Massage is beneficial for a variety of health conditions. Most people use massage for relaxation, anxiety or muscle soreness because it can release stress and tension in your muscles. Massage can also cause your body to release natural painkillers, and it boosts your immune system.
Some small studies have found massage helpful for:
Infant growth. Massage encouraged weight gain in premature babies and reduced the number of days they stayed in the hospital.
Anxiety. Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.
Pain. Pain was decreased in studies of people with fibromyalgia, migraines and recent surgeries. Back pain also might be relieved by massage. However, back pain study results have been contradictory and more research is needed.
Enhancing your immune system. People in massage studies with breast cancer and HIV showed an increased number of natural killer cells, which are thought to defend your body from viral and cancer cells.
Children with diabetes. Children who were massaged every day by their parents were more likely to stick to their medication and diet regimens, which helped reduce their blood glucose levels.
Sports-related soreness. Some athletes receive massages after exercise, especially to the muscles they use most in their sport or activity. A massage might help increase blood flow to your muscles and may reduce muscle soreness after you exercise.
Because massage involves direct contact with another person through touch, it can make you feel cared for. That special attention can improve self-image in people with physical disabilities and terminal illnesses. And using touch to convey caring can help children with severe physical disabilities.
(Source: Mayo Clinic, online at www.mayoclinic.com.)