So we just met. Then I ask you lay down on a stiff table in a strange new place while I rub you. I get it - massage can be weird. Intimidating. Uncertain. Odd. It can induce any number of emotional reactions and definitely trigger self-consciousness.
The way massage therapy is generally portrayed in movies and other media doesn't help either. Do a quick google image search for massage and you'll see a whole lot of exposed skin. Candles. And flowers pedals... for some reason.
I provide massage therapy with a focus on specific issues and concerns, notably stress tension and pain. Since that's our ultimate goal for the session, I am more than happy to explore whatever you may need to feel comfortable.
After all, if you're not comfortable, we aren't going to make much headway in easing stress tension or your pain. Here's my top tips to reduce self-consciousness for your massage therapy session:
#1: DRESS DOWN TO YOUR COMFORT
I typically recommend removal of certain clothing for the effectiveness of the massage; however, any clothing removal is always optional, and is your choice. This is a pretty standard policy for most massage therapists. If not, I would avoid that practitioner.
I stand firmly behind that policy and make sure every new client hears me say it in person: dress down to your comfort. You decide. Your therapy. Your choice.
Some clients may even opt to keep all their clothes on - and that is just fine. I'm comfortable with providing a "lotionless" massage, and have no problem adjusting to an over-the-clothes treatment.
Learn more about what people commonly take off in a therapeutic massage...
#2: DRAPING FOR ADDED SECURITY
Whether you choose to remove clothing or not, I still drape my clients with linens during the entire massage treatment.
I only uncover the section of your body that I'm treating currently. This ensures your modesty, security, and comfort is always respected and protected.
If you're not sure if your massage therapist provides proper draping, ask about it before you schedule.
#3: WE ARE OUR WORST CRITICS
If clothing and draping aren't your concern, but rather self-conscious thoughts about your body in general, please know the simple truth is: I see a lot of bodies. Of all types, sizes, and uniqueness.
The aesthetics of your bodies is not my focus. Effectively providing you relief from pain or stress tension is my focus. My office is a non-judgement zone. Massage therapy is for everybody and every body.
If there is something I can do before, during, or after your massage that would increase your comfort, just ask.
And also remember that when it comes to how our bodies look and feel, we are our own worst critics. We hyper-focus on specific things that we don't like: a pesky mole, a stomach roll, or a dry sole.
More often than not, those around us don't notice - at least not to the degree that we think they do. And even more often than not, those around us just don't care - at least not to the degree we think they do.
I won't get all hippie hippie on you - I won't be calling your body a scared vessel - that's just not my style. But I do highly encourage body positivism and appreciation for all the things our bodies are capable of and what wondrous systems they are made of. That mole, a roll, your sole, are so not on my radar of concern.
#4: SCHEDULE A VISIT
A great option to calm nerves is to schedule a pre-massage visit. Check the place out. Feel the vibes. See if you connect and feel comfortable with the massage therapist.
During scheduled pre-visits, I talk about what you can expect and how we can ensure your therapy session is exactly what you need.
Then when you come back for your massage session, you've been here before. It's less intimating and there's less of of that "everything is just so new for me right now" feeling.
#5: BRING A GUEST
Sometimes, we just need a buddy. A friend, family member, or any significant other are always welcome at my office to attend your massage therapy session with you.
It can be helpful to have a familiar presence when we're unsure about a new place, a new person, and the vulnerability that can come with massage therapy. Having a buddy changes the mood. Less pressure, lightens things up.
They can be there a silent support, or they can participate and ask questions. I'm always willing to show your buddy a few massage techniques they can then practice at home to help you between appointments. Double win.