Massage & Emotional Wellness, Healthy Shoulders, Importance of Health Intake

Massage & Emotional Wellness, Healthy Shoulders, Importance of Health Intake

From PTSD to Depression, Hands-On Work Offers Relief

By Ruth Werner

Massage therapy offers a myriad of physical benefits, but we sometimes forget everything hands-on treatments can do for our emotional well-being. Let’s take a quick look at the importance of touch and some of the specific ways it can help our mental and emotional health.


From the earliest days of humankind, when one person reached out to soothe another, we have known that welcomed physical contact is good for us. The loving touch that occurs between infants and their caregivers helps create a sense of safety in the world that follows us for a lifetime. Touch that occurs between humans helps us build our foundational relationships, supports social interaction, enables emotional sharing, and provides many other benefits.

By contrast, research shows us that prolonged touch deprivation experienced by infants and young children is connected with failure to thrive and the inability to create social attachments,
and with shorter lifespans and more illness in isolated elders.

The need for healthy touch is so important, and the consequences of touch deprivation are so dire, that groundbreaking anthropologist Ashley Montagu gave our drive for this form of human-to-human interaction a name: touch hunger.

We know that touch is a basic human need, but we live in a society with few appropriate venues for physical contact. Where does healthy touch (outside of sexual activity) occur between non-related adults in our culture? We only see it in the context of greetings and leave-takings, sports, professional grooming, or health care. Massage therapy is an intervention that bridges those last two; in some settings it could be considered part of grooming, and in others it is offered as health care.


For mental and emotional well-being, massage therapy has a surprisingly robust body of evidence showing benefits for people with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mood-related challenges. Much of this research has been done in settings where…(To read “the rest of the story”, please click here BSFall2020)