If you’ve ever had a massage before, chances are you have run into one of these embarrassing “oh-no” moments.. I know I have! Have you ever wondered how horrible your “massage faux-pas” was, or what the massage therapist really thought about it?? If so.. read on.
Embarrassing Moment #1
You’ve arrived for your appointment, told your therapist what you want worked on and what is bothering you. They leave the room and as you undress, you look at the massage table, and think…. “How did they want me to lay again?” Under the sheet, over the sheet, under the blanket? Face up, face down? Which end does my head go?
Every massage therapist is different, so especially if you have tried someone knew (or gotten a massage for the very first time), you may have had this “oh no” moment. As an LMT, I can tell you I’ve walked into my massage room with clients laying every number of ways… even stark naked on top of the table (not advised)! A few tips:
1. You will never, ever, ever lay naked and exposed. There should always be a fitted sheet and a top sheet (just like your bed), sometimes a blanket on top. The massage therapist should turn down the top sheet to show you where to lay, but if they do not, it’s assumed you will be covered. If there is a blanket, that is usually just for extra warmth.
2. Most massage therapists start you laying “face down”. I, however, am the oddball who oftentimes will begin my massages “face up”. Usually the therapist will explain how they want you to lay, but if you forget, a good rule of thumb is to look for the face rest cradle (the “U” shaped part that you put your face into when you lay on your stomach). If the face rest cradle is up, chances are you are to start on your stomach. If you can’t find this cradle, then most likely, the therapist will start you on your back.
Rest assured, if you do make this blunder, most therapists will be courteous enough to get you situated comfortably, and you can relax and enjoy your massage!
Embarrassing Moment #2
You are halfway through your massage, nice and relaxed and comfortable, when… TWITCH! Your leg or arm suddenly, unexpectantly shoots out in a body wave. What the heck was that?!
In Eastern Medicine, sudden body twitches are explained as your body’s qi (sometimes spelled “chi”, pronounced “chee” like cheese) – or energy – being released from your body. This is actually a really good thing, as it is usually a sign that you are relaxed enough to let go – whether it’s emotional, physical, mental, etc. Some people may even experience a somato-emotional response (or releasing pent-up, repressed emotions), such as laughing, crying, or even anger. Our bodies hold on to so much all the time that a massage is a great way to not only release tense muscles but also process emotions and begin to heal.
Rest assured, if you start twitching or crying, your massage therapists will not think it’s weird or strange. In the words of a famous cartoon character, “Let it go!”
Embarrassing Moment #3
You are so, so relaxed. So relaxed in fact, that you fell asleep… and don’t realize it until you wake yourself up.. with a snore! How embarrassing!
For most massage therapists, falling asleep is an extreme compliment (much like unbuckling your pants after a great Thanksgiving meal). The knowledge that a client is so deeply relaxed that they were able to completely let go and fall asleep is very complimentary towards your therapist, and you should not be embarrassed at all! In fact, I’ve personally found myself drooling during a massage, and anytime I receive any sort of energy work (reflexology, shiatsu, acupressure, etc), I am out like a lightbulb. Just remember: relaxing = good.
Embarrassing Moment #4
You decided to splurge and instead of doing just a half hour on your neck and shoulders, you got the full body hour session. You are wondering to yourself, “Why don’t I do this EVERY time?!” when the massage therapists starts to work on your leg… and you remembered you forgot to shave!
I cannot express how often I have a (female) client exclaim, “I’m so sorry!” about their (usually-barely-there) leg hair. Let me put all fears to rest: this is completely okay. I’m a woman. I get it. Heck, I’m a mom and it’s winter – sometimes it’s a struggle just to find time to shower, let alone take the time to shave! It’s totally understandable and in my almost-nine years of a therapist, has never, ever been an issue.
This also goes for men with abundant body hair. As a massage therapist, you are trained to look beyond the superficial body and focus on what is happening underneath. Most oftentimes, I am so focused on trying to release a stubborn muscle knot or adhesion, I don’t pay much attention to things such as hair, freckles, etc, and you shouldn’t either! Hopefully, the massage therapist you have chosen has already made you feel comfortable enough that such things shouldn’t weigh on your mind and you can use that time to relax (remember what we said? relaxing = good!).
A note: while hygiene such as body hair does not pose a problem, it is best advised to not arrive to your massage immediately after a hard workout (i.e. sweating profusely) or immediately after indulging in a cigarette. It’s just polite.
Embarrassing Moment #5
“Take your time getting up,” your therapist says softly and they exit the room. You lay there for a minute, stretch, wonder how that time could have passed so darn quickly. You sit up slowly, getting dressed, take a look in the mirror and… WOWZA! You are now sporting an amazing Bride of Frankenstein hairdo, as well as possibly a nice “U-shaped” red mark around your face. There is no way you are presentable now!
When I worked in a spa, I would often joke that I doubled as a cosmetologist, for all the “awesome hairdos” I created while giving a massage. I’ve often said that the worse a person’s hair looks like after a massage, the better it must have been! While there are absolutely no judgements from this end (I personally love my clients walking out of the room like a zombie – it means I did my job well!), a couple tips if you have somewhere to go after your massage:
1. If you hair is shoulder length or longer, pulling it back will help prevent a lot of gel or lotion from creating a flashback-Beehive look.
2. If you are terribly concerned about your hair (say, you have an important event to get to right afterwards), let the massage therapist know. I have had several clients tell me not to work on their scalp or neck because they had someplace to be. Personally, I feel like the neck and scalp are some of the BEST places to get a massage and I hate to deprive someone of that experience, but then again, the areas of focus during a massage are always 100% up to the client!
During my last massage (in which I experienced my own leg-hair-fiasco), I came up with the idea for this blog, hoping that it would help put your mind at ease – whether you are a seasoned massage client or a newbie, know that there are very rare instances in which a (professional) massage therapist will bring any sort of judgement to the table. In all my years in this profession, I have seen the gamut: young, old, tall, short, thin, robust, and everything in between. Our job is plain and simple: to make you feel good. Ease pains. Relax. Relaxing is… what?
Have you experienced your own massage mishap? I’d love to hear your stories!