In our intricate web of emotions and experiences, trauma often finds a dwelling place inside of us.
This stored “emotional baggage” can manifest in various forms. Over time, it can significantly impact our mental and physical health.
One way to address these deep-seated feelings is through a process called emotional release. Although these releases can occur spontaneously, certain types of therapy — including massage — can help the process.
How and where does the body store trauma? What is an emotional release, exactly? And what role can massage therapy play in the healing process?
Keep reading below as we dive into this fascinating topic!
How Does the Body Store Trauma?
The human body has an incredible capacity to recall experiences, both positive and negative.
Trauma, whether from a single distressing event or prolonged stress, can become lodged within the body. Even if you’re not consciously thinking about it, this latent trauma can affect your muscles and nervous system. It can even alter brain function!
First, the body’s fight-or-flight response kicks in. This releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones sometimes remain trapped within the body, leading to a state of chronic stress.
Over time, you can develop physical responses such as muscle tension, increased heart rate, and shallow breathing.
Then there’s the brain’s amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions. In extreme cases, it can “encode” these traumatic memories throughout the body. This can cause someone to re-live the emotional and physical sensations associated with the original event.
What Is an Emotional Release?
As the name suggests, emotional release is the process of discharging these stored negative emotions from the body.
It involves allowing yourself to experience and express deep feelings that you may have (consciously or subconsciously) suppressed or avoided. This “release” can occur spontaneously or for no apparent reason. Most often, though, it occurs through intentional practices such as meditation, therapy, or bodywork.
The goal of emotional release is two-fold:
- to acknowledge and validate these emotions
- to facilitate their release, allowing the mind and body to return to a state of harmony
After an emotional release, it’s common to experience a sense of relief, lightness, and increased resilience.
Can Massage Trigger an Emotional Release?
The short answer is: Yes, absolutely.
Massage therapy alleviates physical pain and promotes relaxation. Massage therapists often target areas of the body where tension and emotions may be stored, which can trigger their release.
Deep tissue massage relieves tension in the muscles and fascia, potentially unlocking stored emotions. As the body relaxes and “lets go” physically, a corresponding emotional release can also occur.
An emotional release varies from person to person. Some people may experience intense emotions along with tears, shaking, sobbing, or even laughter. Others might feel a profound sense of peace and calm wash over them.
Whatever the case, this emotional response is natural (and nothing to be ashamed of). In fact, it’s a natural part of the body’s healing process.
Massage Therapy & Your Emotional Health
Of course, massage therapy can’t replace the medical care that may be required in cases of extreme trauma. If you’re struggling with ongoing health issues, it’s wise to seek the advice of a trusted doctor or mental health counselor.
Combined with other types of care, however, massage can be a terrific aid in your body’s recovery process.
Whether you’re seeking a therapeutic deep tissue or a relaxing Swedish massage, our skilled therapists are here to help you feel your very best. Call us today at 970-748-1600 or book your next session online.