What To Wear For a Sports Massage

What to Wear For a Sports Massage

Deciding what to wear for a sports massage can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never had one before. 

This article should help relieve some of these nerves, as we’re going to provide you with some recommendations for what to wear to a sports massage. We'll also provide you with some context as to why said recommendations are a better option than others. 

If you’re interested in this line of work, you should consider enrolling in our industry-leading Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy course. Here, you’ll learn from our team of expert tutors, who will help you launch your career immediately upon graduation.

For more information on this and all of OriGym’s qualifications download our FREE prospectus.


How To Decide What To Wear For a Sports Massage 

Several factors can influence what you wear to a sports massage. For this reason, you may want to consider asking yourself the following questions before deciding on your attire.

#1 - What Type Of Sports Massage Will You Receive? 

What to wear to a sports massage

When deciding what to wear for a sports massage you must first establish what type of massage you’re going to have. 

There are 3 different types of sports massages: Pre-event, Post-event, and Maintenance massages. 

Pre-event: These sports massages are used to help your muscles prepare for an event, and are typically given either straight before, or in the weeks leading up to, the event. 

The benefits of pre-event sports massages include:

  • Helping to warm up the muscles
  • Decreasing the risk of injury
  • Enhancing circulation and elasticity
  • Increasing muscular flexibility
  • Maximising performance
  • Calming anxieties ahead of an event 

Post-event: Post-event sports massages can also help to speed up recovery following the completion of an event. They can also be used to help the muscles to prepare for future events, while further reducing the risk of injury. 

This is usually done through improving and strengthening the blood flow to key areas of the body, in particular those that have been under intense stress or strain during an event.

Post-event massages are also known to help reduce muscle spasms, as well as hugely decrease the risk of DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness.

Maintenance: Finally, maintenance sports massages are regularly-scheduled appointments, which aim to diagnose any aches and/or pains before they develop further.  

Maintenance massages can also help to loosen the muscles that may have been overworked during training, helping to release any pent-up tension. 

If you’d like to learn more about how these different treatments are implemented, as well as the techniques that are involved, feel free to check out our article on the role of a massage therapist


#2 - What Sport or Event Will You Be Targeting Through This Session? 

Should I wear to a sports massage

To determine what is best to wear to a sports massage, you will also need to pinpoint what sport or event you will be partaking in, either before or after the session. 

Each sport/event will be physically demanding to different areas of the body. As a result, athletes will need a sports massage that targets different parts of the body, which will in turn influence what to wear to a sports massage. 

For example, a runner may want a lower-body massage to aid recovery in the legs and glutes, whereas a javelin thrower may benefit more from an upper-body massage to relieve shoulder and back tension. 

#3 - What Muscle Group(s) or Injury Will Be Targeted?

what you should wear to a sports massage

As inferred in the point above, when questioning what you should wear for a sports massage, the muscle group you wish to target will also influence your chosen outfit. 

You’re not going to want to wear long trousers if you want your legs massaged, just as you wouldn’t wear a jumper if your back was injured. 

You’re going to want to allow your massage therapist access to all areas of the necessary parts of your body. If you wear inappropriate clothes, you run the risk of the massage not being as effective as it could be. 

Ultimately, asking yourself these 3 questions before attending your sports massage will influence what clothes you wear. This will help you to be better prepared and more comfortable throughout your session.

If you’re interested in discovering more about careers in sports massage and recovery, then you can learn how to become a sports massage therapist here.

What To Wear For a Sports Massage

This section will be dedicated to analysing what to wear to a sports massage. Here, we’ll also discuss why each piece of clothing is considered to be a suitable option. 

#1 - Loose-Fitting Items

What should I wear for a sports massage

If you’re looking for general advice on the question ‘what should I wear for a sports massage’, it may benefit you to know that a general rule of thumb is to opt for loose-fitted items. 

Loose-fitted clothing is great because your massage therapist is going to need access to specific areas of the body. Tight clothing may obstruct their work, making the massage less enjoyable and effective for you.

