Updated: Nov 16
Originally, massage was a form of bodywork that involved applying gentle or strong pressure to the muscles to ease pain and tension. But over time, it became part of holistic therapies that offer stress relief and relaxation.
Here, we explain how massage helps with stress and anxiety, and how it improves our overall well-being. We’ll also discuss different massage techniques and the specific benefits they offer.
Read on to discover the best massage for stress and anxiety.
5 Ways Massage Can Help With Stress and Anxiety
Massage helps alleviate stress and anxiety by lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, which also calms your central nervous system. Massage can make you feel rejuvenated and relaxed.
1. Massage Loosens Tight Muscles to Make You Feel Calm and Relaxed
When you’re stressed, your muscles involuntarily tighten up and become tense. Techniques such as trigger point massage, stroking, stretching and rubbing can increase muscle tissue elasticity. Specifically, these techniques stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the body into a relaxed state.
2. Massage Encourages the Body to Slow Down
Gentle pressure and methodic kneading encourage the body to ease up and relax. This is a natural response that ignites serotonin, the body’s natural relaxation and happiness hormone.
3. Massage Lowers Blood Pressure to Help With Stress
Massage helps to calm the network of nerves that activates your “fight-or-flight” response (or sympathetic nervous system). This network of nerves is responsible for raising your blood pressure when you’re stressed. The calming, soft, gentle strokes used in aromatherapy massage release serotonin, causing the body to regulate itself and return to its natural, healthier function.
4. Massage Improves Your Mood
As mentioned, massage can increase the body’s serotonin levels, making you feel happy and relaxed. At the same time, it helps lower the amount of cortisol, a hormone responsible for making you feel anxious and stressed.
5. Massage Improves Sleep Quality
Poor quality of sleep contributes to anxiety and stress. Massage involves the manipulation of muscles to trigger the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Again, massage reduces the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that negatively impacts your sleep pattern.
Different Massage Techniques and Their Benefits
Massage therapies help reduce stress as they loosen tight muscles at particular pressure points. We also mentioned how massage helps with stress and anxiety. The following are different types of massage, how they work and their distinctive benefits.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage relieves chronic tension, soreness and pain in the deeper layers of muscles, connective and scar tissue. That said, deep tissue massage offers not only relief from muscle tension but also from stress and anxiety.
Our skilled and experienced massage therapist applies intense, deep pressure to specific areas of the body. This intense pressure can help break up muscle adhesions, scar and connective tissue that build up in the deeper layers of muscles and tendons. Such build-up often occurs after muscle injury or overuse.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
Similar to other types of massage, deep tissue massage can have emotional benefits. The massage session can be a relaxing and stress-reducing experience.
Deep tissue massage can help relieve pain caused by repetitive stress and injuries. It can also ease pain caused by conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic back pain, arthritis, etc.
Improves athletic performance
Swedish massage treatment is a popular and commonly used type of therapeutic massage. It focuses on muscle relaxation, targeting superficial muscles (rather than connective tissues), and promoting good blood flow.
Our Swedish massage provider will manipulate your muscles, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. This massage also involves using strokes that flow towards the heart to improve circulation.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
Techniques used in Swedish massage can stimulate the nerves responsible for managing pain and discomfort.
Swedish massage can help reduce the production of a stress-causing hormone called cortisol.
It can help produce more dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin that stabilise your mood, making you feel happy and positive.
Shiatsu massage encourages the natural flow of energy throughout the body. It is known to promote overall physical health and well-being.
Shiatsu massage works the entire body. In some instances, the massage provider may focus on certain areas that require special attention.
To apply pressure to different areas of the body, the therapist uses palms, fingers and thumbs. The goal here is to stimulate the acupressure points, relieving muscle tension and stimulating blood circulation.
Shiatsu Massage Benefits
Help reduce stress
Reduces muscle stiffness and pain
Helps increase the range of movement
Hot Stone Massage
As the name implies, this form or massage therapy uses hot stones to warm and loosen tight muscles. It works well for sore muscles, too.
Stones used for this type of massage therapy are typically flat with smooth, polished surfaces. Our trained massage therapists ensure the stones are heated to a temperature not more than 55 degrees Celsius to avoid burns.
