Before and After a 60 minute massage
The benefits of massage are written all over your face!
Receiving massage therapy has a multitude of benefits for your body including: relief from muscle tension, decreased stress, and reduced anxiety. Many of these benefits are known only under the surface of the skin as a concoction of chemicals such as oxytocin and endorphins. There is also increased blood flow, decrease in cortisol levels and improved lymphatic flow.
All these benefits of a massage you can't see but, there is one tell-tale feature of a great massage that you can see so clearly that it's written all over your face! Post massage face. It's a thing.
As a massage therapist for over ten years I have seen some amazing post massage faces and expressions. It is often a complete transformation from how a person arrives for the massage and how they look, act, and speak when they leave.
In January 2017, we collaborated with photographer, Hilary Vendenburg to take photos of massage clients before and after a 60 minute massage. The treatments ranged from relaxation to therapeutic. We hoped to achieve the following:
- Visually show the contrast effect of massage by looking at the face
- Show what a real person looks like after a massage and
- We wanted to present a range of real clients who experience the benefits of massage therapy
- Above all we wanted it to be fun!
The results are better than we imagined!
We hope you find these photos enjoyable, insightful and maybe they inspire you to book your next massage!
Occupation: Construction and Lead Vocals in Footsteps to Gaia
Andrew came in for massage therapy for general relaxation, stress relief and muscle tension release from the physical demands of construction.
Andrew is the lead vocals for a heavy metal/hardcore/punk band "Footsteps to Gaia." After one of his shows we can imagine Andrew would need his vocal chords massaged too- unfortunately, that's not in our scope of practice.
Whether or not Andrew did fall asleep during the massage doesn't change the benefits of the massage itself. Many of my clients have fallen asleep on the table and I always take it as a compliment. Obviously you really need it so I am grateful you trust me to take that nap your body needs.
(Left) It appears the main objectives of the massage were met as Andrew looks relaxed and tension free (at least in the facial features). Healthy blood flow to the face is common as he was face down (prone) for almost 50 minutes.
(Left) There is a slight smile behind his eyes no doubt from remembering how blissful the massage experience was. The classic head rest engraving on the face is a badge of honour that says, "look at me world, I just got a massage! Jealous?"
(Right) The photographer tried to get him to smile and although he did- he totally faked it.
Andrew Before and After
Roselyne comes in for a massage every two weeks and sees the same massage therapist- the incredible Tom Hunt at Align Massage Therapy. This winter she has been snow shoeing and really enjoys it but, she always manages to get snow up her back and cannot figure out why.
Why would someone get massage every two weeks?
The time between massage appointments is always unique to each individual. Many of our regular clients enjoy massage more frequently as it helps to prevent any major tension and stress to accumulate in the body. It also helps to prevent injury or bring awareness to a risk of injury. Plus, when you see the same massage therapist on a frequent schedule he/she will be familiar with what "normal" is for your body and be able to know immediately when there is a change.
Massage therapists are trained to recognize even small changes in muscle tone and function and the general health of your skin. We always love when a client is taking a pro-active approach to his/her health and wellbeing.
The photographer asked Roselyne to close her eyes and think about being back on the table... "How do you feel?"
Roselyne Before and After
Chrissy usually gets a 120 minute massage each time she comes in for treatment. This massage was was only 60 minutes for the photoshoot but, she said it still felt great and she did get pain relief!
Wait, what? A 120 minute massage? That's two hours. What would we have to work on for two hours?
Everything! Personally, I enjoy providing the occasional 90 minute or 120 minute massage because it provides freedom for the massage therapist to really address the needs of the indivudal without feeling rushed.
We can always do amazing work in any amount of time so don't be discouraged if 60 minutes or less is all you can tolerate or is within your budget. Keep in mind that for some individuals it can take the body almost 20-30 minutes just to relax.
We also would not advise that a 120 minute massage is concentrated on one specific area of the body- this would be over treatment and would likely provide the opposite effect you want.
(Left) Chrissy is imagining herself relaxing back on the massage table. With her head tilted back she is really engaged in the feeling of restoration she felt during the massage.
(Right) The photographer asked Chrissy, "What are you doing after this?"
Chrissy Before and After
In this before photo, Vicki was revealing to the photographer for the first time, she is pregnant! She was in her first trimester in January 2017.
When she came in for a massage and I asked her what I could treat, she basically waved her hand around her whole body and said...
I am grateful that Vicki trusted me to provide massage therapy treatment early in her pregnancy. She has no complications and is very healthy. Massage therapy is safe during all stages of pregnancy and when you work with a professional registered massage therapist you can be sure you are in good hands. You do not need a doctor referral to come for massage while you are pregnant but, you may always ask your doctor if it is safe for your to receive massage as each pregnancy is different.
As the internal organs of the body adjust to make room for a tiny human, many pregnancies can disrupt digestion and elimination. Reducing tension around the diaphragm can help with fascial restrictions and improve breathing function. Massage can aid digestion and the motility of the intestinal tract to relieve pressure from gas and constipation. Yes, we can help with that too!
Vicki is relaxed after enjoying her massage treatment.
Vicki Before and After
Sara is an RMT and fellow colleague who was very supportive of this project. Sara came in for a massage experiencing neck pain, tight shoulders and a headache.
When we originally planned this project we anticipated a lot of really blissful images of people who looked as if they might be using recreational drugs or had just woken up from a nap in a field of daisies. When we viewed the photos of Sara, we were reminded that one of the best parts of the job is helping people feel better. Many clients do come in for relaxation massage for wellness or to relieve stress and afterwards they feel elated. As registered massage therapists, the majority of our clients come to see us with specific pain or injury and want us to relieve it- NOW!
