What to expect from a chair massage (for employees)

So your company has decided to bring in a professional, licensed massage therapist to your work and you get to get a massage! Yay! 

It’s normal to want to know what to expect from chair massage, especially if you’ve not had one before.

What to wear

You are going to want to wear comfortable clothing that won’t pull tight on the throat, belly, or chest when you are in the chair. People who prefer to wear skirts may want to choose a longer, drapier style rather than a shorter style, as you’ll feel more covered and modest.

Please avoid wearing colognes or perfumes, and if you need to smoke prior to your session, please wash your hands. This avoids transferring scents to the equipment. Many people, including massage therapists, are sensitive to fragrance and it can trigger migraines and other problems.

If you wear dangly earrings, you may wish to remove them prior to the massage. Your neck and shoulders need to be accessible.

Greeting the therapist

Be sure to be at the chair massage location a few minutes early to make sure you get as much hands-on time as possible. Before you even sit on the chair, it’s important to have a conversation with the LMT.

Your licensed massage therapist is a trained professional. Chair massage is generally safe for most people and our initial greeting and intake will help us ensure a comfortable and pleasant experience.

Please tell the therapist if you have a history of fainting, easy bruising, blot clots, are pregnant, or have active cancer. Also let us know of medications that can cause bruising or change the way you process discomfort and pain (such as a muscle relaxer or pain killer). 

Next, be sure to communicate early and often with your therapist. If you don’t like deep pressure, let them know! If you don’t like trigger point/nmt/specific work, let them know.

No massage therapist is trained in mind reading, and letting us know what feels good–and what doesn’t–is absolutely critical to having a good chair massage experience in your office.

Mounting the equipment

A massage chair has a cushion for your bottom to sit on. Most models have knee pads, allowing you to sit comfortably. However, if you have knee issues, you can absolutely sit with one knee or both in a different position. Ask your therapist for help.

There’s a chest pad which you lean against. It should be positioned so you feel supported without pressure on the neck and without letting your low back be lax.

Most models also have a front shelf that you can put your arms on. Please use this. It helps to relax the shoulders and arms.

Finally, there is a place for your face to go called a face cradle. This should be covered with a towel, cloth, or face cradle cover. This will collect makeup, oil, sweat, drool, etc. and must be changed between each client.

The massage

Chair massage generally does not utilize lotions, potions, or oils. It is almost always done fully clothed, though many who wear layers choose to take some off.

Most chair massage focuses on the neck, shoulders, and upper back. The lower back is accessible as well. Some therapists will also work the arms and hands. This depends on your needs as well as the time restraints. 

Chair massage can be gentle or intense (we prefer this to “light and deep” in our Lakewood Ranch massage practice), specific or broad or a mix, focused on an area or done all over, soothing or invigorating. 


Massage should feel good. It is a safe and effective way to reduce stress as well as help sore, tired, achey muscles.

That said, if you have a chronic complaint, the massage therapist’s office may be a better setting to really delve into it. A longer consultation and lengthier session will usually be needed. 

Some sore, tender, discomforting feelings can be normal for problem areas. However, it should never hurt. The difference between tender and hurt is that one is easily tolerable, even though it’s no fun, and the other will put you into a state called “Fight or Flight”.

Once that happens you are unable to relax. Your body is ready to fight a tiger or run away from one. It doesn’t know the difference between a traumatic massage, your spouse saying “we need to talk,” or being cut off in traffic. 

“That is too much pressure, please lighten up” or “I would prefer more pressure there,” are clear ways to communicate changes. No therapist who is a professional will mind feedback. So please help us help you.

After the massage

Once the massage is complete, you will be asked to sit up slowly. The position of the face cradle on the sinuses can make some people dizzy for a short time. 

When you are steady, go ahead and carefully get up out of the chair. 

Gratuities aren’t usually expected from each person getting a chair massage. Please check with the person coordinating the wellness massage to see what the plan is. If you do want to tip, please do so in cash.

If you enjoyed the massage, a great way to thank the therapist is to like their social media page and leave a positive review. 

Be sure to thank the person or people who allowed chair massage to occur. Feedback that it was enjoyable, successful, and that you appreciated it means it’s more likely to happen again.

There is a common myth that massage “releases toxins” and that you should “drink plenty of water after a massage”. Drink to your thirst. Massage does increase circulation systemically (all over), but overall only as much as walking to your mailbox. Working on a small, specific area for a time will increase the blood flow to that area.

You may experience some soreness in areas that were worked. This is not unexpected. Some people swear drinking more water helps. Other people prefer a hot shower and gentle stretch. When it comes time, you are the expert in your own body.

We are not doctors

Physicians train for many, many years in order to diagnose conditions. Your massage therapist can answer basic questions about the human body, how muscles work, basic pain science, and the benefits of massage.

However, please do not ask us to diagnose you, suggest medications or supplements, or otherwise work outside our scope of practice. We aren’t trained for it, it will eat time from your hands-on work, and in many states we could face huge fines and lose our license. 

Want to get us into your company?

Have the coordinating person give us a call at 941-676-3433 (x0), or email lizzpughlmt@gmail.com. We’re happy to help in any way we can to provide excellent corporate chair massage in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding areas.

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