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Is it okay to get massage if I'm not feeling well?
It’s important to avoid massage if you have any signs of illness — cough, sneeze not caused by allergies, fever, chills, sore throat, fatigue and achiness, etc. — no matter how mild or how long you’ve been sick (yes, you’re still contagious even in the late stage of a cold or flu). If you have any skin infections or other diagnosed (or undiagnosed) skin conditions that may be contagious, please call to consult with us if massage is still alright for you to receive.
This includes known recent exposure to infectious disease while traveling outside the country; please delay scheduling a session until after the incubation period has expired (this may be up to three weeks).
If in doubt, call us to ask. If you are ill, please call as soon as possible to cancel your appointment at no charge. We will be happy to reschedule your appointment when you are well again.
If we notice any red flags when you arrive or during your session, your therapist will make a judgement call as to whether to continue the massage or refer you out for further evaluation and treatment. In some cases the therapist will avoid working on the area of concern. If it’s deemed that ending the massage early or cancling the massage is in your best interest, you will not be charged.
Your health and wellness are our first concern!
Are there any medical conditions that massage is unhealthy for?
If you have depression or anxiety, massage therapy has repeatedly been studied and proven to be helpful for these conditions. That said, if you have any mental health issues, it’s important to let your massage therapist know about any diagnosis or treatment you are receiving. Please also let your mental health profession know you’re are receiving massage.
There are numerous conditions for which massage should be avoided outright. This list is not complete, but some of the most common conditions include:
- Systemic contagious or infectious diseases, including the common cold
- Acute conditions requiring first aid or medical attention
- Severe unstable hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Sudden onset of severe undiagnosed headache
- Significant fever
- Acute aneurysm
- Acute rheumatoid arthritis
- Diabetes Mellitus I or II with advanced heart or kidney disease or advanced vascular complications
- Intoxication with drugs or alcohol
- Inability to communicate effectively
The following conditions may indicate that massage on a localized area should be avoided:
- Altered sensation
- Advanced diabetes
- Open wounds
- Varicose veins (note: spider veins are ok)
- Thrombosis or aneurysm
- Recent hematoma
- Healing fracture
- Advanced bony changes
- Advanced peripheral vascular disease or obstructive edema
- Peripheral circulatory collapse
- Anti-coagulation therapy
- Healing fracture
- Acupuncture, dry needling or injections
- Pregnancy (when treating in the abdominal region)
These lists are not complete. It is important to inform your massage therapist about all of your health issues and medications. If you are under a doctor’s care, please obtain a written recommendation for massage prior to your session.
Please call to consult if you are concerned about massage and your condition.
What is massage? How does it work?
Massage therapists (and the general public) usually believe we’re manipulating muscles, joints, connective and other soft tissues to bring relaxation and relief. Unfortunately, that notion is inaccurate. Modern pain science reveals that massage therapists interact with the nervous system by touching the skin, and it’s up to the nervous system to allow change to happen in the body. (The nervous system is the creator of pain and tension in the body.) While this idea may seem new to many, it’s been understood through medical science for decades, if not centuries. Here is an excellent article, How Does Massage Work, by Alice Sanvito, LMT, who is a very smart cookie. I couldn’t have written it better myself!
Massage uses various techniques: gliding, kneading, vibration, joint mobilization, stretching and more. The purpose of massage can range from relaxation and stress reduction, to lessening pain, increasing mobility and helping heal injury from overuse, repetitive motion, accidents, poor posture, sports and exercise and so forth.
If the touch and techniques use are pleasing to the nervous system, it determines the body is safe and will direct your muscles to relax, your discomfort to decrease or resolve, your joints to become more mobile, your mental health to improve and more.
Unlike drug therapy (often associated with systemic and long-term side effects), massage therapy is relatively safe and has few contraindications.
Therapeutic touch can also feel really good!
I've never had massage before, what can I expect?
Your massage therapist will sit down and go over the form with you and discuss your massage preferences and needs, ask any questions and describe the treatment plan for the day. This is the perfect time to ask any questions you have.
In the therapy room you will be instructed to prepare for your session—like removing your jewelry—and how to get on the table (under the covers and face up or face down). While the therapist leaves the room to wash up, you’ll get undressed to your comfort level (if you’re getting undressed), then you’ll get on the table.
Your therapist will knock before entering the room. Then the massage will take place, addressing the parts of the body you’ve agreed upon. Only the part of the body being worked on will be uncovered. Occasionally the therapist may check in on the pressure or ask for other feedback regarding the massage.
