There are many myths surrounding the realm of massage therapy – some seem to make sense, and some… not so much. These myths are sometimes perpetuated by massage therapists themselves, who don’t bother to do some research and find the truth. Here are a few myths about massage therapy, and their reality.
MASSAGE REDUCES CELLULITE
When a baby smiles at you, the dimples on her cheeks are just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. When dimples show up on your thighs, butt, and belly, the narrative changes a bit, doesn’t it? Many people turn to alternative ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite, including massage. The idea that massage can reduce cellulite is based on the fact that massage increases blood flow, moves lymph, and flushes toxins (which as we’ve discussed before, isn’t true.) I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but massage will not get rid of your cellulite. It’s true that massage can temporarily compress the subcutaneous fat cells that comprise cellulite, but the change is barely noticeable. No matter how many massages you get, it will not reduce the appearance of your cellulite.
ALL MASSAGES ARE CREATED EQUAL
Not true! Just as all massage therapists are different and unique human beings, so are the massages that they give. What you get out of your massage depends on the therapist’s base training, continued education, and her preferences for techniques she uses. Some massage therapists work in spas and their massages are geared more toward relaxation, whereas others work with other health care professionals and help with physical rehabilitation.
YOU SHOULDN’T SPEAK DURING YOUR MASSAGE
This is one of the grossest massage myths ever. Of course you can talk during your massage. You need to let your massage therapist know if there is anything she can do to improve your comfort. Is the table warmer too hot, or would you like it turned up? Is the pressure she’s using too much or not enough? Is the music too loud or too soft? Your massage therapist is not a mind reader, and can’t possibly know of your personal preferences if you don’t tell her. Of course, some people find it awkward to be mostly naked on a table with another person in the room, and be in complete silence. If this is true for you, feel free to start a conversation.
IT IS VITAL TO DRINK WATER AFTER A MASSAGE
It is not vital to drink water after a massage. This idea came around when it was still believed that getting a massage released built up toxins into your system. Although it’s not true that massage releases toxins, I still offer my clients water after their sessions. It’s just the polite thing to do, really. Often times, the water that my clients get after their massage is the only water they drink in a day.
IF YOU DON’T FEEL SORE THE NEXT DAY, THE MASSAGE DIDN’T WORK
Some people experience tenderness in their muscles the day after a massage, especially if they received a deep tissue massage. It is just as normal to experience no pain the day after a massage, but that does not mean that the massage was not successful.
GETTING A MASSAGE WILL SPREAD CANCER CELLS
This one just doesn’t make sense. A massage cannot possibly put enough pressure on a tumor to allow cells to break off. Your massage therapist would basically have to take a jackhammer to your body in order for this to happen. If your massage therapist does take a jackhammer to your body, well that’s just not nice. I suggest finding another massage therapist.
THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE DO NOT LAST
Don’t be silly. I mean, this is just like saying, “There’s no point in seeing my doctor because I’ll still get sick.” Get real. With frequent massage, your muscles can be trained into proper posture, thereby relieving the added stress that comes with slouching. It also trains your body to hold less stress.
PREGNANT WOMEN MAY MISCARRY AFTER RECEIVING MASSAGE
This is one of the scariest myths about massage, but is just that – a myth. There is no evidence that receiving a massage at any time during a pregnancy will cause a woman to lose her child. In fact, massage has been shown to have beneficial effects for both the mother and the unborn baby.
MASSAGE ONLY EFFECTS MUSCLES
This is by far the most frustrating myth massage therapists have to deal with. Obviously, massage has amazing benefits for people suffering from tenderness in their muscles, but a massage can have benefits for every system of your body. According to Tiffany Field at the Touch Research Institute of Miami, massage has a positive effect on every pathology in the human body.
A MASSAGE MUST BE PAINFUL TO BE EFFECTIVE
No. A deep tissue massage does not need to be super deep and painful – in fact it shouldn’t be. Experiencing extensive pain during your massage is counter-productive to what the massage is trying to accomplish.