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Do Massages Have Real Health Benefits?

Massage Bondi

From easing muscle soreness after your workout session to lowering your blood pressure.

If you’re wondering if massages have real health benefits you’ll have no trouble finding research to back you up. Massage therapy is considered part of complementary and integrative medicine and it’s increasingly offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.

Studies have found massage can be helpful for digestive disorders, anxiety, headaches, fibromyalgia, insomnia, myofascial pain syndrome, soft tissue strains, sports injuries, and temporomandibular joint pain. This treatment is also effective for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

 

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear” – Buddha.

A study on massage found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol dropped 31% following treatment, while levels of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin increased roughly 30%.

Pain reduction and depression relief are one of the benefits that research often links to a rubdown.  There’s this nerve - the vagus nerve, a component of the human nervous system which plays a role in autonomic functions like heart rate, breathing, and digestion.  The increased activity in the vagus nerve often has a calming effect which is connected to the drop in cortisol and other stress-related symptoms.

Chronic psychological stress tends to increase blood pressure so if massage reduces psychological stress, the cortisol levels will also drop. Massage also increases blood flow which might help in improving the function of the cells that line blood vessels.

Keeping your heart healthy

Massage is not enough to keep your heart and arteries healthy but it can help.

In 2008, researches studied 263 volunteers who had a massage for 45 to 60 minutes.

Average blood pressure fell by 10mg Hg and their heart rate by 10 beats after one treatment.

In early 2013, 50 people with mildly elevated blood pressure received a 15-minute massage three times a week for 10 sessions and remained lower for several days.

Researches also examined 8 women with high blood pressure who’d had an hour-long massage each week for four weeks and at the end of that period their blood pressure fell by 12 mm Hg systolic. A control group rested for the same amount of time and had smaller improvements in the same measurements.

Pain relief

Studies have also shown that massage helps treat migraines and chronic headaches.

In a clinical trial, massage reduced headache intensity in 105 individuals suffering from the pain the head, back, neck, and behind the eyes.

There were two groups of participants. The first group was applied with manipulation and massage and the second one massage only. Scientist applied four treatments over four weeks. The headache disability inventory (HDI) and range of upper cervical motion were evaluated at baseline, after the intervention, and at the follow-up.

Both groups demonstrated a large improvement in their HDI scores (ƒ=1.22). The participants that received manipulation reported a medium-sized reduction in headache frequency (ƒ=0.33). Both groups showed a large within-subject effect for upper cervical extension (ƒ=0.62), a medium-sized effect for cervical extension (ƒ=0.39), and large effects for upper cervical (ƒ=1.00) and cervical (ƒ=0.27) flexion.

"The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day." - Hippocrates

If you still have doubts, try booking a massage and figure out the benefits on your own. We can’t name a more relaxing way to figure things out. And keep in mind that massage alone is not a solution to serious medical conditions – always consult your doctor first