Massage is often deemed a relaxing and luxurious treatment saturated in many health benefits from start to finish. Though massage itself is usually an enjoyable experience, new clients can sometimes overthink the dos and don’ts of massage and often feel too embarrassed to ask their therapist. How much do I tip? Do I have to remove all my clothes? And what happens if I fall asleep? are common concerns.
We recognise it’s difficult to understand the etiquette before your first massage. But be assured, here are some of your burning questions answered – which will hopefully massage out some of your concerns before the therapy. After all, massage is supposed to relieve your worries, not create more.
Do I tip?
If to tip and figuring out how much to tip can be tricky. Though it’s not compulsory, it’s courteous to treat the therapist if they’ve done a good job. If you’re massage was undertaken at a luxurious spa or hotel, a 15 per cent tip is recommend to those who felt happy with the service.
Before getting a massage, speak to friends or family to see how much they tip to get an idea. Also, massage receptionists will be able to inform you their recommended tip if you’re unsure – don’t be shy and ring up to ask before your appointment.
Tipping is not usually expected in a clinical massage environment, where the client is seeking massage for a medical condition or illness.
How much clothing do I take off?
How much clothing to take off entirely depends on the massage style, but a good massage therapist will only ask you to undress to your level of comfort.
During the classic, Swedish massage most people prefer being in their underwear, while many women take their bra off to prevent massage oil staining their lingerie. Shiatsu and Thai massage do not require any clothes to be removed.
But don’t worry if you’re having a massage which involves stripping off, licenced massage therapists always ensure you’re intimate areas are covered by a sheet or towel throughout. Therapists always leave the room when you’re undressing yourself and only re-enter when you’ve given them the approval you’re positioned on the table, ready for the massage to commence.
What if I feel self-conscious about my body?
Professional therapists are trained to be non-judgemental and after all, they’ve massaged everything! Back acne, scars and feeling fat are common concerns amongst clients. Therapists are easy going and will avoid certain areas at your request.
Alternatively, the therapist may be able to adjust the massage so it can be performed fully clothed, though massage oil won’t be able to be used.
Therapists advise preparing yourselves before a massage can relieve some self-consciousness. Having a shower, clipping your nails and if you’re female, shaving your legs will allow you go into the massage feeling more confident and give the therapist a more hygienic body to work on.
Should I talk during the massage?
Each individual is different when it comes to communicating throughout a massage and there are no written rules whether you should or not. For a therapeutic massage, don’t feel obliged to make conversation, the therapist knows massage to be a relaxing treatment and you may want to close your eyes and ‘switch off’ to feel the full benefits.
Deep tissue and sports massage usually require communication, as the therapist needs feedback to understand the pressure and strokes they are applying are comfortable and working.
Although in any massage you should inform the therapist if you:
– Feel too hot or cold
– Feel pain or discomfort
– Need the toilet
– Need to mention a medical condition which could interfere with the massage
What if I get an erection?
It’s more common than what you think for men to get an erection during a non-sexual, therapeutic massage. In fact, it happens to 15 to 20 per cent of men.
Gentle touch awakens the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates an erection. Don’t worry if it’s something that happens to you, therapists are completely used to it and will usually choose to ignore it. However, if it makes you feel more comfortable they’ll cover the area with a towel or a sheet.
What do I do if I need to fart?
Letting one go is normal during massage, as most therapeutic styles relax the gluteal muscles, which encourages farting. The therapist would much prefer you to pass wind than clench your muscles to hold it in, as this overrides the relaxing benefits of a massage.
Don’t be embarrassed, the therapist has heard (and smelt) it all before – although if it makes you feel uncomfortable, you can always excuse yourself to visit the bathroom. The professionals usually have robes to hand to make it easier to transition in an out of a massage, so it won’t take up too much time.
What if I fall asleep or dribble?
Nodding off during a massage is very common and it’s no surprise as the therapist is usually used to help sleep deprived individuals. The soothing long and gentle strokes of the effleurage technique makes the body so relaxed that it stimulates the release of serotonin, which encourages sleep.
Don’t worry if you snore or dribble during the massage, the therapists are completely used to it.
Although if you’d rather stay awake throughout inform the therapist beforehand. If at points during the massage you look ready to drift off they will be able to subtly apply vigorous or deeper strokes to awaken your body.
So hopefully we have answered some of your burning questions, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask your therapist, doctor or even family and friends who’ve had massage for advice – it’s better to get your niggles off your chest before the massage commences. And most of all enjoy the experience!
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