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Massage manners

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 7, 2012 07:06 AM

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Whether your shoulders just started knotting or just started unknotting, I daresay many of us could benefit from some deep breathing and relaxation. If you've never gotten a professional massage, this might be the week to treat yo self. Don't be intimidated! Massages are not about judging your body in any way. 

A few weeks ago, my own massage therapist sent her clients a helpful list from the American Massage Therapy Association. She wrote, "This list indicates the standards for professional conduct that you should always expect from a massage therapist or massage establishment. Remember, it's always ok to be specific about what you are hoping to get out of your massage - so be high maintenance! If your massage therapist is a true professional she or he will appreciate it!"

What Should Someone Expect From Their Massage & Massage Therapist? 
A clean, safe and comfortable environment before, during and after the massage  
Respect, courtesy, confidentiality and dignity
Privacy while changing and right to remove clothing only to their level of comfort for the massage
Draped appropriately by a sheet, towel or blanket, with only the area being massaged exposed
A licensed/registered/certified professional massage therapist, working within their scope of practice and in an ethical manner
Option to ask questions of the massage therapist and receive professional responses  
Determine if there will be conversation, music or quiet during the massage [I would also add, the client can ask for aromatherapy, if available, or no scent to be used during the massage-R.]
 An explanation of the nature of the massage and techniques to be used in advance of starting the massage
The right to consent to the massage techniques and approaches, including manual pressure, used in the massage [In other words, you can tell them if they're pressing too hard, or not hard enough--feedback is helpful!]
If you've felt awkward about getting a massage because you didn't know what to expect, that should clear it up for you. 

I've written many times about how nice it is to give experiential gifts. A massage gift certificate is a good one--though, like all gift certificates, subject to the risk of not being used.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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