If you’ve ever had a massage, you know that some sort of time warp takes place once you set foot in the massage room. It speeds up, it slows down, you may even start to lose track of what day it is. Or maybe that’s just me.
So much of massage is time-based that we massage therapists tend to pay close attention to time and use a lot of time-based language. Sometimes that language is specific and necessary as in, “I have you scheduled for a 60 minute massage at 3:00pm.” Sometimes, it’s more vague and polite such as when we say, “Take your time getting up.”
I’ve had clients take as little as 30 seconds (or less) to take off their clothes, throw them on the chair, get on the table, and cover up. The average time it seems to take my clients is somewhere around 1-2 minutes (I’ve never actually timed it), depending on the time of year and the care they take with their clothes.
This part of the massage is least subject to the time warp I mentioned above. You’re still in your normal multi-tasking, get-things-done mode and you’re excited to be getting on the table. You’re using all of your multi-tasking skills to get on the table as soon as possible so the massage can start.
I don’t know about you, but every time I get a massage, it always ends up being the fastest 60 or 90 minutes of my day. Truth be told, it’s often that way when I’m giving massage as well. I’m telling you, there’s some sort of time warp that happens.
This time warp has a lot to do with something I’ll broadly call mindfulness. Your mind may be racing when you first get on the table, but as you start to focus on how good your body feels (or how the pain is subsiding) it starts to calm down and you start to focus only on the bodily sensations. It’s the same thing that happens when you focus solely on a hobby or activity you enjoy… you lose track of time. I could do a whole blog post explaining this mindfulness, but that’s the gist of it.
Then comes the time that your therapist tells you in a soothing voice that the massage is over and to take your time getting up. You probably don’t want to get up; you’d prefer the massage continue for another hour. Who wouldn’t, right? But getting off the table and coming out of the room isn’t nearly as easy as getting on the table.
The average time it takes my clients to get off the table, put their clothes on, and come out of the room can be anywhere from 3-10 minutes. It makes sense, right? You’re relaxed, warm, and perfectly content… of course you’re going to move more slowly getting off the table than you did when you were enthusiastically anticipating getting a massage. You might even want to stay on the table and take a nap.
I’m gonna be honest. When we tell you to take your time getting up we don’t really mean it. Well, we mean it in the sense that we don’t want you rushing around to get dressed and come out of the room because that would undo a good portion, if not all, of the stress relief and lowered muscle tension you may have just experienced. We want you to move at a relaxed pace, but we don’t mean take ALL the time you want. Don’t sit in the room checking your Facebook or Twitter feed, don’t sit in there having a text conversation, and don’t (for the love of all that’s holy) give yourself some extra “pleasure” after the massage; we especially don’t want you doing the last one.
Remember, unless you’re the last client of the day your massage therapist has a client after you. Even if you are the last client of the day, the therapist still has to clean the room to get it ready for the next day. And hey, they may even have an actual life outside the office that they want to go participate in. So throw us a bone, eh? Don’t rush when you’re getting up, but try not to lolligag either.