Our therapists will use the stones to apply heat to specific areas of the body such as the shoulders or back. The stones may also be used to target acupressure points, releasing tension and promoting healing.
Benefits of Hot Stone Massage
Increases range of motion
Boosts immune system
An aromatherapy massage is a technique that integrates essential oils whilst applying gentle and strong pressure one after the other. Aromatherapy in itself
Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage
Enhances brain functions
Also known as Thai yoga massage, this form of bodywork incorporates yoga-like movements and stretches with traditional massage techniques. It is a type of therapeutic massage that combines acupressure, compression and stretching. Thai massage aims to improve blood flow to help promote healing and relaxation.
During the session, our professional massage therapist will apply pressure to specific points on the body. While hands, elbows, knees and feet are the body parts often used in a Thai full body massage, some massage therapists may also use their body weight to apply more pressure.
Thai Massage Benefits
Besides being known to relieve anxiety and stress, Thai massage has several benefits supported by scientific studies.
Thai massage can help boost your overall athletic performance by improving your flexibility and increasing your range of motion.
It can reduce the intensity of tension headaches and migraine.
Thai yoga massage is an effective non-pharmaceutical alternative to reducing back pain.
It has been shown to relieve joint stiffness and pain.
Prenatal massage or pregnancy massage is specifically designed to help relieve pregnancy-related health issues such as back pain, joint pain, swelling and muscle tension.
After the assessment, our professional massage provider will modify some techniques to make sure you and your baby are safe during the massage. You will be asked to lie on your side; pillows will support you to ensure comfort and safety. The semi-reclined position can improve blood circulation and oxygenation.
Our experienced therapist will use gentle massage techniques to ease pain and discomfort associated with pregnancy. The session may also include using aromatherapy or essential oils to enhance the relaxation experience.
Prenatal Massage Benefits
Regular massage therapy sessions throughout pregnancy may not only relieve tension and promote relaxation but also relieve:
Stress and anxiety
Back and joint pain
Swelling in the feet and legs
Improves labour outcomes
Better sleep and
Improved overall well-being
Sports massage is tailored to address the issues that athletes face after intense physical activity. Massage therapists use a variety of techniques to target specific areas of the body, which are often subjected to stress and tension. Examples of massage techniques used are:
Deep tissue massage
Trigger point therapy, etc.
Sports Massage Benefits
Sports massage can reduce stress and relieve muscle tension that might accumulate in the body's muscle tissues during activity. This type of massage can:
Boost your endurance
Enhance your athletic performance
Help prevent injury
Help you recover faster
And while this massage focuses on the physical benefits, it offers emotional benefits as well. Our trained massage therapist will apply firm pressure along with rhythmic strokes that release endorphins.
In short, sports massage can promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety. Ultimately, it improves an athlete’s state of mind.
Lymphatic massage can boost your immunity by targeting the lymphatic system. It is also known as lymphatic drainage massage and manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). It is a less popular massage therapy that can help circulate the body’s lymph fluid.
Similar to the blood in the circulatory system, lymph fluid needs to circulate in the lymphatic system.
Or else, it might build up and cause swelling and inflammation. Lymphatic massage can help “clean” lymph to travel back to the same veins that transport blood to the heart.
Lymphatic Massage Benefits
During the session, our highly-skilled and experienced massage therapist will use gentle pressure and light, rhythmic movements. This massage technique not only promotes better lymph circulation, it also helps remove toxins, excess fluids and wastes from the body. As a result, you have a stronger immune system and better overall health.
More Proof of Effectiveness of Massage Against Stress and Anxiety
A 2021 study showed that massage therapy is an effective treatment measure for anxiety and depression.
According to Psychology Today, several studies show that moderate pressure massage is more effective than light pressure massage for reducing chronic pain. Moderate pressure massage also improves attention and enhances the body’s immune system as it increases the activity of natural killer cells.
The National Library of Medicine posted a study about a controlled group of individuals who went into two sessions of Massage and Reiki per week in a span of 8 months. Conclusively, the treatment is effective at reducing certain levels of stress and anxiety.
Related post: How Often Can You Get a Massage?
Book a Massage Today to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Struggling with stress and anxiety? Massage therapy may be all you need to improve your physical and mental well-being. Book a session today and discover how our range of therapeutic massage services can help you.