When you arrive at a spa or other office to receive a massage, you are asked to complete a form asking all sorts of questions, from medical to what you do during your job. If you’re new to massage, or you don’t get them often, you may wonder, “Why all of this for some relaxtion?”

I know. I have been there. My one time a year (maybe) that I would treat myself to a massage would be while I was on vacation. Of course, I didn’t realize the importance and benefit of regular massage at that point either. Every time, I would have to complete a new form with all this information that I thought unnecessary.

What I didn’t realize was that massage not only can be used “just to relax,” but is a treatment to help improve body function so the body can heal itself, and possibly affecting certain medical conditions as well.

With that being said, the Massage Therapist needs to know of any medical conditions and/or recent surgeries that could affect how she performs the massage, and if massage is appropriate (see Contraindications). Not disclosing medical conditions because you think it doesn’t matter may actually do you more harm than good during a massage.

The form also asks for the type of work that you do. For instance, a therapist may concentrate on different muscles on somebody who works in an office job than somebody who is a carpenter. Knowing what sort of repetitive motions a client performs will help in the care that’s given to those over-worked muscles or connective tissues.

The form may also ask for goals for the session. Many situations, the goal of relaxation is fine. However, if you know you have a stiff or sore lower back, you may want a goal to be to loosen muscles in the lower back and relaxation. Once you get on the table, however, your therapist may notice some things that need to be worked without you saying a word.

Also on the form is the all-important INFORMED CONSENT. You are giving consent to your therapist to perform the massage and that you will let the therapist know if you are uncomfortable at any time during the massage and that you have disclosed any medical conditions that may affect the massage.

Although it may not be spelled out in the Informed Consent statement, your massage therapist is bound by the laws of HIPPA, and your intake form or any notes resulting from your sessions cannot be shared without a subpoena or written consent, nor can your therapist discuss you or any other clients with anybody else without written consent or subpoena.

The most important thing to remember is that your goals are met for each session so communicating with your therapist what those goals are will help in achieving them.