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First ever massage?

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Everything You Need to Know about your First Ever Massage

I've written this article to describe the massage treatment process from the point of view of the client to give a massage if this is your first ever massage. Here is some insight into what to expect and answer some common questions I've had from first timers over the years.

Head Massage by Stephen Jackson Massage Therapy Central and East London
Stephen Jackson Massage Therapy London

Over the years I've been approached by followers on Instagram who have never had a massage before asking various questions, so I thought I'd describe what a potential first-time client can expect a massage treatment with me to be like and hopefully answer some of those awkward questions.

If you'd like to book a massage but are curious about the benefits, how often to have one or that underwear question please read on.

Massage Therapy London for the Treatment of Back Pain
Deep tissue massage by Stephen Jackson Massage Therapy Central and East London


What does a massage treatment involve?

A massage treatment, be it a holistic, deep tissue, sports or aromatherapy massage, will all follow the same structure:

  • Consultation

  • Hands-on treatment on massage couch

  • Post-treatment after care advice

At the Neal's Year Remedies Therapy Rooms, I'll greet you upon arrival and take you to the therapy room where we'll have a brief chat about the consultation form I emailed (or complete it together if it's not been completed) to tailor the treatment specially to your needs.

I'll step out of the room whilst you undress and get yourself onto the massage couch. Whether you remove your underwear or keep them on is up to you. You will be covered with a towel and only the area treated will be uncovered at a time. You'll be laying face down, face up or on your side depending on the area being treated.

During the massage I will check in with you regarding the pressure but if I'm ever using too much pressure please tell me. If you're holding your breath or clenching your teeth, that's too much pressure, as is asking yourself "is this pressure too much?"

I'll let you know when the treatment has finished and leave the room to give you a moment to slowly get yourself back into your body - it's not uncommon to fall asleep or enter into a meditative state during the massage and if so it's important to not rush back into 'real life'.

Once you're dressed, I'll come back into the room and offer some after-care advice based on what I felt during the treatment and demonstrate some stretches if that would be helpful and answer any questions you may have. There's also the opportunity to re-book after the session.

Head & Neck Massage by Stephen Jackson Massage Therapy London
Holistic Massage by Stephen Jackson Massage Therapy Central and East London


1. What are the benefits of massage?

Massage is wonderful and has many benefits but it is not a cure. It can certainly help reduce pain, stress, muscle soreness and tension and improve sleep, circulation and energy but the true benefits from massage come from regular treatments.

2. How often should I come?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to frequency of treatments as it depends on why you want or need massage. Once a month is a good general rule of thumb although if you're very active or looking to treat chronic pain, more frequent treatments may be more appropriate. The frequency of treatment is also not necessarily fixed, you may feel for a period of time you want more frequent treatments to address a specific issue or less frequent as you've been making good progress and I'm more than happy to accommodate.

3. 60 or 90 mins?

A 60 minute treatment time is a little rushed if I'm honest. A longer session of 90 minutes also extra time to focus on areas of concern as part of a full body treatment. The one exception I'd say is for Sports Massage where a 60 mins session focused on a few areas is a great option, for example, a 60 mins sports massage for a marathon runner focused on legs, glutes and feet.

4. What does a full body massage include?

A full body massage includes treatment for the following areas: legs, glutes, back, shoulders, arms, head, face, chest, abdomen, hands and feet. It's not usually possible to get through all of those areas in 60 minutes, especially if we need to work through some knots or tension.

5. Will it hurt?

I don't believe massage should ever be painful. It may feel intense at times, especially during a deep tissue or sports massage where typically firmer pressure is applied. Releasing areas of tension can feel very intense and unlikely to be relaxing, however, you should feel some 'good pain' a sense of release to the area and that is perfect! The best thing you can do is to try and melt into the massage couch and relax as much as possible. If the inside of your mouth is smiling you're all set!

6. Which treatment should I have?

Deciding which treatment to book will depend on why you want a massage. There are generally two main reasons someone books a massage: to feel more relaxed or to help reduce pain. If you'd like a relaxing massage choose an aromatherapy or holistic massage and to help reduce pain choose deep tissue or sports massage.

7. Why do I have to complete a consultation form?

The consultation form enables me to tailor the treatment to your needs and it's also how you give consent to receive the massage treatment.

8. Do you talk during the massage?

Generally no but I will check in with you about the pressure during the massage. The reason I keep talk to a minimum is to ensure that your body is as relaxed as possible. If some light conversation would help you relax I'm more than happy to engage in some chit-chat!

9. Do you play music?

I do play music during the treatment. I've made some Spotify playlists that I play inspired by music I've heard and thought "ooh that would be great to massage to" or heard on a yoga retreat, think Sigor Ros, Olafur Arnalds, Jon Hopkins, Helios though the occasional Portishead or Joy Division track has been known to appear. If you have a specific artist or genre in mind please let me know and I would be happy to play whatever you like or indeed nothing at all.

10. Do you incorporate stretches?

During sports massages I usually incorporate some techniques that are great at helping to break down areas of tension, including assisted stretching.

11. Do I have to be covered

Yes. Your body temperature will drop whilst laid still on the massage couch and the towels used for draping will keep your body warm - it's difficult to massage areas of the body that are cold.

12. Do I have to keep my underwear on?

If you wear a bra, please remove it as I will need access to your back. As for other underwear, it's up to you, whatever you are comfortable with. If we're working your hips or glutes, it can be easier to treat the area without the fabric of underwear getting in the way but the decision is yours.

13. What oil do you use?

I use cold pressed soya bean oil as it's light, gentle and moisturising. I only use enough oil to glide over the muscles so you shouldn't feel "oily" at the end of the massage.

14. What if I arrive late?

Sometimes we arrive late for appointments, it's just life! If you arrive late, the treatment can still go ahead although it may have to be adjusted depending on how much time we have.

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