Getting your first massage at home? Or maybe you’re already an in-home massage guru and want to make the experience even better? Enjoying a massage is not a difficult feat in itself (it’s a massage, after all). Nor is booking one on-demand. However, there are a few prep tips to keep in mind beforehand, to maximize your enjoyment.
Define your goals
Before booking, ask yourself what you’re looking for from the massage. Did you just get home after a long plane trip and want to unwind? Do you need focus on a particular region or sore muscle (e.g. my right shoulder is killing me)? Do you love or hate having a particular area worked on? Like or dislike certain strokes? Prefer a certain amount of pressure? Let your therapist know.
Therapists love knowing this information as it gives them the opportunity to provide the best personalized massage experience for your needs. Being candid allows them to tailor the session so you get maximum relaxation within the time limit (or they may be able to extend the massage). They want to help you!
Lay down the ground rules
When the therapist arrives at your home, don’t hesitate to ask them to take off their shoes, and share any other house rules. For example, you might ask them to put the massage lotions on a coaster, or keep an eye out for Mr. Mittens roaming around the living room.
From here, all licensed massage therapists in the Zeel network follow industry best practices when it comes to preparing for your massage session. They’ll excuse themselves to wash their hands, which gives you time to get undressed to your comfort level and get under the top sheet of the massage table. Then they will ask if you’re ready before coming back into the room. If you are, let the on-demand bliss begin.
Be honest about medical issues
Your therapist will do a verbal or written “intake” prior to the massage. Do you have any allergies, sensitivities, or preferences regarding massage products? Any surgeries, injuries, or medical issues (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, or anything you’d mention to a doctor)? Be honest! The information remains confidential and is very important for the therapist to know.
Don’t feel weird about it – Zeel’s network of experienced therapists have heard it all. Pro tip: with the Zeel massage app, you can put these details directly in the notes before your session.
Set the mood
Decide if you’d like music during your home massage, and if so, what you’d like to play. Therapists generally bring massage-appropriate music, but if there’s something specific you want to hear, let the therapist know – or feel free to cue up your Beats pill as the therapist arrives. (Don’t have a speaker? Try the old iPhone-in-a-bowl trick.)
While most therapists won’t feel comfortable working in a completely dark space, you should feel welcome to dim the lights during your in-home massage. Silencing your phone is also recommended.
How to prepare for every type of massage at home
Different massage techniques require different setups. Here are some guidelines to maximize your in-home massage enjoyment, no matter the modality.
Swedish and deep tissue massage
These classic massage techniques are performed on a massage table, under a sheet. As mentioned, the first step is to undress to your comfort level. All private parts remain covered throughout the massage (a technique known as draping), and only the area being worked is exposed at any given time. You’ll need a bottom sheet and a top sheet, and a pillowcase for the face cradle.
It’s normal to feel colder than usual during the massage, as blood is circulating from the core to the extremities, and the body loses heat through the skin. You might want to have a blanket prepared to put over the sheet. Keep in mind that the linens – and possibly the blanket – will come in contact with massage lotion or oil. Pro tip: don’t use your best linens when receiving a massage at home.
(Get a free set of microfiber sheets when you sign up for Zeel Massage Membership.)
Sports massage also takes place on a massage table and generally incorporates elements of deep tissue and assisted stretching. The benefits of sports massage are numerous, from increased flexibility to injury prevention to game-day recovery. For this type of massage, consider wearing athletic shorts for everyone’s comfort, so the therapist can incorporate ideal stretches.
Shiatsu, Japanese for finger pressure, can be performed on the floor or on a table. You are fully clothed throughout the shiatsu session, so we recommend wearing comfortable clothing, like athletic pants and a T-shirt. Your therapist uses their thumbs, fingers, elbows, and knees to concentrate on pressure points and relieve tension and pain. This technique is also sometimes known as acupressure.
In the case of pregnant women, most of the massage therapy session will be done in a side-lying position, in which draping can be a bit challenging. Having extra towels on-hand for draping is recommended. The therapist wants you to be as comfortable as possible, especially during the second and third trimesters when prenatal massage is most helpful in relieving aches and pains. Important note: Zeel does not recommend so-called pregnancy massage tables with holes cut in them, as these are bad for the baby and you.
With Zeel, you can double your pleasure by turning any modality into a couples massage. Keep these tips in mind to set yourselves up for success. Create a romantic ambience – candles, relaxing music, perhaps a warm bath beforehand. Plan to get massage sessions for the same length of time (it’s not ideal if yours is 60 minutes and your partner’s is 90 minutes). Also consider the setup – you’ll need enough space to put two massage tables side by side, about 10 x 10 feet. Lastly, choose the gender of your therapist(s) depending on your comfort level. You can simply note these preferences in the Zeel app when booking.
If you’re planning to get an in-home massage late in the evening, you might consider a sleep massage. This custom modality was designed by Zeel in partnership with Arianna Huffington in order to lull you into a peaceful slumber. Massage sessions can start as late as 10:30pm, meaning you can simply nod off right after at 11:30 bedtime. In order to prepare for this technique and allow yourself to seamlessly transcend from massage euphoria into the land of Nod, tell your therapist in advance that they can simply let themselves out after they’re done (e.g. “the door auto-locks behind you”). Then, dream away.
Enjoy a 5-star massage at home
Last but certainly not least, enjoy! Creating the ideal atmosphere and sharing your personal needs with the therapist can go a long way toward enhancing your in-home massage experience. Make it more than a “treat yourself” special occasion.
Bask in the health benefits of massage therapy every month by joining Zeel Massage Membership.
Zack is a writer, producer and marketer with 10+ years' experience in the advertising, nonprofit and tech startup industries. He is currently the Education Production Team Lead at Foundr Magazine, a web site for entrepreneurship education and was previously Content Manager at Zeel. Learn more about Zack on LinkedIn.