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What to Wear (or not) During Your Massage

What to wear (or not wear) during your massage.  This comes from one of the most Frequently Asked Questions that I’m asked by people who are new to massage:

“How do you feel massaging naked people every day.”
This is often backed up with “what about people?”
And then, “do you massage feet? I could never touch another person’s feet.”
These questions are almost as common as “do your hands get sore?” and that’s a question for another day.

  1. I don’t massage naked people, nor do I massage naked. Sorry … not sorry.  By the way I’m a massage therapist, so working with people kind of goes with the territory.
  2. That physical characteristic is just that … a characteristic … I don’t massage characteristics, I massage people.
  3. Feet are awesome – they account for ¼ of the bones in the human body. You should try foot massage.  It’s amazing.  I love working with feet.

When I was at massage school, we’d have to stand in our undies while the class looked at our posture.  Essentially 20 people would stare at me, pointing out my flaws.  I didn’t like it.  After a while, we all kind of got used to strutting around in underwear climbing on and off tables for massage.  20 people … 20 different bodies. The people giving massage were kind and caring.

Maybe you’re comfortable in your own skin, maybe your not.

Perhaps you’re been told by a friend to try massage, or maybe a medical professional has recommended massage to help with stress or headaches.  You’re not a massage junkie, in fact the last time you let a stranger touch you was for your last tetanus vaccination.  If you’re preparing for your first ever massage, that’s why I wrote 5 tips to get the most from your massage.

Let’s start at the top.


Personally, I reckon dressing comfortably is the go.  Suitably vague? Extra points for a superhero t-shirt.  Comfy undies. Trackies, loose fitting t-shirt.  That’s because I like to go home and rest after massage.  Realistically … dress however you want.  Just be aware that if you wear really tight jeans, and plan to stay clothed, then you might start to feel a bit grippy.  Going out for lunch after? Perhaps bring a brush to tidy your hair up.


It’s pretty standard practice to undress to your undies for massage.  Usually the rooms are quite warm.  And this allows me to work comfortably and effectively through the back arms and legs.  If we talk about it, and you give consent, then massaging your glutes (butt muscles) could actually help with your lower back pain.

Just because undressing is “normal” for us, doesn’t mean that you have to or necessarily want to undress for massage.

I remember saying to someone once, “Undress to your comfort level” … I meant well.  I was trying to help her feel comfortable.  She made some remark about “If I’d known that I would have worn my full body wetsuit.”  I’ve learned to be more specific now.

Not comfortable in undressing for massage?  You’re not alone there.  That’s why I trained in some extra special massage techniques that can be administered over clothing.  In fact, there’s lots of times when I won’t recommend undressing anyhow because of what you want to achieve.  Don’t be shocked if I ask you to slip off your shoes and “pop up on your back for me.”

Also, if you’re in your lunch break and planning on heading back to work … then you probably don’t want to get oil on you anyway!

There’s certain outcomes though where working on hand to skin is effective and appropriate.  And to be honest, when you think massage you probably think oil, flowing and gliding strokes.


I want you to know that, first, no matter what, you’ll always be covered (draped) with a towel really large towel, like … it’s huge!  So big that the towel is even labelled as “Mega”.  When I work on an arm, I fold the sheet back and tuck it under your arm so it’s secure. I do the same thing for the leg.

When I work on the full back, I fold the drape down at the hips. If you’re wearing underwear I’ll gently tuck the sheet around the waistband, to protect your clothes from massage oil.


There’s no need for me to see you naked.  My professional standards prohibit it … and just because you’ve had 7 children and “everyone else has had a look” doesn’t mean that I need to join that club too.  You may not be shy but I kind of am.  And whilst as a massage therapist “you’ve seen it all anyway.” I haven’t seen you and I’d like to keep it that way.  As a professional therapist I’m bound by a code of ethics – I respect that code, and it is just the start of what I do to demonstrate respect and caring to you.


Worried about how you look to me?  No two of us are pressed from the same mould … except for identical twins maybe … just know that I’m not judging you.

This massage is about you and it’s important that you feel comfortable. For some people that means leaving some clothing on. For others, it means taking it (mostly) all off. There is no right or wrong, this is your massage.

Enjoy your next massage!

David Clayton is the Principal Remedial Therapist at Myomasters Massage located in Hope Valley in the north east of Adelaide.  He has a passion for supporting humans to live the lives they were to born to live using massage and soft tissue therapies.  He has a particular interest in assisting people to recover from stress, anxiety and trauma using compassionate and nurturing touch.