What to Expect During Your Massage Appointment

Maybe you’re thinking about scheduling a massage, but you have no idea what to expect. Here’s a bit of a review of what happens when you come into my office for a massage!

Before Your Appointment

Ideally, I like to know what is happening health-wise before you come in for your massage. The easiest way to accomplish this is for you to fill out the online health information form that gets emailed to you. Rest assured, the program is HIPAA compliant, and I do not share your information with any third party.

This information helps me get an idea of what you’re hoping massage can help you with. It also give me a heads up if there are any reasons you should maybe not get a massage, or if I need to be careful of any particular health issues. If you can’t fill it out ahead of time, we’ll take care of it in the office, just plan to come in a little early.

Appointment Day: Touching Base

Plan to arrive about 10 minutes before the start of your appointment. We’ll go over any health concerns and talk about what you’re looking for in your massage. It’s helpful to know if you have any mobility or range of motion restrictions, as well as what areas are particularly tight or painful. You can also let me know if you don’t want me to massage a specific area, such as feet, abdomen, or glutes. Feedback or changing your mind about something is also welcome at any time during the session.

Getting Ready for Your Massage

After we’ve talked about what we’re going to do, I’ll take you into the massage room. There’s a corner with a comfy chair that’s all yours to toss your clothes and other personal items on. I’ll show you how I’d like you to lay on the table.

I will leave the room and go wash my hands while you get ready. You can choose how many layers of clothing you prefer to keep on. Most people strip entirely, or down to their underpants. You’ll be covered with a sheet and blanket the entire time.

My table is electric, and raises and lowers with a foot pedal. This is nice because I can set the table at a level that’s easy to hop on and get comfy. I will raise and lower it as needed during your massage. It’s pretty quiet and actually rather hard to tell if it’s going up or down!

The Massage: First Half

I typically start you face down if you’re there for a full body, or full hour massage. Starting you face down helps if you tend to get a little stuffed up laying face down. Once you roll over, you get a chance to “un-stuff” before your massage is done. It also allows any creases from the face cradle to fade a bit before you head out in public!

You’ll see a padded, U-shaped cushion (face cradle) at the end of the table for you to rest your face in. This is designed to help prevent strain on your neck, it’s also very comfortable! Additionally, I place a small bolster under your ankles for support.

For a full body massage, I usually start with the backs of your legs and work my way up. Part of the reason for this is encouraging blood flow towards your heart. I also tend to save more time for your back, unless your legs are of specific focus, since that tends to be people’s favorite part. I’ll check in with you periodically to see if the amount of pressure I’m using is good, or if you want more or less. If at any time you do not like something I’m doing, you can ask me to stop.

Uncovering one leg at a time, I pull a corner of the sheet under your leg and then up to your hip, with provides a secure, kind of “half a diaper” type of draping. This protects your modesty and allows me to work on your hard working thigh muscles. It also makes it easier to stretch your hips if needed.

The Massage: Second Half

Halfway through the massage, I’ll remove the ankle bolster and lift the blanket slightly so you can change positions. You’ll need to slide down towards the foot of the table so that you’re not in the face cradle, and then roll onto your back. (Sometimes easier said than done, when you’re all relaxed!) I’ll put a bolster under your knees to help prevent low back discomfort.

photograph of a person receiving a scalp/neck massageFor the second half of a full body massage, I’ll usually start at your head and work towards your feet. I like to give my hands a quick clean/sanitize so that I don’t get oil or lotion in your hair, and I’m touching your face with clean hands. Unless you don’t like it, or don’t want your hair messed up, I’ll start with a scalp massage.

I may also do some neck and shoulder stretches unless you’ve told me about disc issues or range of motion restrictions. When I stretch your arms/shoulders, I will pull your arm out from under the blankets, then tuck the blanket under your armpit so that it doesn’t slip.

Once I’ve massaged and stretch your hands, arms, shoulders, and neck, I’ll tuck you back in under the blankets and move down to your legs. I’ll do that same “half a diaper” draping so that I can work on the entire front of your legs. Then, I’ll tuck you back in again and move on to finish with your feet (unless you do not want a foot massage).

The Massage: Winding Up

When I’ve finished the last part of your massage, I’ll tuck you back under the blankets. Then, I’ll do a little bit of compression and some light “feather” or “nerve” strokes that soothe the nervous system. This also serves as a kind of “goodbye” and is a gentle cue that the massage is finished. I’ll remove the bolster from under your knees and lower the massage table to a height that is easy to get down from.

