The Unexpected Benefits of Massage Therapy

The Unexpected Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy – An Overview

Contrary to popular opinion, massage goes much beyond pampering and relaxation to offer many health benefits of massage. Throughout human history, massage has been practiced in many cultures both in the East and the West to relieve pain. Massage therapy involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body. It is performed by a trained massage therapist, who uses different pressures, movements and techniques. The therapist rubs, kneads and manipulates the muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and skin. Massage therapy aims to slow down the nervous system, and can be used to help manage a wide range of medical conditions, relieve chronic pain, and improve wellness. Let’s take a closer look at the many benefits of massage, including several unexpected advantages.

10 Benefits – An Explanation

Massage therapy has the power to enhance overall health and wellness and improve quality of life, but there are also many surprising benefits of massage. Here’s a quick look at the varied benefits of massage:

  1. Reduces the ill-effects of sitting at a desk all day
    Extended sitting leads to poor posture, muscle imbalances, and musculoskeletal issues such as back, neck, and shoulder pain. Massage therapy helps relieve the stress, pain and weakness that is generally carried in the shoulders, neck, and lower back due to sitting at a desk all day. It also helps improve overall posture. Regular massage therapy enables relaxation from stressful work routines and also reduces the negative health effects of long periods of sitting.
  2. Relieves painful muscles
    Sore muscles can occur due to exercise or sports injury. One of the benefits of massage therapy is that it helps increase and improve circulation, thus reducing muscle pain. As a result of increased circulation, regeneration of muscle function also improves. Along with alleviating muscle soreness, the likelihood of injury in the future is also reduced.
  3. Lessens depression and anxiety
    Studies have shown massage therapy to reduce the levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—in the body. Massage also increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine. This reduces anxiety and feelings of sadness and increases the body’s ability to fight pain. Massage therapy benefits were also noticed in a study of women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and who received massage therapy thrice a week.
  4. Enhances sleep
    Increased dopamine and serotonin levels in the body brought on by massage therapy produce a sense of calm. This, in turn, leads to a more restful night’s sleep. Massage therapy benefits include reduction in pain, stress and anxiety which could be preventing you from enjoying a peaceful and undisturbed sleep.
  5. Improves immunity
    Studies have shown that massage therapy can cause changes in the immune system and endocrine response of the body. In remarkable health benefits of massage, it can increase the level of lymphocytes and white blood cells, which help the immune system fight off harmful substances in the body. The body’s capacity to defend itself from disease is improved, which is among the key benefits of massage therapy.
  6. Reduces headaches and stress
    Health benefits of massage include reduction in the pain, duration and frequency of tension headaches or migraines. Massage therapy loosens up tension in the neck, head and shoulders, stretches out tight and shortened muscles and eliminates trigger points. Increased blood flow leads to a boost of oxygen and nutrients. It also helps remove the build-up of toxins, helping soothe the symptoms. Tension and stress are released by regular massage. As tension leaves the body, the brain receives the message that all is well. This enables relaxation of body and mind. Massage therapy soothes and eliminates pain and headaches. It is a non-invasive way to fight stress. It restores energy, slow down breathing and helps produce a sense of calm.
  7. Decreases chemotherapy side effects
    The benefits of massage therapy are also seen in cancer treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation and biotherapy come with several negative side effects. However, it has been noted that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who also receive massage therapy, experience a reduction in negative side effects. In a study conducted, surprising benefits of massage became evident. Patients who underwent regular massages reported a reduction in pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety.
  8. Assists in post-stroke rehabilitation
    Massage therapy benefits are also seen in those who are recovering from a stroke. It can increase sensorimotor function, improve fine motor skills, and decrease anxiety and physiological stress. Overall health and quality of life therefore see an improvement. It not only increases serotonin levels which help reduce depression after a stroke, but also reduces the risk of further strokes and heart attack. As depression is considered to be a predictive factor of stroke, massage therapy can help reduce the risk of a stroke even before it can occur in the first place. Gentle massage and lymphatic therapy also help reduce the swelling and inflammation of the body caused by a stroke.
  9. Fights fibromyalgia symptoms
    The symptoms of fibromyalgia include pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons and soft tissues of the body. Here too, massage therapy helps to reduce and manage sensitivity to the pain that is caused by this chronic disorder. It also helps alleviate accompanying symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, and depression. This leads to improvement in sleep quality, quality of life and physical function.
  10. Helps regain memory
    The health benefits of massage are also evident in tackling memory loss. The massage therapy techniques of reflexology and aromatherapy are proven to help in patients suffering from memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s, dementia and stroke. A reflexology-trained massage therapist works the pressure points in the brain, spine, neck, adrenals and heart points to manage memory loss.


Massage therapy can be effectively used to release stress and tension, provide relief from symptoms, heal injuries and support wellness. It is a great tool for relaxation, pain relief, and easing muscle tension. Surprising benefits of massage include its significant role in alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy, fibromyalgia, stroke and memory loss. While most of us can reap many benefits of massage, if you have a medical condition, do check with your doctor and have a conversation with your massage therapist.