What Massage is Best for Emotional Release?

Massage therapy can be extremely effective for releasing stored emotions, trauma, and tension held in the body and tissues.

The right massage technique applied with care can prompt a profound emotional release and additional healing benefits.

Key Facts:

  • Massage helps release emotions and tension stored in the body from past trauma and stress.
  • Deep tissue, myofascial release, and craniosacral therapy can prompt emotional release by accessing deeply held patterns.
  • Emotional discharge may involve crying, laughing, deep breathing, or physical shaking/trembling
  • Clients may experience a range of emotions from sadness and anger to joy and euphoria.
  • Therapists provide a safe space for emotional release to occur and offer support. 

Experiencing emotional discharge during bodywork is common.

While all styles of massage aim to relieve physical muscle tightness, certain techniques directly facilitate the letting go of suppressed energy and feelings lodged in the system.

In this guide, we’ll explore how massage helps generate emotional release, what to expect, and which massage modalities are best for prompting cathartic discharge of negative emotions trapped in the tissues.

Keep reading to learn why releasing held emotions through massage is so healing and how to have this transformational experience.

How Can Massage Therapy Promote Emotional Release?

Massage is well-known for releasing muscle tension, knots, and adhesions.

However, bodywork also allows the freeing of emotions tightly lodged in tissues and joints of the body from physical or emotional trauma.

Here’s how massage helps facilitate emotional discharge:

  • Deep pressure and myofascial techniques “unlock” bound-up energy and feelings.
  • Increased blood flow carries stirrings of suppressed emotions to the surface.
  • The comforting touch of a therapist creates a safe space to let go.
  • Direct focus to tense areas brings awareness to what that part of the body is holding.

Massage accesses the link between mind, body, and spirit.

Just as memories can resurface during yoga or meditation, bodywork can prompt unexpected yet healing emotional release.

Why Does the Body Hold Onto Emotions?

The body stores memories and unexpressed emotions when we “stuff down” or fail to fully process significant life events and chronic stressors.

different emotions - illustration

Emotions become trapped in tissues when:

  • Past traumas, loss, neglect, fears or abuse aren’t resolved.
  • Cultural values discourage outward displays of certain feelings.
  • There isn’t a safe space to experience emotions fully when they arise.
  • Daily stresses accumulate and go unaddressed over time.

The good news is therapeutic massage can help gently unwind and discharge these bound-up energies and emotions in a safe, supported way.

What Does an Emotional Release Feel Like During Massage?

Emotional release varies but often involves:

  • Tears and crying as suppressed feelings surface
  • Taking deep breaths or sighing
  • Laughing, screaming, or vocal sounds
  • Trembling, shaking, or involuntary body movements
  • Warmth, tingling, or bursts of energy in an area
  • A feeling of opening or expansion
  • Euphoria, joy, sadness, anger, peace or another strong emotion
  • Relief, lightness, clarity and a new perspective afterward

While release is different for everyone, trusting the process allows the body to find its own way to discharge what is ready to be freed.

young woman experiencing happy emotions

Which Massage Techniques Are Best for Emotional Release?

Although any massage style can potentially prompt emotional discharge, those using deeper pressure, stretches and craniosacral rhythm are especially conducive to emotional release.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue access’ tightly wound muscles and connective tissues to unwind areas of chronic tension that may be storing old emotions and trauma memories.

Slow, deep pressure combined with focused breath elicits release.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial techniques use sustained pressure on fascia restrictions to help unwind emotional and energetic holding patterns lodged in the body’s web-like connective tissues.

This allows suppressed feelings to come to the surface.

Craniosacral Therapy

Gentle craniosacral work balances rhythmic cranial wave patterns that relate to the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

Restoring natural rhythms releases trapped emotions, providing a profound sense of relaxation and wholeness.

Craniosacral therapy session

Other Modalities

Stretching, sports massage, and other styles can also prompt emotional discharge by instigating the body’s innate self-healing processes.

