15 Things Your Massage Therapist Wants You to Know

By Kelli Boylen

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn 2011.

1. I am not a masseuse, and, no matter how cool you think that word sounds, your massage therapist probably doesn’t like it. Massage parlor is rather outdated as well. In years past, some “massage parlors” were really fronts for sex shops and I did not take out student loans and complete more than 850 hours of training to be associated with prostitution. Trust me—I’m pretty serious about it. Jokes about “happy endings” are outdated as well.

2. Please be on time. We really like to work on you for the entire scheduled time. We often have another client coming in right after you, so it is unlikely for us to work on you past the scheduled appointment time.

3. We don’t care about the stubble on your legs. Unless a leg is shaved within a few hours of your massage, it has stubble on it. We don’t mind, and we are not going to flip out about leg hair. You don’t hear men apologizing for the stubble on their faces? And that stubble is actually rough (although that doesn’t bother us either). As long as you are reasonably clean, we’re all good.

4. Your perfume may smell beautiful, but since we work in close proximity to you for about an hour, it can get a little overwhelming. We prefer you wait until you leave our office to put it on. Some of our other clients have allergies to perfume, and it’s hard to air out smells sometimes.

5. You have no obligation to talk to us during a massage. If talking helps you relax, by all means go ahead. Otherwise, go to your happy place.

6. To us, your butt is not cute, big, small, or sexy. It’s a big muscle, and we like muscles. If you have problems in your lower back, chances are that your gluteal muscles are involved with that as well. We can work your glutes with a sheet covering if that makes you more comfortable, but it seems kind of silly not to work on some of the biggest muscles in the body.

7. Even if you are comfortable with nudity, we don’t want to see it. We are trained on how to properly drape clients to protect your modesty and ours. Just because we are comfortable with the sides of your buttocks, doesn’t mean we want to see anything else.

8. We have had extensive training in anatomy and physiology, kinesiology (the study of muscles and movement), pathology, and ethics. If we forget that you may not know all the same terminology we have learned, please ask us what we mean. We know where your medial malleolus is (that’s your ankle bone on the inside of your leg), but if you haven’t heard of that before, please ask.

9. If you have had a change in your medical condition since you were here last time, it is important that you tell us. If you tell us halfway through a deep-tissue massage that you are taking blood thinners, we are going to be thinking “uh-oh” in our heads.

10. Tell us if you want more or less pressure. We are happy to oblige, and won’t take offense. In fact, we love it if you tell us what you like and don’t like as we go along—it helps us to individualize your massage to what you want and need.

11. Yes, we put clean sheets on the table for every client.

12. During the massage session, our job is to do bodywork. Your job is to relax. We love the tranquil look people get after their massage, so leave your worries somewhere else and leave your muscles to us.

13. If you are unhappy, please tell us why. Sometimes a client doesn’t return and we have no idea if we did something wrong or if you are just busy.

14. If you are happy with what we do, tell your friends. We love referrals.

15. Finally, enjoy your massage! We love our work and hope you do, too.