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Managing Stress with Massage Therapy

Updated: May 31

lady laying face down getting a massage on her back

Remember when we were children? A single week felt like an eternity.  As adults, time seems to slip through our fingers like sand. The pace of life accelerates, demanding that we buckle up, keep up, or risk being left behind. The pressure to perform at work and maintain balance in our personal lives can be overwhelming. The result? STRESS!

Stress Response

Stress triggers a complex response in the central nervous system, activating the sympathetic system (fight or flight) and suppressing the parasympathetic system (rest and digest).

While short-term activation aids survival, prolonged stress leads to chronic hormone release, causing anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, and cardiovascular disease.

  • Chronic stress: impairs the parasympathetic nervous system's ability to maintain balance and promote healing, leading to a range of negative health effects.

  • Reduced Digestive Function:  Chronic stress inhibits digestion, causing indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea.

  • Impaired Immune Function: Continuous stress weakens immune responses, increasing susceptibility to infections.

  • Poor Rest and Recovery: Chronic stress disrupts sleep patterns and hinders recovery from daily wear and tear.

  • Increased Inflammation: Persistent stress causes chronic low-grade inflammation.

  • Elevated Heart Rate and Blood Pressure: Chronic stress keeps heart rate and blood pressure high, raising the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Massage Therapy: A Foundation for Rest, Recovery, and Resilience

We are hardwired to react to acute stress, but thriving depends on recovery. To restore our systems, we need time and the right conditions. Proper recovery builds resilience, preparing us for future challenges. Constant stress hinders this process. Massage therapy promotes recovery and helps develop and maintain resilience.

Massage Therapy to Promote Relaxation

Massage therapy counteracts stress and promotes relaxation by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Reduces Cortisol Levels: Massage significantly lowers cortisol and increases serotonin and dopamine, enhancing mood and well-being (International Journal of Neuroscience).

  • Activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System: This system, responsible for "rest and digest," decreases heart rate and blood pressure, promoting relaxation (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine).

  • Improves Circulation: Massage enhances blood flow, aiding in waste removal and nutrient delivery, reducing muscle tension, and promoting relaxation.

  • Reduces Muscle Tension and Pain: Chronic stress causes muscle tension and pain, which massage therapy alleviates, breaking the stress cycle (Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies).

  • Boosts Immune Function: Massage enhances immune function by increasing natural killer cell activity, protecting against infections and cancer (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine).

Massage Therapy for Stress Reduction

Experts in stress management consistently advocate massage therapy for reducing stress. Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, states,

"Massage therapy is a natural and effective way to reduce stress and promote overall health. Research shows it profoundly impacts both mind and body, making it an excellent tool for managing stress."

Why Choose Massage Therapy at Connected Chiropractic in Paisley?

Massage therapy is not a luxury; it is a scientifically supported method for reducing stress and promoting well-being. By lowering cortisol levels, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, improving circulation, relieving muscle tension, and enhancing immune function, massage therapy offers a holistic approach to stress management. Regular massage can significantly improve mental and physical health, helping you handle daily challenges with ease and resilience.

During your appointment, our therapists can teach you simple ways to manage stress and build resilience. One of our massage therapists, Donna McVey, is also a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist and can offer top tips for managing stress.


  • International Journal of Neuroscience, Massage therapy reduces cortisol and increases serotonin and dopamine.

  • Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Massage therapy activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

  • Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Massage therapy improves circulation and reduces pain.

  • Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, Massage therapy reduces muscle soreness.

  • Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Massage therapy enhances immune function.

  • Dr. Tiffany Field, Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.


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