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What To Expect From A Full-Body Massage

A full-body massage is as luxurious as it gets. There’s no better reward after a stressful day, a long week, or just to celebrate yourself. Such a holistic, all-encompassing experience can leave you feeling deeply restored, energised and motivated.

But for some people, the idea of a full-body massage is a scary one. What does it involve? How much of the “full-body” are we talking? What’s the etiquette for such a physical therapy?

The Big Full-Body Massage Questions

We’re going to answer all the most frequent questions about full-body massage, sourced from the people booking them. Our full FAQ list can be found on the website.

What is a full-body massage?

The definition of “full-body massage” is in the name: it is a massage therapy session that works over all areas of the body. A typical full-body massage covers top-to-toes. Traditionally, a full-body massage covers the:

  • Head – normally including the temples, crown, occipital muscles (the back of the head) and scalp.
  • Neck – including the nape and trapezius (long muscles on the side that connect to the back).
  • Shoulders – along the collar bones, shoulder blades and into the upper back.
  • Arms
  • Hands
  • Upper and lower back – the lower back is where most people harbour stubborn tension and experience tightness, stiffness or pain.
  • Legs – including the buttocks, glutes, thighs and calves
  • Feet

full-body massage

The above list covers a typical full-body massage. However, what is important to note is that your massage is exactly that: yours.

Will my therapist massage *those* parts?

A legitimate massage therapist, including all those on the Blys platform, will never expose or touch private parts of the body. This includes the breasts for females. A full list of services can be found here.

What if I only want certain parts to be massaged?

A Blys massage therapist will tailor your massage to exclude any parts you don’t want to be touched. Some people prefer their feet or buttocks not be touched, and that’s perfectly fine. Consult with your massage therapist prior to, or during, the massage to let them know what you like, dislike, or don’t want at all. Boundaries are important, and so is maintaining them.

Your massage therapist will also adjust their focus to whichever part of your body needs the most attention. For example, if your primary source of discomfort is your lower back, that is where your therapist will spend more time. Note this may come at the cost of less time spent elsewhere on the body. The goal of every massage therapist is to leave their client feeling better than when they walked in.

Full-Body Massage Etiquette

Whether you’ve yet to experience your first massage or you’re a veteran on the table, everyone should be conscious of massage etiquette. We know that bodywork and physical therapies can be an intimate thing – they are our bodies, after all. But a massage isn’t an awkward, embarrassing or ugly thing. Quite the opposite – a massage is rejuvenating.

What do I wear for my massage?

Blys massage therapists will always use proper draping techniques to maximise your comfort, security and modesty. This means that towels or sheets will be used to cover all the parts of the body that are not being worked on. Several sheets or towels can be used to achieve this, or your therapist could use the origami folding technique to ensure you are always covered. This also applies to staying warm during your massage.

It is a requirement of all Blys clients to leave their underwear on for the duration of their massage. From there, we say to undress down to your level of comfort. This is different for everyone and can be affected by your therapy.

For example, a Swedish relaxation massage uses long, buttery strokes best performed on an unobstructed body. Whilst your therapist can work around a bra or bandeau top, the covered section of the body may be neglected. In contrast, a sports massage is a little different: some people choose to wear workout leggings or cycling shorts for this type of massage.

full-body massage

Your therapist will leave the room whilst you undress and leave again to allow you to get changed afterwards.

If you choose to wear clothing during your massage, we would suggest something comfortable and loose-fitting, or activewear for the bottom half if that is your preference.

Some parts of a massage, such as friction, vibration, rocking and tapotement, are done whilst you are entirely draped. Unlike in the movies, a massage is not typically done stark naked for its duration – so take comfort in that!

Do I have to shave for my massage?

Of course you don’t! Hygiene is a personal choice. You don’t have to be entirely hairless before you go into your massage – your therapist will not be offended or disgusted if you forget to shave your pits. If you want to, go for it. If you don’t want to, don’t.

All we ask if that you are clean before you get onto the table. Step into the shower before your booking for a good scrub-down. Not only does this make for a more pleasant experience for everyone, but your body is easier to work on when it is clean.

