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Massage Therapy and Mental Health

Black woman getting head massage

By Kelsey Magill, RMT.


 

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness in a given year, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.  Many of us are affected personally or know someone who is battling a mental illness or poor mental health. Various strategies assist in the management of diverse mental health conditions, but one often overlooked yet highly effective method is massage therapy. Though massage therapy is well known for its physical benefits, it also holds significant benefits for mental well-being. Massage therapy is a great modality in conjunction with other treatments. Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) can collaborate with a variety of health care providers to ensure their clients are receiving comprehensive and individualized care. 

 

 

Stress Reduction

Massage therapy is well-known for its ability to reduce stress. The gentle manipulation of muscles and tissues helps to lower cortisol levels, the body’s primary stress hormone. As cortisol decreases, feelings of relaxation and calmness increase, creating a buffer against or break from the many stressors of daily life.

 

Alleviation of Anxiety and Depression

Regular massage therapy can significantly alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in a variety of populations. Techniques used in massage therapy promote the release of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters associated with happiness and wellbeing. This biochemical boost can lead to improved mood and a greater sense of emotional balance. It is important to note that chronic pain and anxiety and depression go hand in hand. Those who experience chronic pain are more likely to experience anxiety and depression and those who have anxiety and depression are more likely to experience chronic pain. RMTs may ask about your mental wellbeing as a potential cause for musculoskeletal pain. 

 

Improved Sleep Quality

Quality sleep is crucial for mental health, and massage therapy can help.Massage therapy techniques trigger neurochemical reactions such as relaxation, improved sleep, tranquility, wellbeing, and decreased heart rate and breath rate.

Better sleep leads to enhanced cognitive function, emotional stability, and overall mental health. Depression has been associated with increased fatigue therefore your RMT may ask about your sleep patterns or energy levels and use this information to guide their treatment planning.

 

Enhanced MindBody Connection

Massage therapy encourages a greater awareness of the body, fostering a mind-body connection that is often disrupted by a busy or stressful routine. This enhanced awareness can lead to better self-care practices and a more profound understanding of one’s physical and emotional needs.

 

Immediate and Cumulative Benefits

One of the remarkable aspects of massage therapy is its ability to provide immediate relief from stress and anxiety, as well as long-term benefits when incorporated into a regular routine. Each session can build on the previous one, leading to progressively better mental health outcomes.

Whether you are caring for someone who is experiencing a health condition or have a personal experience with acute or chronic illness that is impacting your mental health, massage therapy is an effective tool to decrease stress and pain while enhancing mental wellbeing. 

Caring for your physical body is caring for your mental health. Talk to your health-care providers about including massage therapy in your treatment plans. 

Book a treatment with our Registered Massage Therapist

 


Author: Kelsey Magill, RMT

Kelsey Magill is a Registered Massage Therapist with the CHI. She has a special interest in chronic pain, neurological conditions, sports massage and women’s health. She is enthusiastic about helping clients decrease stress and pain, while increasing mobility and activity. Kelsey offers Swedish, deep tissue, myofascial release and cupping, and manual lymphatic drainage techniques.


 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Canadian Mental Health Association, www.cmha.ca 

de Heer EW, Gerrits MM, Beekman AT, Dekker J, van Marwijk HW, de Waal MW, Spinhoven P, Penninx BW, van der Feltz-Cornelis CM. The association of depression and anxiety with pain: a study from NESDA. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 15;9(10):e106907. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106907. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e115077. PMID: 25330004; PMCID: PMC4198088.

Hachul H, Oliveira DS, Bittencourt LR, Andersen ML, Tufik S. The beneficial effects of massage therapy for insomnia in postmenopausal women. Sleep Sci. 2014 Jun;7(2):114-6. doi: 10.1016/j.slsci.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Sep 16. PMID: 26483913; PMCID: PMC4521661.

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