Canyon Ranch Blog

The Better-Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

You know getting a massage feels good, but you may not realize how good it can be for your health, too. For example, as soon as your body senses the first touch of pressure, it sends a signal to your nervous system that can slow your heart rate by more than 10 beats per minute and lower your blood pressure by as much as eight percent. And that’s only the beginning of the health benefits massage delivers. It can help alleviate back pain, chronic headaches, muscle aches, stress and more.

Here’s a look at some of the specific health pluses of common types of massage. You may never look at a rub-down the same way again.

More: Chronic Stress and Your Body

Deep Tissue Massage
This massage technique uses slow, deep strokes to target the deep layers of muscle and connective tissue to promote flexibility and movement while reducing pain and stiffness. Those with conditions like osteoarthritis may see improvement in joint pain and range of motion with deep tissue massage.

Pregnancy Massage
Also called prenatal or maternity massage, therapists use gentle pressure to improve blood circulation, which reduces swelling. Pregnancy massage has also been shown to lessen lower back pain as well as symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful tingling or numb sensation in the hands that up to 60 percent of pregnant women develop. (Though pregnancy massage has not been found to be unsafe for the fetus, some practitioners may not offer it in the first trimester to be extra safe.)

Shiatsu
Like acupuncture, shiatsu focuses on relieving illnesses brought about by imbalances in the natural flow of energy, or qi, in the body. But unlike the Chinese treatment, this Japanese massage modality uses thumb, finger and palm pressure (instead of needles) to increase the body’s energy flow. Shiatsu may be particularly helpful for people experiencing neck, back and shoulder pain: In one study in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, people with back pain rate their discomfort as significantly lower over the course of four shiatsu sessions.

Sports
This type of massage manipulates soft tissues and focuses on relieving tightness in specific muscle groups that are repetitively used during a particular sport (like golf and tennis) or type of exercise (like running). Some therapists practice a method called myofascial release, which stretches connective tissue. In general, you’ll experience stronger pressure than you’ll feel in other types of massage. Research in the Journal of Sports Medicine & Physiology has shown that sports massage decreases the stiffness that occurs a couple of days after vigorous exercise, known as delayed onset muscle soreness, by up to 30 percent.

Swedish
A relaxing treatment that utilizes long, sweeping strokes, Swedish massage increases oxygen flow to your muscles while releasing toxins, boosting circulation and making your limbs more limber and flexible. Swedish massage may be particularly helpful for people with fibromyalgia. It’s also a good option for women looking for relief from PMS and menopausal symptoms: In a study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that people who received Swedish massage had a significant decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin, which helps regulate the body’s water retention. Studies have also found that Swedish massage can reduce stress and the frequency of headaches.

Thai 
While other massage therapies involve the use of oils on your skin to stroke sore muscles, Thai massage instead focuses on the stretching and gentle compression of your muscles while you are clothed. A study in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies found that participants who received a 30-minute Thai massage showed a significant decrease in muscle tension, pain and anxiety compared to a group that simply rested, making this a great option for those suffering from back pain, as well as stress, depression or anxiety.

How to Find a Massage Therapist
Massage therapists should be certified or licensed in their state. You can check the American Massage Therapy Association website for licensed therapists in your area, or ask friends, family and health professionals for referrals.

Massage is considered safe for most people, but ask your doctor first if you have skin burns or wounds, a tendency to develop blood clots, severe osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer.

Massage for Pain Relief

Learn which type of rubdown is best for what’s hurting you
Read More

10 Surprising Tips for Managing Stress

Explore a new way to get back to a place of peace
Read More

Your Guide to Acupuncture, Herbs, Reiki and More

7 integrative therapies that are worth considering
Read More

8 Ways to Reach Your Healthy Weight and Stay There

Find out if you’re doing all that you can to achieve your goals
Read More

10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Do what you can to keep your body's natural defense strong
Read More

Massage for Pain Relief

Learn which type of rubdown is best for what’s hurting you
Read More

Managing Seasonal Lows

If you suffer from winter sadness, try these ways to lift your spirits
Read More

Spirituality & Your Health: A Q&A with Dr. Finley

Nurturing this connection can support your wellness journey in powerful ways
Read More

11 Stress Relievers for a Healthier Brain

Sound strategies for managing negative thoughts and supporting positive brain changes
Read More

The Big Benefits of Losing Small Amounts of Weight

You'll reap rewards even before you reach your ultimate goal
Read More

15 Things You Can Do to Live Longer

Do what you can to maximize your odds for a longer and healthier life
Read More

7 Myths About Drinking

Learning the truth about alcohol can help you make healthier choices
Read More

Book Online or Contact Us

Book Now Contact Us

Questions & Reservations

Tucson, Arizona +1 800 742 9000
Lenox, Massachusetts +1 800 742 9000
Kaplankaya, Turkey
SpaClub®, Las Vegas +1 877 220 2688
SpaClub®, At Sea Queen Mary 2: +1 866 860 4662
Oceania Cruises: +1 877 329 1924
Regency Seven Seas: +1 877 329 1924
Celebrity Cruises: +1 844 860 4662