How it works

Dating back thousands of years, massage encompasses different techniques of applying gentle pressure on the body’s soft tissue and muscles. Despite it being widely used, how it physiologically affects the body is largely unknown and numerous large-scale studies are underway to investigate this. There are many different types of massage including shiatsu, sports and Swedish massage.

What it could help:

Headaches, migraines, aches, pains, anxiety.

Evidence base:

A recent review looked into all studies linking stress and massage therapy and concluded that most were small and incomparable. It did suggest, however, that massage may have short-term beneficial effects on some patients’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol and on heart-rate levels when assessed immediately after a massage, but there were no long-term effects after multiple massages.

What to expect:

The 40 to 90 minute massage session usually begins with a brief consultation, including a review of symptoms, medical history and massage requirements. The patient then undresses alone, covers themselves with a sheet or towel and lies on the massage table ready for the therapist to return. Massage oils or lotions are then rubbed on the relevant areas. Sessions can be as often as you like.


Massage therapy is not suitable for those with open wounds, tumours or infectious skin diseases. It is also unsuitable immediately after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, and should only be carried out on pregnant women by a therapist certified in pregnancy massage. Be aware of allergies to massage oils and tell your therapist if you feel discomfort. Take your time getting up afterwards as doing so too quickly may result in dizziness.

Find out more:

Find a therapist:


These vary because there are so many types. Typically, a session will cost from £30 to £100 depending on the type of massage, duration and location.

Leave a comment