Basically, don’t be gross. There are a lot of massage therapists out there with horror stories. You don’t want to be that statistic.

How do I *be* massaged?

This is a weird question we see a lot, but it makes so much sense.

Here’s the scenario:

You’re about to get your first massage. You’ve never had anything like this before, and you’re a bit nervous to have a stranger touching your body. But your back is killing you and those deadlines are looming. 

Your therapist has turned your living room into a mini oasis. You never knew the place could look – or smell – so good. This was definitely a good idea. Your therapist stepped into the bathroom to wash up while you disrobed (what a fancy word). Will the table collapse? Your climb onto it was anything but graceful. It’s surprisingly comfortable and sturdy. Even the hole for your face is soft.

full-body massage

With the table conquered, your nerves settle. That is until your therapist comes back in. Did you leave a leg untucked? Are they judging you? What if there’s a zit on your back? You don’t know what your back looks like! And suddenly you’re all tense and awkward again. Your muscles are rigid. And now the massage is starting. 

Are they pressing hard, or are you resisting? Are you relaxed? You feel unsure. Your mind is certainly racing, but you’re stiff as a board as well. How is your therapist supposed to massage a concrete slab? You must be their worst client ever.

Spoiler alert: you’re not.

Enjoy it, don’t endure it

A massage is physical therapy, meaning that the body is going to be challenged by it. This is especially true for more intense styles such as deep tissue or sports massage.

Feeling awkward on the table is really common, particularly if you’re new to massages. Therapists are totally aware that this is a new experience for a lot of people, and it’s their goal to make you as comfortable as possible.

Take comfort knowing that even though you feel like your body is resisting, it probably isn’t. The therapist is putting pressure on you from above and the table is supporting you from below. You become a bit of a sandwich.

For the most part, your therapist will gently guide you into an optimal working position. This might mean asking you to let your arms dangle, or moving one of your arms behind your back. Otherwise, rest in whatever position is most comfortable for you. Spend less time worrying about what your body is doing – just enjoy what it is going through.

full-body massage

What to expect from your full-body massage

From therapist technique to rolling off the table, here’s a general breakdown of how your full-body massage will go.

Before getting on the table

Your Blys therapist will set up in your preferred space. They will always bring their own equipment, so there is no need for you to provide anything. Their therapist toolkit* includes the massage table, towels or sheets, massage oil, and typically little extras like music and aromatherapy oils, candles, incense or a diffuser.

*Note: if you have any allergies or special requests, include them in the “Notes” section during booking to have them accommodated beforehand. If you forget, your therapist will consult with you prior to the massage anyway (it’s just nice to be prepared).

Once you’re on the table

Your massage therapist will start the massage by warming up the body, likely starting at the shoulders, neck and back. If you’ve specified an area that needs more focus, they will adjust their routine accordingly. Keep in mind that your therapist is here to help, so never be afraid to speak up during the massage. Communication is key in physical therapy, so let them know how you feel about the pressure and areas they’re focusing on.

You’ll typically be asked to flip over halfway through the massage. Don’t panic – your modesty is always preserved! Your therapist will drape you correctly to ensure you’re never exposed. Once you’ve flipped over, they can focus their attention on your shoulders, arms, thighs and muscles on the front of the body – this may include a pectoral massage for males. As for the ladies – massage therapists are trained professionals, but they are not doctors, so please don’t request a breast examination.

The final stage of your full-body massage

Depending on the style of your massage, whether it be remedial or relaxing, your therapist will finish the massage by rounding it all out. Generally, small pressure is used to balance and ground you. This is commonly done by finishing the massage at the head and scalp, rounding it out with gentle pressure on the temples. Your massage therapist will indicate when they have finished the massage – they will not leave your leg halfway through a stretch, or mid-stroke along the back. A full-body massage is a complete experience, and so we know that ending on a short note can take you out of the experience.

How you will feel after a full-body massage

By the end of your massage, you should be feeling deeply restored. If you’ve had a full-body Swedish massage, you should be about ready to roll into bed or a warm bath. No doubt you’ll be smiling – you never realise how strained you are until it all melts away. You may experience a surge in energy, a lift in productivity and creativity, and generally just feel good.

