Your First Massage Therapy appointment - What to expect

Working full time as a registered massage therapist in Toronto, believe it or not, I sometimes get sore too.  Since I like to practice what I preach I usually choose massage therapy as my primary method to relieve my aches and pains.  Most of the time I  exchange with the other amazing therapist here at MyoCAre, my massage therapy clinic in Toronto, located in the Annex district, but upon occasion I like to try other clinics out. A few weeks ago this was the case when my arms and hands got tight from working.

My experience at this clinic finally made me understand why my clients frequently thank me for actually listening to them, their concerns and specifically addressing them with my treatments.  Like usual, I was asked to fill out a health history form where I needed to explain my primary concern.  This time it was defenitely my arms and hands, which I clearly stated on the form.  Once brought into the room the therapists began by saying”  So it’s your shoulder and neck that are bothering you?”  I had to restate that “No, it was my arms and hands that are sore, and I would like her to focus in those areas”.  ( CLearly she didn’t even glance at the health history form)  Once on the table she quickly began working my back and shoulder.  I waited patiently, thinking she would maybe just spend a little bit of time working in these areas, and then move to my arms, but alas I was wrong.  With only 5 minutes left in the treatment she started working on my arms, and quickly ran out of time. Leaving me feeling like I wasted $95 on a treatment that didn’t address my needs.  AND my arms were still sore!

The reason I’m sharing this little story with you is to explain to you what the proper protocol should be when you receive massage therapy treatments.

Health history form

1.  You should always have to fill out a health history form.  This form allows the therapist to make sure massage therapy is safe for you, and to let him/her know that what your primary concerns are, as well as your treatments goals.  The therapist should read the form over, so she should know what your concern is before you even enter the treatment room.  If you get the feeling your therapist is clueless to your concern do not hesitate to ask them to review your form. 

2.Asking the right questions

The therapist will then need to ask you some questions regarding your health concern, and any pre-existing condition.  The question should be quite specific, like “when did the issue start?”,  ” What makes it better/worse?” etc…  The questions should be quite specific to your primary concern.

3. Assessment

After asking these questions, the therapist might choose to do an assessment.  I know in most cases, you just want to jump on the table and get the massage started…after all the clock is ticking.  But believe me, a short 5-10 minute assessment will make your treatment MUCH more effective.  This will allow the therapist to determine exactly what could be causing your issue, as well as give them an idea whether or not there are other contributing factors.  This way she/he can  not only address your symptoms, but also the initial cause of these symptoms.  This will allow  your concern can be treated so it will go away, and stay away.    By allowing your therapist to take this 5-10 minutes, during your first treatment,to do a proper assessment, you will get treatment specifically tailored to your needs, which means better results faster.  Which = saving money and time.

In some cases the therapist might not need to perform an assessment, but in these cases  the therapist should always explain to you what she/he believes is going on, followed by the treatment plan.

3.  Explaining the treatment

Before you get on the table, the therapist should always explain to you what she believes is the problem, as well as what he/she plans on doing about it.   This is called explaining your treatment plan.   In most cases the therapist should explain to you, how to position yourself on the table, any articles of clothing that would help if you removed,  the parts of the body he/she plans on working with, as well as the types of techniques he/she plans on using.  This way you have a good idea whether or not the massage therapist plans to address your specific concerns.

It is, however, important to remember that the entire body is interconnected, and because of this your therapist will most likely have to treat an area that you didn’t even know had a problem.

For example, most of the time, pain between the shoulder blades is actually caused by tight pectoral muscles,  making your shoulders rounded, and putting stress on the muscles in the mid back.  In this case it is very important to release the pectoral muscles, even if there is no pain, or discomfort felt in the chest area.

However,  in these cases it is important that your therapist clearly explains why he/she plans on working on these contributing areas, so you don’t wonder why is she working there?

After the therapist finishes explaining her/his treatment plan, they should always ask you if you have any questions.  This is your time to speak up.  Don’t be shy, there is no such thing as a stupid question, so do not hesitate to ask.

After everything is explained to you, and the treatment begins, your therapist should follow the treatment plan she just went through with you.  It should focus on your primary concern, as well as it’s contributing factors.  This will not only help alleviate your symptoms quickly, but also help prevent them from coming back.   If they do not seem to be following the treatment plan you discussed, do not hesitate to ask him/her about it.  In some cases the therapist will find something unexpected in your tissues that need to be addressed in order to help with your initial complaint.  However, in these cases, your massage therapist should explain to you what he/she found and why she needs to add it in the treatment plan.   Now as much as you ( and most likely your massage therapist) would like to fix everything in just one massage therapy treatment, unfortunately in most cases this will not happen.  Like with other therapies, it can take a few treatments, and a bit of time.  This should also be discussed between therapist and client.

After your massage therapy treatment is over, your massage therapist should discuss with you what he/she found in your tissues.  If  He/she does not do this, do not hesitate to ask.  It is important to understand what is going on with your body, and how massage therapy is going to help.  He/she might also suggest some exercises to do at home.  These are VERY important! Your RMT is only with you 1-2 hours a week.  We are here to guide you and your body as it heals.  The rest of the time you must take responsibility of your health, and help it along as well.  In most cases these exercises are just as important as your massage therapy treatments so make sure you follow your therapist recommendation.

Your therapist should also discuss with you when you should return for treatment as well as how long he/she thinks it might take to reach your health goals.  Now remember, this is a prediction, no one can see the future, so it might not be 100 percent accurate.

If you go see a massage therapist and he/she follows this protocol be confident that your health is in good hands.  If you feel like you are not getting the client focused attention you need do not hesitate to speak up,  or simply come see us at MyoCare Registered Massage Therapy. MyoCare is located in the Annex district of Toronto.  Our RMT’s take pride in providing some of the best massage therapy in Toronto.  At MyoCare we promise  to provide you with client focused and effective massage therapy treatments so you can reach your health goals faster.

So wether your goals are to rehabilitate from injury, restore mobility and function, or to simply relax your body and mind…MyoCare is here to help