Massage Therapy Can Release Emotional Memory

“Touch has a memory.”  ― John Keats

The touch of massage therapy can release emotional memories stored in your muscles. Emotional memories stored in your muscles might be happy or sad, joyous or traumatic. It is a natural response to massage therapy to have these memories triggered.

Ida Rolf, biochemist and creator of Rolfing or “structural integration” believed that we store thoughts and their emotional reactions in the cells of our body.  That memories are stored in our brains and our physical bodies. That touch can trigger memories in the muscles that our mind has forgotten or buried.

When this occurs in a client’s massage session I reassure them that they are safe and in control. I remind them that they do not need to be concerned with the affect this has on me and that I am prepared to hold space with them without expectation. I tell them I will stay or leave the room, that I will bring them a drink of water or a tissue and reassure them that what they are experiencing is completely normal.

I remember the first time a memory was triggered for me when receiving a therapeutic massage. I didn’t know what I was experiencing until much later. In the moment I thought it was just another random thought drifting through my consciousness as I relaxed and let go and received. When I experienced it again I started to pay attention to when it would be triggered. I began to realize that when the massage therapist was working in a certain area of my upper back the memory would start drifting to my consciousness. It doesn’t happen every time and there is more than one memory that comes back, some happy, some more somber. I have learned to embrace them all, to accept them and to let them flow in and out like the ebb and flow of waves along a beach.

I invite you to share any experiences you may have had with emotional memories when receiving a therapeutic massage.

2 thoughts on “Massage Therapy Can Release Emotional Memory

  1. Fannie Hungerford

    Awesome post about emotional memory stored in the body. As a yoga teacher, I see this a lot in students, and have also experienced it first hand…
    Interesting though, I am not sure that I’ve ever traced my own releases in a massage or yoga asana practice, etc directly to a memory. Sometimes, emotion arises and I can’t name it or define it or trace it to anything….In these times, I try to let it go like the waves of the ocean….Trust that my body is doing its own work for my soul.
    After reading this, I’ll be interested to note what may come up for me….


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