How Does This All Work Part 7: After the Massage – Returning to the World
Things that might have happened during your massage.
While some massage styles leaving feeling energized, most leave you feeling very relaxed. During your massage, you have likely allowed your mind to drift into a state of only semi-consciousness, and you may have relaxed enough that you even fall asleep. If so, there is nothing to be embarrassed about (even if you snore, or drool). In fact, as you relax, your body may do a few other things you wish it hadn’t (people burp, drool, fart, sigh…), but you needn’t be embarrassed. These are natural functions, and as your body relaxes, they happen. Often, for example, people find that their stomachs begin to gurgle. I, for one, considered stomach gurgles to be a kind of applause. Massage is all about relaxation — and as you start to allow yourself to relax, your body slips out of its “fight or flight” responses, into the “rest, recover, and digest” mode. And when that happens, your tummy gurgles.
If you happen to be a man, there are other natural body responses to escaping the “fight or flight” response systems. Most massage therapists understand that these responses may well be involuntary. However, what you do about those responses can make a big difference in how your therapist will respond. As long as you can ignore your involuntary erections, so can the therapist.
The end of the Session
When your massage is over, your therapist will give you some verbal cue. Some may say “thank you”; some may say “that’s our time for today”; some may say something else entirely. If you’ve been seeing the same therapist for a while, you’ll note that he or she probably also has a final sequence of a few moves to close the session. In time, your body will know as the session is ending.
When your therapist is sure that you’re awake, and are unlikely to fall when getting off the table, he or she will step out of the room to let you get dressed. Even though your therapist is likely to tell you to take your time, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to settle in for a nap. Unless you are the last client for the day, there is likely another client coming fairly soon after your session ends. This means that your therapist will need to get back into the room to change the sheets and face cradle covers and any pillow cases, and wipe down surfaces, and generally get the room ready. So — don’t rush yourself; take the time you need to get dressed, but do get up and get dressed fairly promptly.
Reconnecting with Yourself
As you come back to the real world, you may even feel a little dizzy or floaty or woozy. This is okay. It just means that you will need to take it easy getting off the table, and move a little slowly. As you begin to walk around, you’ll find yourself settling back into consciousness. Take a little time here too. Notice your body and how it feels. Take a moment to become aware of your feet on the floor; the way your balance might have changed. Move your shoulders, feel how they move differently from when you first lay down. Doing this not only feels good, and lets you be aware of the benefits of your massage, it also helps your body reset it’s “sense” of how tight your muscles should be.
Your mind has also changed. As you relaxed, and let go of the constant stream of thoughts, task-lists, problems, frustrations that run through your mind, you have allowed your mind to reset. Try to be aware of habitual thought patterns – right after a massage is a great time to shift them from focusing on what’s wrong to focusing on what’s right and working. And shifting your perspective can actually shift how the whole day goes.
Debriefing, sort of.
After your session, your therapist may talk to you about what happened during your session. He or she will be checking to make sure that you got the relief you needed for problem areas, and whether there is anything you’d like to address in your next session. Your therapist may also make some recommendations for things that can help you avoid future pain (not all therapists do). This could include exercise, postural habit changes, suggestions on how to make your desk more ergonomic, or simple reminders that sitting in the same position all day long is hard on your body. These conversations should happen somewhere private — either in the treatment room, or elsewhere that no one is likely to just wander into the conversation.
Many therapists offer their clients water after their sessions. There are a variety of truths and myths surrounding why — but folks do tend to feel a little dehydrated after a session. Your therapist may leave water in the room for you, or may wait outside the door with it, or may meet you at the front desk with some. Hydration is generally a good idea. It can also help you feel more aware and awake, so if you are feeling light headed, drink the water!!.
Next time: Saying Goodbye for Now
Looking Back: Part I: Booking an Appointment,
Part II: the Health History Form
Part III: Privacy, and What to Tell Your Therapist
Part IV: Getting on the Table
Part V: This is YOUR Massage
Part VI: On the Table