Pain is evident in Sara's face in the before shot. We see her eyes are squinting (as we often do when we are in pain), her face is very stoic to hide any pain from showing on her face and her head is slightly tilted to guard the pain in her neck (most people will turn to the side of pain to alleviate the tension on the muscle).
What is so amazing is that we see a completely different person in her after photos...
(Left) Photographer asked: "How do you feel?"
Sara might be a woman of few words but, these photos say a lot about how Sara is really feeling.
In the after photos, her eyes are more wide and bright and her head is more aligned between her shoulders.
(Right) The moment of laughter is when I reminded her of something funny we spoke of in the massage treatment. We managed to relieve the tension creating the neck pain and reduce the intensity of the headache post treatment.
Sara Before and After
Elizabeth is a forever client who is a very busy Southern belle. She is a fun loving wife and fur mama to Zoe and Abbie.
Between her work and school schedule she manages to get to the gym everyday- sometimes twice!
Massages are focused on injury prevention (occasional repair), as well as relaxation and stress relief.
Elizabeth knows that in order to maintain balance in her busy schedule while staying healthy and active she needs to make time to restore her body and mind. Thank goodness for massage!
(Left) That smile says it all!
(Right) The photographer asked Elizabeth to imagine herself back on the massage table. The photographer noticed that many of the clients responded to this question by closing his/her eyes and the head would slightly tilt back. A compliment to how the massage makes one feel is written all over Elizabeth's face as she looks calm, peaceful, and totally succumbing to relaxation.
Elizabeth Before and After
Entrepreneur and surfer
Stress is synonymous with our busy lives as we try to manage relationships, work, family etc. Stress can affect us emotionally, mentally and physically. When stress is unavoidable in our day, massage therapy can help you manage.
After a stressful week we may notice a strain on the physical body and our mental clarity. Recognizing when our body needs to slow down and rest is one of the kindest things we can do.
Massage therapy is one of many ways we can relax the body and rest the mind. Your massage therapist wants to support your health and well-being and can provide a unique treatment experience that is specific for your needs.
The after photos show Marc with very sleepy eyes. He later told us that he had a two hour nap when he got home!
Massage therapy provides a great escape from the stress of our daily lives and time to process thoughts and feelings. It is perfectly fine to be silent during the massage and enjoy the experience. It is also ok if you want to talk about your day. It is common that as the massage therapist releases muscle tension, underlying emotions, thoughts and ideas may come to mind. You can trust your massage therapist to maintain professionalism and confidentiality when it comes to your treatment.
Marc Before and After
Theresa is an actress from Germany working on theatrical projects in Canada.
She enjoys massage for relaxation and improved circulation because she is always cold! The massage table has a table warmer and a nice cozy duvet so she wouldn't be distracted by feeling cold.
Heat is an excellent addition to massage as it softens the tissues and increases circulation making it easier to work on tense muscles. It is also very soothing so it helps to calm the body even before the therapist has re-entered the room.
(Left) Theresa has a nice natural smile post massage and her features have softened. A little smudged mascara under the eye for a more dramatic look! We took the mirror out of the room to make sure each client wouldn't be able to fix anything before we could photograph them.
(Right) She looks as if in a pleasant dream when the photographer asked her to close her eyes and imagine herself back on the massage table.
Theresa Before and After
Tony is a hard-working business owner and has the handy-man skills to take on any job big or small.
He was introduced to massage therapy by his wife, Elizabeth.
It is very common for a partner to book a massage appointment for his/her spouse out of either love (or frustration) because the partner keeps complaining about the pain. It is also common for the spouse to absolutely love the massage, feel the benefits and re-book on the spot!
(Left)Tony was chatting with the massage therapist while he was having his after photo taken. We see a nice natural expression of relaxation and some colour in his cheeks.
(Right) When he was asked to close his eyes and imagine himself back on the table it almost looks as if he is wishing it to be true!
Tony Before and After
Vanessa was in her third trimester in January 2017.
This is her second pregnancy and she has a 13 month old daughter.
It's true! The body is changing rapidly during pregnancy and common complaints are low back pain, sore/tired legs, swelling, sciatic nerve impingement and general fatigue. Let's be honest, growing a tiny human is hard work!
A registered massage therapist is trained in prenatal massage to provide professional, safe, therapeutic or relaxation massage to help alleviate aches and tension during pregnancy. We even have special bolsters and pillows so you can feel supported on your side or lie comfortably face down too!
The frequency and duration of each massage varies with each pregnancy but, once a month or every two weeks is most common to keep up with the changes and reduce discomfort. Plus, it may be the last hour you get to yourself in awhile...
(Left) Vanessa was telling a story of her 13 month old daughter scolding the dog that morning, waving her finger at him and the joy and love is beaming in her eyes. She has even more of that pregnancy glow post massage.
(Right) The photographer asked Vanessa to close her eyes and think of a point where the massage therapist found "that spot, that one spot that felt really good." Well it wasn't hard because we actually did find a trigger point in her upper trapezius muscle. Although she may not be thinking fondly of "that spot" as it can sometimes be a difficult sensation to explain we can tell by her concentrated internal reflection that she knows exactly what "that spot" means in massage therapy.
Vanessa Before and After
What do you like about this project? How can we make it better?
Do you see a noticeable difference in the before and after photographs?
Did you learn something new about massage therapy?
We want to hear from you!
Hilary and I met in 2009 when we were both volunteering for local photographers, fashion events and artistic projects. Hilary decided to see what it was like to be on the other side of the camera and she has loved developing the skills, creativity and patience behind photography. I am so glad she agreed to collaborate with me on this project. We both achieved the results we were looking for and I appreciated how well she was able to engage with the clients to get the right post massage look.