How To Drape a Massage Client Properly

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Licensed Massage Therapists (LMKs) abide by and follow the law on draping a client during a massage. A drape can be anything from a sheet to a towel. This is necessary for the protection of both the therapist and the client. Unless a sincere and genuine trust has been established between both parties, it will bode a therapist well to observe this law at all times.

Now draping is not simply letting the client lie down covered with a sheet. Draping is a skill and consists of varying techniques so that nothing sensitive is exposed while a massage is in progress.

When your client is sprawled face-down on the massage mat, here’s how to drape your massage client properly:

  1. Ask your client if she prefers a towel or a sheet. Make sure these are in the correct length, are soft, unscented, and very clean.
  2. Cover your client’s entire body. Once your client has made her choice, drape the towel or sheet on her entire body making sure that she is thoroughly covered from the neck down to her ankles. This will put her at ease and relax her body for the massage.
  3. Start to uncover the sheet covering her back. Very gently pull down the towel or sheet enough to reveal the area of her back that you plan to massage.
  4. Request for permission to move down to her legs. However, before doing so, take a peep to check if your client has not dozed off. It is clearly not ethical to wake her up for you to ask her for permission if this is the case. Take this as a good sign and move on to her legs. Make sure you replace the sheet or towel that was previously covering her back before massaging her legs. Again, exercise discretion and reveal only the portion that you will be massaging. Remember, less is more.
  5. Cover the client’s derriere with a towel. When you work on her derriere, make sure you cover this portion with a towel before kneading the muscles. Pull a small section of the drape from the top and bottom to sufficiently “buff” the area before working on it.
  6. Secure the sheet underneath the thigh for stretching. If your client wants her legs stretched while she is facedown on the massage mat, gently tug the drape underneath her thigh before pulling each leg up. This will make sure the client is still securely covered with a sheet or towel despite each leg being pulled up for a stretch. Do the same when she is face-up on the mat. Again, your client may not mind if you pull the drape up instead of tucking it underneath each leg but this one is up to her comfort zone while you are working on her.
  7. Cover her entire body when your client needs to switch positions. After you are done with massaging your client facedown, it’s time for her to lie on her back. Make sure her drape covers her entire body, once more from the neck down to her ankles. Secure the drape before asking her to switch to this position.
  8. Cover her breasts and hip area with a drape. When massaging your client with her lying on her back, drape her breasts with a towel then use a separate sheet to cover her hips all the way down to her ankles.
  9. Uncover the area you need to massage. As with the procedure you followed when your client was facedown on the massage mat, all you need to uncover bit-by-bit is the area you will be massaging. When you get to the thigh area, you can ask your client’s assistance to hold the drape in place to make sure nothing is exposed unnecessarily.

After some time, your client may well be comfortable enough to trust you with performing a professional massage with minimal draping but until you reach that zone, always keep the draping law in mind.


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