If you’ve had a deep tissue massage, you may feel a bit stiff or uncomfortable, but don’t be alarmed – this is normal. Your stubborn muscles have been challenged, and so it’s not uncommon to tight or even sore immediately after you’re off the table. Over the next 24-48 hours, you will have increased mobility and flexibility, better balance and more energy.

A note on deep tissue massage

Don’t underestimate the ability of a deep tissue massage to transform how your body moves. Many clients don’t realise they actually wanted a deep tissue massage until they’re on the table! We’ve found that people are more hesitant to book a deep tissue massage because they believe it will be painful. A deep tissue massage should never hurt you. You may experience some discomfort, but it pays off once you can walk, twist and stretch freely again. Your therapist will always adapt the pressure to suit your tolerance levels without hindering the impact of the massage.

full-body massage

We’ve previously done a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits of massage therapy. A full-body massage is the most complete massage therapy out there, and needless to say, we’re firm believers that everyone should experience at least one in their lifetime. We’re also firm believers that self-care and wellness should be at the forefront of health. Massage therapy with Blys is the easiest way to implement more self-love in your life. Blys brings everything to you, to make you feel better again.

Massage therapists at full body massage clinic

Life can be busy and stressful. There is always a lot to do and it seems the days just keep getting shorter and shorter. For a lot of us it can be difficult to find healthy ways to handle and cope with all that life stress and still get everything done that needs to be accomplished. Leaving your stress to fester and compound can lead to physical and mental damage and can actually end up making you less productive. Sometimes the damage from that stress can be difficult to manage and repair once it is already done. That’s why it’s important to find a safe, healthy way to release all that tension.

Massage therapy is a great way for you to focus on your mental and physical repairs all at the same time. However, figuring out what kind of massage to get might be a bit of a challenge, particularly if you are new to the massage experience. Getting a full body massage is a great first step on your way to relieving stress and tension. Choosing a full body massage can be a good choice, but it can also intimidate and confuse if you aren’t sure what you’re in for. Ease your mind about your first-time massage experience by exploring what to expect from a full body massage, as well as taking a quick look at some of the benefits it can provide.

What to Expect from a Full Body Massage

Even going to the spa can feel like adding stress and anxiety to your life if you are new to the experience. You probably have a lot of questions about what you can expect from your appointment if you are new to massages and spas. How long will it take? Do they really massage your whole entire body? Do you have to be undressed for the appointment? Let’s explore these questions so that your mind is at ease and ready for total relaxation when you book your massage appointment.

How Long Does an Appointment for a Full Body Massage Last?

The exact answer to this question will be determined by the spa you choose and the massage therapist who is performing the massage. Every establishment has something different to offer. However, generally speaking, you can expect a full body appointment to last about an hour. There are some establishments that advertise shorter appointment options that take closer to 45 minutes, but things can be overlooked if your massage therapist tries to rush through an appointment. It is wise to plan on taking extra time for yourself and plan for the full hour. Your well-being is well worth it.

What Areas of the Body are Going to Be the Focus of the Massage?

There can be a couple of minor but important exceptions to the “full body” focus of the appointment. Usually your arms, hands, feet, legs, neck, back, stomach, and buttock muscles are all areas that receive attention throughout the appointment to varying degrees. You can always ask when booking the appointment if certain areas can be avoided or focused on, depending on how you feel and what you want.

Is Nudity Required for a Full Body Massage?

The idea of being in a room with a stranger is enough to make anyone a little bit uneasy. Add the fact that you aren’t wearing clothes and the situation just became even more stressful. If you are a massage novice, this can be the part that feels the most unusual and can actually be a source of real anxiety for some people.

