How to Use Massage for Weight Loss
By Malia Frey Updated on January 06, 2020
If you’re looking for a way to lose weight that doesn’t involve diet or exercise, you’ll find plenty of information on the internet about massage. Many websites recommend abdominal massage and other forms of massage therapy as effective weight loss methods.
Before you call your local massage therapist to set up an appointment, you should find out what massage can and cannot do if you are trying to lose weight.
Weight Loss Benefits of Massage
Massage therapy can work wonders for people who are trying to lose weight, but massage treatment alone doesn’t make weight loss
If you are hoping that a massage will reduce your cellulite, decrease your belly fat, or shrink your thighs, you’re likely to be disappointed.
However, massage can make it easier for you to stick to a diet and an exercise program. These are just some of the benefits you might experience with massage therapy:
- Better sleep
- Decreased muscle soreness
- Decreased stress
- Improved mental state2
- Improved range of motion
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced back pain3
“Massage is also a wonderfully healthy way to reward yourself for all of the hard work you are doing!” says Bethany O’Shei of Clay Health Club + Spa in New York City.4 O’Shei has been a licensed massage therapist for eight years. She works with many clients who use massage along with a comprehensive program of diet and exercise to lose weight.
“Massage helps release endorphins in the body that give us that euphoric happy feeling,” she says. “And by doing healthy things for our body we build a better relationship with ourselves and treat our bodies with the respect we deserve.
Several research studies support her claims. In one report published in the British Medical Journal in 1999, researchers explained that the healing power of massage is especially helpful for people without a strong support system.5
“Touch itself is likely to be therapeutic, particularly in those with limited opportunities for physical contact, such as patients without intimate friends or family or with painful physical conditions.” — ABC of complementary medicine: Massage therapies (1999)
What Kind of Massage Is Best for Weight Loss?
There are many types of massage.6 Swedish massage is popular for its stress relief benefits. Deep tissue massage is helpful for people who exercise and are prone to sore muscles. Shiatsu massage is a technique where the therapist uses localized pressure to provide relief.7
Which type of massage is best for weight loss? Lynda Solien-Wolfe, the Vice President of Massage & Spa Performance Health and the Massage Makes Me Happy Initiative Chair, says that Swedish massage is helpful for most.8
“I would recommend a Swedish massage with at least moderate pressure, especially if you’re a first-timer. I suggest it because it’s great for circulation, loosening muscles, touches a variety of problem areas and improves your overall sense of well-being. Another suggestion is to practice self-massage, on problem areas, at home with cream because it helps tone muscles and keeps circulation going between massages and workouts.”
Solien-Wolfe adds that finding a qualified massage therapist—and having clear communication with them—is also important. These qualities ensure that you are comfortable during your service.
“It’s always a good idea to have a consultation with your massage therapist before your first treatment. People come in all shapes and sizes and your massage therapist, just like any other healthcare professional, understands this and their main concern is improving your health during your treatment.”
Should You Get a Massage to Help Lose Weight?
Massage can be a helpful part of a comprehensive weight loss program, but it’s important to keep your expectations in check.
To be successful, you’ll want to focus on eating a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, and getting enough physical activity each day. If you want to add massage to your routine, find a licensed massage therapist in your area who can help you to keep your body feeling strong, flexible, and relaxed.
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