Monthly Archives: October 2008

What to expect from your first massage

This post lists some common questions that people ask before they go in for their first professional massage. These are from the AMTA’s (American Massage Therapy Association) website and I have made some additions in italics.

Do I need to remove all of my clothes? No. It’s your choice. Remove clothing to your level of comfort. (AMTA) If you are comfortable recieving a massage with your clothes off, the massage therapist will step out of the room while you take off your clothes and get under sheets to protect your modesty. The therapist will only uncover what they are working on.

Will wearing clothing affect the benefit? No. If you wear clothing during the massage, make sure the massage therapist can move the parts of your body you expect to be massaged through your clothes. Remember, chair massage is given without removing any clothes. (AMTA) Wearing clothing will prevent the massage therapist from using techniques with massage lotion or oil.  You may also remove all but your underclothing.

Will it hurt? It shouldn’t. Give the massage therapist complete and accurate health information and let your massage therapist know your needs. (AMTA) A massage does not have to hurt to be beneficial. If we wanted to hurt you we would become dentist.

What should I do if I experience discomfort? During the massage session, tell your massage therapist if you have any discomfort, whether it is from the massage or from any distractions related to the environment, including amount of pressure, speed of movement, room temperature, music volume or lighting. (AMTA)

Do I need to talk? Some people like to talk during a massage session, while others remain silent. Sometimes talking can be a way of unburdening oneself or opening up. Sometimes being silent can be a way of concentrating or letting go of thoughts. (AMTA) Some therapist may ask questions during the massage regarding what you are feeling or more history about your body or pain.

What if I fall asleep? Some people do fall asleep. If you do, your massage therapist will wake you at the end of your session. Most people feel invigorated by massage. (AMTA)

Do I need to leave immediately when my massage is done? Take your time. Sit up slowly and drink plenty of water. (AMTA)

This is a pretty good depiction of a massage. If you still are unclear about what happens on a massage table ask a massage therapist, post a question in the comment section of this blog or you can e-mail me at Thank you for reading, PJ Harris LMP


How to Find the Right Massage Therapist for You

I would like to go over my suggestions for the process of finding just the right massage therapist for you. First of all you want to consider:  

What do you want from your massage? Pain relief, relaxation or maybe a soothing spa treatment.

If you want pain relief, how are you going to pay for this?
    *Auto insurance coverage from an automobile accident.
    *Labor and Industry for a work related injury.
    *Health insurance for you have massage coverage.
    *Old fashion cash, check or credit card.
    *Other, and yes, there really is an other.

Now you have a little more clarity about what you want from your massage. Next, here are some questions you can ask of the therapist to get a better feel if they are a good fit for you.

Do you have a License? As of now, 37 states require massage therapists to be licensed. Washington State, where I practice, is one of those states. Some cities or counties will require a local license. I practice massage in Seattle where the requirement is only the state license.

Are you a member of the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association)? Professional members of AMTA have demonstrated their competency through successful completion of the AMTA national exam or graduation from an accredited program. Members must also pursue continuing education standards in order to retain membership.

Are you trained in any specific massage modalities? The various types of massage are termed “massage modalities.” Each massage and bodywork modality requires specialized training. While some massage therapists use just one or two types of massage, most employ a variety of techniques in their practice.

Are you an insurance provider and if so what types of insurance do you accept? Many massage therapist do not accept insurance or only accept certain types of insurance. For example I accept:
First Choice
L&I (Labor and Industry)
PIP (Personal Injury Protection) for automobile accidents

Where are you located and what are your fees? Being within your budget and driving reach are important. Some therapists offer specials. Some therapists will bring their massage tables to your home.

What does an average session of your massage entail? Remember the first part of this post where we talked about what do you want from your massage? You can get a better feel for what is going to occur and whether it fulfills what you want from a massage if you know what their massage entails. I think it also gives you a chance to intuitively check in with your gut, or however you make decisions, that this is a good fit for you. Not every massage practitioner works for every body. That is okay because there are many different massage therapists and many different bodies.

If you are looking for resources where you will find great massages therapists I have a few links for you.

