While the purpose of massage is to relieve stress and loosen up the muscles, many people who are new to massage can experience tenseness and anxiety. Most of this anxiety is minor and simply the result of a new experience that seems to be extremely personal. Anytime we allow someone to touch our body, it can be a cause of conscious or even subconscious concern.
One of the most often-asked questions by those who are new to massage is if it is necessary to get naked. Many massage therapists will ask you to disrobe. Other massage therapists will suggest it in a more casual manner, asking you to undress only as much as you are comfortable.
The short answer to the question of having to be nude during a massage is no, it is not necessary. In cases where being completely unclothed causes a level of discomfort that negates the effects of the massage, clothing can be left on, but you may not reap the full benefits of the massage. It becomes a matter of weighing the pros and cons.
In situations where it will not benefit a person to receive a nude massage, a healthy exercise is to determine the exact reasons why being naked is such a cause for concern. By exploring the reasons for the stress caused by nakedness, it is possible to reduce the stress and receive a much more beneficial massage from the therapist.
The first factor to consider is the comfort level you have with your massage therapist. If your massage therapist is a close friend, this could definitely be a source of stress. Contrary to what a lot of people new to massage believe, your massage therapist should not be a friend, and in many cases, your massage therapist should not try and become your friend. Professional boundaries should be maintained, much the same as in a doctor/patient relationship. It helps people to take off their clothes for a doctor because they understand their doctor is not looking at them in a sexual or judgmental manner. The nakedness is necessary for reasons of your health.
Just because you are getting a naked massage, professional boundaries should be kept and sexual boundaries should be set. You nakedness does not give a massage therapist the right to touch you wherever they like. If the therapist gets too close to areas you want left alone, do not be afraid to speak up. The therapist should be able to inform you clearly and precisely why being touched in that area is necessary. You always have the power to reject or accept the explanation. Once the boundaries have been established, the massage therapist should respect your wishes.
Discomfort and tension about being nude for a massage is more frequent with people new to massage or those visiting a new massage therapist. Often, the tension caused by nakedness naturally diminishes with time, as you build a professional relationship and establish trust. In your first sessions, try to receive only a back massage. This allows you to expose only your back, while keeping your front and entire lower body clothed. After one or more sessions like this, try a leg massage with clothes. As your comfort level increases, you may find that you eventually reach a stage where you are comfortable with your massage therapist giving you a total body massage. Once you are comfortable with a total body massage, you will have lost your initial tension about being naked so that you can receive the maximum benefit of the massage.