Frequently Asked Questions
How long should a massage be?
Whatever you can most easily afford and fits best into your life is the right answer. A little massage on a regular basis is more effective than one long session only once or twice per year. However, if you are looking for further clarification:
30 minute session: 1 body part only such as neck, calves, or shoulders. Most effective when you have a very specific problem (such as chronic tendinitis).
60 minute session:
• Most effective when targeted toward addressing your chief complaint: relaxation, relieve upper back and neck tension, injury recovery, etc.
• It can be challenging to address a chief complaint AND do a full body relaxation massage in only 60 minutes. We can do it, but a level of detail will be sacrificed.
• This is also good time-frame if this is your very first massage and you aren't sure what to expect.
90 minute session: Recommended when it has been more than 2 months since your last massage, or when you want to address a particular area of discomfort AND still have a relaxing and therapeutic full body massage.
How often should I get a massage?
It is said that Bob Hope and George Burns received massage every day. May we all be fortunate to even contemplate such a thing. For the rest of us, the answer depends entirely on your goals. Acute conditions, such as a sprain, tendinitis, or overuse condition like tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), will often require several treatments fairly close together before going into maintenance mode. Chronic conditions may possibly be addressed with less frequent, but consistent treatments.
Sometimes it takes a few treatments close together (such as once per week), to get a condition like upper back pain, to a manageable state. Then, we can spread out the sessions so you can come less often. Conversely, if you wake up with a crick in your neck and have pain every time you turn your head, it’s likely we can address the situation in one session.
Number of treatments depends on the state of the tissue (are you recovering from injury? is the body fatigued from training for the marathon? do you sit at a desk all day and have chronic back pain coupled with high stress? are you recovering from illness?), and how the body responds. Each body responds differently to massage in different timeframes.
I spend a lot of time before and after the session discussing your goals and concerns, so we can create a plan that feels good for you.
In general, I recommend massage as frequently as you can afford. If you live, you accumulate tension in you body, and the longer you wait between sessions, the more we have to start from the beginning. That being said, I recommend everyone get a massage at least once per month.
Get massage before the pain sets in. Get massage even if you aren't hurt. Benefits are typically cumulative and your comfort will improve with each massage.
What to expect during a massage
You will be greeted warmly and professionally. If it is your first visit, you will complete a mandatory health intake form, and then we will talk for a few minutes. We will discuss any relevant health issues (including changes since your last session), what your goals are for the session, how you felt after the last session (if applicable), etc. If you have preferences, concerns, or questions, feel free to let me know!
After the intake, I will give you privacy to undress. You will lie on the massage table under the top sheet (face up or down, depending on my instructions). I will always knock before re-entering the room.
During the massage, you will always be draped with a sheet. The sheet will be moved only to uncover the part of the body being worked on. You are free to talk as much or as little as you want during the session. Feel free to ask questions as they arise, or let me know if you need anything (such as to change position, or blow your nose). It is my policy that I will not chat with you except for asking relevant questions, checking in about your comfort, or asking you to move, if needed. But, if you want to talk, feel free!
After the session, I will leave the room so you can get dressed. Afterwards, we will discuss how you feel, answer any questions that might have come up, and determine future sessions, if any.
You will leave feeling so much better than when you arrived!
Should I take my underwear off during a massage?
This is one of the most common questions I get from clients. It can also apply to bras, or other items of clothing.
Short answer is: it’s up to you. Whatever you are comfortable with is completely fine and workable and you will have an awesome massage. Good massage therapists couldn't care less what you wear. Clothing changes the type of massage techniques that can be used, but you’ll still get a great massage.
But there are a couple of points worth noting:
First, any clothing you leave on during a massage risks getting stained with massage oil. I am not one of those therapists who uses a gallon of oil. And, I always try to protect client’s clothing to the best of my ability (by tucking the sheet around the waistband of the underwear, for example). But there are no guarantees. My priority is giving you a good massage, not keeping your clothes clean. So, if you opt to wear an item of clothing, certainly leave your nicest stuff at home that day.
More importantly, I respect the border of your clothing as the boundary for touch. An easy example to illustrate is men wearing boxer briefs or boxer shorts during massage. The border comes down fairly low on the thigh. I interpret that to mean you do not want direct contact of your leg beyond that point. And that is perfectly acceptable! However, if you specifically want your hamstrings worked on, but are covering up several inches of tissue, I won’t make direct contact with any tissue covered up by your underwear, though, I can still do other effective techniques such as compression and range of motion. (Note that in this example, based on the focus of the massage, I would ask for clarification and may have you move the border of clothing if that is appropriate for you.)
Clients keep underwear on all the time. And, I never think twice about it. I have also worked with a client who was having an acne breakout on her back and didn't want direct contact or oil on her back, so, we worked through the sheet that day. Socks are another thing people commonly wear (and SHOULD be worn if you have plantar warts, athlete’s foot, or other skin condition) and it's not an issue.
