Anxiety With Massage Therapy


Most people look at massage therapy as a positive thing. They see it as a way to relax or to be treated for certain conditions. For some, however, it’s a cause of anxiety for a variety of reasons. It causes stress instead of relieving it. There are ways to counteract the causes of massage therapy anxiety. They can prepare a person to enjoy its benefits without any undue distress.


Massage therapy is beneficial for a variety of reasons. It can relieve stress and depression and even lower blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can treat sports injuries and general pain and stiffness. It can even boost the immune system. It is prescribed by doctors for a wide variety of conditions, from muscle injuries to cancer treatment support, the Mayo Clinic says.


Massage therapy can cause anxiety in some people in several different ways. One of the most common is the requirement to undress. The therapist needs access to certain body areas that may require stripping down almost completely, the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals organization advises. Another type of anxiety stems from the fear of pain. Certain techniques, like deep tissue massage, can cause some discomfort, even though they are therapeutic.


Anxiety manifests itself with emotional and physical symptoms, according to the Help Guide mental health site. They will be attached to the thought of getting a massage when they are centered on massage therapy. A person who suffers from this problem may feel nervous and fearful as the massage appointment gets closer. This may escalate into physical symptoms such as a queasy stomach and shortness of breath if she actually tries to go to the appointment. She will not be able to relax if she actually makes it into the therapy room. Her muscles are likely to be tense, and her head will be full of racing thoughts.


Massage therapy anxiety can be overcome by finding the cause and logically offsetting it. Fear of exposure is most common in people who have never had a massage before. It can often be alleviated by talking to the therapist, who will explain how modesty is maintained. He can point out that clients dress and undress in privacy and are draped with sheets throughout the treatment.

Anxiety caused by the prospect of pain can often be relieved by focusing on the benefits. Deep tissue massage is often prescribed for medical conditions. The doctor or therapist can explain the process and the benefits that will eventually be realized. The therapist may be able to adjust the pressure somewhat so it is not as uncomfortable. There is no need for any discomfort at all if the massage is being done for relaxation or stress relief. The client can tell the therapist upfront that she wants light pressure. She can also give a reminder during the massage if it is still too rough.


Some people can relieve their anxiety by starting out with less threatening massage types. For example, many spas and health clubs offer chair massage that does not require any disrobing. A regular massage can be attempted once a person builds up his comfort level with this superficial type. Nervous people can also book a shorter massage duration to start. The Mayo Clinic explains that standard massages last 60 or 90 minutes, but some are done in as little as 15 minutes. Start with shorter sessions and build up to a standard massage.