Nudity in massage will always be affected by regional customs, culture and laws. While many massages clearly will benefit from full nudity, it is not always possible to do so. The most important aspect is to find and do what the client feels most comfortable with.
A massage therapist must always adhere to the wishes of the client. If the client is uncomfortable lying naked on the massage table, she can’t relax properly and the massage will be less efficient. A person who is worried about her appearances and at unease being naked will automatically tense her muscles and be slightly stressed over the situation. This is of course counter productive to the purpose of getting a massage and as such it is better to cover the client as she requests even if it makes the massage less effective. The comfort of the patient will make up for what might be lost in the massage.
The second most important aspect is what the massage therapist feels comfortable with. If the massage therapist is uncomfortable being around a nude person, she will focus on that aspect instead of concentrating fully on her massage and the connection with the client. At worst, she might even distance herself, detach herself from the treatment and not listen to the clients signals well enough to give the best massage.
It is of utmost importance that the client trusts the massage therapist and can fully let go, and that the massage therapist feels confident and at ease with the situation. Massage therapy is a two way communication where the two partners need to attune to each other. And should this communication fail, the massage will become mechanical and without any depth or full relaxation.
Different cultures have different views on nudity. In Denmark it is not illegal to swim naked at public beaches, in France you can find film-posters with a topless woman carrying a baby, while in the US it’s forbidden to even show a nipple on television before midnight. These differences in cultures can not only make the client feel uncomfortable lying nude on the table, but also the make the therapist feel unease by giving the massage.
In some places, for instance France it is common to receive a massage undraped and nude. Especially for those unfamiliar with massages and customs, this can leave the client with confusion as to what sort of massage he or she will be receiving. It then becomes even more important that the massage therapist has a proper appearance and is dressed in a manner that shows seriousness and professionalism.
Finally, there can be local laws and regulations that must be followed. In some places it is set by law that a massage therapist must drape their clients, while in others there are no regulations at all. There will also be various rules and advice on nudity and draping depending on which organization the massage therapist belongs to or which school she has been attending.