Experience Relief by the Art of Touch


Located at:

Nurture Wellness Center

541 W9th Ave

Oshkosh, WI 54902

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Frequently Asked Questions

The world of massage is ever growing and changing.  Perhaps you've always desired that perfect spa treatment or relief from stress and pain, but you're unsure of what to expect.  Maybe you've heard horror stories of massages gone wrong.  Or it could be that you've been warned about an unsavory or seedy atmosphere at a local business offering massages, and you wonder how best to avoid an embarrassing scenario.  You are not alone!

In this blog, I have set out to answer the questions that I have found so many massage clients or potential clients are too embarrassed to ask.  Don't let an unanswered question keep you from trying a treatment that could greatly enrich your life!  My goal in this section is to alleviate the fear of the unknown in regards to massage therapy.  I hope that this will encourage good communication between clients and massage therapists and keep those who previously feared massage from avoiding treatment that could provide them with great benefits.

I will continue to update this page as new questions arise.  If you have a question that I have not answered on this page, please feel free to reach out by using the "Contact" page of this website.  I will never post your personal information, but if it is an answer that others may need, the question and answer may become a blog post.

Happy reading!  And may you experience relief by the art of touch!

-Brittany Nennig, Licensed Massage Therapist

Do I tip my Massage Therapist?

October 28, 2017

My canned answer to this common questions is: “Tips are always appreciated but not always necessary.” Whether a tip is expected or not depends on two variables: 1) the massage atmosphere, and 2) the massage therapist. Generally speaking, most massage therapists ACCEPT tips.

The Massage Atmosphere

Tips are usually EXPECTED in the fields of hospitality and recreational services. Here’s the reason behind this expectation: whether or not the massage therapist is duly compensated hourly, it is proper to tip your cosmetologist, esthetician, or nail technician. By working in the same atmosphere, the massage therapist does not want to discourage clients from tipping the other employees at a salon, day spa, or hotel (All of whom usually work on commission or pay large booth rental fees). So if your therapist works at a salon-, hotel-, or day spa-like atmosphere, a tip is probably in order. Tipping is more than a means of expressing “Job well-done!” It may be a necessary part of the income of an employee in the service industry. A massage therapist may be paid enough by his or her employer that he or she is not dependent on tips, but please don’t assume this is the case. While you may think that it costs you a lot of money to get a massage, it may be that the therapist is only making 15-20% commission before tips and taxes. In these cases, tips are a large and very-much-appreciated segment of his or her income.

In the medical, health, and wellness fields, tipping depends on circumstances. Massage therapists who work at hospitals, doctors’ offices, chiropractic offices, and wellness clinics have varying methods of billing and payment receipt, which may include various laws, legislation or negotiation with insurance companies. They may pay rent and work as a subcontractor, work on commission, receive a set hourly wage, or receive a salary. There may be a system for tipping that is arranged by the office by which they are employed.

For the massage therapists who work independently or that are self-employed, it is best to simply ask. Most accept tips, but not all agree with the practice. Some believe they are well-compensated by the rate they charge. Others may offer a lower hourly rate but are more dependent on tips. It is perfectly acceptable to ask any massage therapist if they accept tips.

The Massage Therapist

The moral of the story is: ask your massage therapist or kindly offer a tip. When asking your therapist, what should you say? You want to make sure you show the proper appreciation; no one wants to offend their therapist. But you don’t want to pay more than what is expected, right? Simply kindly ask, either at checkout time or after the massage session, something like, “Do you accept tips?,” or, “If I give you a tip, do you have to split it?” This gives the therapist an opportunity to accept and thank you or to kindly decline the offer.

How much do you tip? Simply tip the customary amount for the hospitality field, much the same way you would tip your waiter at a restaurant. The current tipping rate is 15-25% of the full-priced bill in most areas of the US. If you are afraid of the math, most modern cellular phones have a tip calculator for you.

Remember to schedule your next massage!


How long should my appointment be?