You might be wondering why people undress for these appointments in the first place. Well, there are a couple of different reasons that removing clothing can be helpful. The first is for direct contact access to the many muscle groups that will need attention. It is also for your comfort during the appointment. Wadded clothing can make it impossible to provide a helpful massage. However, if you have serious reservations about modesty, or would like your massage therapist to stay away from a certain area of your body, you can always make those requests when you book your appointment. Any certified massage professional should be willing to work to make you feel comfortable and help you relax during your appointment. Comfort, after all, is the whole point of your full body massage experience. If the appointment itself makes you uncomfortable then talk over your options before making the appointment. This will help you find a spa and a massage therapist that are right for you. It may be helpful for you to look up customer and business reviews about the spas and services you are considering.

Benefits of Full Body Massage

Now that you have a better idea of what the appointment itself, we can take a look at what you might look forward to after the appointment is over. The positivity doesn’t end with the appointment. Massage therapy has a lot to offer that goes beyond the actual massage itself. We are going to look at some of the many ways that a full body massage can help you take care of yourself physically while also boosting your mood and helping to improve your mental health and well-being.

Physical Health and Wellness Benefits

There are a few positive effects on your body that stem from receiving a full body massage. Relaxed, unknotted muscles is one of the most immediate affects you feel. Loose, relaxed muscles can lead to greater mobility and a significant increase in range of motion. Taking care of your muscles can also help you improve your posture and overall joint comfort throughout the activities of the day. There is also the issue of circulation to consider. The friction and pressure applied on various parts of your body throughout the appointment can help stimulate your circulatory system. This helps the far extremities of your body get the oxygen and nutrients they need. The firm, manual stimulation also helps your muscles and tissues release toxins and stress chemicals that build up from stress and neglect. This toxic build-up can cause damage to your muscles, joints, and soft tissues.

Different Types of Full Body Massage

Choosing a full body massage also has the added benefit of helping you figure out where you carry most of your tension. Once you have fully explored your aches, pains, and discomforts with a fully trained massage professional you can then decide how to best take care of your body based on specific information from the full body massage session. You will also be able to book massages that focus on specific parts of the body, if you locate a problem area. This information can help you make educated lifestyle changes, pay more attention to your physical well-being, and potentially make a more focused plan for your next appointment.

Mental Health and Wellness Benefits

There is more to massage therapy than merely the physical aspects. There is a mental health and wellness aspect to massage that often times is minimized or overlooked entirely. Taking time to focus on yourself might have you feeling selfish, or irresponsible for taking time out of your day. It is important that you make time to take care of yourself, especially if your life is demanding and stressful. Taking some time to unwind and reset can make your life much easier in the long run. Massages allow you to get your mind and body back to a point where you actually feel like you can give one hundred percent to the people around you and the tasks ahead. A couple of hours a week is not a lot to ask of yourself, particularly in comparison to the time and energy you routinely give other people.

Want to Learn More?

Did this information about what a full body massage is interest you? If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training programis designed to be completed in as little as 5 months with full time enrollment*. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.

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What Is a Full-Body Massage?

A Massage Where They Cover (Almost) Everything

In a full-body massage, a therapist will massage the entire body during a therapeutic massage. Sessions typically last a minimum of 50 minutes which allows enough time to work over all the major areas of the body like the back, shoulders, legs, feet, arms, hands, and neck.

What To Expect

Generally, the session starts with the client disrobing completely with draping or wearing only undergarments and lying face down on a padded table under a sheet. The therapist will begin with the back and shoulders before moving down the body. Once the client has flipped over about mid-way through the session time, the therapist works back up the body, usually ending with neck and shoulders and sometimes the scalp. Men may also receive a pectoral massage.

If there is a problem area that needs extra attention, such as a sore back or tight shoulders, request that the therapist spend more time focused on those trouble spots but the trade-off may be less time spent on other areas of the body. To ensure the full treatment of every body part, as well as a focus on specific issues, make an appointment for a longer session time.

Types of Massage

Spas can offer a full-body massage in a wide variety of specialized formats. Among the most popular is the Swedish massage, which focuses on warming the muscle tissue to releasing tension and breaking up muscle "knots." A deep tissue massage mimics many of the same movements as a Swedish massage but with higher intensity pressure. A hot stone massage uses heated rocks placed along the body to relax tight muscles and allow the therapist to release pressure points. There are even treatments like shiatsu, in which a therapist uses his feet and stands atop the client to knead out the stress from the back.


