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What Is Somatic Massage Therapy? What Are Its Benefits?

Massage Therapy
September 09, 202210 min read

What Is Somatic Massage Therapy? What Are Its Benefits?

Have you ever asked yourself the question: what is somatic massage therapy? Do you want to know about its benefits? Read on to learn more.

In a study done on patients with PTSD, 44% of participants were able to get rid of all symptoms of PTSD after participating in somatic therapy. While there are many modalities of somatic therapy, somatic massage therapy is particularly effective for those struggling with trauma.

Somatic massage therapy is a type of bodywork that focuses on the physical and emotional health of the client. This unique form of therapy can provide many benefits, including relief from tension headaches, increased range of motion, and reduced stress levels.

In so many words, somatic massage therapy is a massage that helps you heal your mind. However, there’s more to it than just that. Here’s what to know about this type of massage therapy along with a few of the many benefits of healing via somatics.

What Is Somatic Experiencing?

Before diving into our somatic massage therapy guide, it’s helpful to understand what somatic experiencing is. Somatic experiencing is a form of therapy that focuses on the mind-body connection. 

The goal of all types of somatic therapy is to help people understand and manage their emotions, by becoming aware of the physical sensations in their bodies. 

The theory behind somatic experiencing is that our emotions are stored in our bodies and that by becoming aware of these sensations, we can release them. 

During regular somatic therapy, a therapist will guide the client through a series of exercises, helping them to focus on their breath and body. This is somewhat similar to what happens during a somatic massage (but we’ll get to that in a bit!).

Through this process, the client will learn to identify and release negative emotions, while gaining a greater understanding of their own body. Ultimately, this can lead to a more peaceful and balanced state of mind.

What Is Somatic Massage Therapy?

Somatic massage therapy is a type of massage therapy that focuses on the body's nervous system. The aim of somatic massage therapy is to help the body heal itself by relieving pain and tension. 

Somatic massage therapy is often used to treat conditions such as headaches, back pain, and neck pain. It can also be used to improve circulation and relieve stress along with other issues such as PTSD and body awareness. 

In some cases, trained therapists and personal trainers can use massage therapy in conjunction with other types of therapies, such as physical therapy and chiropractic care. However, you can also experience somatic massages as a standalone treatment.

During a somatic massage therapy session, the therapist will use a variety of techniques to manipulate the muscles and soft tissues of the body. 

These techniques may include effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, and friction. The therapist may also use additional methods to help the client relax in order to really drop into their body and the experience. This can include techniques such as aromatherapy.

Understanding Somatic Therapy Principles

Want to know how to get the most out of your somatic massage? It helps to understand the principles behind this type of massage therapy and wellness technique.

Grounding

When most people think of massage therapy, they think of relaxation and soothing away tension. While somatic massage therapy does provide these benefits, there is another important aspect to this type of therapy: grounding. 

Grounding is the process of connecting with the Earth and feeling stable and supported. This can be done in a number of ways, but one common method is simply to sit or stand barefoot on the ground. 

For somatic massage therapy, this connection with the Earth is essential. However, becoming grounded in your own body is critical in most cases as well. 

The therapist will often use techniques such as compression to help ground the client. This helps to create a sense of safety and security, which can be particularly helpful for those who have experienced trauma. 

In addition, grounding can help to reduce stress and promote feelings of calm and well-being. As a result, somatic massage therapy is not only relaxing but also deeply nourishing and supportive.

Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is a process by which the body regulates its own internal environment. It is a complex system that involves many different bodily systems, including the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system. 

Massage therapy can help to promote self-regulation by stimulating the body's natural ability to heal itself. For example, somatic massage therapy can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve circulation, and promote tissue regeneration. 

How is this achieved during a somatic massage?

The therapist uses slow, intentional touch to help you relax and connect with your body. Over time, the goal is that you can learn to control your own stress response and pain levels.

Boundary Development

If you’ve experienced trauma then you might find that you feel disconnected from your body. This is called trauma-related disassociation.

Dissociation is a process of disconnecting from one's surroundings and becoming detached from reality. It can manifest as an out-of-body experience, feeling disconnected from one's body, or feeling like one is watching oneself from outside the body. 

Disassociation can be a coping mechanism that helps people to deal with difficult or overwhelming situations. However, it can also lead to difficulties functioning in everyday life. 

Somatic massages can help you become aware of your physical body in a way that makes you feel safe and secure. As a result, you’re able to develop proper physical boundaries again.

Movement

The biggest principle behind somatic therapy, at least when it comes to massages, is that movement of your body is key to helping your process and release emotions. 

By attracting awareness to your body, you’re able to create internal shifts that improve your physical and emotional well-being.