October 25, 2017

This may depend on the type of treatment and the way each individual massage practice does their scheduling.  Make sure you ask your massage therapist before booking your appointment.  Here are a couple of ways the scheduling may be done:

Scheduling Styles

The first way is the standard massage hour.  This means that if you schedule or book a 60-minute appointment, you get 60 minutes of treatment time.  For example, you call and schedule a 2:00 pm appointment for a 60-minute treatment.  Your actual treatment time is scheduled to last from 2:00 pm until 3:00 pm.  Your therapist or scheduler arranges the schedule so that they have 15-30 minutes between appointments, typically speaking.  What this means for you is that you need to arrive slightly before your scheduled start time if you want to receive the full 60 minutes you have purchased.  It also means that you will not be leaving at 3:00 pm, but that you will be getting dressed at 3:00 pm.  It also means that if you don't arrive until 2:00 pm or after, your session will still only last until 3:00 pm.  This is the most common scheduling type amongst independent therapists.  This is also what is used here at Artful Touch Massage, LLC.

The second way is a business hour, or paid hour.  This is frequently used in larger spas and salons.  This means that if your book or schedule a 60-minute massage, you may receive 45-50 minutes of actual treatment time.  This is done so that the facility or therapist is paid for the setup and takedown time.  For example, you call and schedule a 2:00 pm appointment for 60 minutes.  You may arrive at 2:00 pm, and your treatment time will last until 2:50 pm.  Then you will typically be leaving at 3:00 pm.  This allows the therapist to set up for the following 3:00 pm appointment while a receptionist helps your with payment and rescheduling.

Type of Treatment

Now, there is the matter of what appointment duration you need to schedule for yourself.  Most therapists offer a range of appointment durations, usually ranging from 30 minutes to 120 minutes.  To determine how much time you will need, speak with your therapist and allow them to help you choose the proper treatment type and duration.  Here are some basic guidelines:

A half hour will not be enough for a full-body treatment.  Generally speaking, the therapist will be able to massage your back and neck in that amount of time, just focusing on specific areas of discomfort.  A half hour can also be used for one specific area where treatment is needed. For example: You just did a 3K run, and you need work on your calves and feet.  The typical treatment times for a full body would range from 60-90 minutes, depending on the level of specific needs. Two-hour massages are available for those with serious previous injuries or health concerns that require more time.  Anything beyond two hours is not typically recommended as it will probably exhaust you and your massage therapist.

If there is ever a question on how your massage therapist schedules or how much time you need to schedule as an individual, good communication is key. Your massage therapist should be happy to answer your questions.

Enjoy your massage time!


What should I expect from my first massage?

October 25, 2017

This will be a basic overview of the general procedure for massage practices in the United States.  For more information, consult a more thorough agency such as NCBTMB, or read more specific posts on this page.


Your therapist will need "informed consent" and possibly a health questionnaire.  Informed consent means that your therapist tells you what he or she will be doing during the massage session and you give your verbal or written approval. The health questionnaire lets your therapist know if you have health concerns that are pertinent to the way he or she gives your massage or if massage is contraindicated.


Your therapist will lead you to a private room which will have your massage table and possibly other furniture, like bench or chair and a sink, storage, shelves, etc. The room should feel warm and inviting.


After giving you instructions, the therapist will step out of the room and close the door.  This will allow you to disrobe in privacy and get onto the massage table and under the draping, which usually includes but is not limited to a set of sheets and blankets.


Your massage therapist will look over your health questionnaire and return to your room.  Generally, the therapist will knock on the door or in some other way alert you that he or she is ready when you are and then await your permission to enter.


The massage therapist will bolster you, adjust your face rest, and provide for your comfort in whatever ways possible and necessary.


The therapist will begin to undrape areas of your body, apply lubricant (oil, cream, lotion, balm, gel, or wax), and begin the massage.  The therapist will check in periodically to adjust pressure, temperature, bolsters, etc, to your comfort and give you further instruction.

After the Session:

When the therapist has completed your massage session, he or she will tell you, step out of the room, and allow you sufficient time alone to get dressed.  Once fully dressed, you will rejoin the therapist in the designated area. It is usually at this point that you can talk to your therapist, ask questions, satisfy payment, and perhaps receive self-care instructions.

If at any point you feel uncomfortable during the massage process, communicate this to your massage therapist.  He or she will greatly appreciate it.

Happy massage!


Do I need to be fully undressed to receive a massage?

