Best massage therapy for anxiety and stress - Boston Anxiety Treatment


Can Massage Therapy Help With Depression?

Massages (massage therapy) could help with fightin

Massages (massage therapy) could help with fighting one of the most common outcomes of everyday stress – depression.

Different methods of therapeutic massage have been used for centuries to reduce depression.

Nonetheless, massages can decrease cortisol levels by 50%. At the same time, they yield increased levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for the stability of your mood.

To combat depression, even more, you can introduce exercise into your daily routine.

A massage will come in handy if you need to relieve soreness and muscle stiffness.


Thai Massage

Thai massage is based on the the ancient Thai system of the body’s meridian. All the energies of the body have to be located at the central meridian. The Thai massage is deeply entrenched with Buddhism and is very effective for stress relief.

25. Shirodhara Massage-An Ayurvedic Types of Massage Therapy

This massage purpose is to stimulate the head nerves. The therapist uses medicated or herbal oil to stimulate the scalp. The massage can take anywhere from thirty minutes to one hour. It does have several benefits. It is a type of Ayurveda massage.

Benefits of Shirodhara Massage

  • Helps with mental fatigue
  • Enhances focus
  • Relieves from migraines and headaches 

12. Cupping Massage Therapy-Therapeutic Cupping Types of Massage

Cupping therapy dates back to 3000 BC. It is often ridiculed since there is no scientific reasoning behind it. Cupping is done for short term relief. It improves mobility and general blood flow around the body.

There is a logical way of doing it. First of all, the therapist will look for a sore area on the body. The pressure is applied via a suction cup to the affected area. The area will build pressure as blood flows to the surface.

Depending on the amount of pain and size of the cup, the latter will remain on for a few minutes. In order to increase the flow of blood to the area, a series of additional movements can also be performed. The cup is then removed. Cupping sessions can take anywhere up to one hour. It can also be done on anyone.

Dry Cupping

This is the most common one. The focus is on creating pressure on a small area just under the skin. The cup is usually latched on soft skin since it is easy to create a seal all around the cup. This increases the pressure overall. The cups usually range from 1-3 inches in diameter.

Wet Cupping

This type of cupping is done by creating a small incision from which blood is drawn out. All is then held with the cup. This type of cupping is mostly popular in Islamic Culture.

Fire Cupping

Instead of plastic cups, fire cupping is done using glass ones. To carry this out, the therapist needs almost pure alcohol, a glass cup, and a fire source.

It is done by plunging a cotton ball into the liquid, lighting it up, and inserting it into the cup latched on the body. The cup will not move due to rapid cooling and heating.

Sometimes cups can be glided across the skin if essential oils are applied. This process may be called moving cupping.

Benefits of Cupping Types of Massage Therapy

  • Treat short term pain
  • Deals with muscle tightness
  • Deals with specific areas

Massage Therapy to Ease Headaches and Tension

  • Start by placing your thumbs on your cheekbones close to your ears, and use your fingertips to gently apply pressure and rub the temples (the soft spot between the corner of your eye and your ear).
  • Using very firm pressure and a tiny circular motion, gradually move your fingers up along your hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, massaging your entire forehead and scalp as you inch along.

6. Cupping Therapy

Generally, cupping therapy is carried out by:Cupping therapy is another massage technique that is ridiculed because its basis is not backed by hard scientific fact. Cupping therapies can actually be dated back to 3000BC, and since then has been used as an official method for short-term pain relief and for increased movement and blood flow.

