Why do you have to take your clothes off for a massage?

Why do you have to take your clothes off for a massage?

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There’s something about a good massage that revives us, kicking weariness to the kerb and revitalising our weary bodies. But in the pursuit of wellness and relief, a question often pops up – “Why do we have to undress for a massage?” It’s a valid concern when stepping into a spa or wellness centre, especially if it’s your first-time experience.

Decoding the Undressing Conundrum

The core reasons behind removing clothes before a massage stem from the nature of the therapy itself. Massages employ a variety of techniques, including pressing, kneading, and rolling, which require direct access to your skin, muscles, and tissues. Taking off your clothes brings an added layer of effectiveness to the session as it enhances muscle manipulation and absorption of massage oils or lotions1.

Dispelling the Undressing Myth

If stripping down is causing you undue anxiety, rest easy. Contrary to popular belief, undressing isn’t always a must-do in massage therapy. The decision depends on the type of massage you’ve opted for and, importantly, your comfort level. Some massage modalities like Swedish and hot stone massages may require you to undress completely —or partially— yet others are perfectly effective with clothes on2,4.

Massage — A Versatile Therapy

Apart from meaty rubdowns, there exists a realm of nourishing therapies that demand no undressing. Seated chair massage, Thai massage, clothed sports massage, and some energy modalities capitalize on giving relief through loose, comfortable clothing— ideal options for those not comfy with undressing4.

Affirming Privacy & Safety

In massages that involve undressing, maintaining privacy is critical. Standard practices require the massage therapist to leave the room while you get settled and knock before re-entering. Additionally, proper draping techniques come into play, ensuring that only the area being massaged is exposed. These simple measures ensure your peace of mind and create a safe environment for the therapy to unfold5.

Dress-code Alternatives

For those who remain apprehensive about undressing, consider donning loose clothing like sweatpants, athletic shorts or a t-shirt. Some folks prefer keeping their undergarments on. Remember, your comfort is paramount and should be communicated to your massage therapist prior to the session6.

Unwrapping the Benefits

So why do people choose to undress for massages? Removing clothes not only makes muscle manipulation easier but significantly improves the absorption of massage oils or lotions. Moreover, it strips away the worry of staining clothing with oils. It’s all about maximizing relaxation and the overall massage experience7.

Undressing — A Universal Practice?

While the necessity to undress for a massage may seem commonplace to some, cultural norms and types of massages make this practice variable across nations and regions. What is standard in one place may not be routine in another. The key takeaway here is that the therapy should always serve your preferences and comfort9.

The Protocol of Undressing

Massage therapy follows a standard protocol when it comes to undressing. After discussing the scope of work, your therapist will step out of the room, giving you time to disrobe (as per agreed-on comfort levels) and settle onto the massage table. Handling drapes is also an ethical requirement that ensures only the area under treatment is exposed10.

Decisions that Serve You

As you gear up for a massage, remember that the decision about undressing should prioritize your comfort and safety. Whether you choose to disrobe completely, partially, or not at all, the therapy should serve you – as a space of relaxation, healing, and rejuvenation. Ultimately, we all deserve to enjoy the magic of massages in a way that best suits us!


  1. 14 Client Do’s and Don’ts Before and After Getting a Massage
  2. Dos And Don’ts Of Removing Your Underwear For A Therapeutic Massage
  3. What to Wear During A Massage (And 5 Things Not To Do) – Soul 2 Sole
  4. Clothed Massage – Elite Learning
  5. How to Maintain Privacy and Dignity when Providing Personal Care – wikiHow
  6. What to Wear to a Massage: How to Prepare to Get Bare (Or Not) and…
  7. What Do I Need to Take Off for a Relaxing Massage? Find Out Now!
  8. 12 Types of Massage and What They Can Help With – Health
  9. Massage Etiquette for Men: 8 Things to Keep in Mind – The Art of Manliness
  10. Draping Essentials – Massage & Myotherapy Australia
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