I will leave the room to wash my hands and allow you to get off the table at your own pace. Massage helps to lower your blood pressure, which can make some people a little dizzy if you sit up too fast. So, take your time and sit up slowly before hopping off the table. Once you’re up and dressed, you can come on out into the office!

Before You Go

When you come out of the room, I’ll check in to see how you feel, and if any problem areas are feeling better. Some people need to sit for a few minutes and kind of get back into their body before they leave. (“Massage drunk” is a thing!) You can help yourself to a cup of water and a dark chocolate or two (or three).

If you haven’t prepaid for your massage, we’ll get you checked out, and you can schedule your next appointment before you go, so you don’t forget. I accept most forms of payment, including check, cash, credit card, and Apple Pay. I have turned off the “tips” option on the credit card reader because I don’t want people to feel obligated to tip. If you’re someone who absolutely HAS to tip, just plan to bring a little cash! I won’t throw it back at you. šŸ™‚

Final Notes

Massage therapists are required to be licensed in the state of Maine. You can verify a massage therapist’s license status on the state’s website HERE. Choose “Massage Therapy” under the Regulator section and type in the name of the therapist to verify.

DO NOT ask for a happy ending. Don’t even joke about it. This is soliciting prostitution, and any “massage parlor” or “masseuse” that offers that service is likely not licensed and probably a front for sex trafficking. Stay tuned for more on that in another blog post.

Massage therapy is a legitimate form of wellness and health care, and as a massage therapist, I am here to do what I can to help you live a more comfortable, healthy, pain-free life. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your future massage appointment. I look forward to meeting you!

What is Tricia’s Massage Style?

Photograph of Tricia Griffith

Tricia, Licensed Massage Therapist

If you haven’t been in to Birch Tree Wellness for a massage yet, maybe you’re wondering if my massage style is right for you. Here’s a little bit of information about how I approach each massage.

What Do You Need in a Massage?

The first thing I want to know is, what are you looking for? Are you in pain, and don’t care so much about relaxing as long as the pain stops? Are you feeling physically fine but mentally drained? I can adjust each session as needed to address what you need that day.

Massage for Pain Relief

Before we start the appointment, we’ll chat about where your pain is and how it is affecting you. I want to try to get a feel for the source of your pain before we even start the massage. I’ll find out if you want full body work, or just a focus on the pain area, as well as if you prefer deeper or lighter pressure.

Occasionally, massage is not a good idea, and I want to make sure I’m not going to hurt you more. It’s important to know if you have any disc/spinal injuries, recent acute injuries such as fractures, or surgery. I may ask you about how the pain affects your range of motion and general movement. Are there times where it’s worse or better? Do you remember any specific incident that led to the pain?

Pain Relief is Relaxing

photo of a shoulder massage

Each massage begins with gentle Swedish massage. These are the long, slow strokes that help calm the nervous system and relax your muscles. Starting out with lighter pressure warms your muscles up. If I just dove right in to deep pressure, you’d leave your massage hurting more than when you arrived.

I believe that even a therapeutic massage can be relaxing. This is why as I start working on your problem areas, I incorporate relaxing strokes and gentle, but firm pressure. Occasionally, a hot stone may help loosen up a tight muscle. I may stretch your arms/shoulders, neck or legs/hips. Stretches or heat can help reduce how much deep work is needed to get cranky muscles to let go.

I’m a big believer that massage doesn’t have to hurt to work. I know there’s some amount of “good hurt”, but if you’re holding your breath, it’s probably too much. Don’t hesitate to let me know if it hurts too much. For the most part, I employ gentle techniques to get your muscles to release.


photograph of a person receiving a scalp/neck massage

Among my favorites is a “positional release” technique. This gets all “science-y.” If you have a sore neck, I target a specific tight neck muscle, and slightly move your head in the direction that muscle is trying to pull it. Then, I’ll hold it there for around 30 seconds. This sends signals to the muscle telling it that it’s done it’s job and successfully moved your head… good muscle! The muscle then lets go (and stops hurting). Science! (Magic!)

In other science news, you may also notice I don’t necessarily start right where it hurts. This is because many times a muscle hurts because it’s over-stretched, meaning the muscle that does the opposite action is tight and has been pulling it out of whack (a technical term). For example, if your upper back and shoulders hurt, it’s often because your shoulders are curled forward and your pecs are tight, over stretching those back muscles and making them sad and painful.

