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Benefits of Regular Massage for Mental Health: alleviating more than muscle aches

Many of us will know how we feel after a massage, almost like that ‘walking on air’ feeling, like a weight has been lifted.

The positive physical impact of a massage can often be felt almost immediately. People will seek massage for tight shoulders, trigger points (or as they are more commonly known – knots), without realising the massage has also had some positive benefits for their mental health. Physical and psychological feelings are often closely linked. This is why it is important we talk about them together.

Lets discuss Massage Therapy – what can it help with?

- Decreasing Pain

- Improving Performance

- Increasing Recovery

- Improving Blood Flow

- Increase Range of Movement (ROM)

- Help Flexibility

- Help Relaxation

- Release Trigger Points (knots)

What does the Research say?

A small study on women experiencing generalised anxiety disorder found feelings of anxiety decreased with two weekly 1-hour massages. Self confidence also improved.

Furthermore, massage can help improve people living with long-term health conditions that cause pain within the body.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of random controlled trials found that massage therapy for 5 weeks had immediate positive effects on pain, anxiety and depression in patients with fibromyalgia.

Stress Hormones vs ‘feel-good’ Hormones

Massage can help lower the stress hormone cortisol in our body. Short-term stress can be good for us, it can help to keep us out of danger. However, long-term exposure to stress is not good for us physically or mentally. Massage has been found to reduce levels of cortisol in our body. In doing so, endorphins like serotonin that make us feel good are released. This in turn makes us feel more relaxed.

A massage is an hour or so out of our day that we are not organising, problem solving, emailing, texting, calling - a short break to allow us to stop, breath, and relax. Massage could help with your overall well-being.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace treatment by a medical professional for mental health problems like anxiety or depression. Please contact your doctor in the first instance to discuss treatment options like talking therapy or medication. Your doctor may also suggest complementary therapies if appropriate.


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