October 25, 2017

The short answer is "no."  However, it is highly recommended by most massage therapists.  Here's why:

To be able to truly feel what is happening within your muscles and other connective tissues, assessing any muscle damage or ill health, a massage therapist needs clothing to be out of the way.  Also, the addition of clothing between the therapist's hands and your skin can create extra friction.  That friction can cause lesions. blisters, bruising, and just general discomfort.  The combination of friction and the therapist's resulting inability to gauge pressure and placement will generally lead to an uncomfortable and disappointing massage.

There are times when it is appropriate to leave clothing on, such as when getting a shorter chair massage in a public or crowded place--something like those 10-15 minute massages your company provided for employee appreciation. (Ok, if your boss hasn't done this, you should nudge him or her.)  In such an instance, the therapist is using mostly gentle compression and little-to-no friction, and the duration of the treatment would not necessitate the removal of clothing.

Now, just because your therapist asks you to disrobe does not mean you will be lying on the table completely exposed. Your therapist will be using a drape, often sheets, blankets, and towels, to cover you.  And your genitals and private areas will never be exposed.  If you experience this type of exposure in the United States, please read some of the other posts in this blog and consult other authorities on the matter, such as NCBTMB, the state or local licensing board, or a massage insurance company.  For more information about this see the heading "What should I expect from my first massage?" on this page.

The bottom line

Your massage therapist, his or her office's surroundings, and the atmosphere of the office should make you feel comfortable with removing your clothing and relaxing under the provided drape. If this is not the case, tell your massage therapist so that he or she may provide necessary comfort or instruction.

Take time to relax today!


Why does it cost so much to receive a massage?

November 1, 2017

Consider this common scenario: 

You end up in a car accident. As part of the insurance claim and recovery program, you see a chiropractor. The chiropractor recommends you go see a massage therapist. You get used to a $20-$30 copay at the chiropractor, and then your massage therapist presents you with a bill for $70 and doesn't file with your insurance company. "Woah! What just happened here?! What was my chiropractor thinking?? I can't afford this on a regular basis!" you may be thinking.

Let's look at why you may perceive that price as being excessive. The first reason may be that you are comparing the price of massage service to a related field, in this case chiropractic care. The price of your chiropractic care was offset by your insurance company. You were just seeing the $20 copay, not the rest of the visit cost negotiated and paid by your insurance company. Also, it seems as though $70 per hour for any kind of work is a bit excessive, especially given that your massage therapist has a certification, not a PhD.

So, why is the price so high, relatively speaking?  First let's talk about work hours versus paid hours. Your massage therapist may work from 9:00 am until 6:30 pm on an average day, with a couple of small breaks. Within that 8-hour workday, he or she may only schedule 4-5 (six if he or she is brave and likes pain) hour-long massage appointments. So an 8-hour work day could have only 4 paid hours.  Thus, at $70 per hour for 4 hours, that's $280. Divide that among 8 work hours, it's $35 per hour for each work hour. Don't get me wrong--that's still a good wage! But it's not $70 per hour.  That other time is not time that your massage therapist gets to sit around. He or she is taking the necessary client notes, taking phone calls and payments, stripping the sheets and towels from the massage table, restocking supplies, re-dressing the table, wiping down all fixtures and furniture in the room that are touched by the clients or therapist, and perhaps warming fresh towels or massage stones. Consider, too, that the massage therapist must wash all linens that come into contact with the client after each session. This may be several loads of laundry that the therapist does at the end of each work day. The price of this often unseen work is figured into the price for each session.

Another factor in pricing per session is the labor intensity of the work itself. Your massage therapist is not constrained only by time. Stamina and self-care must be factored in. Your massage therapist may have to limit his- or her-self to 4 appointments per day. This means there is not unlimited earning potential. Rather, there is a finite limit to what each massage therapist can handle physically and emotionally. When you limit supply, values may rise.

Overhead costs play a part in massage therapy pricing. Your therapist may be paying rent for his or her space; paying for extra gas, electric, and water for laundry and to keep you nice and comfortable in his or her facility; paying for lotions and oils used during each session; or paying for a host of other business expenses, including but not limited to insurances, referral fees or commissions, continuing education, other utilities, communication, facility maintenance, and additional supplies as they wear out or are needed.

