When you think of massage, common assumptions would be that it’s relaxing, peaceful and restful. And these are all true, but there are other emotional releases you might experience - and they’re totally normal. Some people may experience a sudden rush of grief, anger, sadness, fear or hysteria; and even if you’ve had regular massages before, you might experience the emotional release a sporadic phenomenon.
You are not alone. So why does it happen?
The short answer is that we carry tension without our soft tissue, which massage can unlock. A long answer is that the body has an interesting capacity to contain past events within the muscle and peripheral nervous system. In the same way that a smell can unlock a memory, releasing the tension collected within your muscles can release a memory or locked emotion. There are a couple of technical terms which might help clarify how the body maintains the tension. Proprioception, or Kinestisia, is the body’s understanding of spatial orientation and gravity. It’s the reason you don’t need to look at the floor when you’re walking, and you can touch your elbow with your eyes closed. Nerves are constantly sending information to your brain about your muscles, and your brain uses the data to understand texture, pressure etc. Nociception is the stimulation of pain receptors, so your body can recognise damage; for example, the pain you feel when you burn yourself. Your body, as a survival response, will recognise certain situations and automatically have a physical reaction - a response which might not be a conscious thing. So, when that physical reaction is tampered with, by releasing the tension in the soft tissue, it can also release the emotional reaction.
It’s why some people have been known to cry during a massage session, or others who’ve felt overwhelmed by the whole experience. As I’ve said in the beginning, you’re not alone if you experience this. It’s totally normal, and you just need to let us know if you’re experiencing an emotional overload. This reaction can happen during or after the massage; as the body relaxes, it’s normal for the body to let go of the tension it has been holding.
However, sometimes the focus or sensation of touch might be enough to delay the emotional reaction, so you may find that the emotional release occurs after the session has ended. Make sure you’re in a comfortable and safe environment and let yourself feel those feelings. Have a good cry, take a deep breath - it’s all part of the process, and it will leave you feeling much better afterwards.
Equally, if you’re looking for an emotional catharsis, a massage can be a great way to tap into that emotional tension in a controlled environment. Remember that massage is a passive form of exercise, and muscles are being warmed, stretched and relaxed through the process, blood will be passing through your muscles more effectively, flushing waste from that area; waste which can include stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.
You may feel physically sore, as well as emotionally raw and that in turn can lead you to be overwhelmed by your emotional release. Please talk to us if you’re feeling any type of way which might have this response, and don’t be shy if this response initiates during or after the massage. You may find that a regular massage allows you to manage those responses and that a more frequent massage means your emotional response is less overwhelming.
Of course, the main takeaway from this blog should be as seen in the title; it’s totally normal but if you’re still worried or have any questions for us regarding the emotional release, don’t hesitate to contact us.