At the end of the massage your therapist will exit the room to wash up while you get dressed. Please crack the door as a sign you’re ready for the therapist to come back in to talk to you for a couple of minutes. You’ll be asked how you’re feeling and if there’s any feedback you have to make your next session better, and you may be given self-care suggestions to help the benefits of your session last longer. We hope you enjoy your massage!
Do I have to get undressed?
Traditional massage is usually done with the client partially or fully undressed and covered on the table. If you are uncomfortable getting undressed, your massage can be done over clothing. If you choose to undress, you will be covered by a sheet (and usually a blanket) at all times. Only the part of the area being massaged will be uncovered. Your therapist will leave the room to wash up while you are changing and getting on and off the table.
Some massage techniques, such as Orthopedic Massage, require that you remain dressed in at least shorts (that allow full range of motion) and (ladies) a t-shirt, tank top or sports bra. If you are uncertain about what to expect, we suggest that you bring athletic wear such as shorts and a top that you can change into. Your therapist will let you know what they recommend.
What should I be doing during my session?
Your therapist will provide guidance throughout the session. In general, it’s best for you to focus on relaxing and let the therapist move your body as needed, such as turning your head or moving your limbs. Try not to assist if possible. This is hard for some, so do your best … but there’s no problem if you can’t help it. Sometimes your therapist may ask you to move a part of your body during the session, such as your arm, as part of the treatment.
Most people like to close their eyes during their massage. You can rest your arms and hands where they are most comfortable. To encourage your own relaxation, focus on your breathing or the therapist’s hands. Regarding breathing, an excellent approach, if it’s comfortable to you, is to try to lengthen your exhales a little longer than your inhales. For example, if you breathe in for a count of three, try breathing out for a count of four or longer. This triggers the part of the nervous system that brings rest, repair and digestion (which is why your tummy may make noises when you’re on the massage table).
Many clients like to be quit and zone out during their session, but if you prefer to talk that’s fine. It’s your call. If you choose to be silent, your massage therapist will only speak to check in on pressure or for other massage-related reasons.
Your comfort is important, so if you need extra pillows or other cushioning, please just ask. If your session includes you being face down, the face cradle is fully adjustable (raising, lowering and tilting) so you can fully relax. Because folks tend to cool off during their massage, we use a heated table (or no heat if you prefer) and the temperature may be adjusted at any time.
Will my massage hurt? How will it feel?
Massage should never be painful. Please alert your therapist right away if you feel any discomfort so they may make adjustments or take another approach for your safety. Massage is most effective when your body is positively engaged and not resisting.
There are many different techniques used in massage. Your therapist’s hands will feel confident and kind. Some massage methods include long, slow, rhythmic strokes, gentle kneading, compressions, skin stretching, vibration and others.
Some techniques are very gentle they almost feel like nothing is happening, while your tension and discomfort melt away. Other times your session will include the stretching of muscles and joints that range from gentle to pleasantly challenging.
These techniques are intended to be comfortable and agreeable. If you find your body is “guarding” during the massage or if anything doesn’t feel good, please don’t hesitate to speak up so your therapist may adjust the approach.
I've heard Deep Tissue massage is more effective. True?
Most people mean deep pressure when they say “deep tissue.” A massage with deep pressure may be more agreeable for some people, but gentler techniques can actually be the most effective in addressing tension and discomfort. In other words, massage should use the pressure you prefer. Massage interacts with the nervous system, the driver of tension and pain, so it’s important that you feel comfortable and soothed by the massage. For some people, deep pressure is the most soothing, others prefer a very light touch. So it’s up to you.
If it’s your first session with us, we will check in on the pressure periodically. If you’d prefer your therapist to go lighter or deeper during the massage, it’s important that you speak up so we may provide you with the best massage experience and outcome.
Who will be giving me my massage?
Marlene Mayman (say “Mar-lay-nuh”) is the owner of Frederick Massage Therapy and a state of Maryland licensed massage therapist. In practice since 2006, Marlene has held licenses and certifications in good standing with Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia and West Virginia. Marlene’s professionalism has been recognized by clients, colleagues and business owners in and around Frederick and elsewhere. To learn more about Marlene’s training, qualifications and expertise, please click on the About link the main navigation.
What oil or cream is used? May I supply my own?
Our go-to oil of choice is unscented coconut oil, which is used sparingly. We use just enough oil to create a comfortable glide; by the time your massage is done the oil should have absorbed into your skin. Many clients have commented that they enjoy the softness the oil brings without leaving them feel greasy afterwards. Folks with more fur may require more oil for better comfort. If for any reason you prefer to wipe down after your massage, a towel will be made available to you (we almost never get asked for one).
