Prepare for massage

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Preparing for massage practice involves the preparation of the massage environment, your massage equipment, and yourself. All of these things create the first impression that your clients get when they walk into your clinic. They set the scene for the massage experience.

Massage Environment

Have you considered where you are going to practice massage over the period of this course? You may have a room in your house that suits the purpose, or you may need to find an external space. You need to start thinking about this now if you haven't already considered it. A practice space is essential if you are to log the number of hours that you need for course completion.

When choosing your clinic location and setting up your clinic, it's important to consider how all of the elements of the massage environment will contribute to the massage experience.

If you do not have a massage practice space organised yet, you should return to the following activity when you do have a massage practice space organised.


  • Read
    • Fritz, 2004 - The Massage Environment (p. 259 - 262)
    • Salvo, 2007 - Furnishing the massage room & Massage room environment (p. 52-56)
  • How will you take into account the factors described in your readings in the design of your clinic?
  • Draft up a floor plan for your clinic. Review the factors described in your readings to see if there is anything that you've missed.
  • Consider: In which of following massage environments could you see yourself working in the future: clinic, sports events, on-site (corporate), on-site (client's residence)?


The way in which you use your equipment will affect your client's experience of their massage.

  • Read
    • Fritz (2004) - Equipment (p. 254 – 259) and Draping sequences using sheets and towels (p. 271-283)
    • Salvo (2007) - Massage tables - Massage supplies (p. 44 - 52)

In class you have already had some experience of draping, working with oil and wax.

  • Over the next month, experiment with different draping techniques and massage lubricants. Try to determine the answers to the following questions.
    • Do you prefer working purely with towels, purely with sheets, or a mixture?
    • Do you prefer working with almond oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil?
    • Do you prefer receiving a massage with almond oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil?
    • What about massage wax, body lotions, talcum powder?

Some massage therapists think it essential to include music in the massage experience, while others prefer not to include music as part of the experience.

  • Consider – what are the benefits and downsides of using music in your treatments?
  • Here's a list of free music which you might like to consider using in your clinic.

Preparation of yourself

Preparing yourself is also a very important part of the massage process. Personal presentation incorporates personal hygiene, presentation, as well as your psycho-emotional state.

You should always ensure that your hands are clean before beginning the massage, but in the wider picture, you must also ensure other aspects of personal hygiene such as having clean hair, clean clothing, and attending to body odour.

Massage therapy is becoming more accepted as a healthcare profession, but in this time of transition it's critically important to present the image of a healthcare professional. The Therapeutic Massage Association of New Zealand (2005) has provided the following guidelines for professional dress

  • Long dress shorts/trousers (knee length or longer)
  • Shirt/top must cover armpits & cleavage
  • Clothing must not drape on client (short-sleeves)
  • Wear footwear (at least to greet & interview client)
  • Footwear clean & odourless
  • Footwear should not restrict body mechanics

Your psycho-emotional state has a strong effect on your client's massage experience. If you are stressed and agitated your client will have a different experience of talking with you and receiving a massage from you than if you are calm and relaxed. It's important that you take care of yourself, and take the time to do those things that replenish your batteries, and help you to remain in a good space.

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  • Therapeutic Massage Association (2005). Practical Competencies Required to be Demonstrated for Registration.  TMA, NZ.