Caution: Massage May Be Habit Forming

May 10, 2022

Guiding you to discover ways to live and feel better, whether through the therapeutic touch of massage or valuable advice to elevate your self-care routine.

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But definitely in a good way! Like exercise, massage does more for you if you engage in it regularly.

Today, a client shared that she had been feeling stressed out that week, but then she remembered that it was only two days before her next massage. She breathed a sigh of relief. This got me thinking about how valuable it can be to book in advance, so you can look forward to your next treatment. 

It’s very common. You pick a day of the week, or month and then you always know your massage routine. The first Friday of every month is always your massage day. Or start your week off right by getting your Sunday session. Whatever it is, it seems that the repetition is appealing to many.

Reminder, Routine, Reward.

It‘s true for many things, massage notwithstanding, that the more you do an activity the better you become at it. Our brains are just wired that way. When you receive a massage your body is doing many things that you are not consciously aware of. One of those is learning to transition your Autonomic nervous system from “fight or flight” into the “rest mode”. This allows your parasympathetic nervous system to release a whole slough of hormones that make you feel calm, happy and relaxed. 

Most of us are not good at making this transition happen. We are constantly engaging our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) during the day, stressing about daily life activities. Our bodies are often overreacting to stressors that are not life-threatening, such as traffic, work pressures and relationship difficulties. This pumps adrenaline into our bloodstream and triggers the release of Cortisol.

Elevated cortisol levels create physiological changes that help to replenish the body’s energy stores that are depleted during the stress response. But they inadvertently contribute to the buildup of fat tissue and to weight gain. For example, cortisol increases appetite, so that people will want to eat more to obtain extra energy. It also increases storage of unused nutrients as fat.

Fortunately, there are techniques to counter the stress response. Some of these include deep breathing techniques, yoga, meditation and of course massage. 

Through repetition you will naturally and subconsciously become more adept at truly relaxing your body into the parasympathetic (rest & digest) state.


It’s Pavlov’s theory. We use it for dogs. Ring a bell, give them a treat. Then they start drooling whenever they hear a bell. In one of the classic episodes of The Office, Jim used this theory on Dwight with Altoids, to make him look like an idiot.

The conditioned stimulus in our case is receiving a massage. You will start by relaxing once the massage has started. Then you’ll start to relax the moment you get on the table. Eventually just walking in the door will stimulate your relaxation response. 

Let’s take it a step further. 

Planning ahead, creating space in your schedule for this activity will give you peace of mind. Knowing when your next massage will be can get you through tough days where you’re feeling stressed out and tired. 

You’ll look forward to those blissful 60+ minutes dedicated solely to your health. 

Why not?

It’s hard to make time for self-care. We struggle to prioritize our health and well-being. It can feel selfish. It can get put on the back burner when opportunities arise that are too good to pass up. The problem is we won’t have anything left to give of ourselves if we put too much stress on our bodies.

Our health needs are important and we need an outlet for our stress. We need time to rest, recover and take a step back to assess the

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