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Comfort with Clothed Massage

One of the most common questions about receiving massage is whether or not a client needs to completely disrobe. The answer is “no”. In fact, there are various styles of massage and adjustments that the therapist can make in order to provide a comfortable experience. In a typical massage session the client will lay on a massage table, oil or lotion is used and the client is draped with a sheet/blanket. But this is not the only way to receive a massage. There are many kinds of massage you can receive while still keeping your clothes on!

Chair massage is probably the most familiar style of clothed massage. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies offered chair massage on-site as a part of their wellness program. You also see chair massage in public places like malls, airports, farmers’ markets and health fairs. But the options for clothed massage doesn’t end here.

Many of the techniques used in chair massage are adapted from Shiatsu, a type of massage that originated in Japan and literally translates into “finger pressure”. Like acupuncture, Shiatsu follows the energy meridians to release stagnant energy and stimulate blood flow to an area. Some techniques used include brushing, compression, kneading, rocking, shaking, stretching and of course, thumb pressure. This type of massage can be performed on a mat or on a traditional massage table. You don’t necessarily need knowledge of the individual meridian lines to enjoy the benefits of receiving a Shiatsu massage. In fact, you can practice Shiatsu on yourself to relieve stress and increase energy.

Thai massage uses many of the same techniques as Shiatsu to bring about relaxation. Some describe it as assisted yoga because of the passive stretching used to increase flexibility. Thai massage is usually performed on a mat but some techniques can be used on the massage table. I personally love receiving and incorporating passive stretching into a massage session to help release fascia restrictions.

Another great clothed massage technique is Reflexology. This style of massage aims to affect the whole body by applying pressure to specific points on the feet that correspond to different organs and body parts. Reflexology is used to correct energy flows throughout the body. It can be received as a standalone service or added to your regular massage treatment.

These clothed massage options are all great alternatives to receiving a traditional massage. Did you notice that you can still receive most of these styles of massage on a table? In my practice I’ve had the pleasure of using many of these styles of massage to help clients relax and adjust to being touched by me. As a massage therapist, I need to be able to adapt to meet the client’s needs whether that’s working over clothing, over the sheet or using little to no lotion/oil.

Receiving a massage over clothing is great for those who do not wish to or are unable to receive direct skin to skin contact. For instance the client may be ticklish, have a rash, an injury, burn or simply...feel modest about disrobing. There is no requirement to disrobe to receive a great massage. This is why I always say “disrobe to your level of comfort”. You want to be comfortable when receiving the healing gift of touch from your massage therapist.

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