FAQ's, Helpful Tips and Etiquette for First Time Massage Therapy Clients

As a first time client, your therapist will need you to fill out a health history form (this is for YOUR safety as well as ours). You will need to arrive about 5-10 minutes early to fill out.  You can find the forms here.

Your therapy session has a set amount of time and most likely the therapist will have another client after your session. So please arrive

early to each appointment.

Communication with your therapist is critical for a good massage.  If the pressure is too firm or too light, the therapist needs to know.

Remember it is appropriate to talk with your therapist during the session to adjust the pressure to your needs.

Just remember, your therapist is here to help you feel better. 

Massage therapists commit to long hours of learning and log in countless practice sessions before they even enter the professional arena.

By the time their career is established, bodyworkers are completely comfortable and trustful of intentional, therapeutic, physical touch therapy. 

Once you relax into receiving a treatment, the therapeutic benefits can really take effect.


Meals – 

Avoid eating a full meal for at least an hour before a having a massage treatment. Digestion can make being massaged a bit 

uncomfortable with a full stomach.

Punctuality – 

Plan on arriving 5-10 minutes before your appointment time. This will ensure time to fill out the required paperwork on your first visit.  Arrive relaxed as possible to reap therapy benefits. Being late may cut into your time & you will be charged for full time. 

If you no show, you will be charged a fee.  If you need to cancel, please give 24 hour notice if possible. 


Shower before your massage appointment. It is not polite to arrive with excessive body odor or sweating.

Wet wipes are great when in a bind. Inform your therapist if you have any glandular or hormonal medical issues.

Perfumes, Fragrances, Fragrant Body Lotions,etc

Please avoid wearing or applying scents, perfumes, scented body lotions,etc. before and after your session in respect for others with sensitivities and allergic reactions.


Clothing and Jewelry – 

Remove excess jewelry especially necklaces and bracelets.

Take off only as much clothing as you are comfortable. It is not necessary to fully undress. For women, bra’s worn during massage interrupt the smooth strokes on the back, but again your comfort is priority.  Remember, you can stay fully clothed for your massage, your therapist will work with you.

Your Privacy Is Always Respected:

Only begin undressing after the therapist has left the room for your privacy.  

Sheets, blankets and/or towels will drape you.  With conservative draping, only the part of your body that the therapist is working on

will be exposed at a time. Draping differs at establishments and for each therapist if they have their own business.

Some treatments such as lomi lomi massage will be more liberal because of how the massage is performed.

Cold and Flu – 

Please do NOT come in with an active cold or flu, or showing symptoms or feeling ill. You could be a germ 'carrier' and infect others in the studio. The therapist will and should turn you away. Some achy flu sufferers think getting a massage will help, but a massage could do

more harm than good making you feel worse.  Other clients arriving after you may have cancer or otherwise compromised immune systems. BE RESPECTFUL.

Pain during massage

Some pain can be expected from knots and tension, but it should feel like a “good hurt.”  Always communicate any pain to your therapist to make adjustments in pressure/techniques. Let your therapist know if you bruise easily.


Remember to relax and breathe normally. Breathing helps to facilitate relaxation. As long as the pain is not too much, breathe deeply and let your muscles relax.

Why do therapists massage the Gluteal (buttocks) muscles, is that normal ?

Yes, with your consent, it is appropriate to have the gluteal muscles massaged as well as the pectoral (chest) muscles (and only for Therapeutic purposes). 

Certain massage modalities benefit from massaging the abdomen, such as Lymphatic Drainage, and to help with digestion issues & recent surgery.

Please tell your massage therapist if you are uncomfortable with being touched anywhere. 


Glutes – The buttocks muscles called the gluteal muscles are massage for sciatica or to relieve tension that often contributes

            to low back pain when muscle related.

Pectorals – The pecs, or chest muscles, are massaged because they relieve tension in the shoulders. 

Abdomen – The abdomen, (rarely massaged in western massage; more often with Lymphatic Drainage massage),

               helps with detoxing, increases blood flow and oxygen to organs, relieves abdominal tension, helps with bowel movement.



During the massage always notify your therapist of any discomfort. This can be from the massage itself or the environment 

like room temperature, volume of music, lighting etc.   Speak up and ask about anything you are unsure of.

Health History – 

Give accurate information about your health history and if you’ve had any recent injuries, surgeries, or allergies.

It’s possible to be turned away for medical reasons to keep you and others safe.

Assumptions – 

If unsure always ask. Assumptions can create awkward situations. Always clearly communicate what’s going on and ask questions.


The Inappropriate – 

Don’t ask or hint at the therapist for any “special requests.”

Flirting with your therapist, or touching your massage therapist (or yourself) inappropriately will get you kicked out and possibly worse.

Real therapeutic massages have nothing to do with sex.  

Alcohol and drugs – 

Do not arrive intoxicated. You will be turned away. It’s best even to avoid alcohol 24 hours prior to your massage.

It is not safe and your therapist does not need the liability of dealing with a client under the influence of controlled substances.


Hydration – 

Many times your therapist will offer you a bottle of water at the end of the session. It is important to drink plenty of water after a 

massage therapy session. The water will help flush the toxins out of your body that are released during a massage.

The cells in your body release waste from chemicals in your environment, food additives, and other metabolic waste.

Getting off the table – 

Get up SLOWLY.  Changing positions too quickly could make you dizzy especially if you have low blood pressure.

If super relaxed, try not to fall asleep after the therapist leaves, the room needs to be cleaned for the next appointment after you.

Post Massage soreness/discomfort – 

Post massage fatigue is possible after an intense massage, due to over stimulation of the nervous system. Remembering to hydrate is key.  Soreness that feels like an intense workout from inflammation one to two days after a deep tissue massage is normal.  If after three days you are still sore you should consider telling your therapist to ease up on the pressure next time. An epsom salt bath or soak at the spa in a hot tub can ease the discomfort.

You should not be bruised.  Please inform your therapist if you bruise easily (before your session begins).

Reminders and Misc:

TIPPING – It is suggested to tip your therapist at least 15%-20%, but tips are always at your discretion. Therapists are providing a service, tips are always appreciated.

REFERRALS– If you found the session really helpful, show the courtesy of giving your therapist referrals. Your therapist will appreciate the gesture.

Are Multiple Sessions Necessary ?

If you are just treating yourself to relaxation, 1 or 2 hourly sessions per month is probably fine (depending on your lifestyle). Therapeutic benefits are cumulative, and most effective when you make positive lifestyle changes.  If you are recovering from a soft tissue injury, 

it may take more than one session (or 10) to get you back in order.  Everyone heals differently.

Massage Duration –

If it’s just relaxation and you don’t have many knots or tension, 60-90 minutes should be plenty of time to get a full body massage.

But if multiple areas have tension 90 minutes will be more effective.  If you're super stressed or knotted, 2 hours is even better.

Beware of Massage Parlors Trafficking Women -

Keep in mind that if you are paying $20 an hour for a massage somewhere else, some establishments have a business based on trafficked workers. They typically offer relaxation massage, not therapeutic, and avoid charting your medical history. You could get a legitimate massage, in that you are not violated or propositioned since they have to run a front. Please don’t contribute to the illegal trafficking of women. They are not always so obvious, but use your judgement.

If you need massages at a more affordable rate, massage schools are the way to go.  Students have to reach a certain level of competency and therefore could use the practice.