I started working with Jackson Hole Mobile Massage just three short months ago. They hired me to spearhead their social media and marketing projects. Before joining the team, getting a massage had never crossed my mind. After realizing that I had never had exposure to the magic she had built her entire life on, the owner of Jackson Hole Mobile Massage, Amanda, offered to give me one. I’ll share my experience and a few things you might want to know before getting your first massage.
Before the Massage
It is a good idea to take mental note of how you are feeling before your massage. How do you feel physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Massage can be about so much more than healing your body alone.
In the hours before my appointment, I felt stressed and anxious. I was leaving for vacation in a few weeks, and I had a lot of projects to finish before I left. My already busy schedule got busier, and my self-care routines had fallen by the wayside because of the time crunch. Mentally and emotionally, I couldn’t have been feeling much worse. Physically, my body is usually in shambles. Growing up, I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis and have been experiencing muscle pain in my back for the majority of my life. As one can imagine, stress only worsens this pain. I was having trouble breathing because my back muscles were so tight. I also have a history of poor circulation, which was making me uncomfortable in our very lovely and very cold Jackson Hole climate.
Speaking of the climate, the drive to the Jackson Hole Mobile Massage office was beautiful. As I parked, I took a moment to appreciate the wonder of the snow-covered mountains around me. As I stepped into the office, I felt a coziness wash over me. The lights were low, the heat was on, the music was quiet, and plants and crystals were neatly placed along a large window sill. The massage table was covered in several blankets and felt warm to the touch. Amanda shared with me that she had turned on the table warmer. I didn’t even know that was something that existed! After my drive through the snowy mountains, I was excited to sink into the warmth of the massage table.
Prepare to Communicate
Be prepared to communicate your wants and needs to your massage therapist. If you aren’t sure how your struggle applies in the context of massage, bring it up anyway. You would be surprised by the wide array of healing techniques massage can cover.
Amanda checked in for a brief discussion about my health history and what “challenge areas” I’d like to focus on during the session. I described my stress, back pain, and history of poor circulation. She let me know that she could spend a little extra time on my back if I wanted. After our discussion, it was time for my very first massage! Amanda let me know I could leave on as much or as little clothing as I felt comfortable wearing and explained I would be covered by the sheets. She told me to lie face down under the blankets on the table. She then left the room while I disrobed and crawled under the warm covers of the massage table. Amanda knocked and asked if I was ready before reentering the room. Then Amanda started my very first massage.
Amanda started by putting a bolster under my ankles, to keep pressure off of my lower back. She put heated rice packs on my feet. I could feel the soothing warmth softening my tense muscles immediately. Then Amanda began massaging my upper back. I was so relaxed it was difficult at times for me to make sense of how exactly the massage was happening. At one point, I was so curious that I had to ask. She wasn’t just using her hands, but her entire forearm. It was unlike anything I had experienced before.
She moved onto massaging my shoulders, my arms, my hands, and then my feet and the backs of my legs. The pressure of touch was different from area to area. Amanda used deep, slow pressure on my back and softer pressure on my hands and arms. It seemed like Amanda knew the appropriate pressure for each area because my massage felt soothing the entire time. The pressure wasn’t too hard or too soft. It was just right!
About halfway through the massage, Amanda held the covers slightly up as I turned over so I could easily flip onto my back. She spent time massaging my hands and feet again. Because of my poor circulation, Amanda took extra care to ensure my hands and feet were always under the blankets when she wasn’t massaging them. I was surprised when she got to my upper pecs because my muscles were very tight. I hadn’t even realized how the stress seemed to affect my whole upper body making it difficult to take deep breaths.
A huge part of a happy, relaxing massage is being able to communicate your needs. Amanda, like many good massage therapists, gave me many chances to speak up about how I was feeling. Be open about things you don’t like and things you do! The more information you give your massage therapist, the better they will be able to help you.
Communication is important for any massage, but especially if it is your first time! If you don’t know or feel uncomfortable speaking up, don’t worry! Amanda could often feel a change before I said anything and asked for feedback or adjusted intuitively. I didn’t have to bring up a topic on my own, without her intuitively asking about it first. It is my understanding that massage therapists often can have this intuitive nature.
After the Massage
After the massage ended, I didn’t want to get off the table. I could have fallen asleep right there. Amanda left the room again so I could get dressed. When I opened the door to let her know I was fully clothed again, she encouraged me not to do any heavy lifting and other rigorous activities. Amanda did suggest drinking water and light exercises, like going for a gentle walk or doing restorative yoga. If I were to go home and rearrange my living room, I think I would probably be sore the next day.
That night my muscles were a bit achy, which I hadn’t expected. By the time I went to bed, the achiness had subsided. I felt rejuvenated in the days after my first massage. It’s like the fog in my brain cleared and I was less anxious about finishing my tasks.
Try to plan your massage for a time when you will be able to relax and reflect afterward. Avoid heavy lifting and rigorous physical activity. Give yourself the space to continue your self-care after your massage ends. You deserve it!
Overall, my first massage experience was fantastic! The circulation to my hands and feet improved slightly. Amanda told me I will see more of an effect on my circulation once I get massages regularly. My muscles are much looser, so it has been easier to breathe. The pain in my back is significantly reduced. My mind is clearer too, and it is easier to focus on my tasks without feeling overwhelmed. I hope you enjoy your first massage as much as I did!