The health benefits of massage therapy

Massage therapy encompasses many different techniques from around the world. In general, therapists press, rub, and otherwise manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. They most often use their hands and fingers, but may use their forearms, elbows, or feet. It is a health technique that dates back thousands of years.

Types of massage

  • Swedish massage
  • Sports massage
  • Myofascial trigger point therapy
  • Thai massage

How much do we know about massage?

A lot of health research on the effects of massage therapy has been carried out.

What do we know about the effectiveness of massage?

While often preliminary or conflicting, there is scientific evidence that massage may help with back pain and may improve quality of life for people with depression, cancer, and HIV/AIDS. It has been shown to promote relaxation and boost mood. Women in labor who experience massage increased their satisfaction with other forms of pain relief.

Massage therapy has also be studied as a treatment for depression. When used in combination with other therapies such as yoga, a decreased in depression and anxiety was shown. Massage has been shown to help senior adults relax.

What do we know about the safety of massage?

Massage therapy appears to have few risks if it’s used appropriately and provided by a trained massage professional. You should avoid massage in areas with open wounds, bruises, or skin breakdown, directly over a tumor site, and areas with a blood clot in a vein.



  • Harris M, Richards KC. The physiological and psychological effects of slow-stroke back massage and hand massage on relaxation in older people. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2010;19(7–8):917–926.
  • Hou WH, Chiang PT, Hsu TY, et al. Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta- analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2010;71(7):894–901.

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