(The first step is to admit you have a problem, right?)
But here's the thing: I don't think massage addiction is a problem.
(Cue collective 12-step groan.)
I have been a massage-per-month girl for almost as long as I've been a runner. It started when I was experiencing stiffness in my shoulders (job induced) that slowed my swimming pace. I had a triathlon coming up, and decided to see if massage might help my aching shoulders. I found a clinic that specialized in sports massage, and have never looked back.
The worst massages were just boring. The most interesting, and quite possibly the most effective, was a Thai-style massage that involved quite a bit of active stretching (fully clothed through the whole routine). The therapist bent me into pretzel shapes that would have made my yoga teacher proud, and pulled my limbs to stretch them out. I would not call it "relaxing" but it was definitely rejuvenating! The next day I knocked a good 20 seconds off my mile pace. (It's just too bad the speedy side effects didn't last long!)
All in all, the best massages have left me feeling like I had an extra spring in my step.
After all, that's how addiction starts: It feels good, so you go back for more.
Any other massage addicts out there?
How many of you get massages on a regular basis?
Granted, if you've never had a massage before, the whole process can be a little intimidating. I am embarrassed to admit that I went in to my first massage wearing a one-piece bathing suit, because I wasn't sure what to expect. I had seen photos of relaxed-looking people laying (seemingly) nude under crisp white sheets, but how did they get there? Did they have to disrobe with the massage therapist nearby? What about underclothes? Keep them on, or take them off?
So I put together a few suggestions for any first-timers to make sure you have a relaxing and rewarding massage experience:
- Before you go, get recommendations from people you trust, and make sure the practitioner is licensed. (Requirements vary by state.)
- At the start of a massage, the therapist should ask you if you have any trouble spots and what area(s) you want to work on. For a 30-minute massage, pick one target area. For 60- or 90- minute massages, the therapist can cover more ground.
- Once the initial consultation is complete, the therapist will give you some privacy to disrobe and get under the sheets on the massage table. He or she will knock before re-entering the room. No surprises.
- Disrobe to "your level of comfort." If that means keeping your clothes on, they'll work with that. If it means birthday suit, that works, too. You'll be covered by a sheet and/or blanket anyway, and the therapist will only uncover a leg, arm, or your back as necessary, keeping the rest of you modestly "draped."
- For the therapist's sake, shower before your massage. For your sake, plan to shower again afterward. You may be greasy at the end of the massage, depending on what product(s) the therapist uses.
- Communicate with your therapist! Certain types of massage, like deep tissue, may be uncomfortable for a moment or two. But if something is painful, let the therapist know!