How to Handle Farting, Burping & Other Bodily Noises During a Massage

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2016 issue of BodySense magazine.

It’s remarkable that a single noise can reduce a 9-year-old to uncontrollable giggles, but that same noise will make an adult cringe and want to hide underneath the table. 
That’s how it is with the weird and wacky noises our bodies make. Burping, farting, snoring, and even some sneezes are concurrently hilarious and mortifying.  

It’s easier to avoid embarrassment when these things happen in our private lives. Retreat to a restroom, close the office door, or just let it rip at home, where any number of noises can be blamed on the dog.  

It’s not so easy to avoid those noises on a massage table. It’s just you, some mellow music, and your massage therapist. But to massage therapists like me, those physical sounds of relaxation are music to our ears.

Snoring. Sawing wood. Sleepy snorting. In a relaxation massage, snoring can be a compliment! When you relax enough to drift off to sleep, that means your therapist is doing a great job. Most massage clients snore at one time or another, or at least get a good nose whistle happening. Light snoring and the occasional snort or sniffle is very common and not a big deal.

Gurgling. Burping. Borborygmus. (That’s the technical term for all those wacky abdominal noises.) You may find that your belly makes more noise than usual during a massage. That’s because massage can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, your “rest and digest” response. The parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate and increases intestinal and gland activity. Those gurgles and rumbles and the occasional burp are signs that your body is relaxing and doing its thing!

Break wind. Fart. Toot. Whatever you call it, it happens. To everyone. Gas is a product of digestion, and the average person will pass gas 8–20 times per day. If you’re in a standing or upright sitting position all day and then you lie down on a massage table, gas may move around. The parasympathetic nervous system may also relax sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, so gas may move a little easier. Again, that’s your body doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.  

Your massage therapist won’t be bothered if you pass gas on the massage table. We don’t mind if you snore or sniffle or your belly growls like a bear. We’re happy your body is working well, and we want you to unwind and enjoy your massage. Zzzzzz. 

—Allissa Haines is a massage therapist with a private practice in Massachusetts. She also creates marketing resources for massage therapists at www.massagebusinessblueprint.com.

 

If you’re a massage professional who wants to learn more about best practices and techniques, ABMP offers 200+ online continuing education courses.

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Comments

I have no problem with my client burping or snoring, but if I have a client who has had salami and farts three times on the table, I just want to cover them up! Is there any way for a massage therapist to tactfully give nutritional advice so that the client isn't so flatulent in the future?

I wonder if an ionizer air cleaner would help. Those Dyson units look pretty hip and seem like they’d accommodate an odor-arresting essential oil. I don’t know alot about essential oil blending, but flatulent gas would likely fall on the base note end of the blending spectrum.

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