Figuring out what to wear to a massage shouldn’t add stress to your experience. That would defeat the whole purpose. But dressing inappropriately could turn an hour of relaxation into an hour of squirming around while trying to get comfortable.
One of the best ways to determine what to wear is to consider what type of massage you’re getting. Is it a traditional massage? Thai? Or are you using a massage chair or bed?
To help you decide, we’ve rounded up five different types of massages and how to dress appropriately for each so you can get the most benefit.
If you’ve ever had a full-body massage, your masseuse probably advised you to “undress to your comfort level.” This standard advice can be interpreted in several ways. For some, comfort might mean being completely nude; for others, leaving on a light layer of clothes feels best.
The benefit of wearing as little as possible is that your masseuse can work on your body in long, uninterrupted strokes without the interference of your garments. Even if nude, you will remain strategically covered with sheets or towels for the duration of your session. Whether you are receiving a relaxing Swedish massage or a deep-tissue sports massage, it’s important that you feel both physically and mentally at ease.
If being completely in the buff feels too unnatural, there’s no harm in leaving your undergarments on, but they may become soiled by oils or lotions that the masseuse is using. If you prefer to wear a bra, it’s recommended to wear one without wires for added comfort.
It’s also possible to get a massage while fully clothed. Your masseuse will merely massage your body over your clothes, though you may miss out on the depth that comes when your therapist addresses the whole muscle, skin-to-skin. If you choose to wear clothing, keep it simple, such as a light tank top and shorts.
Reflexology is a type of massage that applies pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and sometimes the head, which are thought to correspond to different organs and body systems. Because this type of massage deals with these specific parts of the body, it is generally received while fully clothed, with only the hands, feet, and head exposed. Sometimes, the legs are also addressed as part of a reflexology massage, so wearing loose pants or shorts is recommended for easy access.
Shoes, socks, tights, and any other garments covering the feet are usually removed to fully address these specific points as efficiently as possible. But, if you don’t like exposing your feet, you can ask your masseuse to massage you over your socks. What matters most is that you feel comfortable.
Thai massage incorporates gentle pressure and stretching techniques. There is typically a lot of motion during this massage so flexibility is crucial here, which is why loose, comfortable clothing is advised. Even a t-shirt and yoga pants will suffice, though it’s better to aim for loose clothing rather than tight and constrictive, to allow the maximum amount of stretch.
According to practitioners at Viyada Thai Massage School in Boston, clothing provides another added benefit: leverage. They explain that clothing is essential for the therapist “to get a firm grip.” Comfortable, flexible, loose-fitting clothes allow them to assist stretches, “acrobatic” moves, and Yoga-like poses.
It’s also common during this massage to forego socks because there is some acupressure involved, which commonly uses a stick to prod various reflexology points in your feet.
During a hot stone massage, your masseuse will apply smooth, heated stones to various parts of the body to relax muscle tension, relieve stress, increase blood circulation, and encourage lymphatic drainage. Generally, you will remove all your clothing for this massage, but your masseuse may use a sheet or towel between your bare skin and the hot stone to prevent irritation. This is especially important if your skin is sensitive to heat.
If you prefer to have the stones placed directly on your back, your masseuse should check the temperature first before placing it on your body. After all, according to a statement from the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, injuries most commonly occur when therapists place heated stones on bare skin and leave the stones in this static position. They can also occur when heated stones are placed underneath the body. Always err on the side of caution: If a stone feels too hot, let your masseuse know right away.
If the whole idea of hot stones makes you anxious, or if you’ve never had a hot stone massage before, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a light layer for peace of mind. You should still feel the warmth through your clothing and benefit from its therapeutic properties.
Wondering what to wear to a massage on a CERAGEM massage bed? With an in-home massage bed, you have the freedom to wear what you’d like in the privacy of your own space. You should keep a few tips in mind, though, when preparing for your session.
Since CERAGEM massage beds provide full-body thermal therapy to both the upper and lower body, with temperatures reaching up to 149°F, you should always wear clothing when using these devices, even when they are at the lowest heat setting.
Try to avoid wearing thick or bulky items, as the beds feature patented scanning technology to assess the specific needs of your spine and deliver a customized massage. Loose clothing, such as exercise attire or loungewear, is recommended for ultimate comfort. Always remove your shoes before entering the bed, but keep your socks on. We recommend a sports bra over a traditional bra to avoid any hooks digging into your back.
Choosing what to wear to a massage is easy with CERAGEM. The CERAGEM V6 and V4 are FDA-cleared Class II medical devices, combining the benefits of acupressure and hot stone massage to relieve muscle tension, ease stress, and improve circulation in the comfort of your own home.
Interested in incorporating a massage bed into your daily routine? Learn more about the CERAGEM V6 here.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist specializing in health and wellness. She has written for TIME, Health, Glamour, Parents, Women’s Health, VICE, and the Telegraph.
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