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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Massage Therapy: 
A Natural and Enjoyable Way to Relax and Ease Pain

May 01, 2024 12:00AM ● By Jordan Peschek

Photo by cottonbro studio

Massage therapy isn’t just a luxury; it’s a holistic approach to wellness that offers relaxation and pain relief. It is “therapy” for a reason: massage is a natural, non-invasive approach to helping people feel better physically, emotionally and energetically. Massage is a unique service that is not only a self-care treat, but also offers a host of health benefits.

Physical Benefits of Massage: Pain and Posture

With over 600 muscles in the body, pain is common, especially in areas like the back and neck. Massage eases pain, improves posture, and enhances emotional well-being. Research backs its efficacy in relieving back, neck, hip, knee, labor discomfort, cancer-related pain and more. The CDC reports that over 50 million people experience chronic pain, and it’s one of the most common complaints in older adults. Back pain and neck pain are considered to be significant public health problems. Up to 70% of college students experience back pain associated with long hours of sitting, according to a study from Colombia University, and a meta-analysis published in Health Promotion Perspectives estimate that 80% of people experience low-back pain at some point; prolonged sitting time and driving time are significant risk factors.

A massage therapist offers a hands-on approach to relax tense muscles and help improve musculoskeletal function. With better function, balance and realignment within the body, posture can improve and pain can decrease. Countless research studies demonstrate the effectiveness of massage therapy for pain relief of all sorts including back, neck, hip and knee pain as well as cancer pain and pain related to pregnancy, labor and cesarean sections.

For example, massage effectively reduced back pain and improved emotional well-being for older adults in a 2022 study published in Medical Science Pulse. A 2023 meta-analysis published in Medicine found massage therapy to effectively improve cancer pain. A study published in Explorer found massage therapy to significantly benefit patients with labor pain, and a 2021 randomized control trial showed significant improvements in postpartum pain with deep tissue massage following cesarean sections.

Mental and Emotional Benefits of Massage

Photo by Jonathan Borba for

Massage doesn’t just benefit physical health; it also improves mental and emotional well-being. Pain and mental health are intertwined, and massage can significantly improve both. It reduces stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms, contributing to overall wellness. Studies published in Brain Sciences, Midwifery and many others demonstrate the positive impact of massage on pain and emotional health, including pregnant women and people of all ages. “I was always hesitant to get a massage, as I didn’t know what to expect,” states Lynn Peschek, who works full-time in a sedentary finance position. “But every time I get a massage, it feels relaxing yet rejuvenating at the same time. It feels like all of this bad stuff leaves my body!”

Massage therapists often have keen awareness of emotional and energetic stresses that contributes to pain and dysfunction. Pain is highly associated with frustration, stress and depressive symptoms, and massage has been shown to offer relief in pain, anxiety, depressive symptoms and more. By easing pain, coupled with a relaxing experience, emotional benefits often result quite naturally. Health benefits of massage tend to be cumulative with repeated sessions.

Ultimately, massage is a valuable addition to anyone’s self-care routine, offering personalized relaxation and pain relief. Whether a person simply wants some time to relax and destress, or they want to ease pain and tension on a deeper level, massage is something to consider. Consulting with a massage therapist can help tailor the experience to individual needs, ensuring maximum benefits.

Jordan Peschek is the publisher of Natural Awakenings Milwaukee magazine.