As a massage therapist it is my job to help every client I work with to feel as comfortable and as safe as possible. Often I can feel the nervous energy of a client, which leads me to ask questions in an attempt to identify the cause of said nervousness. Frequently it comes down to this one concern: “Do I have to take all my clothes off for the massage?” Although it is expressed in various ways, this question is very common among massage clients, particularly those who do not have much experience with massage. Usually I give the quick, 10-second response for the sake of time, but since I am blogging about it, I am going to take the time to give my long-winded response.
First of all, I want to make it clear that you do not have to do anything you do not want to do. You are there for you–not the massage therapist, or your friend that recommended the massage therapist, or the coach that ordered you to get a massage. Therefore, if anything you are asked to do makes you uncomfortable, DO NOT DO IT! It’s as simple as that. You are in charge of you, so make sure you take care of you. If you are not sure what to do, or why you are being asked to do some specific thing, then ask. If you feel uncomfortable with it even after knowing the reason, then politely respond that you are not comfortable with the request and ask if the therapist can work around it. In this case, if you are not comfortable removing your clothes, the massage therapist can simply work over your clothes without any lotion or oil. There is generally a workaround.
Second, what is the point of removing your clothing anyway? Removing your clothing allows the massage therapist access to all parts of your body (e.g. back, arms, legs, glutes, etc.) that may be worked during the session. She may apply lotion or oil to the area being worked in order to allow her hand or arm to glide easily over the skin as she works the tissues. If clothing is left on, the therapist will work over the clothing, but her massage techniques will be limited to compressions and other non-gliding techniques. For example, if the massage therapist is working your gluteal area and you have chosen to keep your underclothes on, she will simply work over the sheet using mostly compressions. Rest assured that all areas of your body will be covered at all times, other than the area being worked.
An important additional item to note: The massage therapist will never expose or touch private parts of your body, including genitals, breasts, gluteal cleft, etc. This is the law and any massage therapist who violates this law should be reported to the police and to the massage board so that legal disciplinary action can be taken.
In conclusion, remember that you are getting a massage to take care of yourself, and that you are in charge of what is being done to you. So don’t be afraid to speak up!