Generally, cupping therapy is carried out by:

  1. The massage therapist will find a tight and/or sore area of the body
  2. Pressure is applied to the area by suctioning a cup onto the skin
  3. Pressure builds in the area as blood runs to the surface
  4. The cup remains on the body for a few minutes, depending on both the size of the cup and the amount of pain the muscle has been causing
  5. Sometimes, the practitioner will encourage the patient through a series of movements to further increase blood flow to the affected area
  6. The cup is removed

There are also three different cupping styles, which include:

  1. Dry Cupping → Dry cupping is most common, and generally focuses on creating a small area of pressure underneath the skin. Normally, the cup is latched onto softer skin because it can create a better seal around the cup, which increases the overall pressure. Cups ranging from one to three inches in diameter are used.
  2. Fire Cupping → Fire cupping includes glass cups, instead of plastic ones, and is carried out by soaking a cotton ball in near-pure alcohol, lighting it on fire, and quickly inserting it into the cup and onto the body. The cup stays in place because of the rapid heating and cooling of the glass cup. Cups can also glide across the skin in a practice called “moving cupping,” but only if massage oil is applied.
  3. Wet Cupping → Wet cupping draws blood out by creating a small incision, and all is held in place with a suction cup. It is very popular among Islamic culture.

Though cupping is seen as a pseudoscience and is claimed to have no health benefits, others swear by it for short-term health benefits. Studies are still inconclusive about the good or bad traits of this massage practice.

Cupping sessions generally take up to an hour and can be performed on nearly anyone.


  • Cupping therapy is a good option for short term pain management or muscle tightness.
  • Cupping is preferred by those with more generalized pain over softer tissue.

8. Trigger Point Therapy

Generally, trigger point follows very similar protTrigger point therapy, which is often mistaken for pressure point therapy, deactivates trigger points anywhere along the body that may cause mild or severe pain. Painful trigger points can result in muscle strain, pain, or even headaches. Trigger point therapy was first mapped by Janet G. Travell, who worked with President Kennedy, and David Simmons. However, it was not until 2007 that trigger points were mapped with MRI scans.

Generally, trigger point follows very similar protocols as other massage practices. A tender and painful spot is found, and pressure is applied to relieve this pain. However, unlike classic massage, trigger point delves deep into the fascial layer to release tension at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), which differentiates it from other massage therapies.

Trigger point sessions can last anywhere from ten minutes up to an hour, though it is normally intense and somewhat painful, so some caution for longer sessions apply. It can also be utilized by any aged patient, and is generally reserved for intense, painful muscle strain.


  • Trigger point therapy is preferred by those with very intense and site-specific pain.
  • Trigger point therapy focuses on instant relief of intense joint or muscle pain by applying direct pressure with a thumb, elbow, or other extremity.

Massage Therapy to Soothe Tired Feet

  • Bring your left foot onto the seat of your chair so you can see your instep. Using your right thumb, apply very firm pressure along the side of your foot, working from the heel to the big toe. Walk your thumb across the ridge where the toes meet the ball of your foot. When you get to the small toe, use your thumb and index finger to squeeze and twist along the entire surface of the toe. Work each toe individually until you get back to the large toe. Take all of your toes in one hand and stretch them back and forth, bending and flexing.
  • While supporting the top of your left foot with your left hand, use the knuckles of your right hand to apply deep pressure to the entire surface of the bottom of your foot, working from the heel to the toes and back down.
  • Stretch your toes, flex and extend your feet, and do a few ankle rotations.

Repeat the entire process on the right foot

7. Reflexology Massage

Reflexology is ideal for men and women who want to curl up or reestablish their levels of energy if you’re not comfortable being touched in your body.

Additionally, it is a fantastic alternative. Reflexology uses gentle to business pressure on various pressure points of their foot, hands, and ears.

  • You’re able to wear clothing that allows access.
  • This really is a fantastic choice if you are uncomfortable being touched on your whole body.
  • You can be fully clothed in this sort of massage.

How to choose the best massage therapy for your anxiety

Choosing the type of massage that you need for your anxiety is a tasking thing. However, one thing to note is that every type of massage when done by a qualified therapist or massager is good enough to relieve the anxiety symptoms.