Often mistaken and overlooked is the scheduling, or "cancelation," factor. Many therapists have a cancelation policy similar to that of a doctor's office, and they may charge ahead for appointments. However, these still don't completely eliminate the no-shows and unavoidable cancelations. In laymen's terms, clients who schedule and appointment but who do not come and do not pay make the cost go up for everyone else. This is similar to how the cost of goods in a department store goes up due to theft compensation. Your therapist knows that there is a limit to their time and energy, as discussed earlier. Thus, he or she does not double-book or over-book. When he or she loses an appointment that day, it could be 25% or more of his or her daily income. Your massage therapist compensates for this in overall prices.

Some forms of massage are more expensive than others. For instance, a therapist may charge more for massages that require extra training, larger amounts of preparation and recovery time, more supplies, or that require extra physical exertion. Certain appointment types will limit the therapist's ability to see other clients that day. By limiting the number of clients seen in a day from 5 to 4, the therapist's daily income is reduced by 20%. This is often the case when multiple clients choose deep tissue work versus a relaxation Swedish massage. Thus, the higher price for certain modalities is in compensation for this deficit.

In many states, massage therapists cannot claim insurance directly. Unfortunately, then the client is seeing the absolute bill. This can come with some initial sticker shock, but her are a few factors to consider:

  • Your massage therapist can help you stay healthy and active, which can keep other healthcare costs down.
  • Your massage therapist may be able to provide you with necessary documentation to help you apply for insurance reimbursement.
  • Your massage therapist may be flexible in his or her billing for those who need ongoing treatment.

Talk to your massage therapist about ways to work out a good billing system so that you can regularly care for yourself with the healthy habit of massage.

And remember to care for yourself!


Is my massage supposed to hurt?

November 16, 2017

“No pain, no gain,” right?....Not necessarily. Rather than go on and on about various sensations that we describe as “pain,” let’s talk about this in terms of discomfort.

Generally speaking, if you are uncomfortable or unable to relax, then your massage will not achieve the desired results. When your muscles experience pain from excessive pressure, they tense up to protect themselves and to protect underlying nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Also, you will stop breathing normally out of stress. Both of these reactions are exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve by means of massage therapy. There are forms of deep tissue massage that may invoke momentary discomfort, but if it starts to take you out of the experience or makes you catch your breath, your massage therapist needs to know.

Now, in the case of some forms of deep tissue, in which the therapist is attempting to “strip” those deeper and more ischemic muscles and tissues, there may be some stinging, burning, twinging, or even pinching sensations. Your therapist needs to know about all of these. Good communication will lead to a level of discomfort that can be productive. If you alert your therapist to the discomfort you are feeling, and he or she disregards your feedback or tells you he or she needs to keep massaging with that pressure, you have the right—and probably the need and desire—to end the session.

Massage is not “one size fits all.” Some clients simply relax more easily than others or need deeper pressure to feel relief. But it is up to you as a client to dictate how much pressure is too much. There is benefit to that “hurts so good” feeling that many talented massage therapists are known for. Simply remember that it should feel GOOD—to you!

What about after your massage? Some of how you feel post-massage will depend on your level of health, whether you had an overly aggressive massage, and your self-care after the session. When working out the ischemia in your muscles, your massage therapist is releasing lactic acid and other toxins from your muscles, which then must enter your blood stream and eventually exit through your urinary tract and sweat. What that means is: you may feel tired, lethargic, and maybe even a bit sore if you are not receiving massages frequently. Your massage therapist may give you a bottle of water after your session or instruct you to drink plenty of water. This is to help your body flush those toxins through your body faster. Your massage therapist achieves this "flush" by causing minor amounts of inflammation to your connective tissues to initiate an inflammatory histamine and healing response. If you are prone to heightened inflammatory responses, if your bruise easily, or if you have other health concerns that may cause a lengthened healing period, a lighter pressure massage may be indicated. Your therapist will need to know this before your session.

How well you recover can depend much on you. If you are physically active, your muscles will flush toxins out more quickly. Eating healthy, clean foods also helps your tissues heal, as you are receiving the proper nutrients necessary for rebuilding cells and tissues sans inflammatory foods. Food high in sodium, refined sugars, and alcohols can cause dehydration, which may make you feel worse post-massage. Some report feeling bruised or overly sore and fatigued after a massage. This may indicate a few things:

  • Your massage therapist may need better communication.
  • You may have a health issue that would contraindicate massage or would indicate reduced pressure.
  • You may be dehydrated.

