Building the Perfect Massage Environment

Massage Environment

Giving (or getting) a massage is about more than the physical manipulation of the body. While skill and technique are certainly part of any good massage therapist’s toolbox, it’s the overall experience that really makes an impact on the mind-body connection that massage is all about.

Whether you’re setting up your own massage practice for the first time, or if you’re taking over the massage position at a spa or holistic treatment center, you’ll want to spend some time and money setting up the perfect massage environment.


Most people associate soft or dim lights with the massage experience. Bright, glaring lights tend to impact the eyes and head, making it difficult for clients to fully relax. At the same time, too much darkness might make the client feel uncomfortable.

If you can, install lights with dimmer options or rely on independent floor lamps (or other ancillary lighting options) for maximum control. If you are in a room in which you can’t directly change the lights, opt for screens or draperies that might help you make the necessary adjustments.


The setting of the massage is important. If you have a permanent structure, it’s best to take some time to paint and decorate the space. This doesn’t mean pulling out all your favorite colors and going crazy; setting has more to do with overall ambiance than anything else.

For example, a clinical, white room with sparse decorations might be too close to a hospital room to put a client at ease. At the same time, too many knickknacks or bright colors might not be as peaceful or serene as your clients might wish.

Stick to neutral or earth tones and minimalism, but remember that it’s okay to personalize the space, too. Flowers, crystals, “Zen” paintings, and nature elements tend to be popular, since they evoke a holistic and natural setting.


First and foremost, respect the individual wishes of your clients. Ask up front if they prefer music, natural sounds, or silence during the massage, since it is their experience you want to enhance. Have different types of music and background sounds available, but keep them instrumental or with soft vocals or nature sounds. And, of course, turn off your phone for the duration of the massage session.


Temperature control is important, especially since your client will most likely be naked or wearing only his or her underwear. Keep the room warm (but not hot) and free of drafts.

Your own attire should reflect this temperature, and it’s often best to layer your clothes and wear loose, comfortable shirts and pants. (You might also want to have a way to keep your hands up to temperature. If you tend to have overly cold hands, keep warm towels or water nearby. If your hands get too warm or sweat profusely, make sure and cool them accordingly.)


Time is one of the most important considerations in giving a massage. Although it doesn’t necessary relate to the physical environment, time will have an impact on how well you, as a massage therapist, do your job.

For example, if you overbook your clients (or if you don’t schedule enough downtime for your body to rest between sessions), you may feel rushed or not completely committed to the client. This may reduce the overall experience and add a layer of stress that the client will be able to sense.


Of course, no massage room or facility is complete without the proper tools. Depending on how your practice is set up, you may rely on a massage chair, massage table, or alternate arrangement.

Be sure and provide plenty of clean linens and towels, and include chairs for the client to comfortably sit in while dressing or undressing (a place to put his or her clothes and purse is also a good idea).

All your massage oils and lotions should also be near at hand, pre-prepared, and well-stocked before you begin. Leaving the room to get more supplies or shuffling around in the cupboards for a clean towel can greatly distract from the massage experience and make you appear unprofessional.

From proper lighting to the scents and sounds of the room, how you set up your massage therapy practice is almost as important as the services you provide. Plan ahead and do your best to ensure that all your clients walk out the door feeling on top of the world.

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