There are several considerations however to make before deciding on the type of massage therapy that you should get. The following are the common things to consider:

  • Is it the first time to get a massage or you frequently get a massage? The Swedish massage is the best massage if you are getting a massage for the first time. All the other types of massages can be used when it is the first time massage however.
  • Do you have major pain or minor pain? And where is the pain located?
  • How much time do you have for the massage?
  • Are you comfortable with aromas?
  • The type of muscles targeted/ the area of focus. Some massages like Swedish massage target the superficial muscles whole others like deep tissue massage target the deep-lying muscles, tendons, and joints.
  • Cause of the injury or pain. Pains caused by repeated use of a muscle like in sports are better treated using deep tissue massage or sports massage.
  • The end result desired: A Thai massage gives an energy boost and mental stimulation while a Swedish massage gives improved relaxation and sleep.

There Are Different Styles Of Massage Therapy

Some of the popular ones for stress relief include:

  • Swedish massage is very gentle and tends to use long smooth strokes, circular movements and kneading on the superficial layers of muscle.
  • Reflexology applies pressure to “reflex points” located along energy meridians which correspond to the organs and systems in the body. It can be very relaxing.
  • Shiatsu is a form of Japanese massage which uses specific techniques of finger pressure along acupuncture meridians to improve and balance the energy flow through the body.
  • Far infrared massage uses motorized massage beds combined with far infrared light waves and warmth to gently increase circulation, soothe and relax.

Experiment to find ones you like.

What are the physiological effects of massage to reduce stress?

A variety of physiological effects occur during a massage to help reduce stress. The most common physiological effects that occur include:

The physiological effects that most commonly occur during a massage to help reduce stress include increased endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, decreased cortisol and increased tissue elasticity.

An increase in endorphins, serotonin and dopamine occurs during a massage to reduce stress. Endorphins, serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters released by stimulation of the autonomic system. Endorphins are responsible for relieving anxiety, serotonin prevents depression and gives a sense of well-being and dopamine increases motivation and prevents self-doubt. When the body lacks the positive hormones endorphins, serotonin and dopamine, a person can become stressed, anxious and can often have a feeling of loneliness. A massage stimulates the autonomic system, encouraging the release of the positive hormones. Increasing the level of positive hormones within the body, reduces stress and anxiety and can improve a person’s overall mood.

Stress is reduced when a decrease in cortisol occurs. Cortisol is a negative hormone released from the adrenal gland when the hypothalamus had been stimulated. The adrenal gland is located on top of the kidneys and the hypothalamus is part of the brain. Cortisol is released into the blood flow and is transported around the body. Cortisol increases stress, anxiety and depression but is also responsible for the “fight or flight” response. When too much cortisol is released in response to factors such as pain, stress levels increase and the immune system becomes suppressed. A massage aims to flush out the cortisol from the blood flow and replace it with positive hormone endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Replacing cortisol with positive hormones decreases stress and increases relaxation.

Things to Consider

Generally, massage therapy only has a few potentially adverse side effects. Many people experience some soreness throughout their body the first few days following a massage.

However, you should never feel pain or discomfort during or after a massage. Massage is also contraindicated for certain medical conditions. Always consult your doctor before getting a massage if you are unsure if it's right for you.

Studies have supported the safety and effectiveness of utilizing massage therapy for stress, anxiety, and depression—but if you are experiencing panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorder, talk to your doctor before trying this or other CAM therapies.

Your doctor will be able to assist you with conventional treatment options, such as medication and therapy. Massage may be beneficial in helping you manage your condition but is not a substitute for traditional medical care. Massage therapy may be incorporated into your standard treatment plan to assist you in coping with your symptoms.

Benefits of Therapeutic Massage

Massage therapy can help the body relax, which in turn can help you let go of anxious and fearful thoughts. Massage can relieve muscle pain and tension, improve circulation, and increase flexibility. As a relaxation technique, massage therapy can work to help manage the fight-or-flight response, or stress reaction, that is typically overactive among people with anxiety disorders.

The fight-or-flight reaction is responsible for causing fearful thoughts and reactions that often far outweigh any actual threat in the environment. For example, people with agoraphobia often fear having a panic attack in a large crowd or a confined area where it would feel embarrassing or be difficult to escape.

