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Massage for Stress Relief: How Effective Is It?

Dec 9, 2013

While some analysts claim that massage offers few more benefits than deep breathing and quiet music, recent studies into the impact of massage on stress levels tell another story. According to studies published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, massage can have a profound impact on stress, anxiety, and aggression, particularly for young adults.

In one study on psychiatric inpatients, a 20-minute massage therapy session administered daily reduced anxiety, cortisol (stress hormone), and resting heart rate levels by significant amounts. The reductions were most prominent immediately before and after treatment. Understanding how this is possible reveals a great deal about the benefits of massage, particularly massage for stress relief.

How Massage Affects The Body

A professional massage helps your body release endorphins, the same endorphins released during what regular exercisers call a "runner's high." Once your muscles deplete their stores of glycogen due to prolonged physical stress, endorphins are released to help ease pain through negatively regulated pain signals. For runners, this "high" can actually make an injury more likely. But the lack of physical stress during massage offers similar benefits without the risk of injury.

Indeed, more Americans are seeking a qualified massage therapist for a variety of ailments, and reporting marked results. According to Mary Beth Braun, the President of the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions, including:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Lower back pain
  • Circulatory problems
  • Recovery from a sports injury
  • Anxiety

In fact, the Mayo Clinic, one of the most respected names in the American health industry, has listed massage as a valid medical procedure for the reduction of stress and pain.

Workplace Stress and Massage

Perhaps one of the most common sources of stress is the workplace, where poor performance or a negative work environment can have an enormous impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, numerous studies support the benefits of massage when used to combat workplace stress. One downsizing organization was studied when researchers began a chair massage therapy program with 18 employees.

When compared to a break therapy control test of 15 other groups of employees, the employees that received chair massage therapy reported a significant reduction in anxiety levels. Study participants also reported a wealth of other benefits, such as a reduction in general muscle tension and pain.

While research is necessarily continuing on the specific benefits of massage, a large body of evidence exists for positive reductions in stress and anxiety thanks to massage. This is especially true when the massage is administered by a qualified local professional.

If you would like more information on the benefits of massage for stress relief, please contact your local massage therapy professional in Maple Valley.

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