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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. 

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