and hips, the back of the legs, feet, the front of the legs, arms, neck and scalp. Your abdomen and face can be done upon request.

Some people leave their underwear on, while others prefer to take them off so that the fullest possible work can be done on the hip and gluteal areas. This is completely up to each client and his or her level of comfort.

I will massage one area of the body at a time, using pressures and techniques specifically tailored for your level of sensitivity and therapeutic needs. Your comfort is the highest priority for me, so ALWAYS feel free to dialog about needing more or less pressure, more or less heat, or anything else that pertains to you having a quality experience…right down to the music being played.

Instrumental music will be playing, with a beat that fosters slower heart rate and relaxation. If you absolutely can’t stand that sort of music (believe it or not, it can actually be annoying to some people), I have a specially-designed contemporary music CD with current artists, but at tempos that still induce relaxation. I will play this upon request.

Toward the end of your massage, I will wrap your feet in hot towels as I work on the neck, shoulders and scalp. This is a wonderful little spa perk I learned at Bacara…and everyone LOVES it.

I sometimes use aromatherapy in an oil diffuser and on the face cradle during massage. If there are any scents that bother you, please let me know.

Massage is so expensive! How can I afford it?

Keeping in mind that massage is a limited branch of medicine in Oregon and that massage therapists undergo rigorous training to pass state boards and become licensed in this highly-skilled profession…massage is adequately priced between $60-70.00 per hour. Many therapists learn and become certified in additional bodywork modalities, thus increasing their ability to better serve you—often without raising their fees.

When you consider the long-term investment in health and wellness (which might later prevent medical bills, prescriptions and sick days from work), the price of a massage is highly economical. I always tell prospective clients that a typical fast-food value meal these days costs between six to seven dollars. If a person packs her lunch for two weeks out of a month, she has already paid for her massage and eaten more nutritiously in the process!

Also, some people use the money in their medical flex-spending account for their massages throughout the year.

I am extremely self-conscious of my body, and am afraid to be seen by a massage therapist. What should I do?

From the first day of my massage training, I fully expected to be working with all kinds of different body types: tall, short, overweight, extremely skinny, rough-skinned, soft-skinned, cracked feet, pedicured feet, hairy, shaven, unshaven, or bald. It comes with the territory, along with a completely non-judgmental outlook. What I see when I massage people, are muscle groups under skin, and what their needs might be that day. What I am most concerned about is your quality experience when you are on my massage table.

Should massage hurt in order to feel better?

No. There are plenty of ways to help muscles release without using painfully deep work. Many clients feel that nothing sufficient is being done unless massage hurts, but this is completely relative to each person. In my career so far, people tend to know their limits. They might allow themselves to come to an uncomfortable edge, feeling that the pressure and technique I’m using is helping release a knot or tight area. A muscle will tense up and start to guard if the pressure is too great for it, even before the person tells me. I always listen to the muscles and check in with the person, if in doubt.

There are some parts of my body that I am uncomfortable having massaged.

There are some portions of the body that certain people are uncomfortable having massaged, such as the gluteal muscles or the décolleté (upper chest just below neck). While both these regions are extremely beneficial (much low back pain is associated with muscle attachments on the hip and butt, and certain upper back pain is directly related to muscle attachments on the sternum and clavicle), what matters most is your comfort and peace of mind. So if there is an area you do not want massaged, please do not hesitate to tell me before the massage.

What about talking during my massage?

I am usually quiet while I work, because I am “listening” to a client’s muscles, and concentrating on my every move. I don’t mind short replies or chit chat every so often (it’s really nice, in fact), but it does hinder my work if a client wants to engage in a steady conversation throughout the massage. It is also contraindicative to engage in a discussion about something stressful, because muscles tend to tense up. I have found that clients have the best possible chance to fully take in massage when they are quiet, or engage in minimal speaking. This enables their mind to turn off and enter that rare and peaceful quiet.

Putting it quite frankly: Does a massage include the butt?

As stated before, a good deal of low back pain is associated with shortened muscles that attach on the gluteal regions and ischium bone. Especially pain caused by long hours sitting at a computer. If the client is comfortable with it, I uncover about a third of the gluteus maximus in order to work on those specific attachments. An alternative method is to work over the sheet using compressions. Both are extremely helpful.

Why is the abdomen often skipped in a massage?

Excellent question, because there is SO much in that area that can benefit from massage. Not just the external muscles (which are thoroughly worked over these days, in exercises such as Pilates), but the intestines that lie beneath. Massage of the abdomen can alleviate constipation and other gastro-intestinal issues. In the Dayton School of Medical Massage, we studied some highly effective abdominal massage techniques done by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (the first physician to write a manual on medical massage). The only reason I leave abs out of a massage is because there often isn’t enough time to squeeze it in. However, if you would like an abdominal massage (it only takes about five minutes or less) please let me know and I’ll make it fit!

My feet are ticklish!

I learned how to massage feet without engaging the “tickle” reflex. It involves more palm pressure and less kneading with fingers. It also helps to grasp the foot in just the right place. Give me a heads up if your feet are ticklish, and we’ll get through it without torture. Or—if you absolutely can’t stand having them touched—then I can skip them.

My feet are gross! Do you really want to touch them?

As stated before, when massage therapists choose their career, feet come with the territory, whether they’re ugly, pretty, stinky or what have you. It’s not a big deal. I am busy concentrating on the muscles and pressure points, not what the feet look like. However, if you have a contagious wart or fungus (or anything questionable) it is good to let the therapist know so he or she can skip that area or work over the sheet.

Should I tip a massage therapist?

This depends on each therapist and where you are receiving your massage (for example, most spa therapists greatly rely on gratuities since they are not paid as much as in a private practice).

I do NOT expect gratuities, since massage is a limited branch of medicine. You don’t tip your chiropractor or physical therapist, so it only makes sense that I align myself with their guidelines. Also, I set my fees at the price I feel I am worth, based on experience and quality. That is all that is needed, so just relax and enjoy your massage.

** Warning: this next issue is an extremely sensitive one, but I want to address it in the most appropriate way possible **

I am male, and would love to get a massage but have never done so because I am afraid of getting an erection.

I have to honestly say that it rarely happens. But if and when it does, therapists keep in mind that it is the result of a reflex, especially when the thighs are being massaged. Anyone in a medical profession is aware of this fact, and does not make a huge deal of it. While working in the spa, my male coworkers advised me (from experience) that it is helpful to lay a folded towel over a male client’s waist to provide extra pressure and to help them feel adequately covered and comfortable. I usually use thick layers of both sheet and blanket in this manner, and this helps greatly.

Do you take insurance?

I personally don’t, but if your insurance company pays for massage then let me know and I will gladly write you a receipt.

Do you take credit cards?

Not yet. But I plan on doing so once my business has been open awhile and I can better afford the costs of maintaining a credit card machine.

I don’t like putting my face in a face cradle. It’s uncomfortable and stuffs up my sinuses. What should I do?

Let me know, and I will tell you alternative ways to lay with your head on folded arms so that you won’t have to subject your sinuses to being squished!

Can I receive massage if I’m pregnant?

Yes. Massage during pregnancy can be done with several carefully-placed cushions, a specially designed body cushion, or in a side-lying position. Currently, I don’t have a body cushion, but clients have felt wonderful using the pillow placement technique.

Massage therapists always avoid pressure in the Achilles tendon area, which has a reflex that may bring on premature labor.

I always prefer that a pre-natal client provide me with an “ok” note from their OB/GYN before scheduling, just in case of any high risk pregnancies.

©2015 Alexandra Lander