As humorous as that title is, I get asked questions about this subject often. Whether being asked by a new client who may have only seen me once or twice or from a regular client that I have worked on for years, the question is roughly the same. The client asks, “Does it make you (the therapist) uncomfortable if I remove my underwear for my massage?” The short answer is no, it does not.
I always tell my clients to undress to their comfort level. If you feel comfortable removing all of your clothing, you should do so. If you feel more comfortable leaving your underwear on, you should do that. If you are not comfortable, you will not be able to relax which will mean the massage is not as effective as it could have been. Your therapist should not have an issue with either one of these choices.
You wearing nothing in your massage does NOT signal the therapist that you are looking for something inappropriate.
Why would you remove your underwear?
The following are simply observations from a therapist’s standpoint. None of these are meant to pressure you into removing clothing if you do not wish to do so.
There are various styles of underwear in use these days. Some of them have a band high on the torso(and we don’t mean just “granny panties”), which makes working on your low back difficult. The therapist may ask if they can move the band down some and wrap it in the sheet. We are trying to keep the lotion off of your underwear while still having access to your low back. In massage school, we kept our underwear on and I hated the feeling of the slimy, cold, lotion moving around as I walked.
Another reason would be to make glute work easier for the therapist. Your body is still covered by the sheets. Some underwear is slick to the touch, so adding this to the satin-feeling sheets causes the therapist to work much harder to keep the hands from slipping around. Once you get past the slipping concerns, you have the concerns about making your client feel like they are getting a wedgie of some kind. Some of the glute work involves circular motions with the fists. Imagine those fists pressing into your underwear to get the glute muscles to move and adding rotational forces. To the therapist, it feels like we are pulling on your underwear, which can make us uncomfortable. I usually talk a client through these techniques as I perform them to make sure they know what is going on.
“Shouldn’t I have underwear on if you are going to be stretching my hips and such?”, one client asked. Massage therapists are supposed to be instructed on how to diaper drape their clients. This involves lifting the leg of the client up a small amount to allow the sheet to be pulled around each leg effectively making the sheet look like the client is wearing a diaper. You have the client hold the ends of the sheets at the hips and you can stretch the client with no fear of exposing them.
Again, IF you are not comfortable removing your underwear, please don’t do it. I have plenty of clients who put on a pair of running shorts when they want to be stretched because it reduces their anxiety about something showing during the stretching techniques.
In closing, we want you to feel at ease in your massages. We hope this information clears things up for you. If not, please contact us and we can talk more about it.
Photo used as the featured image by Andre Guerra.