I’m always surprised when I meet someone that doesn’t visit a masseuse, at least irregularly. I fell in love with massage when I was in Thailand on my gap year. In Thailand massage is a part of the culture, with massage parlors everywhere. People from all walks of life sit side by side, recognizing the health benefits regular visit can bring. In the three months I traveled around Thailand I made a point of going at least twice week and I could really feel the benefits.

When I returned home after my travels I got straight into work and socializing. After a few months the travelers high had diminished and routine had set in. It was around that point that I started to notice that I felt sluggish and achy.

Working evenings behind a bar, standing on my feet for 8 hour shifts and moving around boxes was taking its toll and I started to long for those sunny days I’d spent on the beaches in Thailand.

My thoughts also went back to all of the massages I’d had there and how good they’d made me feel. I remembered a friend of one of my girlfriends mentioning on a night out that she was studying sports massage and decided to get in touch with her to see if I could arrange a session with her.

I was really lucky as she lived just around the corner from me and needed volunteers to practice on as part of her course. While I was in Thailand I’d tried a few different styles of massage but mostly stuck with the Thai style. I went around to hers and we chatted a bit. She asked me about my general health, lifestyle and more specifically about any muscular aches and pains I had.

She had a nice set up in her spare room and made me feel very comfortable, explaining that she would be giving me a deep tissue sports massage. I wasn’t quite prepared for the firmness of the massage, but I should have had a bit of an idea by the name. I got used to the pressure quite quickly, but I would say it was relaxing. I could tell that she had really listened to me when I explained my problem areas, and spent more time on them working out the knots.

After the massage we had a cup of tea together and a chat about the session. I gave her my feedback and compliments and asked her for some more details on this style of massage. What most surprised me was the benefits she described that you wouldn’t expect. Of course deep tissue massage helps ease pain by relaxing and unknotting muscles, but I didn’t know that it reduced stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.

I started visiting her on a weekly basis and almost immediately felt a boost in my energy levels, felt less grumpy and wasn’t as achy. Even after she had graduated and moved away I kept up my weekly sessions with one of her class mates that stayed to practice in the area, and I couldn’t imagine going without.