8 Powerful Benefits of Body Massage: Uses, Types, Research

8 Powerful Benefits of Body Massage: Uses, Types, Research

Alicia Schultz Alicia Schultz
14 minute read

For many people, almost nothing sounds better than a relaxing, full-body massage. This soothing therapy can help you work out kinks in your muscles, relax, and break up tension throughout the body. But what are the other health benefits of body massage? What are the most common reasons people use it, and how can you figure out which type is right for you?

If you’re curious about the benefits of body massage, you’re in the right place. Below, discover massage therapy’s powerful benefits, its common uses, and the most well-known types to choose from.

What Are the Benefits of Body Massage?

Almost anything that helps you combat stress is good for your well-being. But massage therapy has both physical and mental components, which can add up to some surprising health benefits.

Here are eight remarkable benefits of body massage.

1. Boosts Mood 

Have you ever dealt with chronic stress? Overwhelming stress and anxiety can lead your body to produce too much of its chief stress hormone, cortisol. And while some cortisol is good for you, high levels can wreak havoc on your health. 

Fortunately, massage can help you lower your cortisol levels. It also increases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine — two molecules associated with happiness. 

In non-scientific terms, this all means that massage therapy is a powerful way to boost your mood and reduce stress.

2. Supports Healthy Circulation

The gentle friction of a massage can promote healthy circulation in targeted areas. Here’s how it works:

Pressure from a masseuse’s hand flushes stagnant blood from soft tissue. When they remove the pressure, new, oxygen-rich blood can rush in. Many massage devices can also provide this health benefit by using oscillating or vibrating technology.

Intuitively, it makes sense that body massage can boost circulation. But one 2014 study took a deeper look into how it works. This study found that massage increased skin temperature (and thus, blood flow) after calf massage. 

Not only that, but the peak skin temperature didn’t occur right after the massage. Instead, it peaked 25 minutes after the session. These results show that massage’s circulation-boosting benefits can last much longer than one might think.

3. Encourages Healthy Immune Function

You probably know that eating well, exercising, and getting restful sleep are all key parts of strong immunity. But did you know that massage can also help you promote healthy immunity?

The mechanisms behind massage’s immune-boosting benefits are a bit of a mystery, and researchers are working hard to figure out how it all works. But what we do know is that massage’s immune effects seem to be positive. 

One 2010 study looked at the relationship between massage and immunity. In the study, researchers found that Swedish massage boosted the number of lymphocytes in the blood. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that play a key role in healthy immune function.

4. Promotes Better Digestion 

Those with sensitive digestion may be all too familiar with uncomfortable bloating, gas, and constipation. And if you’ve ever dealt with gastrointestinal issues, you know that stress can worsen these symptoms. The good news is that gentle body massage can promote healthy digestion and relieve stress.

In a 2014 study, researchers looked at whether or not cancer patients could benefit from abdominal massage. The results confirmed that massage reduced perceived abdominal bloating and improved overall well-being. Additionally, a small 2016 study found that massage could also help with constipation.

5. Eases Pain 

One of the many benefits of body massage is that it can relieve pain. One 2014 study found that multiple 60-minute massage sessions were better for neck pain than shorter or fewer massage sessions. 

Beyond that, another 2010 study found that massage helped patients reduce their pain, tension, and anxiety after cardiac surgery.

6. Improves Energy 

When you think of an energy boost, you might think of something like caffeine, which helps you feel revitalized instantly. Massage also has the power to improve your energy levels — but not in the way that you might think. 

Instead of an instant boost, massage promotes healthy energy through whole-body benefits. Many believe that massage’s effects on sleep, stress, and overall well-being can help you fight fatigue and feel more well-rested.

In a 2016 study, researchers tested how quadricep massage could affect triathlon competitors’ energy levels. They found that the regular massage group felt more energized than those who didn’t change anything about their recovery routine.

7. Soothes Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness can be a nuisance for those who live an active lifestyle. Luckily, one of the benefits of body massage is that it can soothe achy, sore muscles after exercise. 

One 2017 meta-analysis looked into whether or not massage could help with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS.) Incredibly, the results showed that massage therapy seemed to help athletes fight off soreness and improve muscle performance.

8. Relieves Stress

When you think of the benefits of body massage, stress relief might be the first thing that comes to mind. And this makes sense. After all, body massage truly is one of the most refreshing things you can do for yourself — and the research shows just how powerful it can be.

