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It’s easy to get the impression that you need to undress in order to receive a massage. This is not true. It’s perfectly possible to receive a good and also therapeutic massage even if you’re clothed. The massage techniques used are somewhat different, and the experience will be another compared to a normal unclothed massage.
It is essential though that you wear clothes which are loose and comfortable no matter what position you might find yourself in. It’s also preferably that there’s only one thin layer of material between you and the therapist. Thick layers of cloth makes it hard for the therapist to feel the muscles and tensions and will also absorb part of the pressure, thereby reducing the effect of the massage.
The techniques used for clothed massage is often pressure and stretching. Petrissage (kneading of the muscles) is another technique possible, as well as tampotement (tapping), grasping and vibration. There are other techniques used within various massage styles and schools. Some typical clothed massages would include Chair/Seated Massage, Thai Massage and Shiatsu.
The most important when doing clothed massage, is to make sure the material of the garments doesn’t slide across the skin. The only thing which should be moved is the layer of skin over the muscles, which in most cases will reduce the stroke to only a few centimetres in size. It’s the deeper layers which are moved, like grabbing a muscle and lifting it up and releasing it again.
Next time you get the chance, try to massage a co-worker or friend on the shoulders and focus on not sliding the clothes across the skin, but only work on the muscle underneath. Once you master this, your clothed massages will have improved greatly, and it’s easy to implement techniques and knowledge from normal massage into your routines.