Your First Massage

What To Expect

Many people have never received massage before and only consider it when pain has become too great or unmanageable. If you’ve never had a massage, you might have some concerns.

Some common concerns during a first massage are:

  1. How much do I have to undress?
  2. Will I be uncomfortable lying on the table?
  3. Will it be weird having a stranger touch me?

Massage can be done in many different ways and can accommodate just about everyone.  Massage provides many benefits, including lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow, and decreasing pain and anxiety, and it works in tandem with chiropractic care to increase healing and improve results.  We want you to be as comfortable as possible about the process so that you can experience these many benefits.

The Start Of Your Visit

When you come in for your first massage session, you will be asked to fill out a health history and release form specifically for massage, which will let me know what your focus of the session is, as well as give me permission to work with you.  If this is your first time in our office, I will take you on a quick office tour to get familiar with the office.

The Consultation

Once in the massage room, we will have the chance to discuss the reason for your visit and any questions you may have.  If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, I will ask specific question about where the pain is, how intense the pain is on a 1-10 scale, how long you’ve been experiencing it, what kind of pain you’re feeling, and what the cause is.  Once I have that information, I will be able to suggest treatment strategies, such as the kind of massage that I feel will help you, specific techniques I will be able to use, and what the best way to position you on the table will be. The session may range from being centered on one area only, such as the back, all the way to a full body, relaxing massage, depending on what you want and need.

We will also discuss your role in providing me with feedback about the session, such as pressure, pain/discomfort level, or if something feels particularly effective or ineffective.  I will ask you to rate the pressure on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the weight of my hand and 10 being the most pressure you can comfortably handle.  During the massage we will decide what pressure feels most comfortable and most effective to you.  I in turn will be giving you feedback about what I find, whether it be one side tighter than the other or an area of inflammation.

Making You Comfortable During Your Massage

Positioning can be a concern for some people.  Some people, such as pregnant women and those with severe low back pain, are unable to lay face down on the table.  I am able to work with clients lying on their side, with pillows under the head, under the top arm, and between the knees.  I am also able to work with clients in a face up, semi-reclined position with pillows stacked behind the back and under the knees.  If laying down is not an option due to either physical or emotional comfort, we have the option of using a massage chair, where you can stay fully clothed and sit upright while I provide treatment.  This is most effective for shoulder and back work, as you will be leaning the front of your body against the massage chair.


Another concern for many people is that of undressing.  Most commonly, clients will disrobe the areas where I will be working, such as removing the shirt and bra for back and shoulder work, or removing pants for leg work.  If I am to be working the full body, many clients either undress completely or remove everything but panties or underpants, as I will only undrape the area I’m working at a time.  Private areas, such as breasts and genitals, remain covered at all times and will not be massaged, though some low back treatment does include some work on the gluteal muscles, usually done over the sheet and only to the clients’ comfort.  The most important part of massage is client comfort, and if you are not comfortable undressing at all, I am able to give a very effective treatment over clothing.

Once we have determined the areas needing treatment and your positioning, I will step out of the room while you undress to your level of comfort and get settled on the table underneath the top sheet.  After 2-3 minutes I will come back in the room, offer you a pillow under your knees if face up or ankles if face down, and then I will start the session.  At this time you will be able to let me know if you would prefer different music or lighting, as the atmosphere of the room does contribute to your comfort.

Ready To Begin?

During the session I will be asking for feedback about the massage techniques and pain levels, but it is up to you how much conversation you would like.  It is equally acceptable for the client to be quiet and “zone out” as it is to have a lively conversation.  If the conversation begins to adversely affect the quality of the massage, I may gently remind the client to focus on breathing deeply to center both the client and myself.  Many techniques I will use require a lotion to facilitate glide and decrease friction.  If this feels uncomfortable, please let me know and I will use other techniques.

For me to do my job effectively, I need to know how the technique I’m using is feeling to you.  It may not feel polite to you to tell me that I’m using too much or not enough pressure, or that I’m pushing on a sore spot, but I need to know this information to make the session as comfortable and effective for you as possible.  If something doesn’t feel like it is working, please tell me.  My feelings won’t be hurt, and I will then be able to make the session better for you.  I don’t believe that massage should cause you more pain than you are already experiencing.  There may be areas of soreness that I will be working on, but you should still be able to breathe normally and keep most of your other muscles relaxed.

We’re Almost Done

I will let you know when there are five minutes left to the session, to check in with how you’re feeling and to see if you’d like me to focus on any particular area before the end of the session.  Once the session is over, I will step out so you can get off of the table and dressed in private.  Once you are dressed, you can open the door and I will come back in with water or Emergen-C vitamin drink and we will briefly discuss how you feel after the session, what I’ve found during the session, and what we agree to be the best course of action.  Depending on the reason for treatment, I may suggest stretches you can do and frequency of massage treatment.  These are only suggestions, but I believe they will help you heal faster and increase your feelings of health and well being.

Ready For Another?

Once we have talked about treatment frequency, you will be able to take my recommendation up to our Assistant at the front desk and she will be able to help you schedule your next visit  if you wish.

Once you are comfortable with massage, you will be able to feel the benefits, whether it is for specific pain treatment or just to unwind after a long week.  I strive to give everyone who comes into my massage room a positive, therapeutic experience.

-Cathy Oliver LMP
License # MA 60153838

Massage Lynnwood | Bothell Chiropractic


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