There are some questions out there that you don’t want to just ask somebody to their face, especially in a situation like a massage, where you are about to take your clothes off and let a (sometimes) complete stranger rub you down. This might be part of the influence in why search engines were even invented, to answer all your awkward questions from the privacy of the computer.
I’ve been scouring the internet for the most embarrassing questions you are too afraid to ask your massage therapist in person, and answered them accordingly. So, here it goes.
What if I fall asleep, drool, snore, and/or fart?
Short answer: it’s totally okay. A massage therapist's relaxation techniques may cause you to fall asleep; this actually happens quite often as your body is calming down. Your parasympathetic nervous system, or “rest and digest” is kicking in, the soft music is playing, the lights are down, then suddenly, bam, you’re out like a candle in the wind.
Snoring or drooling is a natural result of your body falling asleep, and trust me, we’ve seen it before. I probably snored my way through Swedish class at one point, too, and not because my instructor was boring.
Working certain muscles around the abdominals or groins may cause farting as well. The psoas muscle, a deep abdominal hip flexor, generally massaged through the abdominal area, can trigger farts when pressure is applied to it. Your massage therapist would probably rather have you just let it out than have you tense up your muscles trying to hold it in, therefore hindering the desired effects of the massage in the first place.
If it happens to you on my massage table, I just want you to know, you weren’t the first, and you probably won’t be the last.
Do I take off all my clothes?
Most massage therapists use the phrase, “dress down to your comfort level.”
What does that even mean? If you’ve never had a massage before and you’re left to undress in a room with no specific instructions, then your therapist may come back to, really, anything.
Traditional western massage is done without any clothes on; while your body is covered with sheets and a blanket, only the body part that is being worked on is undraped one at a time. Many clients will leave their underwear on, but this is up to you and the therapist.
Depending on what type of massage the therapist does, no underwear may be better. Techniques such as myofascial release are done on bare skin, so working through clothes won’t work at all. Other techniques such as trigger point therapy or cross-fiber friction can be done through thinner fabric, and a more experienced massage therapist may be able to feel what they need to feel in your muscle tissues through the sheet or your underwear, anyway.
If you really aren’t about taking off your clothes around strangers, massage techniques such as Shiatsu are done fully clothed, so you can reap the benefits without the discomfort.
What if I get an erection during massage?
Again, this is a natural, physiological reaction the body can have to gentle touch and relaxation. Massage stimulates the part of your nervous system responsible for bodily functions outside of your control, and sometimes, erections happen.
We cover it in school, even.
I’d be hard-pressed to find a therapist friend who didn’t have a client get one at some point in their career, that is if they even noticed. (Many massage therapists work with their eyes closed, anyway. Not all, but many).
Most massage therapists will just ignore it as long as the client doesn’t start behaving inappropriately. We know as MTs it’s probably more of an embarrassing thing for the client than it is for us, anyway, so we respectfully ignore it, while maintaining empathy that the client may not know it’s actually a fairly common occurrence.
If anything, the snooze-worthy explanation about your body’s physiology and the science behind why it’s happening in that particular moment will be enough to make it go away.
What if I am self-conscious about my body?
I’d like to speak on behalf of my entire industry here that it should absolutely be a given that massage is body-positive. We do what we do to help you feel better, to relax, to find healing, and de-stress from all the shit in the world that stresses you out. You don’t ever have to worry about being self-conscious on my table, and I would certainly hope all other LMTs agree with me.
We get into this industry to heal, and healing is not and has never been, an exclusive thing. It’s inclusive of all body types because all body types are susceptible to aches and pains and stress and injuries and pulled muscles and all the things we are here to help you heal from.
If it makes you feel better to leave your underwear on during a massage, then do so. You can tell your therapist this, too, if it makes you feel better. If you are extra self-conscious about your feet, for example, and would rather not have someone else touching them until you really, really get to know each other, then tell them that, too. We are here to listen and to give you what you need in the hour or so we are together.
What if I don’t like my feet touched? Or any other body part?
This is another thing you should absolutely communicate to your therapist. It’s not uncommon to not like the feet or buttocks touched, but there are important muscles there that may need work, so if your disdain for having your feet touched by another human outweighs the tension you feel in your feet, ankles, or lower legs, then, by all means, tell your therapist. They won’t argue.
Many massage places have this specific question on their intake form. I do, anyway, and every other place I’ve worked at, so that if you don’t want an area massaged, it is actually in writing, on record, to remind me every time I see you and any other therapist that may work with you within the same establishment.
Again, this is not uncommon, so don’t feel weird about speaking up about it.
Should I talk during a massage?
Ahh, this question. It’s a good one, and it varies greatly depending upon the therapist you are working with.
My policy is that I let the client lead the conversation. If you want to doze off or lie there in silence, then I won’t talk, either, unless I’m asking you about something explicitly related to what I am doing to your muscles that needs to be answered at that moment. Sometimes those come up, and I’ll interrupt your snoozing as gently as possible so that you can doze off again as soon as the said question is answered.
If you do want to talk, then, by all means, chat away. I enjoy getting to know clients as much as they enjoy getting to know me.
Some therapists don’t really like talking during massage much, though, and you’ll know because they will respectfully answer your questions without getting into too much detail. That’s how I was taught to kill the conversation if needed. Some LMT’s like getting in the zone, closing their eyes, and only focusing on your energy and their work, but they’ll never be rude if you want to ask questions. We are a nice bunch of people.
Does a full body massage include private parts?
Your standard massage will certainly not include genitalia. Actually, it’s explicitly against regulation in many, if not all states, and asking may make you guilty of solicitation.
With that being said, there are a couple of exceptions worth noting. Breast massage is a thing, and often women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer will seek it out to help their healing process. But this is also a very specified technique that not all therapists are automatically trained in, so it’s something that you’d be exclusively seeking out to meet a very specific need.
The buttocks area is generally massaged, like your glutes, piriformis, and hip rotators are very important muscles and can cause a lot of restriction and pain when they get angry. Only the muscle tissue between the sacrum and the greater trochanter, or that bony prominence on the outside of your hips, is massaged and this does not include inside the crevasse. Unless, of course, you don't like this area massaged, then tell your therapist and they will respectfully skip it.
I have had Rolfing (TM) before, which includes pinning and stretching around the Ramus, which is the very bottom bone of the pelvis and feels like a very up-close-and-personal massage technique. But the release around the pelvis is so worth it, and my Rolfer communicated very well what she was going to do and when she was doing it, so there was no discomfort on my end.
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