Like most professions, the average layman does not understand the hundreds of hours of practice and schooling that go into massage therapy. 

Underneath those practiced movements lies a science. Massage therapy taps into our body’s physiological and psychological processes to boost overall health and well-being. But how exactly does it work?

We’ll explore the science and benefits behind massage therapy so you can understand how it works and how it can help you. 

The Benefits of Massage: General Benefits

Ever wonder why your body feels so good after a massage? It’s more than just rubbing muscles and soothing some phantom tension in your body. 

To start, massage therapy helps promote better circulation. Applying pressure to muscles and tissues boosts blood circulation, resulting in more oxygen and nutrients being delivered to muscle cells for improved performance. 

As for that euphoric feeling that comes from massage, this is generated by the stimulus of certain endorphins, which are produced when pressure is applied to your skin’s nerve cells. 

Part of this may be attributed to the decline in stress hormones caused by massage therapy, as studies have shown

Further, research conducted at Emory University School of Medicine has shown that while massage therapy decreases cortisol levels (the stress hormone), it also increases serotonin and dopamine (the happy hormones) (PubMed Central)

Coincidentally, studies have shown that massages can be beneficial to massage therapists themselves, making massage therapy a good career

Promoting Muscle Recovery & Pain Relief

A more specific benefit of massage therapy is that it can be used to treat injuries from work or play. 

Injury recovery massage has been proven to reduce inflammation and increase cell regeneration. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found a significant reduction in pain among participants who received regular massages compared with those who didn’t–not just minor relief but substantial enough for patients to note improved sleep patterns.

Another benefit to athletes is that massage therapy can enhance your suppleness by increasing your range of motion for tight muscles and tendons.  

No wonder athletes frequently use massage therapy as part of their training and rehabilitation programs. The next time you’re feeling stiff after workout sessions or need help recovering faster from injuries, be sure to experiment with a nice massage.

Easing Stress and Anxiety

It’s no secret that massage can make you feel great physically, but did you know it also has a profound impact on your mental health? The Mayo Clinic has stated that massage therapy can help treat generalized anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 

Besides acting as an effective tool against common mental health issues like stress and anxiety, massage therapy promotes better sleep patterns, too. This is due to its ability to trigger serotonin release–a precursor for melatonin, which regulates our sleep cycle. Better sleep equals better mental health!

So, next time you’re feeling down or stressed out, consider booking yourself a massage for some genuine relief. 

Massage Therapy for Specific Health Conditions

The art of massage is more than just a way to relax. Regular massages can be a beneficial way to reduce symptoms associated with different health conditions.

Research shows regular massages can offer relief from chronic diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Massage helps reduce inflammation, improve flexibility, and lessen pain, making it easier for people living with these conditions to lead an active lifestyle.

There are also several different types of massages that promote different benefits to the body. 

Myths and Misconceptions about Massage Therapy

Many people may think of massage therapy as just pampering, but that is far from the truth. As a medical profession, massage therapy offers many therapeutic benefits, which is why we need to clear up some common myths. 

Myth 1: “Massage is only for pain relief.” This isn’t entirely true. While massage can indeed help with pain management, it also offers other health benefits, like improved circulation and stress reduction.

Myth 2: “All massages are the same.” Wrong again. There are many types of massages tailored to different needs—from Swedish massage for relaxation to deep tissue massage that targets chronic muscle tension.

Myth 3: “Massages don’t have long-term effects.” In fact, regular sessions can promote better sleep quality, boost immunity, and even help manage anxiety and depression over time.

To fully enjoy what this holistic approach has to offer, be sure to book a session at a local clinic near you. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in massage therapy, start your journey by signing up for the NEPA School of Massage! [Learn More: 3 Steps to Become a Massage Therapist in Pennsylvania]

FAQs: What Are the Benefits of Massage

What are the 5 benefits of massage?

Massage offers pain relief, boosts flexibility, aids mental health by reducing stress and enhancing mood, helps manage certain chronic diseases, and supports injury recovery.

How often should you get a massage?

Folks typically benefit from a massage every one to two weeks. But it really depends on your wellness goals and schedule.

What happens to your body after a massage?

Your body goes into repair mode post-massage—improving circulation and decreasing lactic acid buildup in muscles while triggering endorphin release for relaxation.

What should you not do after a massage?

Avoid intense workouts right after. Hydrate well because massages help detoxify the body. Give yourself time to chill before jumping back into daily grind.