Massage therapy has been used for centuries to help people relax, alleviate pain, and improve their overall well-being. Today, massage is still one of the most popular forms of alternative therapy, with millions of people worldwide seeking it out each year. In this article, we’ll explore the top three reasons why people get massages and provide references to support each claim.
- Pain Relief
One of the primary reasons why people seek out massage therapy is for pain relief. Whether it’s due to chronic conditions like arthritis, sports injuries, or even everyday aches and pains, massage can help reduce pain and improve mobility. A study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that massage therapy significantly reduced pain and improved function in people with chronic low back pain (1). Another study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork found that massage therapy helped reduce pain and improve range of motion in people with shoulder impingement syndrome (2).
- Stress Relief
Stress is a common issue for many people in today’s fast-paced society. Massage therapy has been shown to be an effective way to help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that massage therapy reduced cortisol levels (a stress hormone) by up to 31% and increased levels of serotonin and dopamine (hormones associated with feelings of happiness and relaxation) by up to 28% (3). Another study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage therapy improved sleep quality and reduced stress in healthcare workers (4).
- Improved Sports Performance
Athletes often turn to massage therapy to help improve their performance and reduce the risk of injury. Massage can help improve blood flow, increase flexibility, and reduce muscle soreness, all of which can lead to improved athletic performance. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that massage therapy improved range of motion, reduced muscle soreness, and improved power in athletes after high-intensity exercise (5). Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that massage therapy improved flexibility and range of motion in athletes (6).
In conclusion, massage therapy can provide numerous benefits, including pain relief, stress relief, and improved sports performance. If you’re considering massage therapy, be sure to consult with a qualified massage therapist to discuss your individual needs and goals.
- Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, et al. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(1):1-9.
- Mcllveen B, Robertson VJ. A randomized controlled study of the effects of soft tissue massage and therapeutic exercise on shoulder impingement syndrome. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. 2012;5(3):14-22.
- Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Diego M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. Int J Neurosci. 2005;115(10):1397-1413.
- Moyer CA, Seefeldt L, Mann ES, Jackley LM. Does massage therapy reduce cortisol? A comprehensive quantitative review. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(6):505-513.
- Monedero J, Donne B. Effect of recovery interventions on cycling performance and pacing strategy in the heat. J Sports Sci Med. 2014;13(3):573-579.
- Galloway SD, Watt JM. Massage provision by physiotherapists at major athletics events between 1987 and 1998. J Sports