There are certain moral and ethical values which must always be observed during a massage. The client’s level of comfort must be respected at all times, nor must a massage turn sexual in any way. A practitioner is obliged to full discretion and can never reveal any personal information about a client.
I have often been asked the question of nudity during a massage. How much is a client supposed to undress. I always tell them to undress as much as they are comfortable. It is essential that a client can fully relax while laying on the table and not worry about being naked or what a therapist might think about how they look like. For women I insist on the removal of the bra in order to massage the back properly. If they are uncomfortable when they turn, I drape them with a towel.
Different countries and massage types have various laws and regulations in regards to nudity on the massage table. For instance, in the USA it is mandatory to use draping and/or wear underwear during a massage, while in France there is no such law and it is common not to use draping and be completely naked on the table.
Various massage techniques also benefits from various levels of undressing. Thai massage, Shiatsu and others can easily be done while the client is fully dressed, as long as their clothes do not obstruct or hinder movements, or sit too tightly. Massage Créatif, Californian massage and other full body treatments greatly benefits from full nudity since the clothing obstructs the long smooth movements and breaks the massage rhythm. Deep tissue massage, Swedish massage and other massage form which work on particular zones only requires that the area being worked is nude.
Many therapists leave the buttocks covered during a massage, which is in reality a great shame. There are five large muscles in the buttocks which serve to connect the back with the legs. By ignoring these muscles, the back and thighs can’t be completely treated as tensions are not only is found in one area, but also in the neighbouring ones. For example, to treat a lower back pain, the muscles at the buttocks will also need treatment since they are connected to the back muscles.
Bottom line is that the client must always feel comfortable and relaxed with the level of nudity, and the therapist must always respect this. A person who is very conscious about themselves and being naked can’t relax fully, nor let go and receive the treatment to the maximum effect.
The body can react to the intimacy of a massage without there being anything sexual in it. Therapists are taught that this is a natural reaction and not to pay attention to it, or even let the client know they have noticed anything.
For men it is natural to get an erection while receiving a massage. It is a physical reaction triggered by nerves and physical stimuli to sensitive areas. Women also can get physical reactions, though these are usually much less visible.
The more worried and stressed a client is about physical reactions to a massage, the more likely it is going to happen. It is a little trick our mind plays, and the recommendation is to breathe deeply, focus on breathing, try and ignore the physical reaction and just allow oneself to enjoy the massage. There is nothing sexual at all in getting an erection or another physical reaction to a massage.
The more used to getting a massage one is, the less is the risk of any physical reaction. The client can relax more and the ‘taboo‘ of being touched has been ‘broken’ and become a natural thing.
A therapist must never touch the genitals or nipples. These are off-limit areas due to the intimacy of such a touch, nor is there any therapeutic benefit to such massage. A woman’s breasts are not massaged either. A massage can be a sensual enjoyable experience, but it must never become sexual.
If the genitals happen to be in the way during the massage that area is just not massaged. There are plenty of techniques which can be used instead, and many surrounding areas which can be treated without having to relocate anything.
To sum up. Nudity is normal and non-sexual. Erections do happen and are completely natural. A massage therapist is trained to ignore such reactions. And a massage therapist will never touch any private areas.