Massage: The Health Benefits

A massage is more than just an indulgence - it can improve your mood and even your health


Posted: 19 May 2011

Credit: Tim Platt/ Getty Images

Neck pain

Ten neck massages over 10 weeks. Sound good? People with chronic neck pain reported a 55 per cent improvement after this regimen, according to a study in the Clinical Journal of Pain. They even scored 39 per cent better on the worst-sounding test ever, the Neck Disability Index, which assesses the pain's impact.

Athletic performance

'Musculotendinous' massages target muscle-tendon junctions; a 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved range of motion in the hip flexors.

Stress

You don't need a full-body rubdown to feel good. In a 2010 study from Sweden, one 80-minute hand-and-foot massage significantly lowered subjects' heart rates, cortisol levels and insulin levels - all of which affect stress.

Depression

Take your pick: Swedish, shiatsu, and other massage types may ease depression, according to a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. How so? Massages reduce stress hormone levels, heart rate and blood pressure, and they boost mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.

High blood pressure

A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that when people with normal blood pressure had deep-tissue massage for 45 to 60 minutes, their blood pressure fell - specifically, by an average of 10.4 millimetres of mercury (mm/Hg) systolic, and 5.3 (mm/Hg) diastolic. The effect of plinky-plonky music on blood pressure has not been measured.

Lower-back pain

Common massage techniques can help you relax, triggering an endorphin release that raises your pain threshold. And that might help people with lower-back pain, said a 2009 meta-analysis in the journal Spine


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