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The Benefits of Massage Therapy on Stress

The Benefits of Massage Therapy on Stress

Greetings friends, hope today finds you happy and healthy! If not, then it could be stress that is making your day miserable! The demands on people in our current society are well beyond what we were originally designed to handle. Stress from work, family, friends and so on all tends to build up and take it’s toll on the individual. Further compounding that, most folks tend to head for unhealthy eating and over indulgence in alcohol to try to relieve the day to day stresses. This then coupled with the nasty chemicals the body is already producing, such as homocysteine,  in abundance due to excessive stress, sees a cocktail of nasties that may lead to problems like anxiety disorders, depression, muscular tension, poor sleeping, low energy levels, poor immunity, impaired digestion…the list goes on. What most people really need is a stress management strategy and this is what most people don’t have!

Massage Helps Manage and Reduce Stress

According to Guide to Healthcare Schools, massage therapy programs are gaining popularity as the demand for massage services constantly increases. Massage therapy is used for a variety of reasons including supporting overworked muscles, promoting general health,reducing stress, and recovering from physical injury.

Along with implementing a daily session of meditation and healthy eating, massage therapy done regularly is highly beneficial for helping to relieve and manage stress. A recent study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles recruited 53 healthy adults and assigned them to receive deep tissue, Swedish and light touch massage. The researchers found that a single session of massage caused biological changes.

Volunteers showed significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They also had increases in white blood cells that are part of the immune system. What this study shows is that receiving massage actually activates the body on an internal level to respond and correct the physiological imbalance caused by our stressful lives. By fighting stress on a number of fronts, the benefits of massage for stress relief include relaxation of muscles, an increase in circulation and a reduction in stress related pain. Once your stress level is reduced, you can reclaim the energy you once enjoyed, and experience a refreshed body and mind.

A Couple of Stress Relieving Facts

Here’s a few things that massage therapy will do towards reducing stress;

  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate. Long-term studies have shown that a  massage therapy performed regularly is a natural way to decrease diastolic and systolic blood pressure as well as cortisol levels, resulting in lower sources for anxiety, hostility and depression. Massage also improves circulation, causing new blood to flow into formerly congested areas, which lowers your blood pressure.
  • Relax muscles. Being over weight, repetitive movements or poor posture can all create strain that often results in tense muscles, spasms and pain. A professional massage therapist helps to flush lactic acid from your muscles through the techniques used, improving the circulation of lymph fluid which carries metabolic wastes away from muscles as well as internal organs. In my case in particular, I also work on the energy meridians helping restore healthful chi’ flow.
  • Increase endorphin levels. Massage therapy releases endorphins (Feel good hormones made in the brain etc) and boosts your levels of serotonin and dopamine, the hormones your body produces to help calm your nerves and promote both healing and pain management. That’s because decreasing cortisol leads to a rest-and-recovery mode which lingers long after your massage, and which can result in ongoing feelings of relaxation, lowered stress and improved mood. Good levels of the feel good hormones also aids in better immunity and improved digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Improve breathing. As a long time professional massage therapist I often see people presenting with poor breathing along with lowered energy.  When any of these muscles are chronically tight and shortened, they can restrict normal breathing and disrupt breathing patterns. This of course interrupts proper oxygen circulation and lowered energy results as well as poor oxygen saturation of cells. The breathe is also how you increase chi or vital energies in the body and proper breathing is needed for this also. Massage techniques to lengthen and relax these muscles improve breathing capacity and function and thus have a flow on effect to other areas mentioned. I tend to teach my clients to breathe properly during the massage therapy session to both gain more form the session and to gain the benefits to wider well being.
  • Relieve headaches. A recent study showed that people who received massage therapy had fewer migraines and better sleep quality not only during their massage weeks, but also during the three weeks following, than people who didn’t. Another study found that among adults with migraines, massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, distress symptoms and even sleep disturbances. Often the pressure points and muscles high in the neck and basal skull areas need to be worked and cleared of blockages as this is where many people “wear” their stress.
  • Boost wellness. Something I forgot to mention about serotonin levels. When serotonin levels are increased through massage, they are believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite. And when your mood is relaxed, you’re getting enough sleep, and also feeling a healthy level of appetite, it’s easy to see how much better you feel.

But isn’t massage therapy a luxury??

The short answer to that is NO! Consider what your well being means to you. Without it, you won’t be working much,  you won’t be able to do the things you enjoy much and life will generally be a bit hard won’t it! Considering what most people spend each week on rubbish food and alcohol to feel better and the damage that is doing to them, wouldn’t that money be better spent on a method of well being enhancement that stands to not only benefit you short term but longer term as well?

I’m not sure what other massage therapists charge but I charge $60.00 per hour. So if you get a massage once per fortnight, that equates to $30.00 per week or about $4.40 a day on your well being and stress reduction. Are you worth that? I would very much think so! So next time you feel that twinge in the neck at your desk or feel like you need to unwind, remember what I have written here today and consider making massage therapy part of your stress management programme.

Have a great day!

Craig Hitchens – Professional Massage Therapist & Naturopath.


Source: My own clinical experience

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The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of  is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.

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