Tight clothing is typically classified as the likes of yoga pants and leggings. Whilst these may be optimal for your personal comfort when deciding what to wear for a sports massage they should not be first on your list. 

Qualified sports massage therapists will need access to your skin in order to ensure that they deliver their treatment as effective as possible. 

Loose-fitted clothing will be easy to move, granting the massage therapist access to the area which they require. 

You’re more than welcome to arrive for your therapy session wearing whatever you wish, but just remember to bring some loose-fitted clothing to change into.

#2 - Easy To Remove

Wearing for a sports massage

If you’re wondering what you should wear for a sports massage, another option is to choose items that are easy to remove. 

Massage therapists will allow you to change before your session begins, so you’re going to want to wear clothing that’s easy for you to remove. Velcro and zips are ideal, but elastic and knots are also good.

Any garments with complex lacing or buttons could potentially take time away from your session, and even reduce the impact any massages can have.

Remember that you will be allotted a certain amount of time for your sports massage - the therapist is not going to rearrange their entire schedule around you. If you’re late for whatever reason it will just negatively affect you in the long run.


Become a Sports Massage Therapist With OriGym

Enroll on our industry-leading Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course today! 

#3 - Fully Undress

sports massage clothing

It’s somewhat ironic that this article is dubbed ‘what to wear for a sports massage’, when in reality the optimal choice is to fully undress the area that is intended to be treated. 

This is to ensure that your therapist is provided full access to your muscles, and you’ll therefore receive the most effective treatment within your allotted time.

Therapists will cover any exposed areas of your body with a towel during your session to ensure you’re comfortable. Should they need to move the towel for whatever reason, they will always ask your permission before doing so.

However, therapists also recognise that not everyone will be able to fully undress for their massage or be comfortable with doing so. 

This is why the following section will inform you of what to wear for a sports massage if being clothed is preferable to you. 

Top Half Clothing 

#1 - Loose-Fitting Tank Top

Lose fitting tops for sports massage

When deciding what to wear to a sports massage, a loose-fitting tank top is a great piece of gear to have in your wardrobe. 

Tank tops provide easy access to your skin, thanks to their baggy fit and stretchy material. When wearing one, therapists can have easy access to a range of your muscles, without the need to remove the top all together.

If possible, try opting for a tank top that has dropped armholes to make it easier for your masseuse to put pressure on your back, shoulders and arms.

Tank Top Wearing for sports massage

Should you choose to wear a tank top, a therapist may need to unhook your bra while you’re lying down, but again will always ask your permission first. 

If you’re not comfortable with a therapist doing this, be sure to ask them whether you should unhook it yourself before the session begins. 

Doing this action will ensure that your therapist has easy access to your upper body, allowing them to give you an effective and thorough massage. 

#2 - Sports Bra (Depending on The Massaged Area)

baggy sports massage clothing

Many sports massage therapists will advise their clients to wear a sports bra to their sessions. 

This coverage could provide a good alternative if you’re not fully comfortable removing every item of clothing. For example, you may wish to wear a sports bra if your massage is going to specifically target your lower body and/or lower back.

However, because sports bras are tight in fit, a therapist may occasionally ask for it to be removed in order to grant them access to your injured areas. 

Nice sports massage clothing

Please note that therapists will always provide you with some element of privacy during this process. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, you must inform them immediately in order to adapt the session to your liking.

#3  - Unhookable Bra

Women sports massage clothing

As stated throughout this article, the ideal sports massage clothing is something that can be removed at a moment's notice without fuss. 

Unhookable bras won’t eat into your massage time and will allow for therapists to either temporarily leave the room or look away as you remove it. 

By choosing to wear an unhookable bra, a therapist can effectively broaden the area they’re working with. Instead of blocking access to the upper areas of your back, with a simple unhooking, you can receive a more effective form of treatment. 

So, if you’re wanting an effective upper body massage but want to still wear something to cover your body, consider wearing a bra your therapist can adapt to and workaround. 