Biznik This is a great networking group that has a search engine. Type in massage and vous la. They all have their own page which allows for the therapists to include quite a bit of pertinent information.
AMTA Online Locator Service is a national listing of members including their modalities.
Cortiva Most of the Cortiva Schools are accredited by COMTA (Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation) and they have a national listing of therapist that have completed their program.

Hopefully this was helpful for you and if you have any questions, let me know in the comment section below. Thank you, PJ Harris LMP

Benefits of Massage

Today I’m going to cover the first of many posts from that long list of massage subjects I wrote about in the last blog. The source of “Benefits of Massage” is the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association). The first time I read them was at the start of massage school. I suddenly became even more aware of the amazing impact my profession has on clients. This sure added to my excitement about my shinny new career. To this day, I am grateful to be part of the wonderful tradition of having a positive impact on the world and all the bodies in it. Thank you for reading. PJ Harris, LMP

Physical Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Helps relieve stress and aids relaxation
  • Helps relieve muscle tension and stiffness
  • Alleviates discomfort during pregnancy
  • Fosters faster healing of strained muscles and sprained ligaments; reduces pain and swelling; reduces formation of excessive scar tissue
  • Reduces muscle spasms
  • Provides greater joint flexibility and range of motion
  • Enhances athletic performance; Treats injuries caused during sport or work
  • Promotes deeper and easier breathing
  • Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymph fluids
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Helps relieve tension-related headaches and effects of eye-strain
  • Enhances the health and nourishment of skin
  • Improves posture
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Treats musculoskeletal problems
  • Rehabilitation post operative
  • Rehabilitation after injury
    (Source: AMTA)

Mental Benefits of Massage Therapy

  • Fosters peace of mind
  • Promotes a relaxed state of mental alertness
  • Helps relieve mental stress
  • Improves ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately
  • Enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity
  • Emotional benefits
  • Satisfies needs for caring nurturing touch
  • Fosters a feeling of well-being
  • Reduces levels of anxiety
  • Creates body awareness
  • Increases awareness of mind-body connection
    (Source: AMTA)

Blog Action Day – Poverty

I won’t make writing about unrelated issues a habit, for this is a professional massage blog. But today is an exception because it is Blog Action Day. Every year bloggers are challenged to make a difference by writing about a particular issue. Last year was the environment and this year it is poverty.

I have spent most of my life above the poverty level. Twice in my younger adulthood, I was unemployed. I was fortunate enough to have people who cared about me to help me through it. One thing I could do during those hard times to feel like I was making a difference, was to scrounge up the dollar to buy a Real Change publication. I was lucky those times were brief and I had skills to at least find temp work.

Many people are not that lucky.

Real Change is provided by a grass roots non-profit organization. This is a weekly activist publication written and distributed by the impoverished to benefit the homeless. Their mission is to create opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty. The focus is on empowerment not rescue. They started in Seattle in 1994. At first I just paid my dollar and threw the paper in the recycle bin feeling I had done my part. Now I read it and always find something worth well over the value of the low purchase price. Each month, more than 200 different vendors are out selling the paper throughout the Seattle area. You will know they are with Real Change by the Real Change badge they wear. When the opportunity arises please support this cause. Check them out 

In a few hours I will post my regular massage blog. Thank you for reading, PJ Harris LMP




The First Blog! Learn About Massage

Hello and welcome to my first blog. I love to share the benefits of massage with my massage clients and friends in Seattle, plus ways to support their posture and reduce pain in their daily lives. So I thought a massage blog would be a great venue for this.

Do you want to know more about the amazing apparatus known as the human body and how to better care for it?  Yes?  Then subscribe to this blog!  You’ll receive an e-mail whenever there is an update.

I have many ideas for blog subjects. Here are some off the top of my head:

Benefits of massage (source AMTA)


Common causes of injuries

Injury prevention

How and when to ice an injury

Different types of massage and what they offer

Treatment overwhelm

Appropriate pressure and speed in a massage

Pain management between massages

Common causes of headaches

Motor vehicle accident recovery

How to choose a massage therapist

Massage instead of surgery

Ways to support your body in your daily life

What to expect from your first massage

…and many more


If there is something not listed that you have questions about, or you want to discuss any other massage-related topics, let me know by posting in the Comments section below.

Thanks for reading and sharing in this exciting career step with me. Be well.