The modern full-body massage was unheard of prior to the 1880s with its origins coming from the infamous Rest Cure for "neurasthenia," a debilitating melancholy common among society ladies in the late 19th century. During the bed rest period, full-body massage was given for circulation and to increase the patient’s appetite, a kind of substitute for exercise.

The Rest Cure eventually fell out of favor, but the popularity of general massage greatly increased by the early 1900s and was considered part of good health. By the 1960s, however, old-fashioned terms like massage parlors, masseuse and full-body massage had fallen into disrepute, acting as code words for prostitution. For that reason, the terms massage therapy, massage therapist and Swedish massage began to replace the previous terms of referring to massage and the therapists who practice it.

Spas to Avoid

There are still many bogus "spas" that operate like the old massage parlors in the United States. Those will have signs that say "full-body massage" or "Asian massage" or "full-body Asian massage" as a way of indicating they may offer illegal sexual contact or a "happy ending," during the session. Do not expect a happy ending if you ask for a full-body massage at a legitimate spa.

Asmr FULL BODY massage by Anna

For most spa treatments, you can keep on your swimming costume or underwear. If you are having a back massage, you can wear knickers. Some treatments, such as Reiki and shiatsu, are done through your clothes. If in doubt as to what's expected, ask when you book your treatment or spa day.

Full body massage 

For a full-body massage, you can opt to keep your pants on or go completely in the buff. You'll find that most massage therapists are very skilled at protecting your modesty and making you feel comfortable; you'll never have to uncover anything you'd rather not.

Your therapist will explain how much you need to take off, give you a towel to cover yourself and then leave the room while you get ready.

She will knock a few minutes later before coming back in to do the treatment. She then only uncovers the bits she is working on.

Full body massage

If I have an "all body" massage, will it literally be my whole body?

A full-body massage doesn't have to include your sensitive areas. You can say which parts of your body you don't want to be touched.

A full-body massage usually includes your arms, legs, hands and feet, your neck and back, your stomach and buttocks. The area around the breasts is usually massaged but not the breasts themselves. You can always say you hate having your breast area or buttocks or whatever touched. If you're at all unsure, try booking for a "back, neck and shoulder" massage first to see how comfortable you are with being touched in those areas. If all goes well, then next time you can book a full-body massage.

Even with a full-body massage, most of you stays covered most of the time. Your therapist will unwrap your arm and shoulder, for instance, or uncover your leg while she massages that part of your body. When she needs you to turn over, she will hold the towel up as a screen so you can turn over in private. Simple when you know how!

Whether you choose a swedish massage or aromatherapy massage; Thai massage or deep tissue massage - all are designed to relax and reduce muscle tension and stress levels. Trust that your therapist is focusing on her massage techniques and ensuring you are having a personalised relaxing massage.  

For some of the messier treatments, such as exfoliation and wraps, your massage therapist will give you a pair of very glamorous paper knickers to wear, which cover just the necessary bits. Even with these treatments, however, you will be covered most of the time. Afterwards, you hop into the shower covered by a towel to wash the products off your skin yourself.

If getting remotely naked is a no-go, but you still need some pampering and stress relief, opt for a heavenly head massage with essential oils or some soothing reflexology to work on those pressure points.

Will I be able to make sure I have a female masseuse?

Most spas will ask a woman if she minds if her therapist is male.

If you feel strongly about having only a female to massage you, let the spa know when you call to book your appointment. Most spas have enough therapists to adjust the rotas and make sure that you get what you want.

Male therapists are much more common abroad than in the UK, so if you are booking a spa holiday somewhere exotic, check whether you get a choice.


This article was updated in November 2018

Spa Likes

"Instant results; jasmine and frangipani scents; hot steam rooms; a good selection of magazines; modernist decor."

Spa Dislikes

"Whale noises (on CD, not in the pool hopefully); hard massage beds; tiny toilet cubicles; being spoken to like a child; lukewarm pools."


Full body massage real

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ASMR Massage (No Talking) With Music - Full Body Massage #2 - 4K

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