A reader asked the following question:
“Is there something as massage addiction? Can going to for a massage on weekly basis harm your body on the long run ? Does your body get too used to it where you get crams if you don’t go for one anymore.”
I have never heard about massage addiction or harm come to the body due to too many massages, so I asked the LinkedIn group, Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers, which is one of the biggest online Massage Therapy communities with professionals from all over the world. The experts here have before given me valuable information and shared their experiences.
The conclusion is that massage can not become physically addictive. Nor can a weekly massage harm the body on the long run. You do not build up some addiction to a drug by receiving massages. Even with the release of endorphins and other hormones, they’re completely natural for the body and not something you can get addictive to.
That said, there is a risk of a mental and psychological addiction and dependency. Addiction isn’t really the right word to use, as it generally refers to a substance you have withdrawals from, such as alcohol or nicotine.
In some cases the relationship between client and therapist can become of same nature as between doctor and patient. Here the client depend on the therapist for their well-being, and can’t do things on their own. Dependency in essence means that the client gives up responsibility for themselves and their own well-being and hand it over to the therapist. This is one of the major risks in psychotherapy for instance.
If the therapist isn’t aware of these mechanism and stops it before it happens, a weekly massage can become ‘addictive’ and an unhealthy experience for the client. It is the same issue which faces all health-professionals dealing with patients and most are educated to deal with it.
There’s some interesting studies showing that touch and closeness involves some bonding hormones. The same which bonds mother and baby close, as well as make couples stay together after the rush of falling in love is over. It’s an interesting thought if the same sort of bonding might happen in a long-term therapist and client relationship and how that might affect people.
I think this bonding (if it happens) serves to build trust between therapist and client and allows for a better massage and relationship. If will in return also cause pain if that relationship is terminated for whatever reason, just like parting from a good friend hurts. If the bonding happens, then it’s a good argument to find your therapist and stay with him or her for a long time. I look forward to what studies into the field might reveal and discover. It’s deeply fascinating to say the least.