sports massage, deep tissue massage, myofascial release, massage portland, portland massage

What Do I Wear During a Massage?

Portland Massage

For anyone who has never had a massage before, there may be some questions you have beforehand.  One of those could be that you don’t know what you should wear during the session.  It is a good question because not all massages are the same, and therapists have different preferences.

First, the Oregon Board requires that the therapist drapes you, and only uncovers the area of your body being worked on during the session at a time.  There have been many occasions when I leave the treatment room so that the client can change, and I come back greeted with the client laying on top of the table, not under the sheet in just their underwear.  I understand that some clients are comfortable with this (some would even be comfortable nude), but I always have to ask these clients to get under the sheet, and that just cuts into the session time.

There are some situations where I do not use the drape, being a sports massage therapist, I utilize a lot of movement based techniques.  Having them draped makes it difficult for that, so I have the client bring a pair of shorts, or I have some in office they can wear.  This typically only happens in sports, or treatment oriented massage.  If you are going to a spa, or having a general relaxation massage then shorts would probably get in the way (unless you don’t want your hips worked on).


Most therapists out there don’t mind if the client chooses to go fully nude under the drape, some actually prefer it.  Many clients choose to keep their underwear bottoms on though, and this is perfectly acceptable, even if the therapist would prefer you to be fully disrobed, it isn’t their choice.  Either way, underwear or not, private areas are never exposed.  For me, if I am not requiring the client to wear shorts, I always work the gluteal region through the drape anyway, so it is not much of an issue.  

Ultimately it is up to the client what they choose to wear, and what they are most comfortable with.  As therapists, that is our main priority, the clients comfort.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Come to the massage dressed as you normally would be anywhere.

  • Dress down to your own, personal comfort level, we will work aroundwhatever you decide.
  • Women, keeping your underwear bottoms on is fine, but if you keep your bra on, it makes it difficult for us to work on your back.

  • Men who wear boxers, loose fitting ones are best.  Boxer briefs make it a little more difficult to work certain areas of the hips/thighs, but it is still manageable.
  • It is a good idea to bring a pair of shorts with you, especially if it is a more treatment/injury oriented massage focused on your hip region.

  • Please, DO NOT start undressing before the therapist leaves the room, and always get under the sheet before the therapist comes back in.
  • Remove obstructive jewelry before getting on the table.  Necklaces, ‘dangly’ earrings, watches/bracelets etc.  Rings on your fingers are fine.
  • For women (or long-haired men), having a hair-tie available is never a bad idea.

  • You can keep any clothing on that you choose if you know that is an area that won’t be worked on, or that you do not wish to have worked on.  If you’re only getting your neck/upper back treated, keeping your pants/socks on is totally fine.
  • We do NOT have “draping options” in the state of Oregon.  We are legally required to drape/cover you.  So be wary of any therapist who says that they “have draping options.”

  • When in doubt, ask your therapist if you should wear/bring anything specific.  However, it is always the clients choice, so even if you choose to stay fully clothed, we will work around that as well.

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