Jenni B. Young RMT answers her number one question asked by new clients
The Big Question – what do I wear?
If you have ever had a treatment by a massage therapist you’ve probably been told “please undress to your level of comfort”. When you ask what does that mean you may get a vague answer about leaving on or taking off what you are comfortable with and that it’s really up to you.
Why do Registered Massage Therapists say this?
An RMT standard of practice is maintaining physical boundaries in our therapeutic relationship. This ensures that our clients feel safe and secure the entire time during a treatment. We don’t want to assume that anyone is comfortable undressing, even if they will be covered with a sheet. We also don’t want to be in any position where a client feels they are being convinced or forced to undress when they may not want to.
What do most people do?
Some RMT’s offer traditional massage therapy; a client is under a sheet and the RMT only exposes the area that they are working on. They carefully cover that area once the techniques are complete. Care is taken in this situation with regards to pillowing and position changes to ensure that no area of the client’s body is unnecessarily exposed to the therapist. In this situation your RMT really means “please undress to your level of comfort”. There are clients who chose leave their clothes on, some clients leave their underwear on and some undress completely. As RMT’s we are trained to work within the personal boundaries of our clients.
There are also RMT’s who will treat you fully clothed. They may ask that you bring shorts/legging and a t-shirt or they may offer you a change of clothes when you start your appointment. For those RMT’s they typically don’t use sheets unless there is risk of exposing sensitive body parts. Even in this type of treatment you are asked to dress to your level of comfort, if you are uncomfortable in shorts and prefer to wear pants instead that is up to you, if wearing a t-shirt or tank top makes you uncomfortable then a long-sleeved shirt and maybe still a blanket or a sheet may be what makes you feel better.
What we do at Livewell Myofascial Release
I normally treat clients with shorts and a t-shirt. My treatments could be deemed relaxing although the focus is on therapy. I want my clients to get better and find relief from pain, improve mobility, improve posture and posture awareness. As a wonderful addition, these therapies also help to relax and reduce stress in my clients. The modalities used depend on the reason for the visit but most of my work is done with my clients in shorts or loose fitting pants and a t-shirt. If I feel that a more traditional approach is necessary or requested then sheets are available for use.
What should you do?
Do whatever you are comfortable with. If you feel like you can relax and receive a treatment under the sheets without your clothes on or if you chose to remain in your underwear or stay fully clothed – it is really your choice.
The next time you are visiting your massage therapist and he or she asks you to “please undress to your level of comfort” ask yourself…. what makes me comfortable?
Written by Jennifer Young. Her primary focus is in women’s health. She has been involved in the pre and post-natal community in Ottawa for over 15 years. She has worked as a Lamaze Childbirth Educator, a Lactation educator, Certified Infant Massage Instructor, Doula (birth attendant) and Fertility and Pre-Post Natal Yoga Instructor.