Updated: Feb 1
It's a fair question - and most therapists would rather you asked now and avoid any awkwardness during a session!
Hello! Sports Massage Therapist Cameron here, and if you're reading this, it's because you're either about to have Sport Massage for the first time, got a new therapist or maybe because you're just checking that what you've been wearing these past few years for a sports massage is actually okay! So as a person who has been massaged regularly and also massages others on an even more regular basis, I will go through what I feel is the most ideal clothing to come in with for sports massage.
The first thing is - don't over think it! Wear something comfortable. You're going to be laying down for up to an hour, if not longer, being massaged firmly, so make sure you're comfortable.
Don't wear really nice, expensive clothing. The therapist will be using one of or a mixture of massage waxes, lotions and oils, and even after being thoroughly wiped off at the end of the session, there is a risk that those mediums may mark or, worse, stain the clothing. So try to wear clothes that you aren't too fussed about getting a little grubby. Don't fret too much - almost all massage mediums will wash out after one or two washes.
As a therapist, I don't mind what clothes you walk in with, it's what you're wearing on the massage bed/couch that matters. What clothes to remove or keep on entirely depends on the session and what you're comfortable removing. For example, if I'm doing a back massage, I'd expect the top to be removed, but if the legs aren't being treated, the bottoms/jeans/trousers can remain on for comfort, modesty and warmth.
Ensure your clothes are easy to remove. It saves time. But remember - if you can't or don't feel comfortable removing a certain item of clothing, inform the therapist. Most therapists will ask about this before jumping into a massage. Or if you're comfortable removing your clothes but would rather the therapist wasn't in the room, again, just let the therapist know. Communication is key. They will not judge or comment. Your comfort is a priority.
Just because it's a sports massage doesn't mean you have to come in sports gear. Most of the time, a lot of sports garments are actually very difficult to work around. Such examples include 2-in-1 style shorts/base layer shorts which can result in a very uncomfortable wedgie, especially if the therapist needs to get to the upper parts of the thigh. Compression bras maybe comfortable, but if they don't unclasp, it can restrict the area available to be massaged/manipulated. In such scenarios, most therapists will happily leave the room for you to remove these items of clothing and remain professional, but to avoid this happening, don't wear these items of clothing if possible.
When it comes to underwear, the ideal is briefs. Briefs are tidy, they are easy to tuck towels into and better define the working space to be massaged, especially when it comes to doing the thigh muscles, whether that be the quadriceps, hamstrings, adductors or the ITBs. Wearing briefs can feel a little exposing, so boxers are fine too, as long as they aren't too tight. But remember, therapists will have and use towels to cover the groin area for your modesty and comfort.
A standard bra with a back clasp is easiest to work with, so once you're on the bed face down in a prone position, the therapist or yourself can undo the bra to ensure a full back session can be done without compromise whilst maintaining modesty. The therapist will also be trained to utilise towels available to cover the chest area for when you are on your back, again to protect your modesty but also to keep you warm.
What ever the underwear you choose, just make sure you're at least wearing some! The number of people who begin to disrobe and realise they have decided to go commando (oh yes, it happens!). To avoid any awkwardness just make sure the usual areas are covered.
Can I be naked for the session? This varies from the type of massage you're getting and the therapist you are with. The best thing to do is communicate with the therapist. Don't just assume they're okay with you exposing yourself in front of them. Therapists will see all sorts throughout their careers - I certainly have! - but not all of them will be comfortable with this. The best thing to do is ask. And don't expect to fully undress on the first session - allow the therapist to get to know you and vice versa. This also varies geographically. Here in the UK, when it comes to sports massage, the vast majority of customers would rather maintain their modesty. But everyone is different, so communicate your preferences clearly.
A lot of what you wear or remove clothing wise comes down to communication. If you're unsure, reach out to the therapist or company you're booked in with. You won't be the first to ask them, and you certainly won't be the last, so don't worry. As therapists, we just want you to be comfortable and not self-conscious whilst we tend to the ailments at hand!