A massage can be one of the most pleasurable experiences ever. And there is no better cure than the skilled hands of a professional rubbing all your body’s aches and stiffness away after a stressful day at work or school. But if you truly want to revel in the bliss of relaxation, pay attention to the massage etiquette that matters.
Health spas are places of relaxation. And in order to provide that level of service, they employ a team of trained professionals and uphold certain rules and massage etiquette which both the therapist and the client are expected to follow. Breaking these would turn an otherwise relaxing day at the spa into an embarrassing moment that could even land you in jail.
Considerations to think about even before massage etiquette
If you’re a massage virgin, we bet that you’re very curious to try one now. But before you jump off and head to your nearest health spa, here are the things you need to remember.
#1 Establishments vary. Health spas and health clinics provide services other than massages. These include sauna, bathing facilities, skin care, and other related services. Some massage clinics offer massage and physical therapy alone. You can pick one that offers the kind of service you want.
#2 There are different types of massages. Depending on the establishment, some offer all types of massages, and others offer just a few of these. And yet others will specialize in only one specific kind. It is advised that you do some research or ask your massage therapist which one would best suit your physique. But of course, the best way to figure it out is to try them and see which one you enjoy the most.
a. Swedish Massage. Swedish massage is the most common form of massage, so you can expect it to be offered by most massage clinics. This type focuses on gentle, smooth strokes, and kneading. Swedish is very light and relaxing, and it is the kind suggested for first-timers.
b. Shiatsu Massage. Shiatsu is a type of massage therapy that originated in Japan. This type focuses on localized finger pressure on various pressure points around the body. It is like acupuncture done with fingers.
c. Thai Massage. Thai massage is little bit similar to shiatsu in terms of utilizing the body’s different pressure points, but this type of massage involves muscle compressing and stretching in addition to finger presses.
d. Other kinds. Health spas may also offer localized area massage for the back, head, and limbs – or more therapeutic kinds such as hot stone massage and aromatherapy.
#3 You are expected to get naked. In order for the massage therapist to easily work around your body, you are expected to be unclothed. If clothing is tight, it inhibits blood flow on certain parts of your body and may impede on the relaxation process. Don’t worry though, a towel will be provided to cover your intimates.
Massage etiquette: Do’s and don’ts during a massage session
#1 Don’t worry about hair. Some ladies might feel embarrassed when they forgot to shave their legs prior to their massage appointment. This is totally fine. Remember that most men do not shave their legs so expect your massage therapist to handle the situation just fine. Body hair, particularly those on the legs and chest, do little to impede the massage work. Besides, that’s what the oil is for.
#2 Do practice “acceptable” hygiene. One of the biggest aspects of massage etiquette is being hygienic. While most massage therapists do not require you to have a full body scrub prior to your appointment, you are at least expected to have rinsed off prior to dropping off your clothes and lying down the table.
Remember that you’re lying naked in a small shared biosphere for over an hour, and you wouldn’t want your therapist to bask in your musk or any foreign contaminant from your body.
a. Rinse your feet prior to the massage. If your feet have been locked up in your sneakers for 7 hours straight, or you’ve trudged your sandals through dust, rinse them properly prior to lying down the table. Your therapist will be working on your feet as well, so rinsing would prevent dirt from being spread all over your body.
b. Avoid smoking prior to the massage. If you’ve smoked recently, harmful toxins from tobacco would seep into your skin. A massage relaxes your pores and would inadvertently release these toxins into your therapist’s hand and all over your body.
c. Do not drink alcohol or avoid getting a massage if you’ve consumed large quantities of alcohol recently. Have you tried standing beside a drunk person? Then you know what we mean.
#3 Do use proper terminology. In this age of political correctness, it is inappropriate to call the establishment a “massage parlor” or “spa,” and your therapist a “masseuse” or “masseur.” As mentioned, the establishment would either be a health spa, a massage clinic, or a massage practice, etc.
A Massage Therapist is a professional, gender-neutral title that your therapist worked hard to achieve, so address them with the proper courtesy.
#4 Do communicate. Tell your massage therapist what you expect from your session. Do you prefer the massage hard, medium, or gentle? Inform your therapist if they are going in too hard, or if a specific massage is starting to hurt.
Most importantly, tell them if you have a specific part of your body that has recently been in an injury, or if you have a medical condition that might get affected by the massage.
#5 Don’t communicate too much. While it is acceptable to have a level of small talk while having a massage, constantly pestering your therapist with chitchat would make him or her lose focus on the task at hand.
#6 Don’t worry about bodily functions. You might thing this one is the *opposite* of massage etiquette! But experienced massage fans would know the embarrassment and the struggle of failing to suppress a fart during a massage session. However, don’t be alarmed. Your therapist would totally understand if you pass wind during the massage.
This is a sign that you’ve managed to relax your body from what they are doing. Just don’t overdo it. As much as possible, empty your bladder and bowels prior to the appointment to avoid any embarrassing interruptions.
#7 Don’t worry about falling asleep. Dozing off during a session is considered to be a compliment for a massage therapist. It is a sign that you’re very relaxed and that they are doing well. Your therapist will wake you up if it’s time to turn over anyway.
#8 Do not dare to ask for sexual favors. So you noticed that your therapist is quite attractive. That doesn’t mean that you’re in one of “those” establishments. Asking whether your therapist would provide sexual services is definitely offensive and would cause you embarrassment. Hopefully, this is a no-brainer in terms of massage etiquette, but you just never know with some people.