Can Massages Reduce Stress?

Stress is a major component of today’s world, which can adversely affect the health and well-being of an individual. Massage therapy has been shown to be a means whereby stress can be significantly reduced at physical and psychological level. While massage therapists know of experience that reduces massage stress, there is considerable research that validates this.

Less stress with massage

Massage can help to relax tight and painful muscles, improve the joint flexibility, improve circulation and lower stress. Stress is considered to be a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and can make symptoms worse. Since there are many different massage therapies available, it may be necessary to find the right therapy and massage technique to reduce your stress level.


Massage therapy includes many techniques. The massage therapist can use hands, elbows or even feet to give the treatment. According to the American National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the main forms of massage include Swedish, deep tissue, sports, reflexology and trigger point. Some forms of massage use oils and others use hot stones to relieve tension and promote relaxation. Talk to your massage therapist about his or her specific massage technique how it can to reduce your stress level in the best way.


Stress can be a positive motivator when you aim for a promotion or perform an important task. Stress can be temporary, such as traffic jams or delay at the airport. However, the American Psychological Association states that stress can also be chronic, e.g.during financial problems, chronic illness or dealing with family problems. It’s not necessarily the event, but the reaction of your body to the event that causes stress. When the brain feels any kind of stress, your heart rate and blood pressure increase and your muscles are tightened. Feelings of stress that last for a long time have a negative effect on the body. Massage helps you relax, soothe the mind and body and relieve your stress.

General benefits

When administered by a well-trained and licensed therapist, massage therapy can help with conditions affecting your mental state, including stress, depression and anxiety. A massage helps you keep your mind away from the daily worries and let your body and mind relax. Massage also helps you feel that you are in charge of your health and plays an active role in managing chronic diseases. Many massage techniques are practiced in a quiet and dark lit room. Some therapists have meditation music in the background and use incense or candles for better relaxation.

Benefits for your muscles

Activating the stress response ensures that muscles are strained throughout the body. When the event ends, the muscles relax again. However, if the tension is constant, the muscles may remain in a tensed state. This can lead to joint pains, headache, chronic back and neck pain and other symptoms. According to the National Institutes of Health, massage therapy can help to relieve your muscular tension. A massage therapist uses different techniques to rub, stretch or apply pressure to the muscles to help them return to a relaxed state, reducing your stress-related pains.

Immune and digestive system benefits

When responding to stress, the body retains energy by suppressing the digestive and immune system. Circulation is increased to the heart, muscles and lungs. In chronic stress, this reaction may lead to decreased immune system activity, increasing the risk of cold, flush and immune system diseases. Problems with digestion and elimination can also help chronic stress. Massage can help restore normal blood circulation, improve immune system functionality, and play a part in restoring normal digestive function, according to Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center.


Stress is a big problem but can be reduced with massage therapy. Unless in an immediate threat, the battle-or-flight stress response is not desirable — and ultimately creates more problems than solving. With such a high percentage of people in our society charged with significant stress levels, massage therapists are in great demand. By offering different techniques massage therapists are very effective in smoothing stress and so improving our health.

Drs. Christiaan Janssens

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Beauty & Wellness Blog

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