Written by Olga Hayward.
The most popular health benefits of regular massage therapy are increased physical and mental relaxation.
Issues managed particularly well by massage include:
A 2011 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found massage therapy was just as effective as other treatments for chronic back pain. It can also offset imbalances caused by prolonged sitting – so you can enjoy your desk job more by taking regular massages.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage boosts patient’s white blood cell count – improving immune function to defend their bodies from disease.
Another study published in June 2022 described the benefits of managing Long Covid syndrome with massage therapy. The condition affects around 30% of Covid-19 patients and can last from weeks to months.
Pharmacological therapy isn’t the only helpful option – the techniques used in massage therapy are also understood to improve quality of life after infection.
Headaches, insomnia and high blood pressure
Massage decreases the frequency and severity of tension headaches. A Spanish study found that a single session of massage therapy immediately decreased pain levels in patients who suffered from chronic tension headaches. Next time a headache hits, try booking a last-minute massage!
Gentle massage can improve insomnia by directly affecting the hormones involved, for example by:
- reducing cortisol by almost 30%
- increasing the body’s production of serotonin
- increasing melatonin production
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles – so producing it naturally through massage reduces insomnia.
It’s also widely documented that massage helps reduce high blood pressure. Evidence suggests that gentle Swedish and aromatherapy massage may help to lower blood pressure effectively in the long term.
Lymphatic massage, sometimes called manual lymphatic drainage, can help treat lymphedema – where lymphatic fluid collects in certain bodily areas because it can’t effectively drain off.
Lymphatic massage aims to improve the flow of that lymphatic fluid to reduce swelling. By massaging an area that doesn’t have swelling, we can create space for the fluid to flow there from more congested areas.
According to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, women with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported less depression and anger. And massage also promotes relaxation and sleep in people undergoing chemo or radiation therapy.
A 2022 study – from The International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork – found that combining conventional treatments with massage helped patients to deal with both the treatment, and the overall impact of the cancer. Their sleep, physical and mental wellbeing all improved.
To sum up
Regular massage therapy is a wonderful, natural way of regulating many different health issues – and boosts both mental and physical wellbeing.