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It’s time for Massage Mythbusters! Have you ever have a question you always wanted to ask a massage therapist, but were afraid to? Here’s my “top ten” list of massage therapy myths:

  1. “Do I need to take everything off?”

For most people, having all clothing off–including skivvies–is ideal. If I need to massage your hips or glutes, having full access is preferred. Your comfort is the most important thing to me, so if you don’t want to take everything off, you don’t have to. I can work around whatever clothes you leave on. Either way, it is certainly not “weird” in the massage therapy profession.

Special populations like pregnant women and cancer patients can leave the underwear on because sometimes massage requires people to lie on their sides, and the underwear can serve as an anchor to the linens.

If you are completely weirded out about taking your clothes off, there is plenty I can do with a fully clothed client as well. Just remember, when you get a massage it’s all about what you want!

  1. “Am I supposed to tip my therapist?”

This is up to you. If you had an amazing session, feel free to tip. Please tip if you go to the massage chains where you pay a membership fee. These massage therapists most certainly need the tips. The same goes for Groupon purchases, Living Social, or any other online discount!

For me personally, tips are welcomed, but by no means necessary. I don’t anticipate tips as part of my income. I respect tippers and non-tippers equally, and I give every session my all.

  1. “What if I get an erection?”

You heard me. I’m bringing it up, no pun intended! The point of the session is for you to relax. If it happens, it’s really not a big deal, unless you act inappropriately. This is what “inappropriate” looks like:

Playing with it, asking the therapist to play with it, moaning, or sexual conversation.

If any of these things happen on my table, the session is over. Complete payment is still expected. If the behavior is severe enough, authorities will be notified.

Basically, if it happens, it happens. Just leave it alone and relax.

  1. “No pain, no gain!”

Some people think if you don’t leave in more pain than when you arrived, the massage wasn’t as effective as it could have been. In reality, a gentle massage might be just what the doctor ordered!

Over the years, I’ve found that gentler therapies promote relaxation, which in turn relaxes your muscles. If someone is digging their elbow into your back and you are sweating and about to throw up, your body is fighting back, and those deeper muscles are not being reached. Check out my blog on Deep Tissue Massage for a longer explanation.

That being said, if you enjoy being pummeled during a massage and you think it really works for you, keep doing what you’re doing! Different strokes for different folks.

  1. “Massage is just a luxury!”

Some types of massage are a luxury. A day at the spa is greatly relaxing, but there are other types of therapy that can make a more significant difference. Massage “therapy” means that there’s work involved, for both the therapist and the client.

Massage therapists can’t diagnose, but they can explore the root cause of a problem. Sometimes they can reduce your pain in a single session. It pays to do your homework to find out how much training a massage therapist has before you go see them. This is especially true for athletes, pregnant women, people with cancer or a cancer history, elderly clients, people with heart conditions, and people with autoimmune disorders.

You can always start with a Google search for local massage therapists. That way, you can find reviews and testimonials from clients. A couple of more specific sites you could check are the American Massage Therapy Association and/or NCBTMB.  These are both great professional organizations. If you find your therapist on either one of these sites, chances are you are on the right track.

  1. “I hated my massage.”

When I hear this in public or in my office, it’s quite the disappointment. I love getting feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. If a client didn’t enjoy their session, I really like to know why. I think most passionate therapists would like to know.

If you experience a disappointing session but are too uncomfortable to explain it in person, please send me a letter or an email. Your feedback is most welcomed, and I can apply your suggestions in following sessions.

  1. “Should I cancel my massage if I’m sick?”

It depends on how sick you are. Please cancel your massage if you have any of the following symptoms:

Fever, vomiting (I can only clean my kids’ vomit up without getting sick myself!), diarrhea, or a flu diagnosis.

Other than these four illnesses, you are good to go. I can help alleviate sinus congestion, chest congestion, and at times even coughing. Just make sure to wash your hands when you come into the office and try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. I do the same for every session, whether you are sick or not.

  1. “You can’t get a massage in the first trimester of pregnancy.”

Before there was a lot of research on massage therapy, someone came up with this disclaimer. The fact is, therapists with advanced training learn how to work with women through every trimester and through postpartum care.

Most spas and chains will not perform massage in the first trimester and will actually make you reschedule until the second trimester begins.  This means they don’t have advanced training even though they are offering prenatal massage.

My suggestion would be to find a qualified therapist. I received my training through Elaine Stillerman (I’m not on her registry because I was too cheap to pay the fee!). I have been certified in her work since 2005. Other notable teachers are Carole Osborne and Claire Miller.

  1. “Does massage therapy can spread cancer?”

Here’s another example of an old hypothesis that’s been disproved. Some massage schools are still teaching this theory. I wasn’t taught it, but the concept was in the back of my mind until I took massage oncology training. I think that every massage therapist should take Tracy Walton’s Oncology Massage Course. I learned so much valuable information from this course.

You can not spread cancer through massage therapy, but if a therapist doesn’t have knowledge about their client’s cancer treatments or history, it could lead to an unpleasant experience for the client. Tracy has also written several articles on massage and cancer. Click here for more information.

  1. “If I fall asleep during my massage, will I miss anything?”

In our demanding society, moments of rest are few and far between. Feel free to allow yourself the gift of relaxation! I enjoy it when my clients fall asleep, because I know I’m doing my job.

Don’t worry, I won’t sit back and read a magazine! I continue our work and stay connected with you so that when you get off of my table, you can feel refreshed and have a positive outlook on the world, at least until you leave the office.

Please feel free to comment! If you have a question that’s not on the list, I’ll be happy to address it or write a follow up. Email me at contact@ablmt.com with any suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you!

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