1. Eases Muscle Pain (Of Course)
The main reason that people seek massage – it treats all kinds of aches, pains, knots and stiffness.
A 2011 study of lower back pain published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that massage can help alleviate chronic lower back pain. After receiving 1 massage a week for 10 weeks, 1 out of 3 patients were relieved of pain compared to 1 in 25 given ‘usual care’.
A 2006 study published in the American Archives of Internal Medicine showed that frequent massages could also decrease stiffness and pain and improve movement in people with osteoarthritis.
2. Treats Anxiety and Depression
Yep, massage makes you feel better – and there are lots of studies that back up what seems like a very obvious benefit of massage – its stress-busting and mood-enhancing effects.
Eighty-four women suffering from prenatal depression were randomly assigned to yoga, massage therapy or standard prenatal care control groups. Compared to the standard care controls, both yoga and massage groups had greater decreases in depression, anxiety and back and leg pain, and a greater increase in relationship satisfaction. Additionally, the yoga and massage groups had greater gestational age and gave birth to higher weight babies.
Women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported being less depressed and less angry, according to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience.
And, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found that patients who were depressed and anxious were much more relaxed and happy, and had reduced stress levels after massage
3. Boosts Immunity
This is an interesting one, and no doubt linked at least in part to the relaxing, stress-relieving effects of massage.
esearchers from the USA have reported that a single massage treatment can produce measurable changes in the immune and endocrine systems of healthy adults. Healthy adults received a 45-minute massage, and blood samples were taken before the massage and at regular intervals up to one hour after the massage.
The results showed positive changes in many immune parameters, including decreased levels of cortisol and anti-diuretic hormone, increased numbers of circulating lymphocytes an decreased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The authors note that their findings may have implications for the management of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.
4. Benefits Headache and Migraine
A 2016 randomized controlled trial with 64 participants evaluated massage once a week for 8 weeks in patients with migraine. The frequency of migraines decreased in both groups, compared with people on a waiting list.< Needless to say, this overlaps with some of the other benefits - for instance headache and migraine can be caused (or worsened) by tight muscles in the neck and shoulders, which can be effectively relaxed with massage treatment<
5. Helps with Fibromyalgia
A 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis of 10 studies (478 total participants) compared the effects of different kinds of massage therapy and found that most styles of massage had beneficial effects on the quality of life in fibromyalgia.
Again, this makes sense, as massage helps to reduce stress, and ease tension of tight and knotted muscles.
6. Improves Sleep and Reduces Insomnia
It’s great for all kinds of insomnia – and it’s the main piece of feedback that I get – “I slept so well after the last session!” This could be to do with an increase in serotonin following massage, as reported in a study on back pain, conducted in January 2000 by the Touch Research Institut, which demonstrated that in addition to a decrease in long-term pain, subjects receiving massage experienced improved sleep and an increase in serotonin levels.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure
A number of studies show that massage is good for heart health and lowers blood pressure, for instance in one clinical trial, published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research found that “massage therapy was a safe, effective, applicable and cost-effective intervention in controlling blood pressure”