What is a full-body massage?
The definition of “full-body massage” is in the name: it is a massage therapy session that works over all areas of the body. A typical full-body massage covers top-to-toes. Traditionally, a full-body massage covers the:
- Head – normally including the temples, crown, occipital muscles (the back of the head) and scalp.
- Neck – including the nape and trapezius (long muscles on the side that connect to the back).
Shoulders – along the collar bones, shoulder blades and into the upper back.
- Upper and lower back – the lower back is where most people harbour stubborn tension and experience tightness, stiffness or pain.
- Legs – including the buttocks, glutes, thighs and calves
The above list covers a typical full-body massage. However, what is important to note is that your massage is exactly that: yours.
Will my therapist massage those parts?
A legitimate massage therapist, including all those on the TLBW platform, will never expose or touch private parts of the body. This includes the breasts for females. A full list of services can be found here.
What if I only want certain parts to be massaged?
A massage therapist will tailor your massage to exclude any parts you don’t want to be touched. Some people prefer their feet or buttocks not be touched, and that’s perfectly fine. Consult with your massage therapist prior to, or during, the massage to let them know what you like, dislike, or don’t want at all. Boundaries are important, and so is maintaining them.
Your massage therapist will also adjust their focus to whichever part of your body needs the most attention. For example, if your primary source of discomfort is your lower back, that is where your therapist will spend more time. Note this may come at the cost of less time spent elsewhere on the body. The goal of every massage therapist is to leave their client feeling better than when they walked in.
Full-Body Massage Etiquette
Whether you’ve yet to experience your first massage or you’re a veteran on the table, everyone should be conscious of massage etiquette. We know that bodywork and physical therapies can be an intimate thing – they are our bodies, after all. But a massage isn’t an awkward, embarrassing or ugly thing. Quite the opposite – a massage is rejuvenating.
What do I wear for my massage?
A massage therapists will always use proper draping techniques to maximise your comfort, security and modesty. This means that towels or sheets will be used to cover all the parts of the body that are not being worked on. Several sheets or towels can be used to achieve this, or your therapist could use the origami folding technique to ensure you are always covered. This also applies to staying warm during your massage.
It is a requirement of all our clients to leave their underwear on for the duration of their massage. From there, we say to undress down to your level of comfort. This is different for everyone and can be affected by your therapy. For example, a Swedish relaxation massage uses long, buttery strokes best performed on an unobstructed body. Whilst your therapist can work around a bra or bandeau top, the covered section of the body may be neglected. In contrast, a sports massage is a little different: some people choose to wear workout leggings or cycling shorts for this type of massage.
Your therapist will leave the room whilst you undress and leave again to allow you to get changed afterwards.
Do I have to shave for my massage?
Of course you don’t! Hygiene is a personal choice. You don’t have to be entirely hairless before you go into your massage – your therapist will not be offended or disgusted if you forget to shave your pits. If you want to, go for it. If you don’t want to, don’t. All we ask if that you are clean before you get onto the table. Step into the shower before your booking for a good scrub-down. Not only does this make for a more pleasant experience for everyone, but your body is easier to work on when it is clean. Basically, don’t be gross. There are a lot of massage therapists out there with horror stories. You don’t want to be that statistic.
How do I be massaged?
This is a weird question we see a lot, but it makes so much sense.
Here’s the scenario:
With the table conquered, your nerves settle. That is until your therapist comes back in. Did you leave a leg untucked? Are they judging you? What if there’s a zit on your back? You don’t know what your back looks like! And suddenly you’re all tense and awkward again. Your muscles are rigid. And now the massage is starting.
Are they pressing hard, or are you resisting? Are you relaxed? You feel unsure. Your mind is certainly racing, but you’re stiff as a board as well. How is your therapist supposed to massage a concrete slab? You must be their worst client ever.
Enjoy it, don’t endure it. A massage is physical therapy, meaning that the body is going to be challenged by it. This is especially true for more intense styles such as deep tissue or sports massage. Feeling awkward on the table is really common, particularly if you’re new to massages. Therapists are totally aware that this is a new experience for a lot of people, and it’s their goal to make you as comfortable as possible.
