Myth Busting in the massage profession

Unfortunately, much of what you will be taught in massage school may be just a myth and handed down from one teacher to the next.  Currently there are no recognized standard in educational programs.   There is also not much research on massage and these topics so we just don’t really know.

Many theories are constantly being challenged and updated.

The Great Massage and Toxin Debate

(Read full article in the link)

Most likely more of a semantics issue because many people say the word toxin to mean anything in the body that makes them feel bad and that could be just about anything.  Toxins are often mentioned freely in massage school and on promotional pieces for professional massage therapists so what is a massage therapist to do?

Cancer and Massage. (Read full resource list in link)

In the 80’s and 90’s it was taught that you could not massage a person with cancer as it supposedly would metastasize a tumor.  That was passed on because we just did not really know what massage would do.  There is no research at all that shows that.  In fact, massage can help many people with cancer especially with pain, lymphatic drainage issues from surgery and for stress.

Massage helps remove lactic acid after exercise.

This is a myth.  See:

Lactating Mythers -Massage and the Lactic Acid Myth by Keith Eric Grant Ph.D.

Flushing out Myths – Keith Grant.  Massage Today

The Lactic Acid Debate somatic research ( By Diana Thompson  Massage and Bodywork Magazine

Energy Vampires:

There are Energy Vampires that are clients who will suck the energy out of you.   Myth.  There are no such thing as energy vampires.  There are people who have issues and challenges.  Saying that people drain you is letting others have control over you.  You are responsible for your own energy.  If people are ‘draining’ it is because you have let your boundaries slide or have not done enough self care to be able to deal with the things people are presenting.  See : The End of Energy Vampires on Massage Practice Builder

Massage and Cortisol

Early research from the Touch Research Institute did show that massage decreased cortisol levels.  That research has been updated with newer information.   Does Massage Reduce Cortisol?  A comprehensive quantitative review.   Pub Med.   Full Text on Journal of Bodywork and Movement


There is much controversy over the technique of Reiki especially in the many Facebook massage discussion groups.    The issue is that Reiki practitioners claim that there is a universal energy that heals and can be transmitted by just intention.  The problem is that science has no proof that such a form of energy exists.   I have heard many claims and stories of Reiki helping many people and that is really not the issue.  The issue is really about how this technique actually works and we don’t really know.  It is most likely just getting attention, a placebo, or other phenomena.


Most of what we are taught as contraindications are not proven scientifically.  We just do not yet know what effect massage has on many things.   There is no scientific proof that massage increases circulation except do we see it every day when a clients skin gets red…but then again not all people who are getting a massage have their skin turn red.

See Contraindications in Massage:  Do Sources Agree?