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The Many Health Benefits of Massage Therapy or Bodywork

Updated on October 13, 2014
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Massage Therapy or Bodywork

Thai Massage or Bodywork
Thai Massage or Bodywork | Source

Bodywork or Massage Therapy is Great For Health

This was written March 18, 2012. I use massage, message therapy and bodywork interchangeably. But bodywork seems to be preferred by many since it is more inclusive and more open to variations. Some may prefer that their type of massage not be called massage.

For example in the picture, they call this Thai massage, but I could understand some saying that it is not massage since they are bending the person, not massaging their skin. I have had a lot of bodywork done on me and I have done a lot on others. Here is a personal story on massage that you cannot just find on any page on massage.

I was friends with this woman who I was in love with. She was not interested in me in this way. She was a single, divorced mom with a son and a daughter. The only reason that she was friends with me was because if she got very upset, she could call me and talk to me and feel much better. She and her kids lived with her mother.

She showed up at my apartment one night and said that she knew that I lived alone and she just had a fight with her mother and needed to get out of there for now. She left her kids there. So she wanted to sleep over but made it clear that that is all she wanted to do. She told me later that I was acting like an excited little boy having her sleep over. I offered to give her a massage before she went to sleep but she did not want one.

So I kept saying that I thought that it would help her feel better but she did not want any part of me touching her. So I said how about if I massage her for 10 minutes and then I will stop if she does not want me to continue and I will not mention it again. So she agreed to that. She never had a massage before and had a huge amount of stress stored in her muscles. After 10 minutes she felt much better so she let me continue.

After massaging her for over 2 hours she felt like a totally different and new person. She had changed a great deal and felt much better than she had felt in years. So what could she do? She ended up marrying me and would get a massage from me almost daily. Also I totally loved giving her massages since they would make her feel much better.

Different people have much different abilities in doing bodywork and different people like different styles. The most intense bodywork is called rolfing and was created by Ida Rolf. I showed my chiropractor the before and after pictures after 10 sessions of rolfing and he was amazed by the change. It is not uncommon for people to yell or scream in pain while having rolfing done.

My rolfer later became a chiropractor. At one point my rolfer put a little condom on his pinky finger and put lubricant on it. Then he stuck it up one of my nostrils and did his massage of it to make it work better. No problem. Then when he went to do the other side I kept having problems like sneezing and it hurting too much so he had to keep taking it out and trying to do it over again. He asked if I had a deviated septum (cartilage moved over too far to one side) and I told him that I had never heard of that.

When it comes to relieving or reducing stress, nothing works as fast as a deep tissue massage. In fact a study showed that massage helps muscles to recover much faster than rest. Also as far as feeling good, it ranks way up there. There are many bad habits that people have that are bad for health like smoking or eating a lot of junk food, but stress may be the single worst thing for health, making massage therapy or bodywork unsurpassed in helping your health in every way possible.

These are my opinions so let me introduce opinions of others. is visited by many doctors. They have an article called Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits. It says about back pain:

In fact, one 2003 study showed it worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain -- reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.

About headaches it says:

Massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.

It also talks about osteoarthritis and cancer, but look at what it says about anxiety:

A review of more than 12 studies shows that massage helps relieve depression and anxiety. It lowered levels of cortisol by up to 50%. And massage increased levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

The Mayo Clinic has an article called Massage: Get in touch with its many health benefits. It says that massage is helpful with stress relief, managing anxiety and depression, pain, stiffness, blood pressure control, infant growth, sports-related injuries, boosting immunity and cancer treatment.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has an article called Can Massage Help Back Pain? It says:

Nonspecific back pain (pain that isn't from a condition or injury) can be frustratingly difficult to treat, but there are potential benefits to massage therapy. Massage can relax tight muscles and may improve blood circulation to the body's tissues, which can help reduce pain and inflammation. Massage also stimulates the release of hormones called endorphins, which act like natural analgesics; endorphins may be why people often experience a heightened sense of well-being following a massage.

