Getting a massage shouldn’t be a luxury. Because of the obvious benefits of massage therapy, I believe that massages should be part of routine life — for absolutely everyone.
About a year ago, my mother gifted me with dozens (literally dozens!) of extra massages from a membership-based massage chain. I’d never had routine massages before this. Instead, I’d only gotten massages as one-off, special-occasion gifts from loved ones. But armed with the opportunity to get a weekly massage, I took full advantage. I even went to the extend of buying a great massagers for neck and shoulders.
Now I’m addicted.
Let’s be honest. Who wouldn’t be?
I get to be fully-relaxed, experience my normally-tense muscles turning into jelly, and step into a zen-like meditative state that floods me with affirming feelings of self-care and happiness.
But massage therapy is about more than just relaxation & pain management, and the benefits are legion.
Here are just a few.
Unexpected Benefit of Massage Therapy #1 — Perspective and Clarity
It’s rather simple. If I walk into a massage dragging a suitcase full of emotionally draining and confounding energy behind me, I walk out knowing exactly what to do to relieve myself of that burden.
I can guess at dozens of reasons why this is so. It may be that the because the massage releases endorphins (your body’s natural feel-good hormone), I’m able to feel well enough to distance myself from the tangled emotional baggage and thus give myself the mental distance to “solve” the problem.
It may be that because I’m so physically relaxed during massage therapy, I can emotionally “relax” as well and let go of my psychological burdens.
What I do know is that I always walk out of a massage therapy session feeling like I’ve gained a bit of wisdom, despite the fact that I’m not using the session like a confessional and instead choosing to remain silent with my massage therapist.
Unexpected Benefit of Massage Therapy #2 — Greater Energy
I never take naps. That’s because when I do, I wake up feeling even more tired than I did when I fell asleep.
Surprisingly, a massage therapy session has the opposite effect. I walk out feeling energized. Again, I’m not sure exactly why this is so. Perhaps it’s that release of endorphins again? Perhaps the massage is giving me the quintessential “runner’s high” but without the running?
Unexpected Benefit of Massage Therapy #3 — Better Sleep Quality
Now, I by no means am asserting that getting routine massages will solve all your sleep problems. But it’s certainly a valuable tool to have in your tool belt!
I’ve noticed that in the nights immediately following my massages, I have no problems falling asleep at a reasonable time, no problems staying asleep, and no problems waking up feeling well rested.
Maybe it has to do with the decreased stress levels, as massages help decrease cortisol levels (the hormone that’s an integral part of your stress response) and increase seratonin and dopamine levels (the hormones that contribute to happiness and good sleep).
Unexpected Benefit of Massage Therapy #4 — Improved Self-Esteem
Now this is a less tangible benefit to massage, but arguably a more important one. You know how you have that voice in your head that sometimes undermines your self-worth? The one that’s telling you you’re too fat, too dumb, too selfish, too (fill in the blank)?
Getting a massage silences that voice, at least for a little while.
Think about it. A massage is basically you telling yourself that you’re so important and valuable and loved that you’re worth it. You’re doing it in the most physical way, in a way connected to human touch. You’re allowing human touch to soothe you, to relieve your pain, melt away tension. And you’re doing it because you’re worth it.
Even if you’re not consciously telling yourself that you love yourself and that’s why you’re getting a massage, you are certainly sending that subconscious message to yourself. I believe your body hears that message loud and clear, and it affects how you view yourself.
Unexpected Benefit of Massage Therapy #5 — Increased Intimacy
No surprise here: I am the introvert of introverts. (There’s a reason I write for a living, yo.) Along with that introversion comes a certain protective shell I’ve built around myself. I tend to have only a few really intimate friends, and I keep my emotional distance from others.
Believe it or not, routine massage therapy has inspired me to let more people in, to open up and be more vulnerable, to be more intimate and trusting.
I can’t speak for what it will do for those of you who err on the side of being too trusting, but for me it’s been a life-saver. I’d often err on the side of people thinking I was being dishonest or cold with them just because I held all my emotional cards close to my chest. Being able to express some kind of vulnerability and openness to these people (whom I’ve always loved dearly) is a massive step in the right direction.
How to Work Routine Massages Into Your Life
I know what you’re thinking.
All this is well and good, but your were GIVEN dozens of massages! These babies are too expensive to be part of my everyday life.
I wholeheartedly agree. Unless you’ve got some nice disposable income just burning a whole in your wallet waiting to be spent, a good massage may cost too much to do it on a weekly basis.
That’s why I suggest you should … (gasp) … learn how to give a massage.
A really, really good one.
Then get your best friend or partner to learn how to give a massage too.
And then … (ZOMG!) … you can give each other massages!
For free!!! Anytime you want!!!
It’s a crazy idea, I know. But once those dozens of free massages from my mother ran out, I needed my routine massage fix.
So I did what I do best and found an online course to take. It’s called MELT: Massage for Couples.
Check out this little teaser for the online video course:
As you can see, the series is beautifully-shot and taught by a professional massage therapist. The videos are PG-rated, and you’re taught basic techniques for three different massage routines that can be done comfortably at home without any fancy equipment.
My husband and I have already mastered the routines. I will confess I was a little intimidated by the idea of giving massages at first, mostly because the professional massages I’d been getting for so long had been so awesome.
What I discovered is that by following the techniques outlined in these videos, I was able to give my husband deeply satisfying massages. And he, in turn, has upped his massage game, too.
How this Couples Massage Course Works
Here’s the idea: you spend what you would normally spend on ONE good, hour-long massage, and for that you learn how to give exquisite massages to the people you love (and they learn how to give them to you!).
It’s like the old saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.” This way, you can give and receive a lifetime’s worth of amazing massages — all for the cost of one good one.
(photo & video credits: couplesmassagecourses.com)