valentine's day heart shape with hands

Diamonds for her, golf clubs for him, roses, balloons, or a romantic dinner—these are typical Valentine’s Day gifts. But why be typical? The gift of healthy touch is memorable, and for Valentine’s Day 2016, massage therapists and spas around the U.S. are offering special sessions and deals. Here are seven reasons why massage should be at the top of your Valentine’s Day gift list:

Relieve Stress & Boost Mood on Valentine’s Day

  1. spa items and rosesMassage relieves stress. Massage calms the nervous system and assists the release of feel-good chemicals and hormones. A Valentine’s Day session might include energy work such as reiki or polarity therapy, which will add a level of deep relaxation to your time on the table.
  1. Massage boosts mood. Massage has been shown to aid the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, which leads to feelings of social bonding. It also increases production of serotonin and dopamine. This could be why couples massage is a popular offering on Valentine’s Day. Imagine you and your loved one lying side-by-side on adjacent massage tables, each of you receiving therapeutic touch with lightly scented oils, while soft music plays in the background. Whether dinner follows or not, you will both be in a more grounded and open state of being following your session.

stretchingReduce Pain and Relax on Valentine’s Day

  1. Massage alleviates pain. Massage makes a body feel better by increasing circulation, improving flexibility and releasing those knots and crinkles that can seem rooted in muscles. Massage has been shown to reduce low- and upper-back pain, neck pain and headache, and to be effective for chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. When combined with aromatherapy, the pain-relieving effects of massage can be even more profound and long-lasting.
  1. Massage fosters self-connection. Singletons need not deprive themselves on Valentine’s Day. Booking a massage session lets you state with confidence, “I love myself.” Massage therapy allows the client to become fully present and blissed-out while receiving care and nurturance from the massage therapist. A massage session offers a deep respite from everyday stress, and sends the body the message, “I am taking care of you.”
  1. Massage relaxes. Massage therapy is a gift to the emotional heart, as it has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, the relaxation response is “a physical state of deep rest that changes a person’s physical and emotional responses to stress”—and massage therapy is one practice that effects this response.

couples massagePamper and Get Healthy on Valentine’s Day

  1. Massage is pampering. Massage is therapeutic, but it can also be a comforting indulgence that sweeps the client away to his or her joyful place. One such Valentine’s session might include essential oils of rose, jasmine and sandalwood blended together and applied to the client’s face with light stroking and gentle tapping. Facelift massage is a trend powered by clients who desire its youthful effects without the pain or toxins of surgery or Botox. Think champagne-rose body scrub, foot soak, chocolate-scented massage lotion and heated eye pillow for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day indulgence.
  1. massage stone with rose petalMassage supports heart health. Massage has been found to reduce heart rate and to have a lasting, positive effect on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Massage has also been shown to benefit cardiac surgery patients by reducing anxiety, pain and muscular tension, while boosting relaxation. Expand your idea of the traditional Valentine’s Day heart from red greeting-card cartoon to the life-sustaining muscle that beats inside yourself and your loved ones, by booking or gifting an appointment for massage.

Nothing says, “I love you” like the gift of massage therapy. Go to Google and search for “massage” in your area, call a local therapist or visit his or her website to download a gift certificate—and get ready to be thanked by the recipient of your gift of healthy touch.

AKaren Menehanbout the Author

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. She wrote “Cultural Competence: Why Getting to the Heart of Biases Matters in Health Care” for MASSAGE Magazine’s February 2016 print issue, and “A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Purposeful Time Management” for (Jan. 13, 2016.) She has also edited and written for Imagine Magazine, the Sacramento Bee newspaper and the LIVESTRONG Foundation.