Eight Great Reasons to See a Massage Therapist

A massage therapist uses their elbow during a session.
By Cindy Williams 

When I tell people I am a massage therapist, I commonly hear things like, “I’d love to do that, but it’s not a priority,” or “I only get massages when I’m on vacation,” or “What a treat! I’m sure that would be really relaxing.” In other words, receiving a massage is often seen as an every-now-and-again luxury.  

Sadly, many don’t realize that massage is therapeutic in a variety of ways and, when incorporated as a regular part of one’s personal health care, has expansive benefits that reach far beyond just “Well, that was nice.”  

Here are eight reasons to seek a local massage therapy practitioner and schedule your next appointment. 

1. Massage therapy recharges your internal battery. 

Sometimes you just need a break. I think we can all agree that life involves stress pretty much every day. Whether it be raising children, giving your best in relationships, keeping up with a demanding job, meeting personal goals, making sure you get enough sleep, staying on top of daily and weekly chores, or recovering from loss and heartbreak, life has no shortage of experiences that require your attention and energy to keep going. Even positive experiences like planning a wedding or moving into a new home involve stress. All of these moments create tension in the body and mind.  

Research shows that stress is the primary cause of health-related issues and disease, and that relaxation is a primary antidote. Massage provides this antidote; it offers a respite from life’s stresses, a place to settle into calm so you can recharge and refill your cup, and motivation to show back up renewed in the world from a much healthier foundation. 

2. Massage therapy supports mental and emotional health. 

We live in a time when it has become increasingly transparent how many individuals suffer from mental and emotional health conditions. It is important for us to have this awareness so that support can be available to those who struggle.  

On a physical level, massage therapy is known to help regulate the nervous system so that it shifts from sympathetic/fight or flight to parasympathetic/rest and digest, resulting in decreased anxiety, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, a drop in cortisol levels (the stress hormone which, in excess, can wreak havoc on internal organ systems), and an increase in serotonin and dopamine levels (the “feel-good” chemicals).  

On an emotional level, current psychological theories suggest that connection is the best form of support toward remission or recovery from the wrestle with addiction, depression, and anxiety. Therapeutic touch, especially applied by a compassionate and skilled practitioner, can provide this connection. 

3. Massage therapy complements psychological therapies. 

Taking the previous point a bit further, when massage therapy is incorporated alongside counseling, psychotherapy, and/or life coaching, the results are off the charts!  

There is a saying in many spiritual philosophies that “nothing in life happens in isolation.” One thing always leads to another. And when the end goal is held in common, the momentum is powerful. One thing can be strong on its own, but when you bring in reinforcement, suddenly the “task” at hand feels less burdensome. It has become wonderfully common that massage therapists work hand-in-hand with mental health professionals because the benefits have been apparent and visible.  

4. Massage therapy complements other self-care practices.  

Psychological therapies aren’t the only complementary therapies to massage. Here are other massage therapy “partners” that work exceptionally well in tandem. 

  • Exercise: When you exercise, your muscles become strained and fatigued, and chemical reactions occur that result in an experience of soreness. Massage therapy is fantastic at helping sore muscles recover physiologically. Whether you exercise on your own or you invest in a personal trainer, massage is a great complement to meeting your physical fitness goals through conscious support to your body. 
  • Complementary and alternative medicine practices: This is a broad field of work. It can include chiropractic care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, naturopathy, and herbal therapy, to name a few. Massage supports each and every one of these practices and therapies physiologically, chemically, and energetically, which makes them even more beneficial than they would be if performed alone. 
  • Meditation and other mindfulness practices: Given that meditation and mindfulness practices typically involve calming and observing one’s mind and body in a quiet place, the massage table offers a perfect environment. Many clients find they can do just that while receiving a massage. Plus, when you focus your attention on your body and breath during a massage, your mind naturally releases thoughts of everything else going on in your life outside of the treatment room. 

5. Massage therapy can increase range of motion, strength, flexibility, and mobility. 

While our bodies are made up of four kinds of tissue, connective tissue is the most abundant. As the name suggests, it connects things to each other so that all parts and systems of the body can work together in balance and harmony.  

When a person sustains an injury, whether the injury be from an accident or repetitive, habitual, daily movement patterns, the connective tissue is compromised. It is designed to stabilize weak areas, but commonly the brain overcompensates by directing the cells to lay down excess tissue in the area of weakness. Think of it like adding extra packing tape to a box that has been used too many times. The better solution is to get a stronger box so you are sure it won’t break when extra weight is placed upon it!  

Massage therapy helps you to build this strength through strategic manipulation of the connective tissue, as well as the muscle tissue that it works together with. Specific techniques are designed to break up the excess connective tissue that limits range of motion, flexibility, and mobility while activating weak muscles and deactivating overstimulated muscles.  

A skilled practitioner can absolutely create this change. Plus, the more involved you are in the process, the more likely healing can occur. Sticking with the metaphor, you (with the help of your practitioner) design yourself as a stronger box in which your beautiful self is stored! 

6. Massage therapy helps unwind tension patterns that are introduced to your body on a daily basis. 

The next time you are looking at your cell phone, take a moment to recognize what is happening to your head and neck. Likely you are looking down at your phone, which causes an immense amount of strain. Or, when you work on a computer, especially if you have a desk job, you are more at risk for developing repetitive-use strains, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome (which affects your nerves at the neck and shoulder area and can travel down into the arm and hand), or low-back pain from sitting for long periods of time as well as sitting with legs crossed or with feet and hips in a misaligned position. Even driving can cause physical tension from firmly gripping the wheel as well as holding your arms up in front of you. 

Consider anything you do on a daily basis and pay attention to movements that you perform repeatedly. While it is best to unwind these patterns with mindful stretches and exercises, a skilled massage practitioner can help identify the area(s) of strain, balance muscles that work together to hold that pattern, and also recommend self-care to keep your body healthy throughout the day. 

7. Massage therapy provides safe and comfortable touch, which is a human need.   

When a fetus grows in the womb in its earliest stages, the outer layer of the embryo (called the ectoderm) gives rise to the entire nervous system, sensory organs, and skin. In other words, the nervous system and skin are inextricably linked from the very beginning!  

While a lot could be said about this powerful early connection, for our purposes here it is important to recognize that when a person is touched, their entire nervous system is being stimulated and communicated with.  

The skin is chock full of sensory receptors (the things that give information from the outside environment to our internal, master processors—the brain and spinal cord). This makes touch a highly influential form of communication. Studies have shown that babies require touch in order to survive. Touch is a basic human need and, without it, life is diminished. This isn’t just true for babies—it’s true for humans at any stage of life.  

Since massage is a touch therapy, it can benefit an individual on the most primal level and, when applied skillfully and purposefully in a safe and nurturing environment, offers comfort, support, connection, and positive benefit that is nearly indescribable. It is especially supportive for those who don’t receive regular touch or who have a history of receiving unsafe touch. Touch, then, becomes a lifesaver. 

8. Massage therapy feels good!   

This point pretty much speaks for itself. Who doesn’t want to feel good?! 

The bottom line is massage therapy is amazing and highly beneficial. It is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Don’t underestimate it. Go book a massage for yourself right now! 

Related Content

Massage and Its Benefits” 

The Benefits of Frequent Massage” 

Massage as a Wellness Strategy” 

author bio

Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. In addition to maintaining a part-time massage and bodywork practice and teaching yoga, she is a freelance content writer and educational consultant.