The short answer is “No. Absolutely not.”
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about massage and deserves some discussion.
In massage school it was suggested we say to clients, “Undress to your level of comfort.” We will say that to clients, and we admit it can be a little vague. What might seem comfortable for one person is uncomfortable for another, and what makes it more uncomfortable is the fact that you don’t want to do something out of the ordinary, but you don’t necessarily know what “ordinary” is when receiving a massage.
First, no matter what, you’ll always be covered (draped) with a sheet and a blanket. You’ll never be left feeling exposed or chilly. We only expose what we are working on, and there are certain things we just don’t work on. When we work on an arm, we fold the sheet back and tuck it under your arm so it’s secure. (No drafts, my friends.) We follow the same protocol for the leg. We want you to feel secure, comfortable, and cozy.
When we work on the full back, we fold the drape down at the hips. If you’re wearing a bra, we can work around it. If you’re wearing a t-shirt or tank top or space suit, we will work through it. We know plenty of very effective massage techniques that can be administered over clothing.
Now, we might feel that we can’t effectively treat your issue if you’re wearing clothes, and we will have an open conversation about it and figure out another approach with you so you get the most effective care you need.
For the quickest answer: The less you have on, the more techniques we can do. We only expose what we need during the time we need it. But we ultimately want YOU comfortable.
We don’t judge you–we don’t care what your body might look like. This is about you feeling comfortable with your massage and your massage therapist. We have clients who prefer to take it all off, some who leave underoos on, some who will leave bras on, and others who will stay in their exercise clothes. There’s really no right or wrong–it’s YOUR massage.
Enjoy your next massage!