- 1: Lowers Stress and Encourages Relaxation
- 2: Promotes Better Sleep
- 3: Manages Pain
- 4: Improves Immune Function
- 5: Helps with Anxiety and Depression
- 6: Reduces Headaches
- 7: Counteracts the Effects of Prolonged Sitting
- 8: Improves Flexibility
- 9: Helps Maintain Good Posture
- 10: Reduces Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
- 11: Improves Circulation
- 12: Boosts Focus
- 13: Benefits the Digestive System
- 14: Increases Range of Motion
- 15: Improves Physical Fitness
- 16: Reduces Muscle Spasms
- 17: Decompresses Your Spine
- 18: Diminishes Cellulite
- 19: Improves Balance in Older Adults
- 20: Helps Manage Cancer Treatment Side Effects
- 21: Tempers Effects of Dementia
- 22: Alleviates PMS
- 23: Relieves Labor Pain
- 24: Eases Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
- 25: Positive Effects on Skin Conditions
Massage is a powerful natural therapy that is fantastic for your mental and physical health.
There are many different types you can enjoy and it’s so easily accessible.
We’re bringing you 25 scientifically proven benefits of massage that will positively impact your life:
1: Lowers Stress and Encourages Relaxation
Having a massage is associated with relaxation (unless of course you pick a deep tissue one!)
Stress diminishes, tightness is eased and both tension and pain become reduced during and after treatment.
What you may not know it has a great impact on the nervous system, lowering stress hormones that contribute to the “fight or flight” response.
It also helps to increase feel good neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin.
Several studies have shown that massage can increase serotonin and dopamine levels by a whopping 30%.
Why is this important?
Serotonin helps you maintain a balanced mood, with an increase in dopamine making you feel more productive and focused.
Oxytocin, referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’, is also boosted.
In fact, massage therapists also reap the stress-relieving benefits simply through giving a treatment!
3: Manages Pain
Going for a massage can sometimes be seen as a luxury, but as Harvard Medical School shared, it’s a ‘legitimate therapy’ for many painful conditions.
A study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, focused on 46 adults with hand pain.
Results revealed that those who had four weekly sessions, and did hand self-massage at home, experienced improvements in their grip strength, a decrease in hand pain and a reduction in anxiety, sleep disturbances and low moods.
Another piece of research published in Annals of Family Medicine discovered that a 60-minute therapeutic session, two or three times a week for four weeks, relieved chronic neck pain when compared to either none or fewer massages.
Those suffering from arthritis may want to turn to massage.
As shared by the Arthritis Society, massage can help relieve pain and ease muscle stiffness by enhancing blood flow to arthritic joints, improving movement and reducing pain.
5: Helps with Anxiety and Depression
As we learnt earlier, massage is excellent for calming the mind and improving your mood.
Scientists believe that it positively affects many aspects of our mental health.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health carried out clinical trials that proved massage can help with easing depression.
And there’s more:
A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience revealed that women diagnosed with breast cancer who had a session three times a week, reported being less depressed and angry.
That’s not all:
The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that patients who were depressed and anxiety-ridden had lower stress levels after regular therapy.
7: Counteracts the Effects of Prolonged Sitting
Sitting for long periods of time can be just as deadly for us as smoking!
We’re designed to move but sometimes we don’t get the right amount of movement and end up sitting for hours on end, usually because of work.
Don’t worry, there’s good news:
You can get moving through massage!
The Massage Centre in the UK explains that it counteracts the effects of leading a sedentary lifestyle.
It can improve mobility, encouraging muscles to start moving by softening and relaxing them, and increase circulation, as the pressure applied helps blood flow more easily.
Sitting down for long periods of time can also cause depression, which the therapy can improve by settling our hormone levels.
It can even wake up your glutes!
9: Helps Maintain Good Posture
You need to understand what bad posture is before you can understand how massage helps with good posture.
Poor posture is caused by the spinal cord staying in a bent position for long periods of time, increasing pressure on joints and ligaments.
Over the course of time this leads to a posture that is tough on muscles and joints, and is more common than you might think.
Massage can correct bad posture.
There are three techniques than can help rectify the issue: sports, deep tissue and Swedish.
11: Improves Circulation
One essential process that is going on in your body right now is blood circulation and it plays a crucial role in keeping you healthy.
The heart is busy pumping blood, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your cells, as well as removing waste created by your organs.
Even if you don’t exercise, you can improve your vascular function through massage.
13: Benefits the Digestive System
Abdominal massage is a gentle technique that can help to heal bloating, constipation and digestive issues.
Massaging the abdomen can relax stomach muscles, stimulate digestion and ease constipation.
Research from 2016 analyzed the impact on constipation that can occur post-surgery.