Take comfort knowing that even though you feel like your body is resisting, it probably isn’t. The therapist is putting pressure on you from above and the table is supporting you from below. You become a bit of a sandwich. For the most part, your therapist will gently guide you into an optimal working position. This might mean asking you to let your arms dangle, or moving one of your arms behind your back. Otherwise, rest in whatever position is most comfortable for you. Spend less time worrying about what your body is doing – just enjoy what it is going through.
What to Expect From Your Full-Body Massage
From therapist technique to rolling off the table, here’s a general breakdown of how your full-body massage will go.
Before getting on the table.
*Note: if you have any allergies or special requests, include them in the “Notes” section during booking to have them accommodated beforehand. If you forget, your therapist will consult with you prior to the massage anyway (it’s just nice to be prepared).
Once you’re on the table
Your massage therapist will start the massage by warming up the body, likely starting at the shoulders, neck and back. If you’ve specified an area that needs more focus, they will adjust their routine accordingly. Keep in mind that your therapist is here to help, so never be afraid to speak up during the massage. Communication is key in physical therapy, so let them know how you feel about the pressure and areas they’re focusing on.
You’ll typically be asked to flip over halfway through the massage.
Don’t panic – your modesty is always preserved! Your therapist will drape you correctly to ensure you’re never exposed. Once you’ve flipped over, they can focus their attention on your shoulders, arms, thighs and muscles on the front of the body – this may include a pectoral massage for males. As for the ladies – massage therapists are trained professionals, but they are not doctors, so please don’t request a breast examination.
The final stage of your full-body massage
Depending on the style of your massage, whether it be remedial or relaxing, your therapist will finish the massage by rounding it all out. Generally, small pressure is used to balance and ground you. This is commonly done by finishing the massage at the head and scalp, rounding it out with gentle pressure on the temples. Your massage therapist will indicate when they have finished the massage – they will not leave your leg halfway through a stretch, or mid-stroke along the back. A full-body massage is a complete experience, and so we know that ending on a short note can take you out of the experience.
How you will feel after a full-body massage
By the end of your massage, you should be feeling deeply restored. If you’ve had a full-body Swedish massage, you should be about ready to roll into bed or a warm bath. No doubt you’ll be smiling – you never realize how strained you are until it all melts away. You may experience a surge in energy, a lift in productivity and creativity, and generally just feel good.
If you’ve had a deep tissue massage, you may feel a bit stiff or uncomfortable, but don’t be alarmed – this is normal. Your stubborn muscles have been challenged, and so it’s not uncommon to tight or even sore immediately after you’re off the table. Over the next 24-48 hours, you will have increased mobility and flexibility, better balance and more energy.
Don’t underestimate the ability of a deep tissue massage to transform how your body moves. Many clients don’t realize they actually wanted a deep tissue massage until they’re on the table!
We’ve found that people are more hesitant to book a deep tissue massage because they believe it will be painful. A deep tissue massage should never hurt you. You may experience some discomfort, but it pays off once you can walk, twist and stretch freely again. Your therapist will always adapt the pressure to suit your tolerance levels without hindering the impact of the massage.
Benefits of Thai massage
Many people believe that the health benefits of Thai massage include lowering stress, boosting energy, and improving athletic performance. Thai massage uses gentle pressure and stretching techniques to relax the whole body. This is an ancient healing practice that originated in India.
Health benefits of Thai massage
Thai massage has many health benefits, from lowering stress to relieving muscular tension. It can even increase energy. Below, we discuss five health benefits of Thai massage.
Stress is not necessarily bad. Often, stress can act as a positive motivator that might help push people to perform better and accomplish more in their personal and professional lives. However, too much stress can negatively affect mental and physical health. Chronic, or long-lasting, stress can lead to serious illnesses, including depression and cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown that Thai massage can increase people’s physical energy levels. One randomized trial examined the effects of Thai and Swedish massages in people who were experiencing fatigue. The results revealed that Thai massage increased energy and mental stimulation, while Swedish massage was more likely to improve relaxation and sleep. The Thai massage technique is based on the notion of energy lines, or Sen. Most practitioners believe that there are various Sen, or channels, of energy within the body.
