blood pressure

Does Massage Lower Blood Pressure? What the Research Says

Does Massage Lower Blood Pressure? What the Research Says

Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is a common health issue that can sneak up on you over the years. It can also be tricky to identify —  sometimes showing up with no symptoms at all. There are steps you can take to support healthy blood pressure, such as lifestyle changes, medication, and exercise. But what about massage therapy? Does massage lower blood pressure?

In this post, learn about the research on massage and blood pressure, whether not it’s worth trying, and the best ways to get started.

Research on Massage and Blood Pressure

The research on massage for blood pressure is still in its early phases — but the good news is that it looks promising so far.  

Here are some recaps of a few studies from recent years.

  • One 2016 review found that massage had medium effects on systolic blood pressure and a small positive effect on diastolic blood pressure.
  • Another 2014 study found that blood pressure went down in patients with hypertension after a 10-minute Swedish back massage.
  • A recent 2021 study found that foot and back massage helped lower blood pressure and improve sleep quality in women with hypertension.

While the studies have been small, the results are still encouraging. Of course, there isn’t enough evidence to officially recommend massage for blood pressure just yet. But it can still be a great way to fight stress, sleep better, and relax (all of which can offer other benefits for your health.)

How Long Do the Benefits Last?

Many benefits of massage will last for a day or two after your session. But how long do its effects on blood pressure last?

One small, long-term study tested the benefits of massage for women with hypertension over six months. Seventy-two hours after it ended, the participants’ blood pressure levels were still lower. But when researchers checked in with the women two weeks later, the numbers had gone up again.

With that in mind, you may want to aim for regular massage — at least once a week — to reap its potential health benefits.

What Types of Massage Can Help Blood Pressure?

Some studies have found that certain types of massage may be healthier for blood pressure than others. Here are two types of massage that may be especially helpful.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage uses light, long strokes to break up tension and boost relaxation. 

In a 2006 study comparing the different types of massage on blood pressure, researchers found that Swedish massage seemed to pack the most benefits.

The study also noted that deep, focused types of massage actually raised blood pressure. These included trigger point therapy and sports massage, which can sometimes be uncomfortable or even a bit painful.

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage combines the benefits of massage with soothing essential oils. 

One small 2016 study found that aromatherapy foot massage improved quality of life scores, anxiety, and blood pressure for community-dwelling adults from Japan.

Another 2013 study found that essential oil massage improved blood pressure and sleep in middle-aged women with hypertension. 

Why Does Massage Lower Blood Pressure?

Massage soothes the sympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight-or-flight response. Put another way, massage can help you feel safe and relaxed. In turn, these effects may help to lower your blood pressure.

Are There Any Risks?

You might be wondering, “Is massage with high blood pressure safe? What should I know before getting started?”

Massage is generally safe when you have your blood pressure under control and are following your doctor’s recommended treatment regimen. 

However, it’s always important to ask your doctor before changing anything in your health routine. This is especially true when:

  • You have other health concerns or conditions aside from your blood pressure. Massage can be naturally healing, but it can also worsen certain conditions (like injuries or skin issues.) 
  • Your blood pressure isn’t yet controlled, and you haven’t started any treatment. Massage boosts blood flow, and this could be problematic with uncontrolled hypertension. In any case, it’s best to follow your medical team’s recommendations before trying massage out.

Other Tips for Healthy Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can evolve from genetics, diet, exercise, and chronic conditions. In other words, there are a lot of factors that impact blood pressure — and massage might just be one piece of the puzzle for you.

With that in mind, it’s best to use massage alongside other healthy habits, such as:

  • Making exercise a regular part of your routine.
  • Cutting down on sodium. The American Heart Association recommends 1,500mg or less sodium per day for adults (or around ⅔ of a teaspoon of salt.)
  • Managing a healthy weight.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Minimizing how much alcohol you drink.
  • Prioritizing laughter, relaxation, and emotional well-being.

How to Start a Massage Routine 

The best first step to start a massage routine is to figure out which option is most accessible to you. Can you visit a massage therapist each week, or would it be better for you to stick to massages from your partner? What about trying a home massager?

In any case, getting a body or foot rub at least once a week is a good place to start. To do this, many people opt for a combination of self-massage, spa visits, and using medical massagers like those from MedMassager.

Does Massage Lower Blood Pressure? Key Takeaways

All in all, the research on massage and blood pressure is encouraging, and a number of studies have found incredibly positive results. Still, it’s all a bit limited, and experts need more research before being able to directly recommend massage for high blood pressure.

Before you add anything new to your routine, talk to your doctor about ways to manage your blood pressure, and whether or not massage is a healthy choice for you.

With your doctor’s thumbs-up, you can unwind with the soothing power of massage. You can set up weekly visits to a masseuse or use an FDA-certified massage unit like those from MedMassager to get started.

For restorative massage each and every day, check out the MedMassager Foot Massager Plus or Body Massager Plus today.

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