How Does This All Work? Part 5 – On the Table

Posted on June 26, 2016 By


You’ve scheduled your appointment, arrived on time, completed your health history form (including all sorts of things you still don’t quite understand the relevance of), you’ve told your therapist the big things, and your goals for the session, and you’ve gotten undressed and slipped in between the sheets on the massage table.

And yes, there remain a few things to think about —

This is your massage.

This is your massage.  It’s not the therapist’s massage.  It’s not mine.  It’s yours.  You are paying for a service that ought to be tailored to you and your needs.  And the only way we can do that is if you speak up. It’s weird, but this can be hard — even for other massage therapists.  There’s a funny thing about putting yourself in a therapist’s hands that tells you not to complain — don’t listen to that inner voice.  Ask for what you need.

If you are not comfortable, in any way, tell your therapist.

If you are cold, ask for another blanket.

If you are hot, ask if the blanket can go, or the table warmer can be turned off or down, or if your therapist has a fan (the sheet cannot go).

If you need a bolster or pillow anywhere, ask for one.  Some places one might like a bolster include:

  • Under your knees or ankles.
  • Under your shoulders when you’re lying face down.
  • Under your neck when you’re lying face up.
  • Under your belly.
  • Under your arms.
  • Between your knees if you’re side lying.

If anything your therapist does hurts, say so.  And repeat that, if he or she doesn’t immediately change what he or she is doing.  Unless you have negotiated with your therapist that a certain therapeutic treatment will hurt, and you’ve explicitly agreed to an amount of pain, massage should not hurt.

If you feel even remotely uncomfortable with what your therapist is doing, say so.  If you hate having your feet touched, you don’t have to have your feet touched.  If you thought that glute work was a good idea, but once your therapist started doing it, you decided you don’t want or like it — tell your therapist to stop.

If your therapist is using too much pressure, don’t be stoic about it — complain!  Ask them to lighten up!

If your therapist isn’t using enough pressure, don’t lie there feeling like you’re just getting a nice moisturizing session, ask for more pressure.

If your therapist is chattering away trying to converse with you, and you really wanted quiet — say so. “I’d really like to have a quiet time during this massage”

If your therapist is completely silent and you prefer to have some conversation — ask a question.

There are Limits  …

There are some requests that we cannot accommodate.  Licensed Massage Therapists are governed by State Licensing Boards.  And those Boards do what government does best: write regulations.  The regulations in question are there, in this case, for your safety and that of your Massage Therapist.

  • In most states, we cannot allow you to be fully uncovered on the table.  There must be draping of some kind.  Please do not ask to completely remove the drape (sheet).
  • In all states, we cannot participate in any kind of sexual interaction with our clients.  Never in the course of a massage.  And … even when we’re off duty, we can lose our license if we develop a sexual relationship with a client.  So please, don’t ask.
  • We can’t diagnose your condition.  We can’t prescribe things.  Unless your therapist also carries a license to do those things, it’s illegal for him or her to try.  Please don’t ask us to do that.

And, there are some requests and behaviors we will not ever tolerate.  Furthermore, you shouldn’t tolerate them either!

  • Inappropriate touching.  Your therapist should never touch your genitals or your nipples.  You should never touch any part of you therapist that is ordinarily covered by a modest swim suit (two piece for women).  While accidental grazing can occur — intentional touching of this kind is absolutely prohibited.  If either party engages in intentional inappropriate touching, the massage should be ended immediately.  If the person doing the touching is you, the client, you’ll still owe for a complete massage.  If the person doing the intentional inappropriate touching is the therapist, you will not owe for the massage, and you should report the incident to the manager of the establishment, as well as the state massage licensing board.
  • Inappropriate and suggestive language.  Just as neither party should be touching, neither party should be discussing sexually related things.
  • Outright requests for sexual activities.  These will terminate your session, and likely get you banned from the establishment and reported to the police.  If your therapist does it, end the session, report the therapist to management, the licensing board, and the police.  Solicitation is never okay.

There you go!

Time for the massage to begin!  What to expect during the massage?  that’s next!

Looking Back:  Part I: Booking an Appointment,
Part II: the Health History Form
Part III: Privacy, and What to Tell Your Therapist
Part IV: Getting on the Table


Broader Issues