Science behind the Massage – Myths and Truths

Massage is one of the oldest forms of medical treatment. For thousands of years, massage has played an important role in treating injuries and disease in many cultures.

In the West, massage is often perceived as a luxury and something reserved for a special occasion. Although therapeutic massage is becoming more popular, the misconceptions about what it can and cannot do are still prevalent. Most people misunderstand its indispensable function to maintain an optimal state of health. Tackling the myths and learning the facts about massage can benefit therapists and their clients.

There are many different types of massage, and each has a specific role.

The Best-known Massage Techniques

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage combines classic, sports, and deep tissue massage. It detects and treats knots (trigger points) and tension.

Thai Massage

Thai massage relieves tension and hardening where individual points on the energy lines of the body are treated. The therapist uses thumbs, palms, elbows or feet to massage away the tension.

Deep Tissue Massage

This type of massage targets chronic tension. It usually involves small strokes and direct pressure that go across the grain of the muscles to reach past the first couple of layers for a truly deep muscle workout.

Sport Massage

This massage therapy is designed to enhance flexibility and improve athletic performance. It involves the manipulation of certain muscle groups depending on the sport.

Shiatsu Finger Pressure Massage

The Shiatsu finger pressure massage also has its roots in the Far East: shiatsu (Japanese: pressure with the fingers) combines acupressure (finger pressure massage) with modern massage techniques such as stretching or joint rotation. Shiatsu is based on the same basis as acupuncture: the pressure points are on energy lines, the so-called meridians, which run throughout the body.

Pregnancy Massage

This is also called prenatal massage. The primary purpose of this therapy is to reduce lower back pain and swelling of the ankles. The patient reclines on her side instead of her back. In addition to reducing pregnancy aches and pains, it can help in the management of anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

Foot Reflexology

Touching and massaging specific pressure points on the sole and toes have a stimulating effect on various body parts.

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy massage involves the use of essential oils such as Rose or Lavender oil. These oils are believed to have healing properties and promote relaxation. Their scent can help to soothe conditions such as a headache, dysmenorrhea, back pain, and insomnia.

Truth and Myths about Massage Therapy Explained

#1 The Myth – Massage boosts the immune system & function.

The Truth–Massage promotes relaxation and relieves stress. While depression and anxiety are often treated with medications and psychotherapy, massage is an excellent holistic alternative. Relaxation is the primary reason why people choose body massages in St Albans. Body massage induces proper breathing and relaxation that can calm negative thoughts resulting in a better state of mind and emotional level.

#2 The Myth – Massage increases endorphins.

The Truth – Massage increases feelings of well-being and decreases pain leading to a more relaxed sense of self, improved concentration, and a better quality of life. Research shows that massage increases oxytocin levels and reduces adrenocorticotropic hormones levels which have a more established social connection and sense of well-being than increased endorphins. It is possible the increase in oxytocin levels is mistaken for increased endorphins because there is limited research to answer the question about endorphins adequately.

#3 The Myth – Massage reduces cortisol.

The Truth – Massage reduces stress, not cortisol. This is one of the most disputed myths about massage. Massage doesn’t alter cortisol levels to the extent of necessitating health benefits. Therefore, it cannot be established that massage therapy is responsible for reduced cortisol. However, massage has the effect of reducing the feeling of depression and stress. Studies have found that depression can be caused by active or chronic pain and it can worsen muscle pain and tension. A massage can significantly reduce stress resulting in improved well-being.

#4 The Myth – Massage promotes blood circulation.

The Truth – The argument based on this myth is vague. Massage improves tissue health, because it brings blood to the area being massaged, and can help heal injuries. However, massage causes an elevated skin temperature, and such increase in temperature theoretically signifies blood flow.

#5 The Myth – Massage detoxifies the body.

The Truth – Massage unquestionably has significance for supporting overall health and well-being. However, massage does not help in the release of toxins. According to research, the body can only maintain homeostasis when relaxed. There is no medical proof that shows having a massage releases any toxins. A massage can, however, help to increase blood flow which can promote healing.

#6 The Myth – Massage makes breathing faster.

The Truth – Massage makes breathing deep and easier. Physical massage therapy helps in relaxation of the muscles associated with respiration. The breathing process breaks up adhesions and reduces built-up tension making the body shift from a state of stress or tension to relaxation. Improved posture after a massage also allows the client to increase their lung capacity to their normal levels providing deep and easier respiration. Clients with respiratory disorders like emphysema, bronchitis, can benefit from massage therapy that promotes breathing.

#7 The Myth – Massage promotes sleep.

The Truth – Massage therapy reduces blood pressure and helps people to sleep. According to a 2013 study, patients who were being massaged generally had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than people in the control group. The researchers found that therapeutic massage was a safe, effective, blood pressure-related and cost-effective way to control individuals’ blood pressure; thereby preventing hypertension. Massage can reduce the tension that is causing your sleepless nights.


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