Bottom Half Clothing

#1 - Loose-Fitting Shorts 

Lose shorts to wear for a sports massage

If you’re getting a lower body sports massage, the best thing you can wear is loose-fitting shorts. 

Wearing shorts that are too tight can restrict the therapist's access to higher parts of your leg, thus posing the risk of you not getting the most out of the session.

Wearing loose-fitting shorts is especially beneficial if you have a hamstring or glute injury. If you suffer from this, your therapist will need to work a range of muscles that would otherwise not be accessible should you decide to wear tighter shorts. 

However, please remember that this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to arrive at your sports massage wearing shorts, as this might not be appropriate during the winter months. 

Instead, you can always change into more appropriate clothing before the massage begins. 

#2 - Loose-Fitting Pants

pants to sports massage

If shorts are not your garment of choice, you could also wear loose-fitting pants. However, please be aware that, when deciding what to wear to a sports massage, these garments are only ideal for calf massages, unless they can be rolled up higher.

As you now know, your massage therapist is going to need easy access to all of the necessary areas of your body. If your pants are too tight they may block certain muscle groups, meaning that you receive a less effective treatment.

This is why it’s important to find a pair of loose-fitting pants that can be rolled up at least to the top of your knee so that your masseuse can effectively target one area, at the very least. 

Some loose-fitting pants even come with side zips or buttons to make it easy for your massage therapist to have access to higher parts of the legs. 


Footwear for Sports Massage

Deciding what to wear to a sports massage also extends to your shoes. Much like your general items of clothing, you should strive to wear shoes that can be taken off quickly and placed to one side. 

Regardless of what type of sports massage you’re receiving you will always be required to remove your shoes before the session begins. 

However, if you’re attending your sports massage after an intense workout or event, please keep your therapist’s comfort in mind, and be sure to shower and change your clothing to avoid any unpleasant odours. 

Trainers wearing sports massage

Some people also enjoy taking a pair of slip-on shoes to wear from the changing room to the massage table. For example, flip-flops, sliders or sandals are great options to choose from if this is preferable to you. 

When it comes to socks, as per our previous guidance, the fewer clothes you wear equates to a less restricted massage. Therefore, your therapist may ask you to go barefoot for the session in question. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of what to wear to a sports massage, we can expand upon this knowledge by providing you with a separate list of clothing items that should be avoided.

- - - -

Enjoying this article so far? Check out our other articles on sports massage therapists:

What Not To Wear For a Sports Massage 

#1 - Tight Leggings 

What to wear for a sports massage leggings

We’ve already briefly touched upon this, but when receiving a sports massage, the last thing you’ll want to wear is tight-fitting leggings.

As you know, your massage therapist is going to want access to a range of muscle groups. Should you choose to wear skin-tight clothing, this will make this process harder and result in a less effective massage for you.

The only time where leggings would be an appropriate item to wear to a sports massage is if you’re solely getting an upper-body massage. 

Instead, opt for loose-fitting shorts when having a lower-body massage as this way, you’re still covered up and your therapist can still massage the high regions of your legs. 

This isn’t to deny the many beneficial qualities that this garment can provide. Yoga leggings can still be incredibly useful when applied to your chosen practice, they are merely impractical for receiving sports massages. 

#2 - Sports Bra (Depending on The Massaged Area)

sports bras sports massage clothing

A sports bra is somewhat of an anomaly as it can be both the ideal item of clothing, as well as something to avoid entirely. 

The type of massage you’re receiving influences what category the garment falls into, and if you’re receiving an upper-body they should be avoided as much as possible.

Sports bras are designed to be tight in fit - this is purposely done to support your breasts throughout workouts. However, due to the tight manufacturing of this fabric, you’re not likely to receive an effective upper body massage should you choose to wear one.

As stated within our recommendations, if you’re receiving an upper body massage but are still uncomfortable with the prospect of being completely undressed, an unhookable bra is a great alternative. 