Any massage focused around breath, mindfulness and inner sensing of the tissues can help elicit release.

What Should I Expect During an Emotional Release in Massage?

Some things to expect if having an emotional release during a massage session:

  • The therapist will pause massage strokes to allow the release process to unfold. They will provide tissues if needed.
  • Take deep breaths; sighing or vocal toning may also help the body discharge held energies.
  • Notice where you feel the emotions in your body and allow them expression.
  • The therapist will hold space for your process without judgment and offer support.
  • Hydration afterward is recommended as release can be dehydrating.
  • You may feel an afterglow – clarity, relief, euphoria, or greater inner peace.
  • The therapist will allow extra time at the end of the session to check in with you before leaving the room.
  • Further counselling may be suggested if the session reveals deeper issues to continue healing.

Is Emotional Release Expected at Every Massage Session?

An emotional release won’t necessarily happen at every massage session.

Emotional discharge occurs when your body-mind feels safe enough and ready to unlock suppressed and stored feelings and memories.

If you don’t experience emotional release in one session, don’t worry. The massage is still promoting positive benefits like pain relief, circulation enhancement, relaxation, and mind-body awareness.

How Should a Massage Therapist Handle Emotional Release?

When a client has an emotional release during massage, the therapist should:

  • Stop massage strokes and allow the expression without trying to “fix” it.
  • Offer a tissue or water and make the client comfortable.
  • Provide a safe space without judgment; listen and validate feelings.
  • Guide client to breathe deeply to help discharge emotions through the body.
  • Ask if the client wants the session to continue or pause/reschedule.
  • Suggest counselling if traumatic memories surface.
  • Check in with the client afterward and suggest self-care.
  • Allow extra undisturbed time for the client to recover before exiting room.

Training in psychology or counselling helps therapists sensitively facilitate emotional release experiences when they organically occur.

Are There Risks of Emotional Release During Massage?

Emotional release through massage is generally beneficial, providing a sense of lifted energy and inner peace.

However, there are some precautions:

  • Discuss any potential emotional triggers with the therapist beforehand. This allows them to adjust pressure and technique to make it a comfortable experience.
  • Those with PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression or severe trauma should first consult their healthcare provider about body-based emotion release techniques.
  • While discharge provides relief, repressed issues may need further treatment by a psychologist, support group or other resource.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after massage to stay hydrated since release can be dehydrating.

When done safely, releasing negative emotions through massage can be tremendously healing and uplifting.

But, support may be needed to process what comes up.

Should I Talk to My Massage Therapist Before Booking a Session?

If you hope to have an emotional release during massage, or have experienced it before and want to again, communicate this to your therapist beforehand.

Certain precautions can help facilitate a safe, comforting and helpful experience:

  • Ask for a therapist experienced specifically with emotional release massage.
  • Mention any emotional triggers to avoid or areas of past trauma or injury.
  • Request extra time be scheduled in case the session runs long.
  • Consider booking an initial short trial session to see if the therapist’s approach resonates with you before committing to a longer appointment.
  • Ask them to describe how they handle emotional discharge during sessions so you know what to expect.

Benefits of Emotional Release Through Massage

Releasing suppressed emotions and traumatic memories through bodywork provides both physical and psychological healing:

Physical benefits:

  • Reduced muscle tension and pain
  • Improved mobility as tissue adhesions unravel
  • Enhanced energy flow
  • Less physical manifestations of stress

Mental/emotional benefits:

  • Relief from emotional heaviness
  • Processing past trauma
  • Greater inner peace and clarity
  • Improved mood
  • Insights into subconscious beliefs and patterns

By accessing and dislodging feelings trapped in the tissues, massage facilitates profound mind-body healing on many levels.

