Massage therapy is the perfect complement to Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Personal Training and Pilates. It is also a superb treatment on its own or as part of a regular maintenance program to promote optimal tissue health. Taking time away from your computer, phone and other life stressors and simply focusing on your breath, listening to your body’s subtle messages of vitality, joy and relaxation help restore your mind and body. The ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Indian, Greek and Roman civilizations all reference the use of massage techniques as playing an important role in the healing process. With good reason, as there are countless proven and perceived benefits of massage such as improved sleep, reduced muscle tension, improved joint mobility, improved posture, better lymphatic drainage, decreased stress hormones, reduced inflammation and pain along with improved immune function.
3 Wellness Enhancing Benefits of Massage Therapy
1. Improved athletic and fitness recovery
The ancient Greek athletes used massage pre-& post exercise, a theory still practiced today. A decrease in swelling and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by 30% was found in a 2005 study on The effects of massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, swelling and recovery of muscle function. “This suggests that a massage performed post exercise but before DOMS develops can alleviate soreness, no matter how the massage is performed”. Interestingly, the upper arm circumference was measured pre and post massage and the treated arm had a significantly smaller increase in circumference, demonstrating a prevention of swelling
2. Improved immune function
In a 2010 preliminary study by Rapaport et al, a 45-minute massage therapy vs light touch therapy group found “the data do support the notion that a single session of Swedish Massage therapy may have fairly profound acute effects on the immune system” compared to baseline results and a light touch control group. There was a decrease in cytokines, interleukins, cortisol and vasopressin, and an increase in the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells).
3. Shift towards a more Parasympathetic (Relaxation) state
Are you stressed?
Do you live in sympathetic overdrive?
Our autonomic nervous system consists of the sympathetic nervous system (“Fight or Flight”) and parasympathetic nervous system (“relax and digest”).
A 2009 study by Diego and Field, from The International Journal of Neuroscience reported the 1st half hour of moderate pressure massage calms the sympathetic nervous system and shifts to a more parasympathetic state vs the light pressure group which provoked a shift towards a sympathetic response.
So, consider a regular maintenance massage as less of a luxury, and more of a necessity for your physical and mental well-being.
Written by Ashly Metcalf, Registered Massage Therapist & Osteopathy candidate
1. Zainuddin Z, Newton M, Sacco P, Nosaka K. Effects of Massage on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, and Recovery of Muscle Function. Journal of Athletic Training. 2005;40(3):174-180.
2. Rapaport MH, Schettler P, Bresee C. A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(10):1079-1088.
3. Miguel A. Diego & Tiffany Field (2009) Moderate Pressure Massage Elicits a Parasympathetic Nervous System Response, International Journal of Neuroscience, 119:5, 630-638