Massage stimulates the parasympathetic system and increases dopamine, resulting in decreased blood pressure and heart rate.
Massage can increase serotonin levels, improving mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, as well as decreasing depression and anxiety.
Studies on patients with post traumatic stress disorder reveal that professional massage therapy is shown to support recovery from short and long-term trauma.
Massage has been shown to promote feelings of well-being and mind-body connection.
National Institutes of Health reports that massage has been shown to reduce headaches, back, neck, and arthritis pain, and other musculoskeletal pains in clinical trials.
Massage has been shown to decrease tension in the muscle-tendon unit, relieving pain, increasing range of motion, and assisting in the treatment of tendon and ligament injuries.
Massage appears to affect the viscoelastic response, increasing blood flow and promoting healing of damaged tissues.
Massage can decrease electromyographic (EMG) activity, suggesting increased muscle relaxation and decreased muscle fatigue and soreness.
Massage has been shown to significantly reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise.
A light form of massage used to contact the lymphatic system (Manual Lymph Drainage) is part of an edema management program called Complete Decongestive Therapy, which helps to manage swelling due to injury, surgery, or congenital defects.
Massage promotes an increase in lymphocyte levels, which increases immune function and combats infection.
For patients experiencing swelling post surgery, massage can not only increase lymph flow, but can also decrease anxiety and stress and reduce pain.
While more research is needed, some studies have found massage to be helpful for the following conditions:
Asthma and COPD
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Insomnia related to stress
Myofascial pain syndrome
Soft tissue strains or injuries
Temporomandibular joint pain