Do You Have Massage Anxiety?

Here is a great irony… For some people, the idea of getting a massage causes a lot of anxiety. Why is that ironic? Well, massage therapy is a fantastic treatment for ANXIETY! But for some, in particular those who have never received a professional massage, the idea of a massage can leave them apprehensive. The reasons are totally understandable. The purpose of this article is to give you some idea of what can be expected in a massage session so that there is no need for anxiety to ruin it for you.

Massage Anxiety Issue #1) What Do (or don’t) I Wear?

The key here is comfort. If you are getting massage in a more public setting, like chair massage at an event, you remain full clothed because wouldn’t it be uncomfortable to get undressed while a bunch of people finishing a race or looking for free pens and gift bags watched you get your chair massage? At these types of events it really is “come as you are”.

If you are getting a table massage in a more private setting, such as at a massage clinic, the massage therapist will tell you to “dress down to your comfort level”. What the heck does that mean? Hopefully, this will help you get what’s intended by that instruction. If you are getting a full body massage (neck, back, arms, legs, etc.) typically, the massage therapist will use some type of lotion or gel during the massage. Removing clothing from these areas will allow the massage therapist to work on these parts of the body. They can use a wider variety of strokes and techniques. If you are clothed in an area then there are only about 3 types of strokes that can be done with variable effectiveness. The reasons the massage therapist doesn’t just say, “Get naked.” are 1) that sounds a little creepy and 2) while they want to be able to use their full arsenal of massage skills on you they don’t want to to feel embarrassed or anxious about the situation either.

You may now be thinking, “Wait, won’t they see me naked? I’m not sure I’m ok with that”. One of the most important things that licensed massage therapists are taught in their training is to perform proper draping techniques. Draping is when a sheet or blanket is placed over the body to avoid exposure of areas that are not being worked on. This allows you to maintain a comfortable level of modesty. You should never be in a situation where you are totally exposed and a trained massage therapist will know how to achieve this. Most people will either remove all of their clothes or dress down to their underclothing for a massage. The massage therapist will not think that you are some kind of weirdo if you do this.

Massage Anxiety Issue #2) I’m Not Happy With the Shape I’m In. Won’t the Therapist Think I’m Gross?

To become a massage therapist you spend hundreds of hours studying and working on different types of bodies. You’ll get some tall ones and short ones, fat ones and some where you have to search for muscles to work on. Whatever state your physique is in, don’t worry about making your massage therapist uncomfortable or wonder that they are judging you throughout the whole session. Chances are that they have seen people like you before and they are not weirded out by your strange mole, love handles or bony arms. It’s not as if you will be charged extra if you don’t have the body of a swimsuit model or a professional athlete. Massage clients come in many shapes and sizes and everybody is welcome.

Massage Anxiety Issue #3) I’m Trapped in a Small Room With Somebody Else for an Hour…What are we going to do?

Some people get apprehensive because they think that the massage therapist is expecting them to keep them entertained with chit chat for the entire time. It seems like an awkward situation to be in. Let me assure you that the massage therapist is fine if you just want to lay there and enjoy the massage. This is a different social situation than usual. The only communication you are really expected to do is give feedback about anything that could be uncomfortable or if you need more pressure in an area. If you want to talk the whole time then there are massage therapists who are ok with that too. As for any social pressures there really are none. The time is about you, relaxing and working on what you need. This is one of the things that people love about massage. Where else do you get that kind of freedom?

Massage Anxiety Issue #4) What If I’m Too Tight/Sensitive/Ticklish/etc.

Some people worry that they are beyond help because they have so much tension in their muscles. You would be surprised at how much can be done about that in just one session. Maybe your problem will require more than one massage to correct. The massage therapist will make a recommendation on what you need to get the results you are looking for. If you are worried about pain your therapist will be asking for feedback throughout the session. So if something hurts too much (as opposed to hurting so good) then just speak up and they will work lighter or apply a more gentle technique.

As for people who are ticklish, this is not usually a problem with massage therapy. The massage therapist will vary the depth and distribution of massage strokes to make it as comfort as possible.

Whatever your apprehension about this aspect of massage therapy, communicating with your therapist can make the experience the best you can imagine.

Massage Anxiety Issue #5) Am I Expected to Leave a Tip? How Much?

Tipping a massage therapist is customary but optional. I have never seen a massage therapist complain about a customer who does not tip. However, many people to leave some sort of gratuity when they receive a massage. Typically, people will tip between 10-30% after a massage. While it by no means required, it is always appreciated.

Massage Anxiety Issue #6) What If I Really Enjoy the Massage and Can’t Be Happy Unless I Get One On A Regular Basis?

Yeah… this is entirely possible. I can’t really help you there besides saying that YES you should get massages on a regular basis. It is a small price to pay for some sanity, pain relief, and enjoyment.

Hopefully, if you were apprehensive about receiving massage therapy you are a little more comfortable now. If you have received massage before and were hesitant at first please help out an leave something about your experience in the comments. It could really help someone out. If you want to win a free massage we have a contest where we will be drawing for some great prizes including some massage gift certificates tomorrow. DON’T WAIT!


This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Melissa

    Thank you so much for this. I needed to read it this morning since I’m getting a massage soon and pretty nervous about it, since I haven’t had a massage in awhile. These are some great tips to remember. 🙂

  2. Jason Young, DC

    You are going to love it!! Just remember that you are there for YOU nobody is judging your performance as a massage client.

  3. Melissa

    Thank you! I’ll leave a comment how it was later or this weekend. I’m sure I’ll love it!! Thanks for the advice too.

  4. Melissa

    Everyone who reads this I believe a little anxiety is normal if you haven’t had a massage in awhile. The massage I just got was great & has made me feel good so far all weekend. I’ll probably schedule another one from this person in the future. Thanks again for these tips.

  5. Becca Holton

    I’ve been wanting to get a massage for a while now. However, I do have some anxiety when I think about what I’m supposed to wear. My worries have diminished after explanation of how the key is comfort.

  6. Melissa

    Good blog on Massage anxiety. I would suggest to get a chair Massage first. See if your comfortable with the Massage therapist. If not try another one. Good key points you made on overcoming anxiety.

  7. Sani Hassan

    Hi, Very good blog on massage anxiety. Due to anxiety issue i started with portable massager and then took session from therapist. Though i was little nervous but getting massage by myself first helped me lot infront of therapist.

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