Professional massage therapists are sensitive to your concerns and work with you to preserve your modesty and treat you with respect.
Never had a massage before? I realize that many people may want to experience more relaxation in their life, or get better pain relief, but are nervous about working with a massage therapist because they just don't know what to expect.
If that's you, I'd like to set your mind at ease. I'm a licensed professional massage therapist who has been working with all kinds of people of all ages, shapes, and sizes for more than 20 years. Some of the worries I've heard include:
- Discomfort with disrobing for massage
- Body image issues
- Discomfort with being touched
- Worry that injury won't respond to treatment
So if any of these things are bothering you or holding you back from experiencing massage, let me share with you how I've worked with my patients to help them overcome these worries and feel comfortable with massage.
Undressing for Massage
Some people feel uncomfortable about undressing. If that's you, know that you don't have to undress if you aren't comfortable with that. You can leave on as many clothes as you like. The only benefit to undressing is that it gives me easier access to do deep tissue work and reach the muscles, tendons and adhesions that might be causing you pain. Some people undress completely, others leave on their underwear or their pants. It's totally up to you.
No matter which way you go, I'll never see you unclothed. You undress in a private room and a bathrobe is provided for you to wear to walk to the table. When you lay down on the table you are always covered by a sheet. I may move the sheet to uncover your legs, arms, or areas of your back as I work on them, but will always keep other areas covered. And genitals and women's breasts are always covered no matter what.
Body Image Issues
If you feel uncomfortable about the way your body looks, you are not alone. Most of us are worried we're too fat, too thin, or have weird feet, or some other body part we are self-conscious about. As a professional massage therapist, I am trained to view the body's underlying systems and structures—muscles, tendons, and tissues. I'm not even looking at your outer appearance. Rest assured that my only concern is finding and releasing pain, and working with your musculoskeletal system to create comfort, relaxation and healing. That's it. What your body looks like is a total non-issue for me, and I have found that, over time, as people do more massage work, they get more comfortable and accepting of their bodies, too. After all, our bodies keep us safe, comfortable, warm and basically make it possible for us to live active happy lives. We should be thanking it for all it does for us instead of judging it for being less than perfect.
Discomfort with Being Touched
Some people feel that being touched by a stranger—even a licensed professional massage therapist—is out of their comfort zone. Because most of us don't get touched much in our Western society, we just aren't used to it. So before you know it, we are reading all kinds of messages into touch that just aren't there. If you visit Italy, or Spain, or other Southern European counties, you'll see people touching, hugging, kissing each other's cheeks, and holding each other's hands all the time. Women walk the streets with their arms around each other. Men kiss each other on the cheek. In the Arab countries, its perfectly acceptable for men to walk holding hands. All this leads me to say that most cultures are not afraid of being touched and don't think anything of it. It's only in the US that we are so standoffish.
If you're not used to being touched, you may want to start with just a hand or foot massage until you can learn to relax and let go of all the worries or thoughts that might be running through your mind and just enjoy the experience. After that, you may want to progress to a short full-body massage. Or just specify that you only want me to work on your neck, or your feet, or whatever other body part you are comfortable with me touching.
Over time, as you experience the benefits of regular massage, you will learn to relax more fully and get more comfortable with the process.
Worry that Injury or Pain Won't Respond to Treatment
My business is called Advanced Massage Therapy for a reason. I've had extensive advanced training in a variety of healing massages, and I know how to work with all types of injuries, strains, inflammations and adhesions, as well as chronic conditions that may be causing pain or discomfort. I work at your level of comfort and will constantly communicate with you to ensure I'm using the right amount of pressure and movement to release your pain. Because our body's defense mechanisms come up when we are injured, in some cases, deep tissue won't work, so I'll use myofascial release techniques or reflexology instead. Sometimes you need deep heat or hot stones to relax and release tension spots, and then we can do more intense bodywork. I work with you and your body to find the healing modalities that will create the best results for you.
What Will Work Best for You
The bottom line is every massage is about the client and is specifically tailored to your individual needs and concerns. You are in charge and it's your job to communicate about what you want, or don't want, and how you want to be massaged. If you have an injury you want me to be careful of, or are worried about something, I'm more than happy to work with you to create a solution you are comfortable with. I've found the clients who speak up and talk to me about their goals, and their concerns, have the best massage experience, and get the best results.