Body Hair, Fat, and Un-pedicured Feet: Massage Therapists Take It All On.

When I first started my own practice, about 3 years into my career as a massage therapist, I was naturally on the hunt for new clients. I went to networking events, and used every opportunity to promote, and market myself. Prior to this, I had worked in a spa where anyone I was coming in contact with wanted, and loved massage. But, when I entered the world of building my own clientele, I started to also encounter people who shuttered at the word “massage.”

“What tomfoolery is this?” I thought. “What is not to like?!” I was confused, intrigued, and even felt a little bit challenged. I wanted to do a little investigating to figure out what it was about massage that had some people so bent out of shape. After inquiring with many non-clients, the general consensus was…

“I just don’t like the idea of a stranger touching me.”

Now, there’s not much I, or anyone else, can possibly to say to someone that has completely made their mind up about something. And you are entitled to your opinion, of course. But for those of you who are maybe on the fence; for those of you want a massage, but just can’t man up; for those of you who are open to persuasion, read on. I am about to negate any and all insecurities you may have that are holding you back from the most amazing experience you’ve never had……

Body fat. Maybe you have some. Actually, we all have some. You may have more than others – the same way some people have more cats than others. Its a fact of life. The same with body hair. But here’s the thing, if you’re worried about what the therapist is going to think of that extra 40 lbs. you’ve put on since your divorce, or if you’ve shaved your pits lately, you’re wasting your time and energy. As part of our training, we learn to see straight past anything that isn’t muscle tissue.

Our eyes do a sort of x-ray vision straight past the skin and hair right to the muscle and bone.

We are concerned with your tendons and ligaments, adhesions, and tender areas. We are watching for your breathing, and any adverse reactions to pressure. We are far too busy during your treatment to be concerned with your weight or lack of wax job. Actually, that goes for the rest of the things you may be worried about, listed below.

We are too busy concentrating on giving you the best massage possible to even notice a lot of the things you feel might be front and center.

Un-pedicured feet. I get this one a lot. Usually, it comes in the form of a forewarning or apology before the session has started. “I’m just letting you know, I haven’t had a chance to get a pedicure. So if you want you can just skip my feet, sorry!” Really?? Feet, in my opinion, are one of the top 5 places to get some TLC. Why would you pass that up just because you don’t have “Chick-Flick-Cherry” gracing the tips of your toes. Plus, if there’s any visible fungus, bacterial infection, or blisters, I will be gracefully skipping over them anyway, with not so much as a drop of judgment.

Occasionally, the massage is just so damn wonderful that you drift off in to dream land. And perhaps, that leads to some tongue in throat, open mouth, good old fashioned snoring. Hey, you’re tired. You’re busy, and over-worked, and have a lot on your plate. You’re entitled to some zzz’s on the table.

Personally, I take snoring as a compliment that my client feels relaxed enough in my presence to completely trust and let go.

As for farting, well, yes it does happen. Not too often, but sometimes you just cant hold that sucker in. I used to have a client, way back, that had pretty bad G.I. problems and she’d giggle each time one slipped. Of course, her giggle would make me giggle, and then we’d both be laughing.  You’re HUMAN, its normal! So, by no means do we WANT you to fart, especially while doing any glute work, but if it happens, it’s not the end of the world. Your therapist will likely be more worried about you feeling embarrassed, than anything else.

Acne. It’s not stranger to me. Only recently has my 14 year off and on battle with it begun to subside. So I hold a certain level of empathy for those who feel bad about it. And I’ve worked with teenagers before, but adults can have it too. So long as there are no open areas on the skin, or anything that is really painful to the touch, you can still receive massage. Sometimes just a small area needs to be avoided and you can still receive a great full body session.

I would even suggest letting the therapist know you are prone to break outs and you prefer her not to use oil on your face or back, or skip the face massage all together.

If you’re lucky, they may have another type of lotion available that is oil free. Or if you choose to go to a spa for your massage, the therapist can borrow a dab of facial lotion from one of the estheticians. But to avoid a massage at all costs just to hide something that everyone has been plagued with at least once in their life? Silly. Hog wash. Apple jacks.

This one is a bit less of a problem for people, but I know there are some of you out there who may be embarrassed about a scar or maybe a mole. First of all, scars are fun for us therapists. We will probably ask you a slew of questions pertaining to it, and then we are just crossing our fingers that you will let us work on it.

The right massage technique can be helpful in breaking up scar tissue, and sometimes even minimizing its appearance.

So please, don’t hide your scars. Wear them loud and proud because most of us are going to be giddy at the chance to get our hands on them. As for your moles. Ah, so what. I don’t mean to be insensitive but they’re so common and I guarantee your therapist won’t think twice about them. Again, a trivial worry blocking your path to a chance to heal and feel good.

So you see? We work with ALL shapes and sizes. We see people with backs so riddled with scoliosis that they don’t lay flat on the table. We see men with no body hair, and women with lots of it. We see people with pedicured feet, and people who don’t know what a pedicure is. We have heard farts, and snores, and crying.

I give you my word, unless you haven’t showered since last Christmas, we don’t care what your body hang ups are.

When you walk into a licensed therapists office, or treatment room, you are in a no judgment zone. The only people who become therapists are those who genuinely care about the well being of others. We’re not in it to make fun of anyone under our breath, or to gossip about you later. We want to help you and we truly want you to feel safe in our care. So don’t cheat yourself from some serious bliss just because of what the empathetic, nurturing and passionate person you have an appointment with, might think. We are the last people on the planet you need to feel insecure around.

Our focus is on making you feel wonderful.

 I leave you with this to ponder and I urge you to take it seriously: Value your body not by what it looks like, but by how it feels and what it does for you. Every second you spend seeing it for what it’s not, is another second wasted.

Do you want to continue to hold yourself back by self limiting fears and uncertainties, or do you want to take a leap of faith to possibly feel the best you’ve felt in a very very long time?

 Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net