This will allow the therapist to massage the injured or strained upper body area, without making you feel too uncomfortable. 

To summarise, if you’re faced with the question of ‘what should you wear to a sports massage?’, we’d strongly advise you to avoid all tight clothing. This will only result in a therapist struggling to provide you with an effective form of treatment.

#3 - Make-Up 

Is make up good to wear for a sports massage

Applying make-up is part of many people’s morning routines, and therefore it's to be expected that you may turn up to sessions wearing some. However, it is actually advised to avoid this whenever possible. 

During your sports massage, you’re likely going to spend the vast majority of the session lying on your front with your head sitting on the massage table’s head cushion. 

Keeping your head in this position for longer than 5-minutes is likely to smudge your make-up, meaning that the time taken to apply has gone to waste. 

Additionally, makeup has the potential to stain the towels and/or massage table. Again, we encourage you to keep your massage therapist in mind, as cleaning this stain could likely affect their daily business.

Even though the masseuse could clean the table with antibacterial products, any stains that remain may make future clients hesitant about coming back if the sports massage equipment appears dirty. 

If you’re unsure of whether you’re allowed to wear make-up, it may be best to check with the masseuse/company before arriving. That way, you’ll feel prepared and ready to begin your sports massage! 


Become a Sports Massage Therapist With OriGym

Enroll on our industry-leading Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy Course today! 

#4 - Jewellery 

is jewellery good to wear for a sports massage

Deciding what to wear to a sports massage can be challenging enough, but when you factor in accessories the choice can be near impossible.

Now, please be aware that there aren’t any official rules in place to suggest that jewellery is or isn’t allowed during a sports massage. 

However, you should consider removing all forms of jewellery beforehand, as you may have your hands, arms and wrist massaged too. 

Whilst this may sound rather basic, these particular types of sports massages are known to increase circulation, enhance movement and promote muscle recovery.

Similarly to tight clothing, jewellery can restrict access to these areas meaning that you may miss out on all the benefits of the sports massage.

Jewellery also has the potential to abuse both you and your massage therapist pain, as items such as rings, dangly earrings or bracelets could snag on items of clothing or skin. The only form of jewellery that is not likely to cause this type of harm would be stud earrings.

#5 - Loose Hair

Lose hair wearing to a spots massage

When faced with the question ‘what should you wear to a sports massage’, many people often overlook their hair. Typically, it is advised that you wear your hair up whenever possible.

Not only will loose hair obstruct the massage therapist's work, but it could also become damaged or greasy due to the oils used. 

Make sure that you plan ahead and pack a bobble, headband, and clips to put on before your massage appointment begins. That way, you can quickly tie your hair up and get the most out of your session! 


Do You Wear Clothes During a Sports Massage?

questions about what to wear for a sports massage

We briefly touched upon this at the beginning of the article, but when attending a sports massage for the first time, you may be wondering whether or not to wear clothes.

More often than not, people will tend to not wear clothes for their sports massage. This will grant therapists complete access to a range of muscle groups, ensuring your message is as thorough as possible.

Therapists will cover areas of your body with a towel during your massage so that you feel comfortable. For example, therapists may cover your glutes so you don’t feel exposed while they can still easily massage high areas of your legs.

questions about what to wear for a sports massage  2

However, this does not necessarily mean that there are definitive rules on not wearing any clothes. As we’ve established, wearing loose-fitting shorts and tops should still allow your masseuse access to a range of muscle groups. 

So, in short, if you approached this article wondering “do you wear clothes during a sports massage?” - while it’s encouraged to limit the number of items you wear, it’s certainly not a requirement. You can wear loose-fitting clothes if this will make you more comfortable. 

What Should I Expect From a Sports Massage? 

questions about what to wear for a sports massage 3

If you’ve never had a sports massage before, you’re likely to be curious about what to expect. Let’s run through some stages of a sports massage so you feel most prepared. 

You’ll first have the opportunity to change out of your clothes or into something more comfortable.

