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 What is "inappropriate" in massage?
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gracie
Starting Member

1 Posts

Posted - February 20 2005 :  5:05:45 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi all.

I have a question that is, in the end, perhaps subjective, but I recently had an experience involving a "professional barter" with a certified massage therapist that has confused me a bit, and I would really appreciate the feedback of CMT's and other physical therapy professionals on this board.

The situation is this: I recently did some editorial work for a certified massage therapist/physical therapist, who was referred to me after doing a similar barter witha friend of mine (in that case physical therapy, not massage was his bartered service), and I had my first massage from this individual a few days ago. Prior to having the massage, he and I had a brief discussion about it by phone (he and I had never met in person prior to this experience, though my friend and he have met in person on many occasions) in which he asked me where I was experiencing muscle tension, and also advised me in a kind of "fyi" sort of way that his preference was for me to be naked for this massage, though if it would make me more comfortable I could of course keep some clothes on. He was very clear about the fact that he had the massage table, sheets, etc., at his apartment and would be using the sheets. I would like to clarify that I have had a number of massages over the past several years, many of which were also specified by the massage therapist to be naked or to keep the lower half of underwear on if I preferred, so I did not find it all that strange that he would specify this, though a part of me did find it strange that he felt the need to clarify that with me in advance. I do know that in "medical massage" the convention is to stay as dressed as possible, leaving for example the bra on even when the back or shoulders are being worked on, so I felt that in that context it might be normal for him to clarify that.

I will be frank and say that when I went to see him, I found myself quite physically attracted to him, and since I had already spoken to him quite extensively on the phone over the course of several months while working on the editorial project and having come to like his personality already, I was a bit taken with him.

In any case, he did do the massage, and explained to me in advance that I should be under the sheet, that he would tell me to turn over at certain points but would hold up the sheet while I did so so as to provide privacy, etc., and was very solicitous about going into his room with the door closed while I was changing before and after the massage (the table was set up in the living room).

My questions about the massage were this: First of all, while I have experienced full body massage (in a professional non-sexual spa setting) on multiple occasions, I have never experienced a massage therapist during the leg part of the massage doing strokes up the inner leg muscle (from the foot to the top of the inner thight) just short of the pubic hair. Similarly, while I have been placed on my back in a spa setting before and had work done on my stomach and the shoulder musculature from the front, I have not experienced a massage therapist doing strokes from just below the pelvic bone (but as before not touching the genitalia or pubic hair) all the way up the side (while avoiding actually touching the breasts), and again, under the sheet. Do these strokes fall within the realm of "normal" (nonsexual) massage?

Also, how careful are you massage therapists usually about the draping? I have only ever been nude in the past during massages with female massage therapists, so I haven't always paid all the much mind to the draping, but I could tell the draping was not covering the other buttock entirely while he was working on one side (and again, I can't recall receiving a lot of buttock work in the spa context, though he really was working on muscualar points in my case that felt tight and perhaps were connected to issues in my lower back?). He did adjust draping at certain points to better cover me up, but there were, I felt, somewhat protracted points at which the top of my butt was exposed, and when I was on my back the sheet did several times go almost to the nipples of my breasts in exposure for perhaps several minutes (perhaps five or more) before being adjusted by him to cover up better.

This whole situation is further complicated by the fact that after the massage, we ended up talking for several hours. I did not feel he was sleazy or disrespectful in any way during this conversation--to the contrary, I liked him very much and I think we definitely felt a repoire that was conducive that the very least to friendship and perhaps more.

But, I find myself asking myself whether I am reading too much into what happened during the massage itself--if what I'm describing here in terms of the strokes used and the draping sounds totally within the realm of what would happen during a "straight" full body therapeutic massage, or whether the issues I've mentioned here ring any "alarm bells" among you experienced, licensed professionals.

Thanks for taking the time to read my lengthy post here. I really appreciate any insight you can provide. I guess I feel like this was one of those weird situations where it can be difficult to separate fantasy and/or anxiety from reality, and I just want to establish some clarity about whether he was potentially being disrespectful in how he approached this or whether I was "reading" more into what was happening than I should.