If you continue to feel pain for more than a few days after your massage, seek some medical attention.

Keep in mind that your massage therapist has your health and safety in mind. So ultimately, your comfort in a massage will come down to your communication with your therapist and your level of health.

Good health to you!

Why can't I book a couples massage?

January 23, 2018

You and your significant other are on vacation, and you find this wonderful spa or resort where you would love to have a couples massage. Wouldn't it be great to share that relaxing experience with the one you love?...It certainly can be! And couples massages are very popular in many areas. But might there be limitations to the couples massage? And why would some therapists decide not to perform this highly sought-after service?

In this article we'll discuss why Artful Touch Massage made the decision not to offer this radically popular service. There are three main reasons:

1) ethics, 2) logistics, and 3) business preferences.


Why would a couples massage possibly pose an ethical challenge? Here are the Principles of Ethics according to AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association):

Massage therapists/practitioners shall:

  1. Demonstrate commitment to provide the highest quality massage therapy/bodywork to those who seek their professional service.
  2. Acknowledge the inherent worth and individuality of each person by not discriminating or behaving in any prejudicial manner with clients and/or colleagues.
  3. Demonstrate professional excellence through regular self-assessment of strengths, limitations, and effectiveness by continued education and training.
  4. Acknowledge the confidential nature of the professional relationship with clients and respect each client’s right to privacy within the constraints of the law.
  5. Project a professional image and uphold the highest standards of professionalism.
  6. Accept responsibility to do no harm to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of self, clients, and associates.

Let's break that down a bit. According to (1), a massage therapist must give the highest quality massage to anyone in his or her care. This means in a couples massage situation that the booking therapist cannot control the quality of service rendered to both guests who would be considered within his or her care. The booking therapist can take on the reputation of the second hired therapist--good or bad. It can cause issues when the second therapist uses questionable techniques, shows a lack of massage knowledge, talks incessantly during a massage session, makes lewd jokes, or wears unprofessional clothing. I once hired a second therapist, with whom I was previously unfamiliar, and the guest she helped was unhappy with her massage. The guest then wanted a refund. The refund was deserved, but it did leave me in a very uncomfortable situation. The quality of each massage cannot be guaranteed when the second massage is hired out. Conversely, a therapist may be very competent, and in order to provide the best possible massage to their guest, the routine may need to be broken to properly work on areas of discomfort or ischemia. When both massages must be done in synchronization, it does not allow for the individualization that is ultimately due each guest.

According to (4) each guest has a right to privacy. Unfortunately, even the most well-meaning therapist can not control the privacy in a room where two individuals are disrobing together before their massage session. While generally, each guest would acknowledge informed consent, a massage therapist cannot be fully aware of whether any party has been coerced or manipulated into an inappropriate situation. For example, I once was hired to accompany another therapist to perform a couples massage. The boyfriend had purchased his girlfriend a gift certificate for a couples massage and then scheduled the massage for them. The girlfriend seemed a bit frustrated when they arrived, but she signed and filled out forms and entered the couples room and got ready. As the other therapist and I walked in, we found them both ready. However,  the tension in the air was palpable, and the girlfriend muttered under her breath that she felt very uncomfortable with this situation. Meanwhile, the boyfriend insisted that she should like this treatment and should be grateful. Needless to say, the other therapist and I assured her that we could abort the session at any time. However, this example highlights how easily a situation can turn unsavory when there is a lack of privacy offered to each guest.


A couples massage may pose logistical problems. It can be very difficult to schedule or reschedule a couples massage. While a normal massage session is combining the schedules of two people, the therapist and the guest, a couples massage is combining four schedules, two therapists and two guests. When one person's schedule must change, all of the others must change with it. For example: It may be impossible to find a time when a couple can both come in after work or on the weekend and find two therapists who can accommodate them. Couples often get frustrated that they cannot get in for a session for three or more weeks, just to have something come up and then have to start the process over or decide which individual can still receive a massage and which therapist must now reschedule or lose work.

