Why you probably like your massage therapist

April 8, 2014  |  2 comments

Walk into any room and notice how you feel. Are your muscles more relaxed or tense? Do you feel more energized or drained? Did your mood change when you entered the room?

Now look around the room. Listen for ambient sounds. Feel the air on your skin. Become aware of any aromas. What comes to mind?

Your nervous system is the boss. It evaluates everything you experience as beneficial, neutral, or threatening. Then somewhere in your brain, a decision is made about how your body will react — with a pleasurable sensation, pain, a tickle, itching, relaxed or tense muscles, etc.

When you receive massage therapy, your entire nervous system remembers more than how the massage felt.

Sheryl massages a Farm Sanctuary resident

Sheryl massages a Farm Sanctuary resident

When someone touches you, your nervous system responds to much more than the quality of their touch. In fact, according to Scripps College psychologist Michael Spezio, “The entire experience is affected by your social evaluation of the person touching you.” (“The Power of Touch”, Psychology Today, March 11, 2013)

If you respond positively to your massage therapist, it’s likely you’ll return to that practitioner. Needless to say, the opposite also holds true.

By the way, your massage therapist benefits from your massage, too. Research by Touch Research Institute director Tiffani Field, Ph.D. demonstrates “that a person giving a massage experiences as great a reduction in stress hormones as the person on the receiving end.”

Which could also explain why we massage therapists tend to like our clients.