- Karen Stoner, LMT
4 Things people fear about getting a massage
1. I'm embarrassed about my body
Short Answer: Massage Therapists are not there to judge your smelly feet, hairy legs, or lovehandles; they are there to make your body feel better. Your physical
traits mean nothing when it comes to helping you.
More details: Every body looks different. However, just because one body looks different than another doesn't change the basics - muscles and bones covered with skin. That is what massage therapists focus on - how the body works, what is wrong with the body, and figuring out what to do about making whatever is wrong go away and get better. Many people are very self-conscious about how their body looks and it can make them want to stay away from revealing their body to another person, but massage therapists are not there to judge or critique - they just want to help and focus on what they body is doing and how it is feeling, rather than what it looks like. (But as for those smelly feet, we do appreciate it if you wash them first!)
2. It will hurt
Short answer: Some people believe that massage is “no pain, no gain”, or they are afraid to speak up if a therapist is using pressure that is too deep. Massage should not cause pain. Good communication between both therapist and client is important.
More details: The massage therapist-client relationship can be very tricky, especially during the first session. Unless a client is very familiar with massage, it can be hard for them to communicate exactly what they want, and they usually want to trust that the therapist knows what they are doing. Likewise, a therapist can only take so much of what a new client says at their word, so if a client says they want deep pressure, they are going to give them deep pressure. If the client doesn't know anything other than deep pressure, they could just suffer through pain that is unnecessary. This is why it is important for therapist and client to discuss the goals of each massage before the appointment, as well as not be afraid to communicate during the massage if necessary to check in that the therapist is doing what needs to be done, and the client is comfortable. Deep doesn't always mean effective - there are plenty of soreness, stiffness, and pain issues that can be treated with lighter pressure techniques.
3. I don't like being naked
Short answer: It is not necessary to remove every scrap of clothing for a massage. Most therapists will ask you to “Disrobe to your comfort level” and they work around any extra clothing. Also the body is covered with a sheet during the massage except for the area currently being massaged.
More details: A client's comfort is most important in order for them to relax and get the most benefits out of a massage. While it is the easiest for the therapist to work on bare skin with nothing in the way, if a client is more comfortable leaving on underwear or a bra, the therapist can work around it. Another assurance that being naked isn't a problem, during the massage, the client is covered with a sheet. (And covering the body with a sheet during a massage is often required by law in many places.) The sheet covers the whole body, and only the part being worked on has the sheet removed, such as the arm, a leg, or the back. In many states it is illegal to undrape a woman's chest or anybody's private parts during a massage, so the sheet stays in place during the whole massage.
4. I might snore/fart/stomach growl
Short answer: We are human with human bodies, and human bodies sometimes make weird noises. It’s ok - your massage therapist is (most likely) also human, so they are familiar with noises that their own bodies might also make!
More details: Sometimes our bodies make noises. We can not control if our stomach growls or gurgles. Everybody does it, so it is nothing to be embarrassed about - your therapist will not judge. They especially usually won't judge because their own body has likely made noises at inopportune times as well. It is just as embarrassing for a massage therapist to let a fart squeak out in front of a client as it is the other way around. And as for snoring? That is usually what a massage therapist considers a compliment - if they have managed to relax someone to the point that they fall asleep so deeply that they start snoring, then the therapist has done at least part of their job!