image by Nick J Webb via a Creative Commons license

I recently had a massage, as I do a few times a year, and every time I have a massage and later mention it, there is invariably someone who will scrunch up her nose and say, “a massage? I couldn’t do that.”

Let me say: yes, you can. And you should.

You’re worried about your body, or a stranger touching you, or something else. I’m telling you to get over it because massage is relaxing and refreshing and healthful, and because you don’t spend enough time on yourself, do you?

Look deep: I know that somewhere inside you is a long-neglected hedonist. Do this for her.

You’re thinking that you don’t want a stranger looking at you or touching you because (check as many as apply):

  • you’re too fat
  • too pale
  • too stretchmarked
  • too saggy
  • too injury-scarred
  • surgery-scarred
  • some other scarred
  • you’re pregnant
  • you have back pains
  • you worry about that weird spot on the front of your lower leg that hurts under pressure because you probably hairline-fractured it that day you tripped over the coffee table moving into your graduate school apartment and never had it looked at.

(I’ll own up to the last one. And only the last one.)

You, of course, never almost-maybe-broke-your-leg-a-little and so have nothing to worry about because of three things:

1) you will fill out a form in advance of the massage explaining any medical concerns or areas requiring delicacy;

2) you’re stunningly beautiful, so stop criticizing yourself so much; and

3) shhh, you’re just another body. Your masseuse (or masseur) has seen thousands of bodies and just like your gynecologist, she’s just doing her job. Except she’s better than your gynecologist, because she won’t make you step on a scale.

Here’s what will happen:

You will fill out the form saying “be gentle on my lower left leg” and explaining any medical issues or concerns that anyone touching poking around on you should know. Then you will go directly into the massage room or perhaps into a locker room and you will be asked to disrobe. (Take off your jewelry or just leave it at home.) If you’re in a locker room, you’ll have a robe and slippers provided to you that you can wear to the massage room.

Unless you’re also having some body-wrap treatment, you’ll keep the underpants you wore to your appointment on you the whole time. There are two points of consideration to your unders: don’t wear a pair that embarrasses you, but also, don’t wear your favorite pair because some massage oil might just make its way right up to the seams of your undies. You will be way less happy about your massage if your favorites now sport oil stains.

Wearing just those unders, you’ll climb face-down onto a massage table that has both a fitted and a top sheet. You keep the top sheet on you and control your level of modesty. Your masseuse will tuck the sheet to the side of whatever limb she’s working on, and when you flip onto your back she will provide an extra sheet or towel to cover your breasts, as well. See? Nothing to worry about.

Just relax and enjoy, and faster than you can believe it, it’s over. Now don’t you feel great?

Oh, I know what else might be worrying you. Were you so relaxed that you fell asleep? Did you drool? Did you snore?

Never mind that. That’s just the sound of your inner hedonist clamoring a little closer to the surface and murmuring, thank you.

It should be noted that Robin is neither a doctor nor does she play one on her blog, so if you have real questions ask a real doctor, and all that. However, if you want to read more of her non-medical insights, she blogs at The Not-Ever-Still Life, and can also be found on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.