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Can Massage really help my stress levels?

One of the top 3 reasons people come to see a massage therapist is to de-stress. It seems that our culture is changing. Lifestyles are changing, how many people do you know with two or more jobs? Unfortunately, it seems like a contest when you do get downtime and catch up with friends. Remember when we used to say “Hi, How are you?” and the response was Well thanks, how are you?” Seems like what we hear more of today is “I’m so busy! Or “I’m so tired”. We are seeing an increase in illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia because in order to keep up with modern day living we need to push ourselves to near exhaustion.

Remedial Massage can help. Remedial Massage has been shown to restore balance in our Autonomic Nervous System. What is that you ask? It is looking at the difference between everyday living and the Flight, Fright or Freeze response. So if you see a shark, or a crocodile, maybe a snake, instinct kicks in and your body prepares to fight or run away, or freeze. That is what it is designed for but the problem today is that that what is supposed to be a short time response, meaning seconds or minutes, is lasting hours or days. It leads to sleep problems, depletes our cortisol, noradrenaline or stress hormones, interferes with the digestive processes so we get gut issues, and can also over a sustained period increase blood pressure.

So how do we remedy this? Luckily there have been many studies into the benefits of massage and evidence that massage helps to reduce the effects of stress. Massage stimulates the para-sympathetic nervous system which helps to decrease stress levels. According to a comprehensive study published by Massage and Myotherapy Australia in 2011, ‘Managing anxiety, stress and promoting relaxation - Multiple studies provided good evidence supporting the effectiveness of massage therapy in managing anxiety, stress and promoting relaxation.

“Research indicates that the relaxation produced, with the lowered blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate, is primarily a result of stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.” (International Association for the Study of Pain)

We need to look after ourselves. We need to tackle this negative stressful culture. A one hour massage once a month is a great place to start. Get into the routine of it and see how it improves your life. Get out your diary and before you plan for all your work commitments, make the time to plan for YOU first, than your family, get some exercise, and try to think about restoring balance so that the next time someone asks you how you are, you can answer “Well thanks :)”


“The Effectiveness of Massage Therapy – A Summary of Evidence-Based Reseach” This report was commissioned by The Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT), first published in October 2011. This is an overview of the key findings. The full report can be downloaded at By Dr Kenny CW Ng, MBBS BMedSci Dip RM Cert IV Fitness, Member Australian Association of Massage Therapy. In collaboration with Professor Marc Cohen, School of Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Anatomy & Physiology The Massage Connection, Third Edition 2012, Wolters Kluwer, Lippincott Williams and Williams

International Association for the Study of Pain. Web site:

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