Our back-up oil is jojoba oil (used in shampoos and other beauty products). We select this oil if someone is allergic to coconuts. (It is actually Marlene’s favorite oil to use for its more tactile glide and very long shelf life, but unfortunately it’s more prone to staining the sheets.)
Please do not bring your own oil, cream or lotion, as we will not be able to use it for sanitation reasons.
Also, note that there are a number of techniques that do not require any lubricant at all, such as Myofascial Release and DermoNeuroModulation. Even Swedish massage can be done without oil on many people. We never use oil on the face or scalp.
How will I feel after my massage?
Many of our clients feel very relaxed following their massage and have a good night’s sleep. Some experience relief from aches and pains, increased mobility and a sense of lightness and wellness. Once in a while a client may feel slightly light-headed after lying on a massage table for an hour or longer, but that usually passes quickly. Much more often people experience calmness, followed by a sense of increased energy and productivity. Some experience a temporarily increased tenderness or soreness within a day of the massage (more likely the stronger the massage), but this typically subsides in a few hours.
What are your policies regarding cancelations, lateness and no-shows?
If you need to cancel a scheduled appointment, kindly give at least 24 hours advance notice via phone at (240) 487-9387 (no emails, please). Failure to give appropriate notice could result in you being billed for the appointment in full. If a gift certificate is being used as payment for an appointment and proper cancellation notice is not given, the gift certificate will be considered null and void at FMT’s discretion.
If you find yourself sick the day of your session, please contact FMT immediately to reschedule. (Unlike most other professions, massage therapists cannot work when sick and only get paid when we are able to work.) Please do not abuse this policy, FMT offers this exception only if you really are sick.
Please be on time for your appointment! In fact, being 10 minutes early will give you time to fill out any paperwork AND become more calm as you prepare for your session. Being hurried as you travel to your appointment adds tension. Give the effectiveness of your session a boost by allowing yourself plenty of time to arrive.
In many cases circumstances are such that your massage therapist cannot work past the end-time of your session, due to clients scheduled after you or other obligations. Your massage therapist will wait 15 minutes past your start time (and try to call you) before you are considered a no-show (see below). Please call FMT if you’re running late and want your massage therapist to wait.
If you fail to show for a scheduled appointment, you may be billed for the appointment in full. If a gift certificate is being used as payment for an appointment and proper cancellation notice is not given, the gift certificate will be considered null and void at FMT’s discretion.
If your massage therapist fails to show for a scheduled appointment, you will be credited the full appointment fee towards your next session.
At least as old as written history, massage was first referenced in ancient times in Egyptian, Indian and Chinese scripts. China’s Yellow Emperor recommended massage in his book Huangdi Neijing from the 27th century BCE. In 460 BCE, massage was described by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of medicine, as an essential tool in bestowing health.
In more recent times, massage became popular first in the 1800s when the work of Swedish “medical-gymnastics” physician Per Henrik Ling was brought to the USA. Massage lost some stamina during the 1930’s and 40’s due to advances in modern medicine, but regained notoriety in the 1970’s because of its popularity with athletes. In fact, in 1996 massage therapy and bodywork was officially offered for the first time as a core medical service in the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, a testament to the respect for massage that athletes hold. Its popularity has continued to increase and massage is now recognized medically for its therapeutic benefits.
Today more than 80 massage modalities purportedly exist. A modality is a named and defined approach to massage based on a physiological perspective, paired with associated techniques and focused on the area(s) treated, including part or all of the body.
Interesting massage facts
Did you know that:
- In Sweden many school children are taught to give (and receive) “Peaceful Touch” massage. They learn appropriate touch and boundaries, improved communication and to care for each other. Massage also reduces their stress hormones, increases “peace hormones” like endorphins and oxytocin, and decreases aggression and noise levels in schools. The Axelson Institute began the Peaceful Touch program in Stockholm in 1995. Today the program is almost standard in Swedish preschools and elementary schools. [source] Learn more about massaging your child.
- Entertainer Bob Hope lived to be 100 and was a huge advocate of massage. He reportedly received about 300 massages a year and had since 1938 when he did “The Big Broadcast of 1938.” He often said he attributed much of his relatively healthy long life to this one nearly daily ritual of his.
- Massages in parts of Asia are performed by the blind.
- Touch is the first sense developed by humans.
- Massage assists people with eating disorders gain better attitudes towards their bodies and helps them achieve a healthier weight.
- Children with ADHD calm down and function better after massage. Babies also sleep better and with less interruption after being massaged (more so than being rocked).
- Massage before an athletic event makes the athlete more flexible, enhances speed and power, and makes the athlete less prone to injury. The Olympics Committee hires massage therapists to aid their athletes. Post-event massage can help speed recovery and reduce the impact of physical trauma.
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