In one study, researchers looked at massage therapy’s effects on young adults in a psychiatric unit. After just one session, the participants reported reduced anxiety levels and had calmer resting heart rates.

Another study found that massage therapy could help older adults improve their stress levels and overall well-being.

Types of Body Massage

You might be wondering: What type of massage therapy is right for me?

Whether you’re targeting stress, muscle pain, or something more specific, knowing your options is key. Below are some of the most common types of massage therapy.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a relaxing and soothing type of body massage. During a session, a masseuse will gently knead, roll, and manipulate muscle and soft tissue at light-to-medium pressure. 

The nature of Swedish massage makes it excellent for tension relief. Compared to a more focused massage (like deep tissue or sports massage), it rarely causes any kind of discomfort. Instead, it’s known for pure peace and relaxation.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage uses significant pressure to work out knots and tension from sore, tired muscles. It can be a little uncomfortable at times, but the benefits are well worth it. 

You might choose this kind of massage when you have specific injuries, back pain, or want to knead out deep tension from overworked muscles.

Sports Massage

Sports massage is similar to deep tissue massage, but with one main difference. Instead of focusing on overworked muscles in general, sports massage precisely targets exercise-related injuries and stress.

It’s useful for improving muscle health and blood flow before and after intense activity. For this reason, it’s best for those who spend a lot of time in physically taxing situations. 

However, sports massage isn’t limited to those who exercise or play sports. This type of massage can also help people who work demanding jobs or spend a lot of time on their feet.

Thai Massage

Thai body massage is an ancient form of massage therapy that has been around for an estimated 2,500 years. 

This type of massage can look a bit different from the classic image of massage that many of us imagine. Instead of lying on a table, Thai massage requires you to stay fully clothed and lie on a mat on the floor. 

The masseuse will then use stretching and rocking techniques to work your muscle tissue and promote healthy energy flow. They may even kneel or walk on certain parts of your body to maximize pressure. 

Thai massage is a great choice if you want to improve your range of motion and boost your energy levels.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage uses warmed, smooth stones to relax your muscles and ease tension. At the beginning of a session, you can expect a massage therapist to place the stones along your spine. They may also use stones to gently knead your back, shoulders, and legs.

All in all, this type of massage is ideal if you’re looking for relaxation, better sleep, and lower stress. 

Prenatal Massage

As the name implies, prenatal massage is a specific type of massage meant for pregnant individuals. 

Like Swedish massage, it uses light pressure to stimulate the muscles and promote healthy circulation. It can also help you ease stress, depression, and soreness. Some even believe that this type of body massage is good for hormones because of its stress-relieving benefits.

Prenatal massage requires different training than other massage modalities. So if you’re pregnant, be sure to seek massage from qualified, knowledgeable providers.

Common Uses of Massage Therapy

Here are some of the most common reasons for getting a body massage:

Relaxation

Although massage therapy offers many physical benefits, one of the main reasons people use it is simply to relax. After all, almost nothing feels better than a soothing massage when you’re stressed out or overwhelmed.

Soothing Tense Muscles  

Another popular use of massage is to soothe stress-related muscle tension, which often shows up in the shoulder blades, neck, and upper back. 

Fortunately, almost any type of massage can help you break up muscle tissue and ease tension — even a simple at-home self-massage. But if you have deep knots, it might be better to opt for a deep tissue massage over the lighter-pressure kinds.

Back and Neck Pain

People often use massage to address back and neck pain, which can show up as a result of stress and muscle tension. Pain in this area can also occur due to bad sleeping posture, heavy lifting, or strenuous activity.

No matter the source of your back and neck issues, Swedish or other light-pressure massages are a good place to start for pain relief. And if you find that you need a deeper massage, you can always ask your masseuse to adjust the pressure (or do it yourself in the case of self-massage.)

Other Conditions

Nowadays, people from all walks of life are looking for natural ways to feel better. This is true for those with chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, and countless other ailments. 

The good news is that massage therapy seems to be helpful for people living with a wide variety of conditions.

Most of the time, massage is perfectly safe and beneficial. But it’s important to note that not all conditions will benefit from massage, and it’s best to check with your doctor before receiving one. 