If a therapist is ever judgmental or impatient about clothing worn during a session, find another therapist.
Is the health intake form required?
Yes. There are some conditions where massage is contraindicated, and it’s imperative that I know the truth about your health. In many cases, we can make simple adjustments and still treat you. However, it’s critical that I not do the one small thing that could hurt you in some way.
Any medications you are taking inform the type of techniques it is safe to use, or how your body may respond during massage, so, for your safety, it’s important to disclose that information as well.
The intake form also gives me some information about your lifestyle that can be useful in customizing the session. Knowing a bit about your occupation (and how you use your body at work), and physical pursuits (marathon running, or marathon DVD watching) are very relevant to the massage.
What are contraindications for massage?
Contraindication means “No.” These are some of the conditions that it is not appropriate to treat with massage:
• Fracture or open wound (we can work other areas of the body)
• Acute injury, such as a recent sprain (we can work other areas of the body)
• Untreated high blood pressure
• Systemic infection
• Blot clots
What kind of oil or lotion do you use?
I use pure jojoba oil. Occasionally, I will incorporate essential oil, but I will always check with you before using this during the session.
What does LMT mean?
LMT stands for Licensed Massage Therapist. To practice massage in the state of NY, therapists are required to receive 1000 hours of academic education and training (the most in the country), pass a NY State Board exam, receive 36 hours of continuing education every 3 years, and maintain an active license, registration, and first aid certification.
It means the therapist has a working knowledge of anatomy, myology, kinesiology, body systems, and pathology. Among other things, it means the therapist knows how to safely modify a session to account for any health conditions you may be experiencing, and knows where it it safe to put additional pressure, and where it is not (these are called caution sites and are often near arteries, nerves, or delicate bony protrusions).
Licensure is about protecting the safety of the public, so it’s in your best interest to always verify that a therapist is licensed.
Can I get a massage with a rash?
I almost always recommend that we reschedule.
If you do not know the source of the rash, it is imperative that you not receive massage. It could be contagious - I could spread it around your body, contract the rash myself, and even spread it to other clients. Bad news.
Even if you know the source of the rash, for example, skin irritation from that new sports bra, or a reaction to something you ate, it might not be a good idea. Protocol dictates that I avoid inflamed areas, and your body might just not be ready to receive massage.
Can I get a massage with a cold?
It depends on the severity of your symptoms. If you have a fever, you should not get a massage. If you just have some sinus congestion, we can adjust your position on the massage table and you can receive treatment.
If you think you might be contagious, please reschedule. You can get me sick, and I can get other clients sick. Do the right thing.
Can I get a massage in my first trimester?
YES!! I am certified in all aspects of pregnancy massage. You can get a massage if you are 1 day pregnant and if you are 9 months pregnant. Many spas do not "allow" it until after the first trimester for "liability reasons", presumably because most miscarriages occur in the first trimester and they don't want a client claiming that the massage caused a miscarriage. But, there is absolutely no reason you cannot have a massage in your first trimester. See my blog post Benefits of pregnancy/prenatal massage for more information.
For your safety, and the best treatment possible, look for a massage therapist certified in pregnancy massage or prenatal massage. Like me!
What is the difference between deep tissue massage and swedish massage with deep/firm pressure?
In general, deep tissue massage targets deeper layers of muscle, connective tissue, and fascia, and is most typically employed to address chronic tension and for clients recovering from injury. It is intended to be a focused technique (such as working on that old rotator cuff injury) as opposed to a full body technique.
Deep (or firm) pressure is just that. You want a nice firm engagement of the issue. You aren't moisturizing your skin, you are getting a massage and you want to feel your muscles moving around and the tissue yielding. Deep pressure is employed throughout a full body session, as opposed to on a specific area.
Depth of pressure depends on many factors. Density of tissue, muscle mass, injury, stress, and preference vary widely from person to person, day to day, and across areas of the body. The confusion comes because many spas charge a different rate for a “deep tissue” massage. This leads to the assumption that you are getting a deep tissue massage all over your body, which likely isn't appropriate, and could lead to injury. In my opinion, most "deep tissue" massages are really massages with deep pressure.
I will always talk to you before a session about what exactly you are looking for.
Can I pay for massage with my health insurance? / Can I use my FSA/HSA?
While I gladly accept FSA/HSA (Flexible Spending Account/Healthcare Savings Account) payments, it is YOUR REPONSIBILITY to determine if massage therapy is a valid expense through your health insurance. Every plan is different and while your card may successfully be charged at time of service, your insurance company may deny the claim later.
I am happy to provide a receipt if you want to submit it to your insurance company for reimbursement. As stated above, it is YOUR REPONSIBILITY to determine if massage therapy is a valid expense through your health insurance. Payment is due in full at time of service.