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Functional Manual Therapy vs. General Massage: Find Out Why the Full Body Massages You’ve Been Getting Aren’t Getting the Job Done

*Please note that this article has not been written to discard or put down the benefits of general massage; it has been written to CLARIFY the approaches & results of general massage compared to a functional manual therapy session.  There are a variety of functional massages & depending on the practitioner you still may not get to the root of what’s happening.  What you want to look for is a practitioner that 1. takes into account that the entire body is connected and 2. Is honest enough with him/herself & clientele to know when their particular skill set is not what you need & can refer you to someone who can help you.


  • What’s the purpose of general massage?
  • What is advanced therapeutic massage, or functional manual/massage therapy?
  • 4 Hormones that are positively affected during massage.

Have you ever wondered why you feel so good after a general massage 💆‍♀️ or deep tissue massage but then all of your pain ⚡️ right back (or it never left at all)?   Therapeutic touch can be profound in many ways; it can transform your psychological state & overall well-being, as well as correct specific issues that are at the root of your pain; however, some manual therapy is better suited for certain things.  Read below to find out why some massage modalities actually address the root cause of your issues & why others don’t.

A general massage, such as a full body, deep tissue, or Swedish massage, aims to move bodily fluids & give you a relaxing experience.  They are great if you want to shut your brain off & get pampered.  Unfortunately, I have found that few massage therapists who perform general massage do not explain this clearly to clientele & so most of us have grown up thinking that all massages are supposed to “fix” areas of tension or pain; this is not the case; that’s where functional manual therapy comes into play.  

A functional massage aims to facilitate actual change in the body to correct specific dysfunctions; thus, the word “functional.”  Functional massage therapy isn’t a pampering experience, but what better way to feel relaxed than to walk out of a room free from a pain you’ve had for days, weeks, months, or even years!?

Functional massage considers the effects body systems have on each other instead of zooming in at only musculature or the skeletal system; in this way, functional therapy can impact your body at a cellular level.  The power of pain referrals (where an organ or dysfunctional muscle will “send” pain signals to another area) i.  For example, low back pain is seldom caused by overused lower back muscles; often, it can be caused by dysfunctions in the intestines or hip flexors 😮 .  

A functional approach can assist in recovering from or diminishing symptoms from many conditions such as:

  • Preventing surgery 
  • stroke
  • concussions
  • traumatic brain 🧠  injuries
  • chronic & acute pains
  • restoring function of body systems
  • TMJ disorders
  • Digestive issues
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spine surgeries
  • Never entrapments, & more.

However, with both functional & general massage, numerous studies have demonstrated the power of therapeutic touch to reduce stress hormones by stimulating the release of happy hormones!  

Check out how Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine, & Oxytocin help you feel so good during & after manual therapy 👇 


  • Massage stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers & mood enhancers.  😃
    • As such, you feel a reduction in pain, increase in relaxation, & general sense of well being.


  • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep 💤 , & appetite.
    • High levels of serotonin are associated with feelings of happiness & contentment. 


  • Another neurotransmitter linked to pleasure, reward, & motivation.
    • Feelings of pleasure & satisfaction are connected to the release of dopamine.


  • This hormone promotes feelings of trust, bonding, & relaxation which help induce a reduction of stress & anxiety.

Now that you know that general massage, you can make a well-educated decision next time you decide you want a massage session: do you want to relax & be have a wonderful pampering session where you can just lay still & not think about anything?  Or do you want to feel relaxed because a nagging pain you’ve had is finally gone & you’ve been given the tools to prevent it in the future?

Body Elevatum does not offer general massage (but I can definitely give you a referral to top-tier general massage therapists).  We do not approach pain from a “rub where it hurts” standard; instead, we seek to consider the entire body to facilitate your innate abilities to heal.

Are you curious to experience a functional massage session?  Please explore our website for more information on myofascial release, therapeutic massage, & recovery sessions. It’s a journey towards bringing the entire body into harmony, & we’re here to guide you every step of the way!


– Field, T. (2014). Massage therapy research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 20(4), 224-229.

– Diego, M. A., Field, T., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2001). Vagal activity, gastric motility, and weight gain in massaged preterm neonates. Journal of Pediatrics, 138(6), 763-765.

  • Moyer, C. A., Rounds, J., & Hannum, J. W. (2004). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin, 130(1), 3-18.

Title: “Unlocking Wellness: The Science Behind Functional Massage Therapy”

**Title: “The Science Behind Functional Massage Therapy: Unveiling Its Transformative Effects on Mind and Body”**

About the Blog

At BE, we truly believe that understanding your body is the first step into taking action to accomplish your health related dreams & goals.

With this in mind, our blog is designed to be your easy-to-understand resource for grasping the how & why of the human body. Our educational but concise posts will explore the root causes of physical & mental ailments & discovering diverse treatment modalities & tips that that can optimize your mental, physical, & emotional health

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