I used to spend over $100 a week to get a 3 hour massage called Postural Integration from Suzanne. It is supposed to be a little less intense than rolfing. Also I paid to have Suzanne teach a friend (Larry) and I how to do it, mostly for my friend. Larry is now a chiropractor in California. Also to show what massage or bodywork also integrates into it, here is what Wikipedia says about Postural Integration:

Postural Integration (PI) is an alternative process-oriented, body based therapy originally developed in the late 1960s by Jack Painter (1933-2010) in California, USA, after many years of self-exploration in the fields of humanistic psychology and the human potential movement. The method aims to support personal change and self development, [1] through a particular form of manipulative holistic bodywork. [2]

During his time as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami, Painter became interested in working with the body and personally explored many different approaches – massage, acupuncture, Zen, Yoga, Gestalt therapy (with Fritz Perls and Marty Fromm), techniques derived from the work of Ida Rolf (with Bill Williams), the theories of William Reich in the form of Vegetotherapy (with Raffaele Estrada Villa) and many others.

I have been to many massage therapists using many different methods, but only the one doing Postural Integration told me to take a very hot bath afterwards every time I got a massage. She said that the massage released toxins that were being stored in the body and a hot bath helps to remove them. This would make sense since I was writing about detoxification with infrared saunas and how it was based on what happens with sunbathing (both using heat). I wrote an article about the health benefits of sunbathing which enables you to get plenty of vitamin D without any chance of getting too much.

So this sound like a good advice for anyone to do after getting a massage. Also unlike other healing methods, it is important for the massage therapist to take care of their own physical and mental health. So a massage therapist or bodyworker may know a lot about health in general. For a serious neck or back problem see NUCCA: New Advancement in Chiropractic Care.

In fact my Postural Integrationist was able to tell me about this condition that I had as a child because she also had it. When I was young if I got very excited about a good thing happening in the future I would get severe intestinal cramping. Like I convinced my babysitter to let me take off from school since it was my birthday, but during my birthday party I had to stay in bed in my bedroom since I was in so much pain. The doctors had no idea what it was, but my bodyworker said that it was probably due to my ileocecal valve closing since she also had that when she was young. That is the valve between the large and small intestine.

Extreme Benefits of Bodywork or Massage Therapy

I guess both of the following can happen. People who do bodywork may develop healing abilities. Also people with healing abilities may manifest them through healing. I feel that the following is more of the latter. I was at a 5 day personal growth seminar (Insight) with about 200 people. At the end of the 4th day, they have a hugging process where you get a chance to hug everyone in the room individually.

By the end of the 4th day people feel much higher than on the first day. Now a lot of people were talking about a young woman there (with her boyfriend) that did not hug anyone. The fascilitater was talking to the group and this woman was complaining that she was not feeling anything different than when she first got there. So they just told her to hang in there.

Now she wanted to feel something great otherwise she would not have mentioned to the group how she was feeling. So I told her that I would massage her back while she is sitting there and I bet that would help her feel better. Her boyfriend there was feeling bad for her. She, of course, said "no." Please remember the chant of women-- "Wherever we go, whatever we wear, yes means yes and no means no."

But I kept telling the woman that I think that she would feel much better and she finally agreed. She must have never had a massage before. I was behind her massaging her back and she was facing the front. She must have been making faces because the facilitator asked her if she was in pain and needs me to stop. She said that she was okay. I felt these kind of crystals all over her back. I had never felt that before. So after 20 minutes I asked if she was feeling better and she was. She told the facilitator that she was NOW feeling a big difference than when she first came there.

She hugged me which was probably the first hug of the day, not including from her boyfriend. Then she went around hugging all the people there that she liked but not hugged before. While doing that she would also come back to me and hug me again. So in the last hour of the evening I got about 7 hugs from her and we still had one more day to go of the seminar.

Now I know that it was not just the massage that helped her. After the massage I was then feeling the extreme negativity that she was feeling. I had absorbed it from her. This was not the first time it happened and another time that this happened I had not massaged the person at all. So it was too much to just disappear so it had to go into me. But I do a daily meditation where I connect to the most powerful healing energy so I knew that I would be okay. I was okay by the next day.

I have a popular article called 29 Celebrities That Do Meditation. It includes Al Gore, Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld, Clint Eastwood and many more. Also as far as what has contributed to me being a healer, I have been doing yoga since age 12. I have a few articles on yoga but the most entertaining one is the 23 Celebrities That Do Yoga. It includes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-President Bill Clinton who is practically a vegan now.

Difference Between Men & Women Back Massage Therapy, How to Massage a Man

How to Massage For Beginners - Chest, Neck, Head, Face Relaxation


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    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 

      6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I have had message therapy sessions. They started when I was in a very low point in my life and my back hurt so much from stress. The techniques used by the specialist did wonders for my back and really helped me. Good information you provide here.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Bluestein 

      7 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA


    • restrelax profile image


      7 years ago from Los angeles CA

      Great hub. voted up


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