10 Reasons You Should Gift Yourself a Massage

The Season for Self-Care Starts Today!

By Karrie Osborn

Over the years, we’ve often reminded you in these pages that sharing a gift of massage with others is a wonderful way to show you care. And while that is still an important message we hope you will share this season, even more important is reminding yourself that you’re worthy of that gift too . . . now, and all year long. Here are 10 reasons why you need to gift yourself a massage.

1. It’s a Healthy Way to Invest in Yourself

Now, more than ever, self-care needs to be a priority. Show yourself some love by investing in yourself. Research shows touch is a necessity, a basic human need. If a child is deprived of human contact, they fail to thrive and have issues with social attachments. Isolated elders have shorter lifespans. Touch is important to our human DNA, no matter where we fall on the lifespan timeline. Therapeutic touch, with all its intention, is even more powerful and is a loving gift you need to honor yourself with more frequently.  

2. It’s Good for Your Body

When it comes to the physiological benefits you can reap from massage, researchers are constantly adding more and more value to that list. A few of the most impactful massage benefits research has proven include:

• Improved immune system function
• Improved muscle and tendon recovery
• Improved sleep and reduced fatigue in cancer patients
• Increased pain relief without the side effects of narcotics

And don’t forget all its preventive benefits either!


3. It’s Good for Your Mind

In addition to the peace and well-being that naturally blossoms from a cared-for body, many forms of massage and bodywork have specific restorative effects on the mind. While your body is getting its therapeutic attention, your mind has a chance to go quiet—something that doesn’t come easily in today’s world—and you get to double up the therapeutic benefits.  
Massage can work at a deeper level too. For mental and emotional well-being, massage has a “robust body of evidence showing benefits for people with depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mood-related challenges,” says Ruth Werner, author of A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology.

4. It’s Good for Your Spirit

How many times have you come out of a massage session feeling lighter, feeling stronger? When you choose to go deeper into the work, when you use your time on the table to truly let it all go and be part of the process, and when you engage in the meditative space, healing happens and the spirit can be tended to. Being in this place can help people become more self-aware, more present, more forgiving of self and others, and more open to the possible.  

5. It Will Meet You Where You Are

Adaptable for the pregnant client, the hospital patient, the soccer mom, or the elite athlete, massage and bodywork can be beneficial no matter your circumstance. More intense scar tissue work might be what one client needs, while the simple act of holding a hospice patient’s fragile hand can be the therapeutic salve needed by another. Deliverable to clients in their hospital beds, wheelchairs, or with their 9-months-pregnant bellies bolstered with pillows on the table, massage has a way to be of value to everyone—meeting them where they are.  

6. It’s a Major Player in Stress Reduction

Stress is a killer. Experts tell us that chronic stress leads to increased risk of hypertension, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and more. Because massage reduces stress-related hormones, it can help our body shift out of the fight-or-flight stress response we often get stuck in. Massage “turns on” the parasympathetic nervous system, which works to calm us and help us regain homeostasis—the natural state of equilibrium our bodies should be living in.

7. It is Not a Luxury—Even If It is Just for Relaxation

Massage has long been framed as a luxury, often an indulgence for the wealthier among us. Truth is, massage may feel like a luxury, but it is actually a sound investment in your health. In fact, hands-on therapies have an incredible return on investment. And while some people may seek out massage or bodywork to relieve pain, recover from an injury, or perform at peak athletic levels, making a massage appointment with a goal of nothing more than relaxation is just as valuable.  

8. It Offers Relief

From low-back pain to arthritis and other chronic conditions massage and bodywork can offer relief and improved quality of life for those suffering from a variety of issues. For example, scientists have shown that massage is an effective pain-management strategy for those living with arthritis, that headache sufferers have decreased pain and frequency when they use massage, and that carpal tunnel patients have found massage decreases their symptom severity. While research in the area of massage and bodywork is still in its relative infancy, the findings continue to be promising. There is a lot of opportunity for the application of massage and bodywork to help those living with pain and other life-altering conditions.

9. Its Benefits Increase with Frequency

Just like increasing your exercise regimen has cumulative results, the same is true of massage and bodywork. The more massage you receive, the more benefits you reap. “Massage therapists know that people who get massage regularly demonstrate greater improvement and notice a reduction in pain and muscular tension, as well as an improvement in posture,” says Anne Williams, author of Massage Mastery. Consider shortening the window between your massage appointments to see if you can reap the benefits of greater frequency.

10. It Offers Something for Everyone

There are more than 300 types of massage and bodywork modalities listed on massagetherapy.com, with new combinations and protocols being developed all the time. While some of these techniques are ancient in their origins, others were born during the creative somatic renaissance happening in Big Sur, California, in the 1970s. Today, the work continues to evolve as science further unravels the mysteries of the human body. From structural integration to reflexology, and from reiki to Swedish massage, the massage and bodywork tapestry of techniques puts a lot of tools in your self-care toolbox. The trick is taking the time to explore what’s at your fingertips.

Your Practitioner Can’t Wait to Work with You  

While it might be tomorrow, or it might be next year, your practitioner is eager to work with you again. Make that call. And, if your therapist is not back to practice yet because of COVID-19, there is a good chance they are selling gift certificates for the day their doors reopen. Buy a certificate or gift card now and use it when you’re ready; buy one for friends and family too. Support small businesses if you can, and support yourself in the process.

Karrie Osborn is editor of Body Sense and a longtime recipient of massage and bodywork. Her favorite therapist delivers a beautiful combination of jin shin jyutsu, Swedish massage, and chakra healing.