10 Massage Etiquette Tips

Tips for How to Behave Before, During and After a Massage

Woman getting a massage
Show respect for your massage therapist. Ralf Nau/Getty Images

Have you ever had a massage? If not, you're missing out on one of the most relaxing experiences ever. Before you go, make sure you know what to expect and how to act. If you are ever in doubt about what to do, you can rely on standard etiquette guidelines and ask the therapist about anything you're not sure of.

  1. Arrive clean. No massage therapist wants to work on a dirty, stinky body. Not only do you owe it to the professional you've hired to knead your muscles you should have enough pride to take care of basic hygiene. Wear deodorant but don't douse yourself in heavy perfume or cologne.
     
  1. Arrive on time. When you book a time, jot it down, put it on your calendar, and if you are the forgetful type put a reminder in your cell phone. Don't keep your therapist waiting. That's rude. She might have other appointments, and since she's trying to make a living, you should never cause her to be late for them. The first time you see the therapist you might want to arrive a few minutes early to fill out paperwork.
     
  2. Be comfortable. Most massages are best if you are completely naked, but if you're uncomfortable without your underwear on you won't be able to relax. If you prefer to keep all your clothes on, you don't have to apologize. Just remember that the therapist can only massage what is exposed. Use the restroom before the session.
     
  3. Don't worry about hair. You may or may not shave your legs. Your massage therapist really doesn't care. If removing the hair on any part of your body makes you more comfortable, do it, but remember that it's completely for you.
     
  1. Be respectful. Your massage therapist is trained and, in most states, certified. In other words, he or she is a professional who takes the job seriously. Respect this person's education and knowledge. Never expect more than a professional massage. If you make an inappropriate proposition you are asking him or her to break the law. And you can count on that therapist never offering you another appointment. Never tell an off-color joke about the massage profession. That would be a terrible insult and may result in the person not accepting another appointment with you.
     
  1. Be open. Let the therapist know what feels good and what hurts. If you don't speak up, he won't know. His job is to help release tension, not create it. Most of the time your therapist will follow your lead with conversation, music, lighting, and anything else related to the session.
     
  2. Be honest. Let your therapist know about any health issues you have. Most certified massage therapists know how to work with or around medical conditions. In some cases, a massage isn't a good idea, and the therapist will let you know. Discuss allergies to creams, oils, and fragrances. The massage therapist does not want to make you sick. If you wake up on the day of your appointment with a cold or the flu, call the therapist and reschedule.
     
  3. Don't linger too long. The massage therapist knows that it may take you a few minutes to get up and get dressed. That's fine, but don't take a nap or linger for an hour. Someone may need to get the room ready for the next person's session.
     
  4. Be generous. Most spa and gym massage therapists accept tips. This is a good way to show your appreciation for your sense of well-being. Tips range from 10 to 20 percent depending on region. If your massage therapist works in a medical setting, you're not expected to tip. If there is a notice posted to this effect, don't try to push the tip because that puts the therapist in a very uncomfortable position.
     
  1. Respect the appointment. Schedule your massage session as far in advance as possible. That said, people in that profession know that sudden aches and pains may have you begging for a last-minute appointment, and if they have room on their schedule, they are most likely willing to accommodate you. If you must break the appointment, do so as early as you know you can't make it. That gives the person time to book someone else who may want your time slot.

As tension mounts in our lives we have to find ways to relax our muscles, and a massage is one of the best ways to do this. Just make sure you treat the technician with the respect all professionals deserve.