PIPPOB
Starting Member

United Kingdom
4 Posts

Posted - March 02 2005 :  05:04:02 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Gracie,
The massage you experienced doesn't sound strange to me at all. But then I am male & I am naturist--so I've no inhibitions about mine or anyone else's body. When I massage, I prefer my clients to be naked--I find the whole experience is much more flowing that way--no tucking the towels into underpants etc. Like your recent therapist I can be a little less concerned about draping than some--but I find that when I'm really engrossed in the session--I'm not really thinking about it--so for instance if a nipple does pop out, it's not going to be a major priority to cover it up. I also like giving & receiving a reasonable amount of work on the buttocks--after all what is a "full" body massage otherwise. Sounds like you really quite liked this guy--so my suggestion is that you have another treatment from him & relax--go with the flow & if you're unhappy after the second session--tell him your concerns.
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juliemil2003
Starting Member

Ireland
3 Posts

Posted - March 08 2005 :  09:39:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Gracie,

My name is Julie. I'm a sports massage therapist in Ireland. I've read your comments and have to say that things are different here in Europe from the US or Canada. People are becoming much more relaxed about their bodies and indeed about being naked. During a massage, of course I try and keep the parts of the body that are not being massaged draped so that the client doesn't get cold. But it's not something that I go to an extreme where every little bit must be covered. I'm relaxed with the draping and adjust it if the draping is beginning to fall away quite badly. Otherwise, I just leave it alone until I move to another part of the body. And guess what ? Most clients don't really care.

As for your personal situation then I would just encourage to go with your own comfort level around the draping.

Hope this helps.

Julie

Be free, be nude, be natural
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sjshannon
Starting Member

USA
2 Posts

Posted - March 12 2005 :  10:26:01 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Gracie,

I find absolutely nothing wrong with your experience other than the draping fall off your breasts; the draping could be tucked in over shoulders. As for inner thighs, I feel that is very appropriate as far as you can safely go without touching the genitals.
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Dynamo321
Starting Member

5 Posts

Posted - April 16 2006 :  11:13:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dynamo321's Homepage  Reply with Quote
In Canada we are trained that legs are fine to be done. Normally you avoid the inside of the upper thy all together though. Yes there are origins of muscles up there that can be benefited by direct manipulations however the region is deemed to close to the genitalia to be worth the risk of misunderstanding, mistake or misinterpretation. Out of respect I normally break from the inside of the thigh and go lateral (outside) about 2/3rds up the thigh.

As for the back massage, intestinal massage is also common up here however there is little to no need to go over the bladder. The therapists up here tend to follow the ascending, transverse and descending colons, not focusing on the stomach too deeply and definitely not the by the pubis. But this action could have been innocent; I don’t know.

As for draping of the breast and other regions, draping up here is quite specific and done in a way to never cause question by the client. Every country or state is different though and many people are trained differently.

So when all is said and done, I can't hazard a guess as to the motives of the therapist or weather or not his actions are within the borders of "normal" for massage in your region. I am a male therapist and I would personally hesitate performing some of the things he had performed on any of my clients because in my humble opinion they could be considered border line and yes could open up questions like yours. As a therapist it is always a good general rule to conduct your job in a way that would never raise questions by a client in any way. In short, justifying his actions really depends on what is considered to be “normal” in your area, possible regulation in your area, his training, and if not anything else, what was comfortable for you.

I hope this all helps. It is quite a subjective question you have asked, you would have to specifically talk to therapists (male and female) in your geographical area to really come up with a good answer. If all else fails, simply trust your instincts ;)

I hope this helps. Talk soon.

A different kind of Massage Lubricant:
http://www.grip.cc
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Magictouch
Starting Member

USA
2 Posts

Posted - April 29 2006 :  11:22:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit Magictouch's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Gracie

I agree with the others. Without actually having been present in this situation, from what you tell us, it all sounds perfectly normal to me.

I had a practice in England, before moving to the U.S. 11 years ago, and my experience is much the same as Julie's. People in Europe and Britain are much more "okay" with their bodies than here in North America. Over the years, I have become much more precise in my draping methods, in order to accommodate the modesty (or prudishness?) of those I'm working with. In my opinion, the obsessive covering up of parts of the body makes people less okay about their bodies, instead of becoming more relaxed with them. Most of the other therapists I work with do not massage the inner thighs or belly. I always do and am generally thanked for it.

In future, I would say that it's best to speak up in the moment if you are not comfortable or unclear about a therapist's intentions. It's up to you to stop a session if it is not going the way you want. I would hate for a client to uncomfortable with something I have done in a session and bring it to a forum such as this, instead of talking with me about it.
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Dynamo321
Starting Member

5 Posts

Posted - May 11 2006 :  8:11:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dynamo321's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Well said magicTouch!
I agree with you. The adducters always feel good to massage :) it is hard to do them in Canada though. It is easy for many to get the wrong idea. Freedom in self is always a good and empowering thing. I could not agree with you more.

Well said and well done

A different kind of Massage Lubricant:
http://www.grip.cc
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jerseyb
Starting Member

USA
4 Posts

Posted - November 16 2009 :  3:10:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
sounds like everything was fine.
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