Massage Therapy and Health Benefits 

Massage has been practised for thousands of years. Today, if you need or want a massage, you can choose from about 80 massage therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures, movements, and techniques. These all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with hands and fingers, even forearms, elbows, or feet. 

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, in 2018, approximately 19% of Americans had some form of massage. And they have a wide range of reasons for doing so. More and more people — especially baby boomers — recognize the health benefits of massage. They choose from among many massage styles to get relief from symptoms or heal injuries, help with certain health conditions, and promote overall wellness. 

Here is information you can use to help you decide what types of massage will work best for you. 

Which Massage Styles Are Best? 

You may have noticed that different massage styles are prevalent at various times. And you may have wondered whether each was just part of a fad or the latest, most excellent massage technique? But, even more important is how you can tell whether the latest style will help you? 

Different styles are used in massage therapy range from long, smooth strokes to short, percussive strokes. Some massage therapists use oils and lotions; others do not. Most massage therapists have clients unclothe for a massage, but some do not. A massage can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours. 

Before you can decide which massage style is best for you, you need to ask yourself a question. For example, do you want a massage for relaxation and stress control? Or do you need symptom relief or help with a specific health condition? Before booking a massage, let the therapist know what you’re looking for and ask which style the therapist uses. Many use more than one style. Or the therapist may customize your massage, depending on your age, condition, or any special needs or goals you have. 

How Massage Can Help Treat & Eliminate Anxiety 

It may be the ultimate in relaxation, but massage therapy benefits extend well beyond stress relief. Research has shown massage to have positive effects on everything from sciatica pain and sleep apnoea to tinnitus and heart disease. So is it time to add anxiety to the list? 

Anxiety explained 

Anxiety is more than occasionally feeling anxious. Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder that affects 6.8 million Americans, women, twice as often as men. It usually develops gradually but can manifest at any age, commonly between childhood and middle age. Risk factors, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, include: 

  • Being shy in childhood 
  • Low economic status 
  • Being divorced or widowed 
  • Exposure to stressful life events, such as the loss of a family member or trauma 
  • A family history of anxiety disorders or other mental health disorders 
  • Having elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the afternoon 

People with anxiety worry excessively and persistently about any number of things — money, health, family, work and more. It’s generally diagnosed when a person report being preoccupied with worry on more days than not. Other symptoms include: 

  • Feeling restless or “on edge.” 
  • Being easily fatigued 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Sleep problems, including difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness or sleep that fails to refresh 

Anxiety can range from mild to debilitating and may prevent those affected from enjoying social situations, pursuing work advancements, travelling, or trying new experiences. 

Massage therapy for anxiety 

Anxiety is often treated with cognitive behavioural therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. But alternative therapies are increasingly being considered for treating anxiety, and massage is proving effective. 

The Mayo Clinic reports a 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, the stress hormone, by up to 30 per cent after just one session. 

A study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety found participants who received regular massage therapy for 12 weeks had a 50 per cent reduction in anxiety symptoms. And the benefits weren’t short-lived either. Symptom reduction remained at 50 per cent at the 26-week mark even after the therapy had ended. 

In addition to its calming effects, massage therapy can help alleviate anxiety symptoms, including muscle tension and sleep disturbances. Experts recommend going in with an open mind and not talking or thinking about any sources of worry during the massage. 

How Effective Massages help with Weight Loss 

It sounds unbelievable, but massages can help you lose weight and reduce cellulite. Studies show that combining a balanced diet and exercise with massage therapy is an effective weight loss strategy. They are massaging aids faster and long-term weight loss. Read on to learn how massages help reduce weight and the three proven massages for weight loss. Belly fat is a point of concern for many. Thankfully, a study shows that massaging the abdominal area with aromatic oils five days a week helps reduce abdominal fat tissue and waist circumference. In addition, a full body massage helps increase blood circulation, and helps to get rid of the toxic waste in your body and improves metabolism. 

Lymphatic Massage for Weight Loss 

Lymphatic massage helps in lymphatic drainage, i.e., flushing out extra fluid from the waist, wrist, ankles, and legs. As a result, it reduces puffiness and bloating. 

A study found that lymphatic drainage massage or manual massage could help reduce thigh and belly fat. People who play sports use this massage often to heal injuries. For lymphatic massage to be effective for weight loss, you must eliminate unhealthy food from your diet. Then, get a licensed lymphatic massage therapist to get the massage done regularly. 

Aromatherapy Massage for Weight Loss 

An aromatherapy massage is a particular type of weight loss massage that cuts down the desire to binge eat. It also helps reduce stress. Special aromatic oils made from the extracts of flowers, fruits, leaves, barks, and seeds are used to massage the problem areas or the whole body. For example, one hour of aromatherapy massage with grapefruit oil, cypress oil, and other oils for six weeks could help reduce abdominal fat and waist circumference. 

People who use this massage have often said that they sleep better and have reduced muscle pain. Aromatherapy massage also helps reduce stress and depression. This can reduce the desire to binge eat or eat nothing at all (which leads to slow metabolism and weight gain. 

5 Surprising Benefits of Massage Therapy 

Sure, it can help you relax — but massage therapy can do much more than that. 

1. It eases muscle pain 

Muscle aches and pains? Massage therapy can be beneficial. “Massage enhances circulation and increases it. “Rubbing your elbow when you knock it on a table relieves the discomfort,” Tanason explains. 

Massage therapy was equally beneficial as other treatments for chronic back pain in a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 

2. It soothes anxiety and depression 

“In a context that is safe, friendly and professional, Human touch can be incredibly therapeutic and relaxing,” says Tanason. For example, 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. 

3. It improves sleep 

The benefits of massage encourage restful sleep, and it also helps those who can’t otherwise comfortably rest. “Massage promotes relaxation and sleeps in those undergoing chemo or radiation therapy,” says Lisa Marie de Miranda, registered massage therapist and kinesiologist at Paleo life Massage Therapy. Also, massages help infants sleep more, cry less, and be less stressed. 

“Most RMTs can do infant massage,” says de Miranda. And if parents want to do it themselves, it comes naturally. “There’s not a particular technique. Whatever parents normally do to soothe their baby will be effective.” 

4. It boosts immunity 

A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage boosts patients’ white blood cell count, playing a significant role in defending the body from disease. Additionally, it also “improves immune function for individuals with HIV,” says de Miranda. 

5. It relieves headaches 

Next time a headache hits, try booking a last-minute massage. “Massage decreases frequency and severity of tension headaches,” says de Miranda. Research from Granada University in Spain found that a single massage therapy session immediately affects perceived pain in patients with chronic tension headaches.