Wait.. “I’m supposed to behave a certain way when receiving massage“, you ask? The short answer is “no”. And here comes the long answer.
Many clients apologize for the current state of their bodies when receiving massage. “I’m so sorry I didn’t shave before I came! Ugh!” is the most common. I always respond in the same way: “it doesn’t bother me! And you don’t have to shave for anyone.” I also might explain that when a person comes in with freshly shaved or waxed and lubricated legs it can actually interfere with certain modalities such as Myofascial Release, for which I need a certain amount of friction. Any lotions or other lubricating products don’t interact well with my oil causing a less than ideal glide and grip for Swedish and deep tissue massage techniques. But that’s just a side note and not what I’m really here to discuss in this post.
Another common worry is stinky feet. Ah. Yes. We’ve all had this issue at one time or another. Honestly after the thousands of massages I’ve given, stinky feet so overwhelming that I can’t stand it has only come up once! Even then it was not a big deal. While it would be nice to shower before a massage, it’s not always possible. The client mentioned their feet as a concern so I began the massage with hot towels and essential oils. It not only got rid of the stink, it was so soothing for my client who had been in their work boots and on their feet for 12 hours that day. All it took was a little communication.
Ah. Communication. One of the most important aspects of massage (and ALL relationships), in fact. Letting me know what’s going on for you beforehand, whether it‘s stinky feet or sensitive calves, is essential to getting the massage you want and need. During massage there is also non-verbal communication, which most seasoned massage-receivers are very familiar with. A deep breath as I approach a tender or extremely tight area tells me to slow down a little and really tune into that specific area, for instance. With the exhale I am then able to go a little deeper and release the muscle tension or trigger point more than without the breath.
Stinky feet, hairy legs, being skinny, being fat, having “too many trouble areas”… there are so many things clients have apologized for over the years. It is something that makes me sad, actually. As a person who has been in recovery for years from eating disorders and severe body image issues, I have a lot of compassion for people who feel they must apologize for having a body. I believe every body and everybody deserves massage. The comments clients make about their bodies may seem very casual and normal. This is only because it’s been normalized in our society to have shame about our bodies not being a certain way. There are entire industries, such as the weight loss industry which makes more than $70 billion a year (and growing!) in the US alone feeding that shame cycle and convincing us our bodies are wrong the way they currently are. That industry also has a 98% failure rate, just in case you were wondering. But I digressed a little.
When preparing yourself for your next massage, consider this list of “etiquettes”:
•do a quick scan of your body to become clear about what it is you are feeling and what areas you’d like me to focus on
•let go of the idea that you must shave or paint your toe nails before being taken care of
•remind yourself you are perfect just the way you are and you deserve to be taken care of no matter how hairy or stinky you are
•visualize completely letting go of insecurities and surrendering to being cared for
•thank yourself for allowing healing touch as part of your SelfCare
See you, your skinny hairy legs, bald head, fat belly, and your stinky feet on my table soon!