Sen correspond to different parts of the body, such as the bones, muscles, blood, and nerves. Some Sen also affect the mind and consciousness. These are called subtle channels. The theory suggests that tight muscles cause blockages within different Sen.
These blockages reduce the flow of life energy, which results in stiffness, pain, and illness. Thai massage uses different techniques that either open or constrict different Sen to correct the flow of life energy.
Court-type is a specific form of Thai massage that involves applying pressure to specific energy channels. One 2015 study found court-type Thai massage is an effective treatment for people who have chronic tension headaches. They also had lower measures of tissue hardness, which the scientists measured using a handheld device.
Thai massage can promote the circulation of both blood and lymph through the use of gentle stretches. These yoga-like stretches increase blood circulation, which fills the body’s tissues with oxygen.
This helps promote cell growth and heart health. One study examined the benefits of Thai foot massage in people with peripheral neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes. The researchers found that this massage helped improve people’s balance. They believe that this is because it improved blood circulation, which, in turn, stimulates the somatosensory system. This is a system that plays a major role in balance.
Improves range of motion
Thai massage incorporates yoga-like stretches to reduce stress and improve circulation. The gradual, gentle stretching will enhance the person’s flexibility over time, allowing a greater range of motion. Thai massage may also improve the circulation of the fluid in the joints, or synovial fluid, which reduces friction between the joints. This can improve joint mobility and range of motion.
Thai massage for athletes
Athletes are prone to fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and injury during their training. That is why many athletes work with specialized sports massage therapists. Sports massage combines assisted stretches and various massage techniques to treat sports injuries and improve an athlete’s range of motion.
Practitioners will often use assisted stretching to target a specific area of the body or a particular muscle group. Thai massage, on the other hand, gradually stretches the whole body, allowing the person to relax.
The dynamic stretches that Thai massage practitioners use may offer deeper, more restorative stretches than some assisted stretching techniques of sports massage. Relaxation combined with the energizing and invigorating effects of Thai massage help people feel mentally and physically restored.
Thai massage also improves circulation, which brings more oxygen to muscles and other tissues. This may prevent injuries and improve the athlete’s ability to recover after intense training.
How often to get Thai massages
People should also listen to their bodies. If someone experiences lasting pain or discomfort in one area of their body, they should see their healthcare provider, as this could indicate an underlying health condition.
If someone wishes to focus on a specific area of their body, they can choose to work with a massage therapist to schedule regular sessions until they are satisfied with the results. At that point, they can consider spacing out their appointments and focusing on maintaining the results.
A good way of visualizing Thai massage is by imagining that someone is arranging the body into different yoga poses. For a Thai massage, the client usually lies on the floor. A licensed massage therapist will slowly work the client’s body through various stretches.
The therapist may use their hands, knees, legs, or feet to help manipulate the person’s body into different positions. This should not cause pain or discomfort, but a person should alert their massage therapist if they do experience either of these things.
People do not need to prepare for a Thai massage in advance, but they should consider the following advice:
Try to arrive about 10 minutes early to fill out any paperwork before the appointment.
Inform the practitioner about any significant medical history, because Thai massage is not safe for some people with certain health conditions.
Come to the appointment wearing loose-fitting or athletic clothing. Try to avoid tight clothing because it can cause discomfort and limit the range of motion during the massage.
Thai massage also uses energy work, which involves applying pressure to specific points on the body to open channels that will improve the flow of energy throughout the body.
While Thai massage has many health benefits, the technique also has limits. Due to its impact on the circulatory system, people with the following health conditions should consult their healthcare provider before seeking a Thai massage:
High blood pressure
Neurological diseases that affect the spinal cord
Coronary artery disease
The physical intensity of this massage technique could lead to health complications or worsen preexisting injuries. Despite its ancient origins, Thai massage remains a relatively new technique in Western culture. Recent research has revealed that Thai massage is associated with many health benefits, such as improved circulation, an improved range of motion, and reduced levels of stress.
Thai massage, as the technique could pose health risks. If someone is considering getting a Thai massage but is concerned that their medical history may prevent them from doing so, they should consult their healthcare provider first.