If you’re opting to not wear clothes for the massage, you will be provided with a dressing gown for travelling from the changing rooms to the massage table. 

If you discussed your needs prior to booking an appointment, then your therapist should already have an idea of what areas need to be treated and why. However, they may clarify this with you before starting in case of any changes. 

Organising what to wear for a sports massage

You will then find a comfortable position on the massage table as instructed by your therapist. They will then cover any exposed areas of your body with a towel to help you feel more comfortable. 

All you need to do now is to try and relax - even if your massage is to treat an injury or a particularly painful area of your body. 

While in this instance your massage could be a bit painful, you should try to keep your muscles as relaxed as possible so that your masseuse can put pressure on all the necessary areas to aid recovery. 

What Are The Dos and Don’ts of a Sports Massage? 

Question about what I should wear for a sports massage

Again, if you haven’t yet had your first sports massage, it’s good to be mindful of the general rules of thumb for your appointment. Let’s run through some dos and don’ts of a sports massage. 

  • Be Punctual - As with any appointment you have, it’s important that you turn up on time. If you’re running late, consider calling the establishment hosting your massage to let them know out of courtesy. 
  • Have Awareness of Company Policies - Having a look at company policies before you arrive at your appointment is certainly recommended. For example, each establishment may have it’s own rules about COVID-19 and you may need to respect their wishes before arriving for your session. 
  • Don’t Undress in The Massage RoomYour massage therapist will allow you to change in private, so don’t worry - you won’t need to undress in front of anyone for your massage. You should be provided with a rope to wear for walking from the changing rooms to your massage table.
  • Chatting - It’s entirely up to you whether you want to chat with your therapist during your massage. You may want to make them aware of where your aches, pains or injuries lie and remain quiet and relaxed for the rest of the session. It’s entirely up to you.
  • Don’t Ask Your Therapist Personal Questions - On the back of the previous point, if you are wanting to engage in conversation with your therapist, you should avoid asking personal questions. Therapists want you to get the most out of your massage, so ensure the conversation remains professional. 

Before You Go! 

Remember, when deciding what to wear for a sports massage less is more. You will ultimately receive a better massage should you choose to wear short looser clothing, rather than restrictive items that cover the entire body. 

By doing this you will also make the massage therapist's job that much simpler, as they won’t have to fuss around adjusting your garments to get at your targeted areas. 

If you’re looking to take our advice to a more practical level, a Level 3 Sports Massage Therapy course can be a great additional qualification to have. Once qualified, you'll be able to immediately begin working in the industry, helping to treat and prevent injuries from occurring. 

Alternatively, our FREE prospectus details all of OriGym’s existing courses and is sure to have something suited for you.

Written by Emily Evans

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Emily studied English Language and Literature at the University of Sheffield, graduating in 2021 with a 2:1 BA honours degree. Alongside her degree, she also gained experience in student publication as Forge Press’ Lifestyle Editor and Deputy Editor for Post-Production. This is where her love for content writing stemmed from, which also led her to OriGym. Outside of her work, Emily will either be found on a long hike, at the gym or making a mess trying new healthy recipes in her kitchen!

Recommended Posts

Become a Sports Massage Therapist

Become a Sports Massage Therapist 

Learning how to become a sports massage therapist may initially seem overwhelming, but the process can be broken down into these 5 easy to f …
Sports Massage Therapist Job Description Explained

Sports Massage Therapist Job Description Explained 

If you're thinking of a career as an SMT, our sports massage therapist job description will tell you everything you need to know, so you kno …
Sports Massage Therapist Salary In The UK

Sports Massage Therapist Salary In The UK 

Before jumping into a new career, it’s important to cover every area of this role. This certainly includes finding out everything abou …

Download Our Guide on Starting a SMT Business & Claim 15% OFF on Prompt Payment

Start your own SMT Business

Download Our Guide on Starting a SMT Business & Claim 15% OFF on Prompt Payment

Start your own SMT Business