Overall, however, it’s important to keep in mind that exercise and somatic exercises are different. 

While they’re both movements, you experience them differently. When working with a personal trainer, for example, you perform exercises. When you work with a somatic massage therapist, you’re experiencing or sensing the movement.

Somatic Massage Therapy Benefits

In general, massages are a great way to relax and de-stress. They also have some other benefits, like improving your circulation and helping to heal injuries. 

Somatic massage therapy is a specific type of massage that focuses on all the muscles, bones, and connective tissues in the body. By focusing on this system, somatic massage therapy can help improve posture and movement, relieve pain, and promote healing.

Aside from those basic benefits, here are deeper mind-body benefits of this type of massage therapy.

Release Trauma in the Body

Somatic massages help you release trauma in your body by working with the nervous system. 

When you receive a somatic massage, the therapist will work to release any patterns of tension that may be stored in your body. This can help to break down any barriers that have been preventing you from processing trauma. 

In addition, somatic massages can help to stimulate the release of endorphins, which can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. This provides you with a more relaxed mental and physical state, making it easier to meditate or process complex trauma.

Develop Bodily Awareness

Somatic massages can also help you develop bodily awareness by promoting the flow of information between your body and brain. As a result, you become more aware of your body and how it feels. 

This can help you better understand your physical needs and create a deeper connection with your body.

Somatic massages can also help to improve flexibility, reduce pain, and increase range of motion. As you develop greater bodily awareness, you may find it easier to move through life with greater ease and intention.

Regulate Your Nervous System

The nervous system is responsible for sending signals to the brain, which then tells the body what to do. However, the nervous system can become overloaded and cause the body to feel stressed. 

Somatic massages help to regulate the nervous system by providing a gentle, simulated touch that can help reduce stress and anxiety. What this does is effectively turn off your sympathetic nervous system and turn on your parasympathetic nervous system.

What are those?

The sympathetic nervous system is what triggers your  "fight-or-flight" response. In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system helps you engage in something that scientists call "rest and digest.”

The sympathetic nervous system is activated in times of stress, and it increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated in times of rest, and it decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. 

Both systems are important for maintaining homeostasis in the body. However, during a somatic massage, your parasympathetic nervous system is able to take over and help keep your entire nervous system in balance.

Who Benefits From Somatic Massage Therapy?

Really, anybody can benefit from a somatic massage. However, specific groups of people can find these types of massages particularly healing and effective.

People With PTSD

Somatic massages have been found to be helpful for people who suffer from PTSD. 

The therapist will work with the client to help them to identify and release areas of holding in their bodies. This can help to reduce the symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety. 

In addition, somatic massages can help to increase relaxation and improve sleep quality. The therapist will use gentle, slow strokes to help the client to relax and feel safe. This type of massage can be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan for PTSD.

People Struggling With Substance Abuse

Somatic massages help to break up the chronic stress pattern. These often accompany addiction. When you break these patterns, you can relax on a physical level. 

In addition, somatic massages can help to increase circulation, which helps to clear out the toxins that have built up in the body as a result of drug use. 

Furthermore, somatic massages can help to reduce anxiety and depression, two common symptoms of addiction. As a result, people who receive regular somatic massages often find that their substance abuse problems become easier to manage.

Somatic Massage Therapy Tips for Effective Sessions

If you’re considering booking a session for a somatic massage then it’s important to understand what to expect. First of all, at Best Day Fitness, know that we respect your boundaries. This is why we offer massages either with your clothes on or off.

Likewise, it’s important to understand that somatic experiencing can be a vulnerable experience. During the massage, you might find that you have the urge to laugh, cry, or even yawn. All of that is normal and a natural part of the healing process.

What else should you expect during your session?

Before your session, take a few minutes to relax and clear your mind. This will help you to focus on the massage and feel more present. 

During the session, be as expressive as you need to be. If you feel the need to laugh or cry, go ahead and let it out. If something is uncomfortable, don't hesitate to speak up.

After the session, take a few minutes to integrate what you've learned. Somatic massage is about more than just physical release; it's also about gaining insight into your own body and mind. 

Allow yourself time to process your experience and notice any changes in your body or mood.

Book a Somatic Massage

Somatic massage therapy can be emotionally healing. They can also help you improve a variety of physical symptoms such as stiffness, muscle aches, and more. Getting the most out of this type of massage therapy means finding the right massage therapist, though.

At Best Day Fitness, our team of qualified massage therapists is here to work with you to achieve your physical and emotional goals. 

If you’re interested in more information about our somatic massage services, get in touch so we can talk about your treatment options. 

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