A full-body massage is as luxurious as it gets. There’s no better reward after a stressful day, a long week, or just to celebrate yourself. Such a holistic, all-encompassing experience can leave you feeling deeply restored, energised and motivated.
But for some people, the idea of a full-body massage is a scary one. What does it involve? How much of the “full-body” are we talking? What’s the etiquette for such a physical therapy?
The Big Full-Body Massage Questions
What is a full-body massage?
The definition of “full-body massage” is in the name: it is a massage therapy session that works over all areas of the body. A typical full-body massage covers top-to-toes. Traditionally, a full-body massage covers the:
- Head – normally including the temples, crown, occipital muscles (the back of the head) and scalp.
- Neck – including the nape and trapezius (long muscles on the side that connect to the back).
- Shoulders – along the collar bones, shoulder blades and into the upper back.
- Upper and lower back – the lower back is where most people harbour stubborn tension and experience tightness, stiffness or pain.
- Legs – including the buttocks, glutes, thighs and calves
The above list covers a typical full-body massage. However, what is important to note is that your massage is exactly that: yours.
Will my therapist massage *those* parts?
A legitimate massage therapist, including all those on the Blys platform, will never expose or touch private parts of the body. This includes the breasts for females. A full list of services can be found here.
What if I only want certain parts to be massaged?
A Blys massage therapist will tailor your massage to exclude any parts you don’t want to be touched. Some people prefer their feet or buttocks not be touched, and that’s perfectly fine. Consult with your massage therapist prior to, or during, the massage to let them know what you like, dislike, or don’t want at all. Boundaries are important, and so is maintaining them.
Your massage therapist will also adjust their focus to whichever part of your body needs the most attention. For example, if your primary source of discomfort is your lower back, that is where your therapist will spend more time. Note this may come at the cost of less time spent elsewhere on the body. The goal of every massage therapist is to leave their client feeling better than when they walked in.
Full-Body Massage Etiquette
Whether you’ve yet to experience your first massage or you’re a veteran on the table, everyone should be conscious of massage etiquette. We know that bodywork and physical therapies can be an intimate thing – they are our bodies, after all. But a massage isn’t an awkward, embarrassing or ugly thing. Quite the opposite – a massage is rejuvenating.
What do I wear for my massage?
Blys massage therapists will always use proper draping techniques to maximise your comfort, security and modesty. This means that towels or sheets will be used to cover all the parts of the body that are not being worked on. Several sheets or towels can be used to achieve this, or your therapist could use the origami folding technique to ensure you are always covered. This also applies to staying warm during your massage.
It is a requirement of all Blys clients to leave their underwear on for the duration of their massage. From there, we say to undress down to your level of comfort. This is different for everyone and can be affected by your therapy.
For example, a Swedish relaxation massage uses long, buttery strokes best performed on an unobstructed body. Whilst your therapist can work around a bra or bandeau top, the covered section of the body may be neglected. In contrast, a sports massage is a little different: some people choose to wear workout leggings or cycling shorts for this type of massage.
Your therapist will leave the room whilst you undress and leave again to allow you to get changed afterwards.
If you choose to wear clothing during your massage, we would suggest something comfortable and loose-fitting, or activewear for the bottom half if that is your preference.
Some parts of a massage, such as friction, vibration, rocking and tapotement, are done whilst you are entirely draped. Unlike in the movies, a massage is not typically done stark naked for its duration – so take comfort in that!
Do I have to shave for my massage?
Of course you don’t! Hygiene is a personal choice. You don’t have to be entirely hairless before you go into your massage – your therapist will not be offended or disgusted if you forget to shave your pits. If you want to, go for it. If you don’t want to, don’t.
All we ask if that you are clean before you get onto the table. Step into the shower before your booking for a good scrub-down. Not only does this make for a more pleasant experience for everyone, but your body is easier to work on when it is clean.
Basically, don’t be gross. There are a lot of massage therapists out there with horror stories. You don’t want to be that statistic.
How do I *be* massaged?
This is a weird question we see a lot, but it makes so much sense.
Here’s the scenario:
You’re about to get your first massage. You’ve never had anything like this before, and you’re a bit nervous to have a stranger touching your body. But your back is killing you and those deadlines are looming.
Your therapist has turned your living room into a mini oasis. You never knew the place could look – or smell – so good. This was definitely a good idea. Your therapist stepped into the bathroom to wash up while you disrobed (what a fancy word). Will the table collapse? Your climb onto it was anything but graceful. It’s surprisingly comfortable and sturdy. Even the hole for your face is soft.
