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Massage Etiquette For Newbies

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

There seems to be a lot of unspoken etiquette involved when receiving a massage. For those who’ve had several massages, this may be well understood. However, for those who don't receive massage regularly, you may feel a bit intimidated or overwhelmed by all the questions running through your head.

So, instead of guessing about the ‘unspoken’ etiquette, let’s pull back the curtain and talk about some of the questions you may have, but maybe just too embarrassed to ask.

What if I fall asleep?

Well at Massage by Monique we take that as a compliment! Most people arrive for their massage having been stressed, in pain, sleep-deprived, or otherwise unable to deeply relax for a while. It’s no surprise that many massage clients tend to fall asleep. Some may sleep through most of the session, while others only doze off a little here and there throughout. No matter what you do, this is the time to take care of yourself, so don’t try to fight what your body needs. If you drool, snore, pass gas, twitch, talk, or do anything else in your sleep, we won’t think twice about it. A large reason for your appointment is to get you to relax, so why shouldn’t you sleep if you want to?

What if I forgot to shave?

I promise, you're good, I really don’t care, because it doesn't matter! For many women, the idea of having someone massage your legs when you haven’t shaved in a while can be a bit embarrassing, but there’s nothing to be worried about. As massage therapists, we massage both men and women, hairy to clean-shaven, and everything in between. I've been in the field for over 12 years, and trust me there’s no need to be concerned about whether you shaved that morning or not. My focus is on your muscles, not on your hair.

What if I don’t want you to touch a certain area?

Whether an area is too painful to touch, you’re ticklish, or otherwise just don’t want anyone touching you in a certain area, that’s perfectly fine. A typical full body massage with me would include your neck, shoulders, pecs, arms, hands, back, hips, glutes, legs, and feet with face, scalp, and stomach upon request. Some people don’t want their hair messed up since they’ll need to return to work or go out; others are too ticklish on their feet. Whatever your reasoning, it’s your body and the session is all about your needs. If you don’t want any of those areas massaged, all you have to do is tell me.

How much do I really have to take off?

The quick answer is, it’s completely up to you. Yes, to have the most effective full body massage, you’ll need to remove most or all of your clothing, but it’s your time and it’s your body. While a standard full body session is best done with no clothes, if that makes you uncomfortable, I’m definitely not going to try to convince you otherwise. I typically tell my clients that most people leave on their underwear and take off everything else, again it’s completely up to you and wherever your comfort lies. There are ways to work with a client fully clothed, and that is a possibility, but please understand, that regardless of how much or how little you take off, you will always be covered in a modest fashion.

Should I tip?

Every therapist and establishment may have a different opinion on this, but the simple answer is, if you want to, sure. Tips are never expected but always appreciated. Just as tipping isn’t set in stone, neither is the amount. Do what you feel is best for the service you’re getting…period.

Should I talk to you?

This is, yet again, completely up to you. If you want to talk during the session, feel free. If you prefer silence, that’s fine too. There may need to be some communication in the massage to determine if the pressure is comfortable or answer some questions about any injury or pain you may be having. Other than that, I will follow your lead when it comes to conversation.

What if I get an erection?

This is a fear for many men concerning massage therapy. But check this out! Physiologically, it is not uncommon for men to get an erection during a completely non-sexual massage; it is simply a matter of the body relaxing and circulation increasing. But if you want to get technical the parasympathetic nervous system is relaxing the body and blood flow is going where it may during the massage. Draping (the covering of the body with linens and blankets) is done in a way that usually prevents your therapist from even noticing such a thing. As long as there is no intent behind it or action upon it, it is a normal physiological response of the body that will be ignored. Basically don't worry too much about it.

What if I have to go to the bathroom?

I usually have robes in the treatment room specifically for this reason. There’s nothing that will snap you out of a deep relaxation like the sudden urge to use the restroom. While it’s always advised to go before your massage session to prevent this, sometimes bodily functions don’t cooperate on our schedule. If you need to go, please speak up and I will step out so you can get dressed and go to the restroom. Once you’re back on the table, we’ll resume right where we left off.

What if I don’t like what you’re doing?

I can't stress enough the importance of speaking up! If the pressure is too much, too little, you’re ticklish, or something just doesn’t feel right for any reason, please SPEAK UP. I can change technique, pressure, or end the session completely if you’d like.

This is your session and you should always be comfortable and relaxed, after all that's the goal!
I hope this answers some of your questions and if you ever have any others, please don’t hesitate to ask.
This is Bodywork Special Monique signing off saying if this was healthful please share with 3 or more friends and if you learned something new please subscribe to the blog. Have questions you want answered leave a comment. Until next time Health is your wealth so why not invest in yourself.
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