With that in mind, here are a few conditions that massage therapy seems to help with:

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition affecting the musculoskeletal system. It can cause pain, sleep problems, and other uncomfortable symptoms. 

A 2014 meta-analysis found that massage therapy for greater than five weeks was beneficial for fibromyalgia patients’ pain, anxiety, and depression.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a nerve-related condition that may result in tingling or numbness in your fingers, hands, and even your lower arms.

A 2013 study found that massage with trigger point therapy twice a week for six weeks helped patients with carpal tunnel syndrome find relief.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a condition characterized by inflamed tendons. Over time, scar tissue can develop over these inflamed areas and become painful. Fortunately, many people with tendonitis find that gentle body massage can ease their discomfort and help with inflammation

While massage can help break up painful scar tissue, it’s important to note that you should not directly massage acute tendonitis. 

If you have tendonitis and want to try a massage, be sure to check with your doctor to find out whether or not it’s right for you.

Leg, Thigh, Hamstring Pain

As you know, massage has the power to ease tension and soothe discomfort all throughout the body. And this is why leg, thigh, and hamstring pain are some of the most common reasons people use it. In some cases, people even seek massage therapy to soothe calf and knee strains. 

How to Get the Benefits of Body Massage

Now that you know the benefits of body massage, you may be wondering, “Where can I get a good massage?”

Below are the best ways to reap the benefits of body massage.

Visit a Massage Therapist or Spa

If you’re willing to spend a little extra money and prefer the full self-care experience, visiting a spa or massage therapist is a great option.

One of the advantages of spas is that you can see the same therapist week after week. And over time, they’ll become familiar with your needs, preferences, and which type of massage works best for you. 

Asking a Partner or Self-Massaging

You can also self-massage or ask your partner for a body massage. There are a variety of powerful self-massage techniques that can help you target the tension in your neck, shoulders, and back. You can even find massage techniques to help with specific problems, such as headaches or digestive discomfort.

Trying a Body Massager

Body massagers can help you bring the therapeutic benefits of massage to your home, without ever having to tire out your hands with self-massage or ask a partner for help. A high-quality massager can help you boost healthy blood flow, soothe achy muscles, and take your self-care routine to the next level.

Most massagers will use vibrational or percussive technology to provide relief. To use one of these devices, you’d simply hit the “on” button, adjust the settings to your comfort level, and gently massage your problem areas. 

If you’re looking for a powerful massage device to keep at home, one worthwhile option is the MedMassager MMB05. This FDA-certified device is built with oscillating technology and is trusted by wellness-focused customers and physicians around the world.

Best of all, it has 11-speed options up to 4,000 RPM — so you can personalize your massage experience to fit your body’s specific needs, each and every day.

Are There Any Risks of Massage Therapy?

Most of the time, massage therapy is a safe and effective way to relax, ease tension, and soothe pain. 

However, there are times when body massage isn’t recommended, such as when you have a contraindication. Having a contraindication means you have a condition or are taking medication that doesn’t always pair well with massage.

Common contraindications include:

  • Acute inflammatory conditions. These include rheumatoid arthritis, acute tendonitis, bursitis, certain injuries, and infections.
  • Recent surgery. Gentle massage can soothe the body and encourage healing after some surgeries. But every surgery is different, so it’s essential to check with your doctor beforehand.
  • Recent injury. Massage can aggravate certain injuries (especially recent ones.)
  • Certain skin disorders. Some skin conditions can become worsened with a massage.
  • Hypertension. Because massage boosts blood flow, some people with hypertension may not be a good fit for it.
  • Diabetes. Massage can often be helpful for those with diabetes. But because diabetes can cause hypertension, blood glucose issues, and nerve damage, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. 

The conditions covered above are common contraindications. But they aren’t the only times you should be cautious when receiving a massage. If you have any health conditions or are taking medication, be sure to get a physician’s approval ahead of time.

The Bottom Line 

Body massage offers a whole host of benefits, including the ability to relieve stress, reduce pain, and even boost your mood. On top of that, it even has the power to improve the quality of life of those with certain medical conditions. 

To reap the benefits of massage, you can visit a spa, ask a partner for help, or try a manual self-massage. But for easy and effective daily massage therapy, you can use an FDA-certified device like the body MedMassager. 

Click here to view the MedMassager MMB05, or visit this page to learn about its uses and techniques today.

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