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A couple planning a visit to Morro Bay called me today to schedule a massage during their trip. The husband asked “As newbies, what do we need to know? Should we bring anything? What do we need to do to prepare?” *Ding ding ding* We have a winner! The first step in preparing for your massage session is realizing that there is some preparation involved!

Many people are under the impression that massage is a passive experience. It really isn’t. Obviously, you can come in, lay on the table, enjoy your massage and go…but I don’t recommend it. It is important to realize that the more your prepare and the longer you take advantage of that state of complete relaxation, the more you will get out of your massage.

So here are some things to think about before coming in for your massage session:

– Limit your distractions. Turn off your cell phone, or better yet, leave it in the car! Don’t book your massage back to back with another appointment you need to be at, or your mind might be wondering about the time. It would be even better if you could take some time to quiet your mind before walking into the therapy room.

– Educate yourself and your therapist. If you have any questions about what to expect from your session, just ask! And even though that paperwork that therapist gives you might seem irrelevant, it’s not! Keep your therapist informed so that they can incorporate techniques that could help any conditions or pain you may have. While massage doesn’t have any serious side effects on most people, it is contraindicated for certain conditions.

– Let go of your body and let your therapist guide you. During my massage sessions, I usually incorporate some guided stretches. Many times, my clients will fight me on it without even knowing. Sometimes people hold on to their limbs in order to protect them. It is important you trust your therapist. If you don’t, you might need to keep looking for someone who you can put your trust in. If you trust your therapist, but you still don’t hand over control of you motion, then ask your therapist to help you learn to relax.

For example, I incorporate aromatherapy into every massage to help promote relaxation. I also noticed a huge change in certain clients when it came to what music was playing. If you have music that relaxes you, ask your therapist if you can bring it for your session. Learning to go to your “happy place” can make a difference too; envisioning surfing out at Montana de Oro or going for a hike on your favorite trail. Focus on your breathing and imagine all the stress and tension going out of your body as you exhale. Your state of relaxation is key.

So, next time you book your appointment, remember to bring your list of questions, any concerns your may have and leave your cell phone at home! Bring yourself and your willingness to relax on my warm, cozy table in Morro Bay.

Natasha Noel is a Massage Practitioner in Morro Bay, CA.