You see them advertised all the time. They’re in the supermarket, at the pharmacy, and available all over the internet (and all different types).
Many people swear by the benefits of massagers, but does scientific research actually back that up? Or, is massage yet another pseudoscience that works for some people and not others?
Read on to learn about the scientific research on massagers!
What is a Massager?
Massagers come in many different shapes, sizes, prices. They all have one purpose, however: relieve pain and tension in your muscles and joints, helping you feel happier, looser, and more healthy in general!
Among the most popular types of massagers are:
Benefits of Massagers: Scientific Proof
Decreased Stress and Improved Mood
Massage has a unique benefit that not many other types of pain management can replicate. In clinical studies, massage has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, a substance directly correlated to feeling stressed or worried. Massage also boosts levels of serotonin and dopamine, the two chemicals that your body naturally releases that make you feel happy and stress-free.
Massage helps you relax, according to one study, releasing the tension in your body that tends to build throughout the day as you move, work, and experience daily stress. Another study found that massage can help stroke patients reduce their anxiety and shoulder pain as they receive ongoing treatment and care. Different research found that this anxiety-reducing effect of massage occurred in all seniors, not just stroke patients. Back massage can also help residents of long-term care facilities feel more relaxed and comfortable in their environment. People with Alzheimer’s can also experience reduced agitation and stress after receiving head and face massage.
If you experience a lot of stress in your day or you have medical problems that cause your stress levels to go up, massage is ideal for you. Even if stress isn’t a major part of your life, you can still use a massager to unwind at the end of the day and improve your mood. In fact, 93% of participants in one study reported an increased sense of well-being, and 88% reported that their mood improved after massage. The benefit that a simple 15-minute massage can have on your mental health and a general sense of happiness should not be ignored!
A study published in Health Notions confirmed what conventional wisdom has long said: massage, particularly on the back, is effective at reducing pain. The International Journal of Older People Nursing also found that massage helps people who’ve recently had cardiovascular surgery feel less pain and anxiety as they recover.
Massaging the thighs and other leg muscles reduces feelings of pain and also increases the range of motion in seniors with arthritis in their knees. If you have arthritis in your knees, you know the pain, stiffness, and frustration associated with it. Instead of reaching for another aspirin, you may want to grab both aspirin and a leg massager to help deal with the pain and feel loose again!
Unique Benefits of Foot Massage
Foot massage has some great benefits for people who are receiving long-term care in a hospital or assisted living setting. One study discovered that foot massage was beneficial for helping people with dementia feel calm and comfortable. Another clinical study confirmed that foot massage sessions had the same effect on patients in intensive care. Finally, researchers established that foot massage had a positive effect on mood and pain in people who recently had cardiac surgeries. Why does this matter? Foot massage is one of the simplest types of massage, which means you can get great benefits with a low-effort, convenient self-care routine.
Tips to Find the Best Massager for Your Needs
Type of Massager
Each massager is designed with a different part of the body in mind. Some products, such as massage pillows and seat cushions, primarily target the back and shoulders. This is great if you have lower back pain or tense shoulders that need to be worked on, but doesn’t do much to benefit your legs, feet, or hands. This means that you should consider where massage would feel best and benefit you the most and look for massagers that target that body part specifically.
Until recently (around 2017), most people had never heard the phrase “massage gun”, nor seen/used one personally. New products such as the TheraGun, however, have created waves in the health and wellness industries because of their powerful deep-tissue massage. It should be mentioned, though, that massage guns are designed to give intense massage to major muscles.
Massage Guns are also hard to use on muscles outside of your legs, arms, and shoulders. That means that seniors who are frail or have back pain should not be distracted by the trendy, flashy look of massage guns and opt for massage pillows or back massagers instead.
What are the Best Places to Buy a Massager?
With massagers, though, you rarely have the opportunity to test them out before taking them out of the box. That means that shopping in-person for a massager isn’t the best route; you can’t test them, and physical stores have a very limited selection compared to online shopping.
Here are the best places to get a massager for your home:
Conclusion: Health Benefits of Massagers
Massage is a very beneficial and natural way to relieve pain, reduce stress, and feel like a more healthy person. Massage devices that you can control yourself are convenient, non-invasive, and generally very affordable. Which benefit of massagers was most striking to you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!