Lingering Effects of Massage?

Ask A Therapist

By Ruth Werner

Q. I’m a newcomer to bodywork, but it seems that some of the effects of my sessions come long after I’ve walked out of my practitioner’s office. Is it all in my mind?

A. The effects of bodywork vary from one modality to another, and from one practitioner to another, and perhaps most greatly, from one recipient to another, according to Utah massage therapist and bodywork author Ruth Werner. “Receiving massage is a learned skill,” she says. “The more often you do it, the more you’ll get out of it.”

Werner says massage changes many things about how our bodies function. “In the short-term, it can alter blood flow, soften connective tissue, and relieve tight, stiff muscles. But the changes massage brings about can last long after the session is over. Increased awareness about jaw-clenching or stooped shoulders, remembering to breathe deeply and fully, and sleeping more soundly are just a few of the benefits many people experience for hours, days, or even longer after a good bodywork session. I am always surprised to discover I don’t really have to grip the steering wheel with 10 white knuckles — somehow receiving a massage is one of the things that helps me keep this in mind.

“You ask, ‘Is it all in my mind?’ and the answer is partly ‘yes’ — but that’s not a bad thing. Our consciousness helps to determine our physical experience, and the more conscious we are about taking good care of ourselves, the better our physical state will be. Don’t fall into the trap of believing the mind and the body are two separate things: They are intimately and inextricably bound together. Whatever affects one, affects the other. So take advantage of the new awarenesses massage brings you — you are creating for yourself the best and longest-lasting benefits massage has to offer.”