Benefits and Risks of Massage

Health benefits of massage             

Massage is one of the oldest healing arts.  Although massage has been practiced for at least 5,000 years and has been used to treat numerous ailments, its health benefits in the modern world have only been widely studied and proven in the past few decades.

Massage can relieve tension in your muscles, and most people use it for relaxation, relief of stress and anxiety, or to reduce muscle soreness. Massage can also cause your body to release natural painkillers, and it boosts your immune system.  Other benefits include increased energy, improved circulation and reduced blood pressure.

While more research is needed, some studies have found massage helpful for:    

•    Stress. Muscles contract under stress!  When a muscle remains tense over a period of time, soreness develops from a buildup of lactic acid.  This is why every body (not just athletes and construction workers) benefits from massage.  As contracted muscles relax, the pain associated with chronic tension is relieved. In the relaxation process, the person being touched may also begin to get rid of negative thoughts and emotions.  Feelings of frustration and anger are often replaced by an experience of peace and well being.    

•    Anxiety. Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.

•    Pain. Pain was decreased in studies of people with fibromyalgia, migraines and recent surgeries. Back and neck pain might also be relieved by massage. However, back pain study results have been inconsistent, and more research is required.    

•    Labor pain. Massage during labor appears to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles and help block pain.    

•    Infant growth. Massage encouraged weight gain in premature babies and reduced the number of days they stayed in the hospital.

•    Diabetes related circulation problems. Insufficient peripheral circulation resulting from Type 2 diabetes can lead to amputation. Massage protocols have been developed that have, in some cases, improved circulation in the limbs of diabetic patients sufficiently that scheduled amputations became unnecessary  and were cancelled.    

•    Children with diabetes. Children who were massaged every day by their parents were more likely to stick to their medication and diet regimens, which helped reduce their blood glucose levels.

•    Sports-related soreness. Some athletes receive massages after exercise, especially to the muscles they use most in their sport or activity. A massage might help increase blood flow to your muscles and may reduce muscle soreness after you exercise.

•    Alcohol withdrawal. Massage during withdrawal from alcohol has shown benefits when combined with traditional medical treatment by increasing feelings of support, safety and engagement in the therapy.

•    Immune system. People with HIV who participated in massage studies showed an increased number of natural killer cells, which are thought to defend the body from viral and cancer cells.

•    Cancer treatment. People with cancer who received regularly-scheduled massage therapy during treatment reported less anxiety, pain and fatigue.    

•    Depression. Attentive, nurturing touch has been proven to be a significant therapeutic factor in treating depression and despondency among the aged and the ill.  Massage can lend support in reassuring a person that they are a valued member of the human race.

•    Self-esteem. Because massage involves direct contact with another person through touch, it can make you feel cared for. That special attention can improve self-image in people with physical disabilities and terminal illnesses. And using touch to convey caring can help children with severe physical disabilities.

Risks of massage
Massage is generally safe as long as it's done by a trained therapist, but massage isn't for everyone and for some people it can even be dangerous. 

Discuss massage with your doctor before making an appointment if you have:
    •    Had a recent heart attack
    •    Cancer - avoid direct pressure on the tumor area
    •    Deep vein thrombosis
    •    Unhealed fractures
    •    Rheumatoid arthritis in the area to be massaged
    •    Severe osteoporosis

In addition, talk to your doctor before getting a massage if you're pregnant.

Massage done properly rarely leads to severe injuries. Ask your massage therapist about his or her training and qualifications. And if any part of your massage doesn't feel right or is painful, speak up right away! Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage. 

 Additional Information:

  • You should NOT receive massage if you have an acute injury, cold or flu symptoms, fever or infectious skin conditions or open wounds.
  •  Don’t eat a heavy meal before massage.
  • If it's your first time, please arrive fifteen minutes early to complete an intake form.
  •  If you book an appointment, receive your reminder call within 24 hours and then don't show up, you will be charged the full price of services booked.

Sources:, Geriatric Massage Techniques by Dietrich Miesler, The NIDDM Protocol Course by Dietrich Miesler, Therapeutic Massage in Facility Care by Dawn Nelson