massage therapist | photographer

14 things I’ve learned since leaving massage school : #9

In Massage, Uncategorized on March 26, 2016 at 1:40 PM

(March 15th marked 14 years since my first day of massage school out in Port Townsend, WA. I spent a little time reflecting on what I’ve learned from having my hands on countless bodies of all different shapes, sizes, and levels of health over the years.  In random order here are some of my observations and things I wish my clients knew.)

#9  Underwear. On or off?

A journalist wrote about her experience going to a new spa. As she described it, her ‘handler’ escorted her down a few halls and into a treatment room and said “Get ready. Your therapist will be with you shortly.” Then they left her.

Despite having had massage in the past, she panicked. She felt unsure about what the etiquette of the spa was. Should she be nude under the sheet or leave her underwear on? She didn’t want to offend the therapist by removing everything or feel like a prude [her word] if she didn’t.

The answer?  It is always up to you.


Whatever makes you feel safe and comfortable is the right thing to do. I tell people to undress to their level of comfort. In general I am referring to leaving underwear on or off, but I have come back into the room to find folks with bras on still. Even socks sometimes. One time the person was completely dressed.

Will that alter the way I can do your massage? Yes. If you have a bra on I will work around it but I won’t be able to do any long, gliding strokes down your back. If you’re wearing underwear and tell me your gluts hurt I’m going to work on them through the sheet. I will not push your underwear aside to access those muscles.

There are lots of reasons people choose to leave underwear on. For women the most obvious is when Aunt Flo has come to visit and those granny panties just need to stay put. We are taught a lot about having healthy boundaries in massage school. If you do choose to go commando we will never expose you. Only the part of the body that’s being worked on is undraped. We are very careful to make sure your modesty is protected at all times.

The etiquette is – it is always your choice – and we are always cool with it.

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