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MultiCare MedSpa: 5 more tips to be a 'Massage Insider'

Posted on May. 31, 2013 ( comments)

I realized after my first blog post ("5 ways to be a Massage Insider") that there are almost limitless things that a massage insider can know, so here are five more tips to keep in mind the next time you get a massage.

On Being Punctual

Being on time to an appointment is more than you think. Often, if a patient is late, it is her appointment that is cut short and she will be charged for the full time. Ouch. Plus, when a patient is running late, that can send your massage therapist into a stress mode, thinking of how to create a worthwhile experience for you, covering what you want done, in less time. He/she may also be thinking of the next patient and whether or not that appointment will be late due to this set back. That is not the recipe for a mindful massage.

What to do? When you schedule a massage (or any pampering service), put it in your calendar for more time than it will actually take. Now you've got an hour and a half or two hours blocked off for a one hour massage. Use this extra time to your advantage. Many spas has plush waiting rooms in which you can quietly relax. Bring along something to read, a Sudoku puzzle, or knitting, anything that’s quiet and that can bring you away from your personal stressors. After a massage, you can usually ask your therapist for a warm neck wrap and take some time before you face the big bad world.

Please Tell the Truth

I know it’s a pain: you arrive to your appointment only to be handed a clipboard and intake form. You know that there’s nothing “seriously” wrong with you or that car accident was so long ago or he doesn’t really need to know about that broken bone, so you leave most of the form blank. It turns out that, yes, you do need to fill out that form.

First, if you are doing treatment massage, your insurance company needs that form in order to process your claim: no form, they won’t pay. Second, any injury or illness that you've had can have negative consequences on your health, by allowing your massage therapist into your health history, you allow him/her to read your body in a new way. Perhaps, that broken bone in your foot from so many years ago has changed the way you walk, which in turn has caused your low back to hurt. Or maybe that old injury that left a large scar has impacted the fascia that runs through your body, causing tightness that could be relieved with scar tissue massage.

Bottom line: we want to know what your body has been through because this may hold the key to you living pain free.

When in Doubt, Speak Up

I tell my patients that I believe in full communication during session; meaning that if the pressure isn't right, if they have a runny nose and need a tissue, if the table is too warm, they must tell me. As a Licensed Massage Practitioner, I make many educated guesses, but I am not the one living in your skin: you do. While I may think your tissue needs some deep tissue to release a knot, your shoulder may be screaming, “No!” You will not break my concentration if you tell me these things, I will not think that you can’t take deep pressure work, and I won’t ignore you.

Parasympathetic Responses

Last time, I wrote about how passing gas can happen when you are relaxed. Other parasympathetic responses include a growling stomach, becoming thirsty or hungry, having to go to the bathroom, watering eyes, and yes, arousal. Most normal people do not go into a massage session with this in mind, however, men often fear that this will happen. While the response is normal, contributing to the response will immediately end the session. Most massage therapists will ignore this male response, knowing that the man on the table is embarrassed that this is happening. This type of response can happen whether or not your therapist is male or female, it has nothing to do with what your therapist thinks of you, it is merely a sign that you are relaxed. Do as we do and ignore it.


After a massage, patients are always told to drink extra water. Why? During massage, we are manipulating muscles, increasing circulation, and potentially releasing substances into your body that were previously stored in your muscles. If these substances don’t get flushed out of your system, they may cause muscle soreness after a massage, sometimes for a few days. The only way for these things to leave your body is through your bladder.

Often, knots in your body are formed due to dehydration: the muscles are stuck together or stuck to connective tissue. To keep everything flowing smoothly, water is the best remedy. Massaging well-hydrated people is easier than dehydrated people: people who need water will absorb oil and lotion faster and their muscles are not as pliable. Give your muscles a chance: keep drinking water!

The most important thing during a massage is to pay attention: notice what you like and don’t like, how you felt before, during and after your session, and ask questions (Why does it hurt there? Why is this sore after I run? What can I do relieve a tension headache?) 

After each massage, you will gain more knowledge and experience, making you a better receiver of massage.

Emily Treakle-Chase is a Licensed Massage Practitioner at MultiCare MedSpa in Gig Harbor. Request an appointment on the MultiCare MedSpa website or call 253-530-8005 for Gig Harbor, or 253-372-7008 for Covington.

Posted in: Gig Harbor

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Emily Treakle-Chase
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