Massage is often considered one of the best strategies for providing tension relief among people with stiff muscles. A massage session is also great for helping you wind down and relax, giving you an opportunity to calm your mind and let go of the day’s stress. Some disorders can even be treated with massage. This includes chronic lower back pain, soft tissue injuries, high blood pressure, and even insomnia (1).
What you may not realize is that massage could be the one missing element of your weight loss strategy. According to some studies, massage holds benefits for people who are struggling to lose weight. There are several ways that a massage can help you. Additionally, different types of massage therapy techniques have been researched too.
We take a closer look at how massages for weight loss can be helpful. We also consider the specific massages that you should consider. In addition to sharing these techniques, we also provide a couple of tips to help you make the entire process even more effective.
Can Massages for Weight Loss Really Help?
When looking at weight loss strategies, a caloric deficit will generally be the first element mentioned (2). It is critical to reduce calorie intake and increase caloric expenditure to lose weight. Exercise is also highly recommended (3). In fact, exercise is critical for increasing daily caloric expenditure. This allows you to burn more calories than you consume.
Recently, people have been started to opt for massages to help them lose weight. The idea behind this sounds unreal. Laying down on a bed and relaxing as a way to reduce your bodyweight – that is not something that is generally prescribed as part of a weight-loss routine.
Even though it may sound unreal, scientific evidence has been provided to back up many of these claims.
Researchers at the Wonkwang Health Science College in Korea tested the effects of massage therapy on postmenopausal women (4). All women had already gone through the menopausal stage of their life. The study used aromatherapy massage in particular.
Effects were tested on abdominal fact among the study participants. The goal of the study was also to see how massage therapy would affect the body image of these women.
All study participants received a massage session for five days of the week. The study lasted for a total of six weeks in total. Different types of aromatherapy oils were used during the massage therapies to test the effects.
Researchers found that massage therapy yielded a reduction in abdominal subcutaneous fat among the female participants of the study. There was also a reduction in waist circumference. It was also noted that body image improved significantly among the women who were part of the study.
Another study (5) also showed that massage therapy could be an effective solution. In this study, researchers combined the use of massage therapy with acupuncture. Body Mass Index was considered a primary measuring factor by the researchers. The researchers also considered changes in body weight among the participants.
All participants were female. The women who were part of the study were either overweight or obese. This provided the researchers with a better opportunity to see how massage therapy could pose as a treatment option for obesity.
It was found that massage therapy does seem to be an effective way of providing a complementary treatment for patients who are obese. Body Mass Index was reduced by the combined effects of massage therapy and acupuncture. There was also a successful reduction in body weight.
What Are the Limitations to Massages for Weight Loss?
We have established that massage therapy does seem to be an effective treatment for obesity. If you need to lose weight, then opting for massages might be a helpful resource. Before you do, however, there are a few things that you should note.
First of all, massage therapy alone will not be enough to help you lose weight effectively. You will still need to work on a weight-loss strategy that would yield effective results.
Think of massage therapy as an extra effort that you add to your weight loss strategy. It should be combined with a regular weight loss plan, which would generally include a diet that helps you achieve a caloric deficit, along with some exercises that help you burn through excess calories.
One study (6) showed that a combined solution would yield the most impressive results. The study was published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. Researchers focused on introducing an Overall Health Care Program to participants in the study. All participants were middle-aged and female. Participants were also Japanese women who were slightly obese.
A total of 67 women participated in the study. These participants were randomly assigned to groups. There was a total of three groups part of the study.
The Overall Health Care Program consisted of the following instructions:
- A natural diet that focused on healthy foods
- Daily walking sessions
- Daily stretching exercises
- Body massage therapy sessions
- Cupping treatments
While the study lasted for a period of three years, participants were only required to follow the Overall Health Care Program for three months each year.
Following the three-month implementation of the program, there were several improvements observed among the participants. Total cholesterol levels improved. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels declined among the participants.
There was also a noteworthy reduction in body fat percentage and body weight. Improvements in Body Mass Index ratings were also noted.
The study showed that massage therapy could be combined with other methods in order to provide a more effective reduction in body weight.
What Type of Massages for Weight Loss Should You Consider?
There are different types of massage therapies that you can opt for. Some of these are primarily aimed to help reduce tension in your muscles, while other massage techniques may hold additional benefits.
If you are trying to lose weight through massage therapy, then you should recognize the types of massages that work most effectively for this purpose. There are three particular massage therapies that have been shown to provide an effective complementary way of helping you lose weight.