The fight-or-flight reaction commonly leads to uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, accelerated heart rate, excessive sweating, and chest pain. Massage therapy can have an opposing effect on the body by eliciting the relaxation response, reducing tension, lowering heart rate, and generally making a person feel calmer.

Physical Benefits
  • Less muscle pain and tension

  • Improved circulation and flexibility

  • Lower heart rate

Mental Benefits Fewer anxious thoughts Tamed fight-or-flight response Lower tension and more feelings of calm

Lomi Lomi Massage

This is a special massage from the Hawaiian islands. This massage is usually done without oils by two masseurs in tandem. Keeping with the mood of Hawaii, it is a great way to relax on a holiday.

2. Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage is most suitable for individuals who have anxiety and muscle strain or who need to curl up.

This type of massage is much like some Swedish massage, merely the massage therapist uses stones instead of or along with their own hands. Using heated stone it alleviates muscle tension, improves blood circulation, and alleviates pain.

Hot stone massage can help:

  • Alleviate muscle strain
  • boost blood circulation
  • alleviate pain
  • promote comfort
  • alleviate stress

Throughout a hot stone massage, heated stones are set around your body on areas. Your therapist can hold a rock while they massage various areas of the system with Swedish massage techniques with pressure. Cold stones can also be utilized.

Note that you do not wear clothes to get hot stone massage. You’re going to likely probably soon be covered with a sheet. The massage is 90 minutes. Hot stone massage can relieve more muscular strain than a Swedish massage as a result of the additional heat.

Such a massage is usually pricier than a Swedish massage.

What techniques are used to reduce stress?

Various techniques are used to reduce stress. The techniques most commonly used include:

Above: Soft tissue massage of trapezius muscles

The most common techniques used to reduce stress include deep strokes, trigger pointing and lymphatic drainage.

Deep strokes are regularly used to reduce stress. Deep strokes involve using a firm pressure to get deep within muscle tissues. A lot of muscle stress can often come from deeper tissues as well as superficial. Stress located deeper within muscle tissues can cause increased pain and restricted movement. Deep strokes increase muscle temperature to increase tissue elasticity. Increasing tissue elasticity, loosens muscles and reduces stress and tension. Reduction of stress within muscles also decreases pain and increases movement.

Trigger pointing is an effective technique used to reduce stress. A trigger point is found in the centre of a muscle fibre. Trigger points are a buildup of stress and tension that form muscular knots. Trigger points can cause referred pain, headaches and can increase mental stress. Fingers and thumbs are used during trigger pointing to apply a firm pressure. As the pressure is applied an ischemic reaction occurs. An ischemic reaction is where blood flow I restricted to an area and then increases when pressure is released. Before the pressure is released, the pressure applied will start to soften, creating a numbing sensation. When the numbing sensation has occurred, more pressure can be applied depending on how deep or how big the trigger point is or the pressure can be released. Softening and numbing the trigger point reduces pain and headaches and relieves both mental and physical stress.

Stress can be reduced through lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage involves the stimulation of the lymphatic system to remove metabolic wastes more efficiently. A buildup of metabolic wastes can occur after an injury, surgery or over use of a muscle. Metabolic wastes increase muscular fatigue and weakness and can result in swelling and pain. Swelling, muscular fatigue and muscular weakness can restrict movement and prevent injuries from healing. Restricting movement and preventing healing can increase mental stress as a person can become frustrated not being able to use the area of the body properly or returning to their exercise or sport. A massage stimulates the lymphatic system. A variety of long, deep strokes are used to flush out the metabolic wastes from the body and replace them with healthy oxygen and nutrients. Flushing metabolic wastes from the body more efficiently through lymphatic drainage reduces swelling, pain and restriction. Decreasing swelling pain and restriction reduces mental stress.

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Bella Hardy Welcome to Health Nerdy. My name is Bella Hardy. I am senior editor of | Health & Wellness Resource Center!