They learnt that participants who had a massage experienced less symptoms of constipation, more bowel movements and shorter time between them.
Patients that had a 15-minute treatment twice a day for three days showed improvements compared to those that didn’t have any treatment.
They also experienced a reduction in stomach liquid, abdominal circumference and constipation.
15: Improves Physical Fitness
Researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Pittsburgh discovered that massage “increases the percentage of regenerating muscle fibers,” especially immediately after exercise.
It’s an essential way to aid recovery time between very intense workouts, according to Dr. Melissa Leber, Assistant Professor of Orthopedics and Emergency Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine.
Leber explains that it’s not just for fitness fanatics!
It’s helpful for people of all levels and suggests it’s also useful before workouts as it can help “clear the mind” to prepare for your next training session.
One tool favored by people looking to boost their fitness levels is a percussion massage gun.
Percussive therapy has a number of health advantages including enhanced athletic performance.
17: Decompresses Your Spine
An alarming 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some stage in their lives.
Understanding ways to practice spinal decompression will undoubtedly be a game-changer for your overall physical and mental health.
In Thailand, researchers delved deeper into looking at what Thai massage can do for people with non-specific low back pain.
They split 120 people into two groups, one half were treated with the technique, the other with ‘conservative management techniques’ (including joint mobilization, hot packs and manual stretching).
Both groups experienced significant pain relief.
We recommend speaking to your doctor, as they will have a better understanding of your medical history, before you embark on this route.
19: Improves Balance in Older Adults
As we get older, balance becomes more important as we’re more susceptible to falling.
Doing everything we can to improve our balance is an excellent idea, so we don’t end up with any serious injuries!
One way we can do this is through massage.
Postural muscles get weaker with age so this has a negative effect on mobility and balance.
You can rectify this by stretching muscles as it promotes healthy joints and better functionality when it comes to the musculoskeletal system.
A randomized control trial looked at this very topic when it analyzed older adults receiving massage therapy.
Just six weekly sessions saw immediate and long-term improvements in their postural stability and even blood pressure.
21: Tempers Effects of Dementia
According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, with nearly 10 million new cases every year.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60-70% of cases.
Ann Catlin, founder of the Center for Compassionate Touch explains:
People with Alzheimer’s disease don’t lose the capacity for human emotion or recognition of a caring touch… What I’ve seen is that even a person in the very late, severe state of Alzheimer’s retains all these capacities.
It may also reduce feelings of confusion and anxiety, while you’re building trust and helping to calm the patient who may be generally agitated.
Massage can even relieve isolation, boredom and loneliness.
23: Relieves Labor Pain
Massage and acupressure have been proven to reduce pain, anxiety, the amount of drugs required during labor and the chance of cesarean section, as well as shortening delivery duration and the length of time spent in hospital.
There’s a lack of research around which is the most effective and whether the two treatments combined increased efficacy.
Interestingly many post-term pregnant women turn to acupressure as an alternative way to induce labour.
There is evidence that low back massage can significantly impact on reducing labor pain, shortening delivery time and increasing feelings of satisfaction with the birth.
The Journal of Caring Sciences has explained that combining massage therapy and breathing techniques can reduce the severity of pain.
24: Eases Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that affects the musculoskeletal system.
As well as widespread pain, people suffering may also have fatigue, sleep problems and issues with their memory.
Anything to ease the symptoms for sufferers is important.
Fortunately, the American Massage Therapy Association has shared that massage therapy can play a role.
In addition, a review and meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials, found that massage therapy over five weeks or more had immediate effects when it came to improving pain, anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia patients.
However, it’s also important to understand that some of the conclusions drawn from the research are inconsistent, so larger scale studies are required.
25: Positive Effects on Skin Conditions
Skin is the body’s largest organ and is an important barometer when it comes to human health and wellness.
There’s no escaping touching skin during a massage as it covers those all important muscles, tissues and joints.
Daniel Grabell, MD, a dermatologist at Princeton Dermatology in New Jersey, explains stress triggers many skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and even eczema.
By easing stress through massage, patients can relieve the symptoms of these conditions.
Scientific Reports published research that showed just 10 minutes of treatment can kick-start the body’s physiological defences against stress.
Massage therapy has also been proven to help with skin conditions in young children.
In one study, children treated at a burn trauma unit received a 30-minute session before a change of dressing and were more relaxed during the procedure.
Another project that look at children with eczema, found that those who received a massage during the application of skin medication showed less anxiety and the condition slightly improved.
That said, certain skin conditions shouldn’t be treated with a massage, so it’s essential to speak to your physician before starting any new treatment.
Now you know all the amazing health advantages, you now need to choose which technique is right for you!
We’ve written an in-depth article covering the different types of massage and their benefits to help you decide.