The Psychological Effects of a Massage

Dalia Hawley

There is nothing better than a soothing massage in times of stress, worry or tension.  


Apart from helping us to relax and unwind from the daily strains of modern life, massage therapy has proven health benefits in reducing anxiety, pain and muscle tension.  


Many clients carry tension around their neck, back and shoulders. Often felt as ‘knots’.  We spend many hours a day hunched at a desk, over laptops, computers and phones, we will slump in the desk chair, sit forwards at our desks and hold our postures quite tightly if we feel stressed.  


This modern day posture will usually result in the client suffering with back pain, neck ache, tension headaches and hunched shoulders.  Massage therapy is great for reliving this. A good therapist will look at your posture, palpitate areas of reported soreness and be able to locate these knots. Using a range of different deep tissue movements, a massage session will leave you feeling 2ft taller, help you sleep better and allow you to feel fully relaxed.


A massage can increase your body’s levels of oxytocin-A hormone released during skin to skin contact which produces a feeling of closeness and bonding. In addition, massage can help with pain relief by stimulating the release of endorphins which can reduce your perception of pain in the same way as an opiate drug.  The feeling of relaxation created by regular massage therapy also lowers your blood pressure and elevates your mood.  


As an athlete, massage can help relax the mind and the body a few days before or after an event. In addition, a vigorous, brisk massage on event day can make you feel invigorated.   More and more people are now incorporating massage into their relaxation routines and massage therapists have adapted to this, often getting asked to visit local offices and provide  members of staff with 5-10 minutes of seated massages.  


A good massage therapist will work around areas such as the neck, shoulders, head and face, especially the temples and the eye area. This is where people will often carry the most amount of tension which can often result in headaches, tightness around the jaw and teeth grinding. A head, face and neck massage will help relax the muscles and can sometimes help relieve tension headaches. In addition, it allows the individual to be aware of where they carry the most stress.  


Tapotement movements which are used at the end of a session and is often a quick, fast percussion ‘chopping’ style using the edge of the hand, pummelling and pounding (obviously not to the face)! Can act as a skin and muscle stimulus and will leave the individual feeling energised.  



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