For a first-timer, a trip to a massage therapist can be a little intimidating. Not only will you be naked in front of a stranger, this stranger will be touching you. Of course, these are health professionals and their only concern is about your health and well being. Understanding the basic expectations and etiquette when going in for massage therapy can help you feel more at ease.
Just like for any medical appointment, hygiene matters! Although you should be relatively clean and fresh, there is no need to shower immediately before your appointment if you haven't been doing manual labor. As long as you have bathed recently within the last 24 hours you should be fine. There is also no need to worry about hairy legs or pits if you don't normally shave. The massage therapist will use a therapeutic oil or lotion, so they will glide right past the hairs as they work.
Be On Time
Most therapists have a busy schedule, so make sure you show up at least 15 minutes before your appointment so you can get checked in and finish any remaining paperwork. In general, massage therapists schedule their appointments in thirty minutes or one hour blocks, so being even a few minutes late can set them back for the entire day. In some cases, therapists may charge for a full appointment if you are late, even if they are going to still end the massage at the scheduled time.
The level of disrobement necessary is generally up to you, although you will need to expose the areas that you want the therapist to work upon. If you are uncomfortable removing all of your clothing, you can leave your undergarments on or ask the therapist which garments will require removal for the specific work being done. Wearing loose clothing that is easy to remove and put back on is advisable. Before it is time to disrobe, your therapist will give you a sheet and leave the room. Once you are undressed and under the sheet on the table, they will return.
What to Expect
If you are shy, don't worry about being on display. Therapists are trained to only expose the part of the body they are working on, so most of you will remain under the covers. It is also important to give the therapist feedback as they work. If something is uncomfortable or painful, tell the therapist right away. Your therapist may also ask for specific feedback that pertains to the type of therapeutic massage they are performing.
A Note On Tipping
Tipping is not required, but it is highly recommended if you received good service. Tipping etiquette varies greatly, so your best option is to call ahead to the office and find out what the policy or standard is among the clientele. Massage therapy offered in a spa setting as a general relaxation treatment usually commands tips in line with what you would tip for any other beauty treatment (often 15% to 25%). Therapy performed in a medical setting, especially if insurance is picking up the tab, is less likely to be a tipped service.