It’s a proven statistic. More women than men enjoy the benefits of regular therapeutic massage. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), statistics from their 2009 national studies reveal 40 percent of women and only 29 percent of men reported seeing a massage therapist in the past five years.
Therapeutic massage is clinically proven to provide a wide-number of important health benefits including stress reduction, pain relief, lower blood pressure and improvements to the immune system. As a result, healthcare providers are increasingly promoting the benefits of massage to their patients.
In AMTA’s 2009 survey, thirty-nine million American adults discussed massage therapy with their healthcare providers. While physicians led the way in recommending massage, chiropractors and physical therapists also recommended massage therapy when their patients discussed it with them. Additionally, more than three-quarters of massage therapist (76%) indicate they receive referrals from health care professionals.
So to the 71 percent of men out there not experiencing massage, what’s the problem?
According to many experts, including licensed massage therapists, here are some of the questions about massage that men always want to ask, but are too embarrassed to ask….
- Do I have to undress and if so, will the therapist be there when I undress?
Nudity is indeed the number one concern for everyone getting a massage. But don’t worry; you should always undress to your level of comfort. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave on your undergarments and sometimes more, depending on the areas that need attention. If you do disrobe (totally or partially) all clients are discretely draped under a sheet with only one body part uncovered at a time. Additionally, the massage therapist always leaves the room so you’re alone to remove clothing and get under the top sheet/blanket. Don’t rush, they will knock and ask if you’re ready before coming in – just like at a doctor’s office.
- What if I have a certain body part that I’m self-conscious about?
People are indeed concerned about their bodies for a variety of reasons; overweight, scars, excessive body hair, etc. Don’t worry, massage therapists are used to seeing all shapes, sizes and condition of the body and they have an entirely clinical perspective, no different than any other health-care provider. However, if there’s a certain part of your body you really are subconscious about, just ask the therapist to avoid it.
- I always chat when I get my hair cut, should I talk during the massage?
If you want to talk, feel free, but don’t feel compelled to do so. This is your time to recuperate and relax. The therapist should check in with you during the massage to make sure the pressure level is correct and that they’re addressing your concerns. Of course, always speak up if anything is uncomfortable or you if forgot to mention something during the pre-massage consultation.
- What if I’m uncomfortable with a male (or female) therapist giving me a massage?
Don’t ever hesitate to specify that you would prefer a female or a male therapist. In fact, most massage studios will be upfront and ask you for your preference, before you have to ask.
- If it’s a therapeutic massage, am I supposed to tip? I don’t at the doctor’s office.
Whenever you’re pleased with the massage services, a 15 to 20% tip is standard. However, if you’re in a clinical/medical setting there really aren’t any ground rules. When unsure, don’t be afraid to ask if tipping is customary – either when you arrive or call ahead.
So your basic questions are answered and you’re ready for a massage. What type of massage do you want to experience?
Most massage studios offer a wide range of massage options, which can also be confusing. For many men, a good place to start is with a therapeutic sports massage. This is a type of massage technique that focuses on treating soft tissue aches and pains associated with recreational activities.
You don’t have to be an Olympian to benefit from sports massage. Whether you are a regularly sports enthusiast or an occasional athlete (even just a “walker”), a sports massage is the perfect way to relax tight, overworked muscles with a mix of techniques and stretches. The areas may include the hamstrings, quads, calf muscles and glutes. It also helps reduce adhesions (knots in the muscles) relieving the stress they can place on tendons, ligaments and joints. Sports massage is also good for those with injuries, chronic pain or a restricted range of motion.
For all the men who are hesitant about massage therapy, now’s the time to experience a massage! There are an increasing number of credible massage studios that always welcome women and men with convenient locations, plus evening and weekend hours. Whether you choose a therapeutic sports massage or any one of the many other massage techniques available, you’ll soon learn the value of regular massage therapy.