With the table conquered, your nerves settle. That is until your therapist comes back in. Did you leave a leg untucked? Are they judging you? What if there’s a zit on your back? You don’t know what your back looks like! And suddenly you’re all tense and awkward again. Your muscles are rigid. And now the massage is starting.
Are they pressing hard, or are you resisting? Are you relaxed? You feel unsure. Your mind is certainly racing, but you’re stiff as a board as well. How is your therapist supposed to massage a concrete slab? You must be their worst client ever.
Spoiler alert: you’re not.
Enjoy it, don’t endure it
Feeling awkward on the table is really common, particularly if you’re new to massages. Therapists are totally aware that this is a new experience for a lot of people, and it’s their goal to make you as comfortable as possible.
Take comfort knowing that even though you feel like your body is resisting, it probably isn’t. The therapist is putting pressure on you from above and the table is supporting you from below. You become a bit of a sandwich.
For the most part, your therapist will gently guide you into an optimal working position. This might mean asking you to let your arms dangle, or moving one of your arms behind your back. Otherwise, rest in whatever position is most comfortable for you. Spend less time worrying about what your body is doing – just enjoy what it is going through.
What to expect from your full-body massage
From therapist technique to rolling off the table, here’s a general breakdown of how your full-body massage will go.
Before getting on the table
Your Blys therapist will set up in your preferred space. They will always bring their own equipment, so there is no need for you to provide anything. Their therapist toolkit* includes the massage table, towels or sheets, massage oil, and typically little extras like music and aromatherapy oils, candles, incense or a diffuser.
*Note: if you have any allergies or special requests, include them in the “Notes” section during booking to have them accommodated beforehand. If you forget, your therapist will consult with you prior to the massage anyway (it’s just nice to be prepared).
Once you’re on the table
Your massage therapist will start the massage by warming up the body, likely starting at the shoulders, neck and back. If you’ve specified an area that needs more focus, they will adjust their routine accordingly. Keep in mind that your therapist is here to help, so never be afraid to speak up during the massage. Communication is key in physical therapy, so let them know how you feel about the pressure and areas they’re focusing on.
You’ll typically be asked to flip over halfway through the massage. Don’t panic – your modesty is always preserved! Your therapist will drape you correctly to ensure you’re never exposed. Once you’ve flipped over, they can focus their attention on your shoulders, arms, thighs and muscles on the front of the body – this may include a pectoral massage for males. As for the ladies – massage therapists are trained professionals, but they are not doctors, so please don’t request a breast examination.
The final stage of your full-body massage
Depending on the style of your massage, whether it be remedial or relaxing, your therapist will finish the massage by rounding it all out. Generally, small pressure is used to balance and ground you. This is commonly done by finishing the massage at the head and scalp, rounding it out with gentle pressure on the temples. Your massage therapist will indicate when they have finished the massage – they will not leave your leg halfway through a stretch, or mid-stroke along the back. A full-body massage is a complete experience, and so we know that ending on a short note can take you out of the experience.
How you will feel after a full-body massage
By the end of your massage, you should be feeling deeply restored. If you’ve had a full-body Swedish massage, you should be about ready to roll into bed or a warm bath. No doubt you’ll be smiling – you never realise how strained you are until it all melts away. You may experience a surge in energy, a lift in productivity and creativity, and generally just feel good.
If you’ve had a deep tissue massage, you may feel a bit stiff or uncomfortable, but don’t be alarmed – this is normal. Your stubborn muscles have been challenged, and so it’s not uncommon to tight or even sore immediately after you’re off the table. Over the next 24-48 hours, you will have increased mobility and flexibility, better balance and more energy.
A note on deep tissue massage
Don’t underestimate the ability of a deep tissue massage to transform how your body moves. Many clients don’t realise they actually wanted a deep tissue massage until they’re on the table! We’ve found that people are more hesitant to book a deep tissue massage because they believe it will be painful. A deep tissue massage should never hurt you. You may experience some discomfort, but it pays off once you can walk, twist and stretch freely again. Your therapist will always adapt the pressure to suit your tolerance levels without hindering the impact of the massage.
We’ve previously done a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits of massage therapy. A full-body massage is the most complete massage therapy out there, and needless to say, we’re firm believers that everyone should experience at least one in their lifetime. We’re also firm believers that self-care and wellness should be at the forefront of health. Massage therapy with Blys is the easiest way to implement more self-love in your life. Blys brings everything to you, to make you feel better again.