ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION: In the same way that massage is relaxing, it can also relieve anxiety and depression by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This can lift the spirits and even help to lower blood pressure. Massage therapy can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that participants who received Swedish massage twice a week experienced decreases in cortisol levels.
INFLAMMATION: A study published on February 2012 in Science Translational Medicine found that just 10 minutes massage therapy can reduce inflammation, which can help your body recover after a tough work-out. Click here to read more.
IMMUNE SYSTEM: Multiple massage studies have linked the stress-busting properties of massage to a better functioning of the immune system. A 2010 study found massage increased a person’s white blood cell count. In 2012, the same study focused on the differences in hormone levels with different frequencies of massage. It found that people who had Swedish-style massage twice a week had increased levels of oxytocin and increased white blood cell counts.
HEADACHES: A 2009 study found that a thirty minute massage decreased pain for people with tension headaches and could even alleviate the associated stress and anger.
ALERTNESS: A small 1996 Touch Research Institute study in 1996 found people were more alert and completed a series of mathematics questions quicker and more accurately after a fifteen minute massage.
AGEING: Kimara Ahnert, a New York skin-care specialist told Women’s Health magazine that “massage increases blood flow, which plumps up slack skin, encourages lymphatic drainage, and adds vitality to a dull complexion and lacklustre hair.”
SLEEP: Numerous massage studies have looked at the link between massage therapy and sleep. Health magazine concluded that it results from massage’s effect on delta waves, the type of brain wave that is associated with deep sleep.
PAIN: The main reason people seek out massage therapy is for chronic or acute pain. A 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that therapeutic massage was worth considering to help alleviate chronic lower back pain. Participants underwent one weekly massage for ten weeks, at the end of which one third were pain free – as opposed to only 4% in the control group given usual standard care. A 2006 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found weekly or bi-weekly massages helpful in decreasing the stiffness and pain and improving range of motion in those suffering from osteoarthritis.