Checking In

If we’re working on a specific problem during your massage, I may check in with you periodically. It helps to know if what I’m doing is making a difference. I may also ask you to do something, such as resist against my push, or test your range of motion.

My “default setting” for massage is generally a medium to deep pressure without beating you up. I find this to be an effective amount of pressure, and most people find it comfortable. I can always back off or press harder as needed, don’t be afraid to let me know. That being said, the type of massage where it’s all elbows and painful deep pressure is really not my style. If you want to be beat up during your massage, I’ll help you find someone who likes to work that hard on you.

Just Shut Off My Brain

photo of a woman with hands on her head

If pain is less of an issue, but mentally you’ve just had it, I can still help. Massage is an excellent way to help manage chronic stress, anxiety or depression. For those of you who just need a mental break, we’ll slow down the massage and go back to those nice, relaxing Swedish massage roots. I often incorporate Reiki or just a gentle, soothing intent into the massage.

Massage decreases stress hormones and increases positive hormones like dopamine and serotonin. By keeping the pressure around a medium to light level, and not doing anything too painful, we can give your brain a break. Sometimes, that’s all we need to reset and get going forward again.

Quiet, Please

Lastly, in generally I try to follow a “Don’t speak unless spoken to” rule during your appointment. I believe that not having to worry about carrying on a conversation improves your massage experience. Several chatty clients have tried out being quiet during their massage and commented that it seemed like the massage lasted longer. That being said, if you just need to vent for a while, that’s okay, too!

Don’t Hesitate to Ask

Feel free to email me at tricia@birchtreewellnessmassage.com or message on Facebook if you want to talk about your massage needs, or have questions about my massage style. I look forward to meeting you!

Face Masks & Massage Update

Okay. So.

I’ve been trying for like a month to put together a full newsletter for you, but then stuff keeps changing and mask mandates are confusing, the State’s rules are confusing, and life is generally confusing. So, I spent the last couple of days doing some research and here is where we’re at:

Town of Orono:

The Town of Orono’s emergency mask mandate is still *technically* in effect. They are meeting on June 3 to discuss repealing it

State of Maine:

The State of Maine has “retired” the page with the reopening checklist for massage facilities. It now refers you to a page onĀ general guidanceĀ and say they will be following CDC recommendations.


The CDC has absolutely no massage industry-specific guidelines that I can find, though many pages hadn’t been updated in months. In anĀ American Hospital Associate article, I read that the CDC still requires masks in healthcare settings.

A recently updated page,Ā Key Things To Know, states that they are still working to understand how well the vaccine prevents you from spreading the virus, though early data show that vaccines help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19. They are still learning, including how effective the vaccines are against variants.

Massage Industry Experts:

I got probably the most useful, but still sort of nebulous information from Ruth Werner, a massage pathology expert in a blog post she wrote,Ā What the CDC’s New Mask Recommendations Mean for Massage Therapists. It aligns with what I have been thinking the last couple of weeks.

What Does It All Mean?

For right now, I’m going to go with please keep wearing masks for your massage appointment. At the moment, you technically still need to wear masks in the building, based on Orono’s rules. Once that is repealed, it is okay for vaccinated clients to come into the office without a mask. You will still need to wear one at least when laying face up on the table.

Plan to wear a maskĀ for at least part of your massage appointment through June, even if you are vaccinated. I will reassess at the end of the month. This could change if we have a surge or a dramatic drop in COVID cases.

Watch for updates of the various COVID-related policies on the website, bear with me as I sort all that out.

Stay tuned for a more exciting newsletter with information about new add-ons and other information!

Stay Well,

Can You Avoid a Wrinkle in Time?

You probably have a rough idea of where wrinkles come from… laugh lines, frown lines, decreased skin elasticity as we age… but you may not consider one of the key contributing elementsā€”the muscles underneath.

Wrinkles tend to develop where muscles pull on the skin, and muscle tension in our face, from stress, tension, even laughing and smiling a lot, can create the holding patterns that lead to wrinkles. Factor in the loss of elasticity over time and voila! Wrinkles!

Facial massage helps soften tight muscles in the face, which in turn may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. In addition, massage improves circulation to your skin, which you know is good for you!Ā Other benefits of facial massage include easing headaches and sinus pain.

I tend to include facial massage in most sessions, but let me know if you want me to be sure to include it in yours! Just contact me to schedule, or book your appointment online!

Be Well,Ā