Additional Ways to Process Emotions After Massage

While massage provides emotional release in the moment, you can further process feelings that surface through:

  • Journaling – Write out your thoughts, memories, and insights from the session.
  • Creative arts – Make music, visual art, dance, or create something that expresses your emotions.
  • Talk therapy – Discuss the massage experience and related personal issues with a counselor.
  • Support groups – Connect with others who have experienced similar traumas.
  • Spending time in nature – Nature can help instill calm and inner balance.
  • Let it unfold – Give time for your inner wisdom to integrate the massage insights.

The body-mind has its own timing and way of continuing emotional transformations prompted by massage. Trust your intuition.

Key Takeaways on Emotional Release Through Massage

  • Deeply held trauma, grief, tension, and suppressed emotions release through massage.
  • Deep tissue, myofascial, and craniosacral modalities are especially conducive to emotional discharge.
  • Expressions of release vary but often involve crying, breathing deeply, laughing, tremors, and feelings of expansion.
  • A caring therapist provides a safe space for emotions to surface and be felt fully.
  • Clients can arrange for extra session time and inform therapists of emotional triggers in advance.
  • Releasing held emotions through massage has numerous benefits like pain reduction, heightened relaxation and inner clarity.
  • Additional self-care after sessions helps process emerging feelings for greater healing.

The mind, body, and spirit are intimately connected. Massage nurtures this link, allowing you to rediscover inner peace and wholeness.

By creating a supported space to let go, therapeutic bodywork helps free the spirit, ultimately relaxing and rejuvenating both mind and body.


Q: What is the best massage for emotional release?

A: The best massage for emotional release is the one that allows the client to experience an emotional release. This can be achieved through various massage techniques that help in releasing emotions trapped within the body tissue.

Q: What techniques are used to release emotional tension?

A: Techniques like ser and upledger can be used to release emotional tension. These techniques focus on working with the body’s energy to release trapped emotions.

Q: How does a massage help in releasing emotions?

A: During a massage, the therapist applies pressure and manipulates the client’s muscles and joints. This manipulation helps in releasing trapped emotions that are often stored in the client’s body.

Q: Is emotional release commonly experienced during a massage?

A: Yes, emotional release may commonly occur during a massage. As emotions are designed to be felt and expressed, they can sometimes get trapped within the body. A massage provides a safe and supportive environment for these emotions to be released.

Q: Can a massage help in releasing positive emotions as well?

A: Yes, a massage can help in releasing both painful and positive emotions. Just like painful emotions, positive emotions can also cause tension and discomfort within the body. A massage can help in releasing these positive emotions, promoting a sense of well-being.

Q: Is emotional release a part of every massage treatment?

A: Emotional release is not necessarily a part of every massage treatment. It depends on the client’s individual needs and goals for the session. Some clients may specifically seek a massage for emotional release, while others may focus on physical relaxation and pain relief.

Q: How does a massage therapist deal with emotional release during a session?

A: A skilled massage therapist is trained to handle emotional release during a session. They create a safe and non-judgmental space for the client to express and process their emotions. The therapist may offer support and guidance, allowing the client to fully experience and release their emotions.

Q: Can emotional release during a massage be painful?

A: Emotional release during a massage can sometimes be accompanied by discomfort or temporary increase in pain. This is because painful emotions may be released along with physical tension. However, the therapist ensures that the client’s pain is addressed and managed effectively through proper techniques and communication.

Q: Are there any precautions a client should take before receiving a massage for emotional release?

A: Before receiving a massage for emotional release, it is important for the client to communicate their specific needs and concerns to the therapist. The client should also be aware that emotional release can be a deep and intense process, and they should be prepared to take a deep breath and allow themselves to fully experience and process their emotions.

Q: Are massage therapists trained in emotional release techniques?

A: Massage therapists receive training in various techniques including emotional release. However, it is important to note that the scope of practice for massage therapists may differ based on their training and certification. Clients should make sure to choose a therapist who is experienced in providing emotional release as part of their massage practice.