On Draping, Previous Experience with Massage, and Comfort Level

Of the details that I mention in my intake form or when acclimating new clients to my massage room, there are a few that bring up questions.  The most frequently asked questions tend to be about draping, client comfort level, and what I mean by asking a client about how much experience they have with massage therapy.

“Previous experience with massage.”

This is a very open-ended question on my intake form.  I ask because I’m trying to get a sense of how massage has impacted your life, if at all. You can say you’ve had many, few, or none at all.  You can tell me you’ve had really great experiences, techniques you liked, pressure level you prefer, or that you tend to fall asleep during your session.  Or you could say you don’t like a certain technique–perhaps you had a bad session once with a therapist and this is a good opportunity to discuss the reason why.  You can tell me how often you receive massage and why, or you can simply say you’ve always been happy and satisfied with your experiences.  I’m not looking for a particularly long answer, but it’s definitely an opportunity to open up a dialogue about what you like, what you don’t like, and your expectations for the session.  This is a great way to help ensure that your needs are met.  If you’ve never had a massage before, this also the opportunity to tell me so, so that I may answer any questions you have, and more thoroughly explain the flow of the massage so that you know what to expect.

“Undress to your comfort level.”

Once the intake conversation has taken place, we move into the massage room and decide whether the massage will begin with you face-up, or face-down.  This will differ depending on where you are experiencing pain and what your specific goals are for your massage session.  Before I step out of the room to wash my hands and let you get comfortable on the table, I say “Undress to your comfort level.”  By this I mean that you do not have to take off any more clothing than you want to in order to feel safe.  Many might scoff at the word “safe” in this instance, but being unclothed under covers on a table can be a very scary thought for some.  Whatever level of vulnerability you may feel in this situation, know that your comfort is what is important in your massage session.  I have worked on clients who didn’t want to take their socks off, left their pants or leggings on, left their shirt on. Removing your undergarments is up to you.  I will work around anything as long as you are comfortable.

Regarding Draping.

As I work my way through your massage, I undrape only the part of you that I am working on at that time.  The rest of you stays under the covers.  So, you will only ever have one arm, a leg, or your back or shoulders exposed at one time.  Also, what I uncover is no more than you would expect to have exposed at the beach or the pool–so yes, I may work on your hips or your outer glutes, your lower back or your pectoral muscles, but you will remain modestly draped the entire time.  You may be someone who feels comfortable with having as little covered as possible, either because you are too warm, or you simply don’t like being under too many covers.  This is also fine; you are entirely free to have your arms and/or legs uncovered, but you will still be otherwise modestly draped.  These are the rules of my profession as outlined by the state, who licenses me to practice massage, and they are in place for both your protection and mine.  Your massage is always approached with professionalism and respect, and this is what you should always expect from your therapist.