Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? Whether you choose a blissful relaxation massage, nurturing hot stone experience or a deep-tissue workout, you’ll always leave feeling better in both body and mind.
The great news is, massage is more than just a pampering treat – it has many proven health benefits. While the main effect is overall relaxation, additionally massage can improve mood, sleep, inflammation, pain levels and blood circulation.
Here we take a look at four major health benefits of massage, all backed up by science. If you need any further incentive to schedule some crucial me-time, read on…
1 Stress Relief Benefits
Studies have shown that massage increases serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, helping to balance and elevate the mood, while it also decreases cortisol, the stress hormone (1). And, while this particular perk wasn’t mentioned in the study, it will put a spring in your step just knowing you have the appointment on your calendar to look forward to. Just another reason it’s smart to invest in a course or Belong membership, and make massages a regular feature on your calendar.
2 Sleep Benefits
If you’re guilty of hitting the snooze button more than once you may be struggling with a lack of quality sleep time. The American Massage Association states that massage improves sleep quality. The study above also found massage participants increased their nighttime sleep duration. Sleep is vital for health and wellness, while poor sleep is associated with many chronic health conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, obesity and depression. Improving your sleep makes you feel better in so many aspects of your life, from work to relationships.
3 Pain Reduction Benefits
Massage is also an effective option for reducing chronic back pain, according to clinical studies (2) and can be a great alternative, or complement, to pain-relief medication. We’ll take a relaxing rub-down over popping painkillers any day!
A similar study (3) found the beneficial effects of massage in patients with chronic lower back pain lasted at least a year after they ended treatment, proving that the upsides to regular massage have serious staying power.
- A Comparison of the Effects of 2 Types of Massage and Usual Care on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial, 2011: Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD; Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH; Janet Kahn, PhD; Robert Wellman, MS; Andrea J. Cook, PhD; Eric Johnson, MS; Janet Erro, RN, MN; Kristin Delaney, MPH; Richard A. Deyo, MD, MPH
- Massage for low back pain: an updated systematic review within the framework of the Cochrane Back Review Group, 2009: Furlan AD, Imamura M, Dryden T, Irvin E
4 Muscular And Circulatory Benefits
Massage is well-known for its ability to soothe muscle tension and aid muscle recovery. It also helps to increase blood and lymph flow – and increased blood circulation is a potent health benefit. When your blood vessels dilate and widen, they encourage new blood to pump to your organs, which improves the functionality of your body as a whole.
A study by the University of Chicago (4) found that massage increased blood flow after exercise, as well in patients who had not exercised – making it beneficial to anyone, no matter what their activity level. We’re not saying you should skip your gym workout, but if you do, make sure you always have a massage on the horizon!
- Massage Therapy Restores Peripheral Vascular Function After Exertion: Nina C. Franklin, PhD, Mohamed M. Ali, MD, Austin T. Robinson, MS, Edita Norkeviciute, BS, Shane A. Phillips, PT, PhD