Massage Therapy stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the body that leads to relaxation. It can also boost the immune system.

Before you get a massage, research the therapists in your area and ask for recommendations from friends and family members. Then, define your goals for the session.


Many people use massage therapy to relax, but it can also help reduce pain and stiffness as well as improving their general mood. Some types of massage have a therapeutic or medical goal, such as treating specific injuries or illnesses, and these are generally administered by a doctor or therapist with specialist training.

During moderate pressure massage, the touch receptors on the skin send a calming signal to the nervous system, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure. It also stimulates the release of hormones that decrease stress and tension, such as cortisol, norepinephrine, and oxytocin. It’s thought that these hormones help to rebalance the levels of serotonin in the brain and promote relaxation.

This relaxation response is believed to aid in the treatment of various conditions, including high blood pressure and anxiety. It’s also been linked to increased energy, better sleep quality, and reduced depression. The calming effects of massage are primarily due to the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping your body unwind from a stressful state.

For those who suffer from chronic back pain, neck pain or other aches and pains, massage can improve symptoms by getting rid of soft-tissue restrictions and increasing circulation. It can also boost the effectiveness of other treatment options, such as exercise or medication.

Research has shown that massage can alleviate a number of ailments, including muscle pain, lower back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, and tennis elbow. It can also relieve stress, improve posture, and boost athletic performance. For those who have psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression, massage can actually change the way your brain circuits work, helping you to cope with your symptoms.

In fact, some studies have even shown that regular massage can decrease anxiety and depression by lowering your levels of cortisol, the hormone that increases with stress. It can also increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your body, both of which are mood-enhancing chemicals. Moreover, it can also improve your immune system, helping you fight off viruses and infections. For those who have a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, it can be helpful to combine massage with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication, in order to see the most benefit.

There are a wide range of massage techniques that can be used by a trained therapist. Some massages are designed to be relaxing, while others may be more therapeutic. The type of massage that is best for you will depend on your needs and the condition of your body. Some techniques involve deep pressure, while others are gentler and more soothing. Before a massage, the therapist should ask the client about any medical conditions that might be aggravated by the treatment.

One of the most common types of massage is the Swedish massage, which involves light pressure with long strokes of the hand over the muscles and other soft tissues. It is believed that this technique stimulates nerves to block pain signals from the brain, although it is difficult to prove this.

Other massages may focus on a specific area, such as the neck or back. These massages are often more intense than the Swedish massage and are intended to treat specific problems. The massage therapist may also use a variety of techniques to target these areas, such as trigger point therapy and anti-fatigue techniques.

Another type of massage is the deep tissue massage, which targets deeper muscles and tendons. This is designed to treat injuries and other chronic aches and pains. It is thought that this type of massage can increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells, which improves their function.

A technique called lymphatic drainage is performed during many massages. This is believed to help the lymphatic system get rid of toxins and reduce swelling in soft tissues.

Other types of massage include prenatal, remedial, and sports. Remedial massage is used to treat injured muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues. It helps the body’s natural healing process and can improve posture, flexibility, and energy levels. Sports massage is designed to help athletes train and recover from injury by improving their flexibility and range of motion.

A massage can help to relieve stress, and it can also decrease the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. This can lead to better sleep and reduced anxiety levels. A good massage can also help to reduce the symptoms of depression and improve overall mental health.

Despite the wide acceptance of massage therapy, some people may experience negative side effects. These can range from muscle aches and bruising to nausea, dizziness or fatigue. Some of these side effects may be more serious than others. It is important to discuss any underlying health conditions with your massage therapist before you get a treatment.

One of the most common side effects of massage is a headache. This is caused by the release of tension in the head and neck muscles. Massage can also cause a sensitivity to the skin, which may lead to itching or burning sensations. These symptoms usually last for a few days after the session.

A recent study found that a massage can decrease the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” reaction to stress, and increase the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with relaxation and rest. This change in the body’s nervous system can affect your mood. It can also reduce anxiety and increase the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with happiness.

Inflammation is another common side effect of a massage. This is usually due to constant pressure on the tissue or muscles, or from an older injury. The inflammation can be alleviated by applying ice packs, a mild pain reliever, or a hot bath.

Diarrhea can be a result of a massage, especially if you are getting an abdominal massage. The massage can trigger a diarrheal response in the body by overstimulation of the digestive tract. This reaction is more likely to happen in people with weakened immune systems.

Some people can be sensitive to certain oils used during a massage, and this can trigger an allergic reaction. A massage can also irritate a skin condition, such as acne or rosacea. In these cases, a light touch and avoiding oily foods is necessary.

Other serious side effects of a massage include a blood clot or fractured bone. These rare reactions can be avoided by discussing any underlying health issues with your massage therapist before you have a session. It is also important to disclose any injuries that you have, so your therapist can work around them. Finally, some massage therapists have to deal with inappropriate behavior from clients. This can include asking for a massage while still wearing clothing, and sharing personal information that is not related to the massage.

Massages go hand-in-hand with resorts and fancy hotels, but it’s not just because they’re relaxing; there’s actually scientific evidence behind why this type of therapy can boost your mood and fight depression. It can even help with anxiety and pain. In one study, participants who received a neck or back massage had lower levels of cortisol — a stress hormone that increases anxiety — and increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that can improve your mood and make you feel happier.

Massage can also boost your immune system. This may be because the act of massaging muscles stimulates your endocrine system to produce more white blood cells and antibody production, which help fight infection. It can also help increase your circulation, which is essential for your body’s healing processes and reducing the chance of future injuries.

Getting a massage can help you sleep better, too. This is because the calming effects of a massage can decrease insomnia caused by pain, anxiety and stress, as well as reduce the levels of substance P – a neurotransmitter that increases muscle sensitivity to pain – in the brain, resulting in reduced overall feelings of pain.

Many people with chronic pain or a health condition such as diabetes or asthma can benefit from massage, but it’s important to talk to your doctor first before you get one. Massage can cause some side effects, such as feeling lightheaded or sleepy afterward and being thirsty. It can also lead to a temporary flare-up of symptoms if you have an autoimmune disease or chronic inflammatory disorder such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis.

If you are going to get a massage, try to find a therapist who has undergone rigorous training at an accredited school or is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. You should tell the therapist your health history and which parts of your body need work. Make sure you’re not eating too much or drinking alcohol right before your appointment so that you can relax fully. You might also want to wear loose-fitting clothes so that the therapist can access your muscles easily.