How Does This All Work – Part 4 – Getting on the Table

Posted on June 23, 2016 By

How Does This All Work – Part 4:
Getting on the Table

Quick Review:

  1. Schedule ahead of time – same day appointments are rare.
  2. Block off enough time in your own schedule for the whole event.
  3. KEEP your appointment – or give at least 24 hour notice of cancellation.
  4. Arrive on time (or a little bit early).
  5. Arrive clean (check those feet!)
  6. Complete your Health History form, answering all questions.
  7. We keep your information confidential and secure.
  8. Tell your therapist what you’re looking for today.
  9. Tell your therapist all of the things that are troubling your body (they might be related, they might not).
  10. Remind your therapist about hearing issues and allergies to things that might be in the oil.

It feels like a lot has gone on,and you’re not even on the table yet!  Don’t worry.  All of this stuff actually takes very little time.  Some of your therapists can email you the intake form before you even arrive.  And that interview we talked about in my last post?  Usually takes only a couple of minutes unless there is something serious going on.   But, finally, we get to the part where your therapist has brought you to the space in which you’ll get your massage or bodywork session!

You may have already arrived in this space to have your pre-session interview, or you may now be arriving.  Your therapist will first go over what specific areas you would like to have work done on.

Tell your therapist all that’s bothering you!

It’s so very easy to forget things.  But your therapist really does need to know that you bruised your shin before starting to work on you. Why?  Well, sometimes, we reach under your body to work.  If we don’t know there’s a bruise, we’ll not be able to moderate our touch to avoid hurting it!

Even if you have a primary complaint (your shoulders are trying to make love with your ears, and your neck is objecting), it’s probably true that something else has been twingey.  Unless you’re having a truly focused session, in which your therapist is working ONLY on that issue, your therapist is going to want to know which areas will need the most time so that he or she can allocate the time to be able to give your full massage.  If you don’t mention that your quads are tight too, there won’t really be enough time to address that before the session is over by the time your therapist gets to them!

Please wait to undress!

For many types of massage, we ask our clients to undress and get on the table between the sheets.  In many states, Illinois being one, we risk our licenses by being in the room with you when you’re getting undressed.  Even if you are completely comfortable with your body (and yay for that!!), and with it being seen in all its glory by your therapist, please, wait until your therapist steps out the door before disrobing.

If you need help getting undressed, we are limited to some degree in how much help we can give.  As long as there is a tee shirt or cami or bra under your shirt, I can certainly help you unbutton it if your hands won’t do that.  And I can unzip the back of your dress.  I cannot help with zippers on pants.  And except for outer sweaters, I can’t actually remove clothing for you.   If you do need that much help, you can have a caregiver or family member come to help you get undressed and on the table. (They will be able to wait outside the massage room during your session).

How far to undress?

If you’re going for a “standard” full body massage, we typically ask you to get undressed “to your comfort level”.  What on earth does that mean?  That means that while we generally prefer to find that you are completely naked under the sheet (no clothes, no underwear, no jewelry, no watches), we understand that you may not be comfortable with that.  If you feel more comfortable leaving your underwear on, that’s fine.  We can work around that.

gluteal musclesHOWEVER, there are some kinds of work that can’t be done as well or as effectively without skin to skin contact.   If, for example, you are having trouble with your hamstrings and low back, your therapist will likely want to work on your gluteal muscles.* Working through the sheet (and your underwear) is possible, but some work is more effective if your therapist can actually get to your skin.

Similarly, it’s hard to work on back muscles through a bra strap.

How exactly should I be on the table?

Typically, you will either lie down face up, or face down with your face in a face cradle.  Your therapist will generally tell you, but if you see a face cradle and your therapist hasn’t said anything one way or the other, lie face down, with your face in it. You will lie down on top of one sheet, with another sheet (and possibly a blanket) over you.**

prone using face cradle

Your therapist will give you time to get undressed and onto the table.  Generally, your therapist will knock, and ask if you’re ready.  If you aren’t yet, that’s perfectly fine!  Simply say “not yet” and your therapist will give you more time.  Some people are eager, and manage to get fully undressed, with jewelry off, and onto the table in about 20 seconds.  Most take longer, and if you are in pain, undressing alone can be a challenge.  We understand.

Be sure that you are comfortable

If you find that you are cold, please tell your therapist as soon as he or she steps back into the room.  Some therapists have table warmers that can be turned on or up, some have heaters, some have piles of blankets, some have all of these things.  Muscles respond better when they’re warm.

If you find that you are hot, please tell your therapist!  Table warmers can be turned off.  Blankets can be removed. (Sheets, however, cannot.  Most state laws require full draping). Many therapists also have fans in the room to stir and cool the air.

If the face cradle is too high or too low, please tell your therapist.  Most can be adjusted.

If you need a bolster or pillow under your shoulders, or under your belly, please tell your therapist.  Comfort is very important!   Most therapists offer a bolster under your ankles.  If you do not want one, please say so.  If you’d like a higher or lower one, it’s okay to ask (not all therapists will have a variety, but many do).

And, most importantly — you can and should make these issues known at any time during the session!

Next:  Things you and your therapist can do to make your session even better.  This is YOUR Massage

Looking Back:  Part I: Booking an Appointment,
Part II: the Health History Form
Part III: Privacy, and What to Tell Your Therapist

* Gluteal Muscle image from
** Client Prone, between sheets, with face in face cradle from

Broader Issues