Many people think of massage as a luxury to be reserved for special occasions or times of heightened stress or injury. Here are few few situations when massage and bodywork can be very beneficial that you may not have thought of.
1) Your position in life demands that you be in control all the time.
If you are in a position of power at work, home, or in your community you may find that you're holding your body in a rigid and defensive manner without even realizing it. Bodywork is an excellent and safe way to have the experience of being passive, quiet and relaxed. You can literally let your therapist take the weight off of your shoulders. The somatic experience of having someone else safely move your body while you remain passive can be rejuvenating and give you a fresh perspective on life.
2) You struggle with poor body image/self esteem.
Let's face it, we are taught to judge and dislike our bodies and the bodies of others. It is big business for some to keep us in this frame of mind. My personal remedy for this situation is similar to my approach to eating well. The more gestures of self love you fill up with(nourishing, whole foods) the less room there is for destructive thoughts to reside (foods and eating patterns that are potentially harmful). When I stopped consuming media, images, and culture that promoted a self destructive and judgmental mentality, I started filling up on gestures of self love, including the healing and nurturing touch of massage. It's liberating to become your own authority on what helps you look and feel happy and comfortable in your own skin.
3) You are recovering from trauma or suffer from PTSD.
Trauma can be an extremely scary/painful event or it can be a life situation forced upon you such as extreme poverty or neglect. Traumatizing experiences and situations live in our cells and obscure our ability to feel safe in our present situations. Recent research suggests that trauma can be passed through DNA to our children. Unaddressed and unresolved trauma can be debilitating and is the root of many health issues. Working with a trained and trusted bodywork/somatic therapist can be one important step in the process of healing.
4) You suffer from digestive issues.
There are many variations, causes of and treatments for digestive issues, including various forms of bodywork such as Chi Nei Tsang and shiatsu. However, even if you are receiving a massage for stress relief you are encouraging yourself to deeply relax which allows your autonomic nervous system (i.e. rest and digest) to function properly. Not to mention if you suffer from constipation, abdominal massage is an excellent way to get things moving again.
5) It feels great!
Many people feel like they have to wait until they are overwhelmed with stress or pain to justify using their time or money to receive bodywork. Allowing yourself to receive simply because it feels good is a proactive way to prevent future illness/injuries, manage stress, and deepen your relationship with yourself. Not to mention it is okay to feel good just because! You don't need to have a reason to do something truly kind for yourself.
There are many other times when massage can be beneficial. What do you find it most helpful for? Share your experience in the comment section below.
Want more information?
- Read more about massage and body image here.
- Read more about how trauma can pass through generations here.
- Read more about how massage therapy can help PTSD here.
- Read more about massage and digestion here.
Karen Townsend is a massage therapist certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is trained in Thai Yoga Massage, Shiatsu and Western therapeutic massage techniques. Click here to learn more about Karen.