Beyond scheduling two therapists, a space of the appropriate size and with the necessary equipment must also be available at the facility. This can pose a problem when tables must be set up and taken down quickly between various appointments. And the equipment can be bulky if simply left up and ready all the time. If the space is on the snug side for two tables, it can cause trip hazards and allow for a less-than-comfortable massage on the therapist's part, or worse yet: injury. If the booking therapist must rent a separate space for the couples massage, he or she may not be using their own equipment, which can lead to its own set of discomfort and problems.

Business Preferences

Some businesses prefer not to schedule couples massages due to their own preferences. A massage practice's worst enemies are last-minute cancellations, no-shows, demands for extra discounts, and poor reviews. Couples massages are quite possibly the most likely to cause any of those scenarios. Due to the logistical problems posed by couples massages, the risk of a cancelation is quadrupled as opposed to a regular massage session. This often leaves the business with little choice but to charge for the appointment ahead of time and offer no refunds, or limit the number of times an appointment may be rescheduled...or both. Some may decide to charge an extra scheduling fee to compensate for the hassle. All of those decisions do not typically lead to guest satisfaction. 

Because couples massages tend to be viewed more as "luxury," "treats," or "special occasions," rather than "therapeutic" or "healthy," they are the first appointments canceled or put on hold. The way these are viewed also means guests who book a couples massage are less likely to become repeat clients unless it is to come in together again on their next birthday, anniversary, vacation, etc. And while this is no fault of the guests', it does mean a practice may limit the number of couples massages they book or eliminate them altogether. A regular clientele is what keeps a massage therapist in business. Also, many independent massage therapists work within the wellness and natural healthcare field. In such a case, these "luxury" appointments may be foregone in order to pursue guests or clients more suited for their independent practices.

Also, because these massages are viewed as a "treat" or a "splurge" for many, its not unusual for a couple to begin asking--even demanding--multiple discounts. I have personally found that guests who wish to come as couples feel that because they are providing their therapists with more work, they deserve a discount. This is understandable from the guest's standpoint. The guest feels he or she is working hard to schedule something nice for someone special, but it's nearly impossible to get in,  the price is double a normal massage, advanced payment is required, and there's an extra booking fee! So, maybe they should offer a percentage off since they can't accommodate them on their anniversary as they wanted, right? This can be quite the quandary for the entity booking the appointment. If the booking entity is a therapist, he or she must decide if the other therapist must take an unexpected discount or if the booking therapist will take both discounts and pay the regular price to the associate. The reason the price is doubled is because two therapists must be paid for the massage given. And the extra fee is to compensate for the scheduling difficulty and moving extra equipment around or in and out of rooms (which takes extra time and energy). So, lets say a couple wants 20% off for an hour couples massage because they can't get in for another three weeks. The regular price is $130 ($60/each for two one-hour Swedish massages and a $10 booking fee). Twenty percent off brings the price down to $104. The booking therapist must decide if both therapists will work for $52 rather than $65 (and hope the second therapist wants to accept a coupon) or if he or she will hire the other therapist at the normal rate of $65 and work for $39. 

If any of these demands are not met by both guests, chances are the booking therapist or both therapists will receive poor reviews. A very good therapist can receive a poor review because the other therapist had a scheduling mishap, gave a poor massage, or was unprofessional or unsatisfactory in some way.

There are perks to offering couples massages. Namely, getting a therapist's name out there to multiple clients at a time, offering a much-sought-after modality, and the joy of seeing two people nourish their bodies and relationship. For Artful Touch Massage, the risks in the Central Wisconsin area, unfortunately, outweigh the benefits. Quality is our prime concern at Artful Touch Massage! Since that quality simply cannot be guaranteed in a couples setting, we have opted, as of January 1, 2018, to no longer offer standard couples massages. Any outstanding gift certificates will be honored on or before their expiration date. Also, if you wish to book appointments in separate rooms at the same time, this is left to your discretion and to the discretion of the independent practitioners at Nurture Wellness Center.

Have a fantastic 2018!

Medical Benefits of Massage

Massage is for everyone.  The medical benefits have been well-documented.  Please enjoy the video clip on the left for a CNN interview that helps explain.  Call Artful Touch Massage, LLC, for your appointment today.