How high is appropriate to massage on the upper inner thigh?

06 May 2024

How High on the Upper Inner Thigh to Massage?


The upper inner thigh is one of the gateway areas where predator massage therapists begin their sexual assault. The thigh should be draped so that the pelvis and the inner thigh are securely covered. The drape is generally a sheet tucked under the thigh and the lower back. That way it cannot be so easily dislodged. See the accompanying image for proper draping technique.





In a relaxation massage, the therapist should never go higher than 3-4 inches from the genital region. Predator therapists drape poorly on purpose when they have selected a client to sexually assault. They may create a loose drape. That way they can push it aside or so that the genital or female breast is uncovered. Or they might ignore the drape and go under it. Every therapist is trained never to expose those areas and never to bring their hands under the drape.


The Exception to the 3-4 Inch Guideline

The only exception to this is when the client specifically requests therapeutic work on an injury in this region. A client may seek treatment for an injury to the upper adductor muscle or tendon, for example. They seek these treatments from a therapist who is specifically trained in working with these types of injuries. Most massage therapists have not undergone training in treating these kinds of injuries. But for those who are trained, the treatment should be explained, and the drape should establish a clear boundary.


The client’s permission must be obtained before working on sensitive areas of the body. Written permission is always the safest policy when working on the lower buttock or the upper inner thigh. Once written permission is obtained, the therapist would direct the client to leave their underwear on. This type of work would be very rare in a spa franchise setting.




Overstepping Boundaries

The drapes’ function is to create a boundary so both the client and therapist know where the boundary is. Only the area being massaged should be exposed, and the rest of the body should be covered.  Some therapists who may not be predators may not pay attention to boundaries under any circumstances. They may ask invasive questions or share more about their lives with the client than they should. These individuals may be careless about their draping because of poor boundary development.


Boundary Violation Cultures

We have all met someone with ill-defined loose boundaries. They may stand too close to you, ask you inappropriate questions, or repeatedly touch you during a conversation.  These individuals may have grown up in a different culture or had their own boundaries repeatedly violated. As a result, they grew up and never learned what an appropriate boundary was.  A person who grows up constantly having their boundaries ignored may also be an individual at risk for predatory behavior. Because their boundaries are not clear, these individuals often confuse what they want with what the other person wants.


Respecting Boundaries

Professional massage therapists always want to respect their client’s boundaries and make sure that they feel comfortable and safe. Draping appropriately is one of the crucial parts of ensuring your client’s safety. Also, making sure to set boundaries in a conversation beforehand and then getting written permission if needed. That way there is no misunderstanding between massage therapists and clients. Knowing what’s appropriate and what’s not in a massage therapy setting, will ultimately create a safer environment.


If you’re a lawyer who is currently involved in a sexual assault case and needs an expert witness with a massage or spa background, schedule a conversation with Dr. Benjamin!

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Ben E. Benjamin holds a Ph.D. in Sports Medicine and has been an expert witness in cases of sexual assault in a massage/spa setting since 2004, advising lawyers, testifying in depositions and trials, and writing reports. His expertise extends beyond massage therapy and ethical behavior. He also advises spas, both large and small, on the creation of comprehensive sexual assault prevention strategies that ensure safe and ethical practices in the industry.