When it comes to massages for weight loss, consider the massage techniques that we describe below. These have been shown to yield benefits that may be particularly useful for people who are looking to reduce their weight and improve their general well-being.
Lymphatic Massage Therapy
The lymphatic system is a critical part of the human body. It is responsible for ensuring the body can be defended against pathogenic invaders (7). These invaders are considered foreign and may include microorganisms and other toxic particles.
Obesity has been shown to contribute to a condition known as lymphedema (8). Lymphedema is a condition where there is an excess accumulation of lymphatic fluid in your body (9). This leads to swelling. It can also cause other complications in your body – including changes to your skin tissue.
Obesity also impairs the function of the lymphatic system, according to one study (10).
When lymphedema develops, it aggravates inflammatory triggers in the body. Additionally, lymphedema may contribute to further weight gain. If you develop this condition, losing weight may also become more difficult – even when you are following an appropriate weight loss program.
A lymphatic massage therapy session might be a useful strategy to fight against lymphedema. The therapy includes specific massage techniques that are helpful for flushing out the excess lymphatic fluids that may be present in your body. Lymphatic fluids are particularly flushed from the waist, legs, ankles, and waist. These are the primary areas where excess lymphatic fluids tend to accumulate.
By reducing lymphatic fluid accumulation, it may become easier for you to lose weight. The effects of lymphedema will not interfere with your ability to reduce your weight as much. There may also be a reduction in your waist circumference when you undergo a lymphatic massage therapy session. This is due to the drainage of lymphatic fluids in your hip and waist region.
Aromatherapy Massage Therapy
When it comes to looking at massages for weight loss, you should also note the benefits of an aromatherapy massage. An aromatherapy massage is a technique where special oils are used alongside the process of massaging. The massage itself yields several potential benefits. The use of aromatherapy oils, in addition to the massage, adds on top of the many benefits that you already experience.
Different kinds of seeds can be used in an aromatherapy massage session. Each oil comes with its own special benefits that you should take into consideration. Some oils are commonly used among people looking at massages for weight loss. This is due to the properties and benefits that these oils may offer you.
It has been found that aromatherapy massage therapy that uses an oil where cypress and grapefruit oil are combined may be especially beneficial. These oils may help in the reduction of your waist circumference. They may also hold benefits in reducing abdominal fat in your body.
A study (11) by researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University looked at how aromatherapy can be used as a treatment for symptoms associated with depression. The study found that the use of certain oils in aromatherapy massage sessions can help to reduce the common symptoms that people experience when they suffer from depression.
Depression has been linked to obesity. One study (12) describes that this is a rather complex relationship. Depression itself may contribute to excess weight gain. This is often due to the increased consumption of food among people who feel depressed.
Once you are obese, you may experience a worsening of symptoms associated with depression. You may experience a poor body image, and your self-esteem suffers. These factors cause your depression to become worse.
Sometimes, depression causes a decrease in appetite instead (13). This makes you eat less food. When you do not eat enough food, your metabolism will start to slow down. This is also bad for you, especially if you are trying to lose weight. A slow metabolism makes you more likely to gain weight. It can also make things very difficult when you are trying to lose weight.
Cellulite Skin Fold
When you have a lot of excess weight in your body, it generally means that you are struggling with cellulite too. Cellulite causes an unpleasant appearance and often leads to problems with a person’s self-esteem. The presence of cellulite is sometimes also referred to as orange peel syndrome (14). This is because cellulite causes your skin to have a similar appearance as an orange peel.
A skin fold massage may be a helpful way of reducing the appearance of cellulite while you are losing weight. Studies have shown that the use of a skin fold massage tends to help make the skin smoother (15).
In one study (16), researchers also show that the use of a vibrating massage may provide a significant reduction in the appearance of cellulite. During a skin fold massage, a vibrating device is used on the areas that are affected by cellulite.
The skin fold massage is sometimes combined with a vacuum massage. This is a technique that can help to improve the thickness of the skin and enhance elasticity. These benefits can be helpful for further reducing cellulite. It is generally advised when the appearance of cellulite is more significant.
A vacuum massage holds additional benefits. You may find that it helps to reduce tension in your muscles and reduce muscle pain too.
While massage is generally associated with relaxation and reducing stress, there are other benefits too. Studies show that certain types of massages might be helpful for promoting weight loss. Massage alone will not provide an effective strategy for reducing weight. Combined with diet and an appropriate exercise program, however, it may act as an effective complementary strategy. If you are trying to lose weight, consider the massage techniques that we described in this post. It might be just what you need to get to your goals faster.