How massage can ease symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome


There’s tiredness, and then there’s the utter exhaustion that characterises chronic fatigue. But did you know that massage may help?
Chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as CFS or ME) affects around 250,000 people in the UK. It causes persistent tiredness which isn’t alleviated by sleep and can really affect daily life. Other common symptoms include loss of memory, sleeping problems, anxiety, depression and muscle pain.
The severity can range from being able to work and care for yourself but needing occasional days off work, to suffering from reduced mobility and having difficulty concentrating. No-one knows exactly what causes the syndrome which affects more women than men. It usually develops in people in their early 20s to mid-40s – although teenagers can also be affected.
The good news? Massage can help ease some of these symptoms, according to Esther, a massage practitioner with Urban Massage. She’s treated several clients with extreme fatigue and chronic conditions such as MS and lupus, and says massage can stimulate endorphins and serotonin to help improve energy and mood.
She adds that a gentle massage with a warming oil such as ginger or clove can boost circulation, which can be helpful for people who experience numbness or tingling in their limbs. Massage can also alleviate sluggishness.
“Chronic fatigue syndrome can make people extra sensitive, both emotionally and physically, so it’s important to have a therapist who will get to know you and be considerate to your needs,” Esther says. “A very slow, gentle, relaxing massage is usually most beneficial – it can help with anxiety as well as the physical symptoms.”
Manual lymphatic drainage can also be helpful for people with swollen limbs which can be another symptom of CFS. “The important thing is to find a therapist you trust and can communicate, and take time to work out what’s right for you,” Esther adds.

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