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Stress is a physical response that affects the way you feel, think and how your body works. Stress is a normal response to events that make you feel threatened or upset. The body's defence process is called fight or flight and is a common reaction to stress. Stress is caused by a release of stress hormones in the body including adrenaline and cortisol. When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. An increase of muscle tension is a reflex reaction to stress, the body's way of guarding against injury or pain. Stress becomes a physical and mental effect that leads to chronic pain in the body. Our massage therapists working at provide effective massage treatments to treat stress.

What type of massage is used for stress?

There are many types of massage that can be used to help relieve stress. The types of massage used for stress are:

Customer receiving a shoulder massage while in a relaxed position in Manchester Physio Clinic

When can massage help stress?

Massage can help stress for many circumstances. The circumstances that massage can help for stress include:

Soft tissue massage targeting bicep femoris and semitendinosusAbove: Soft tissue massage targeting bicep femoris and semitendinosus

Receiving a massage for stress can help relieve chronic pain. Stress can lead to many physical problems. Stress and pain can be linked and create a vicious cycle that leads to chronic conditions. Many types of massage can help break the cycle and relieve physical symptoms of stress and pain. Massage is able to treat muscles and other soft tissues by increasing temperature, blood circulation and delaying pain receptors. Massage interrupts pain signals causing chronic pain so that it is not registered in the brain. Pain is reduced and muscles become looser.

A massage helps relieve tight muscles caused by stress. Feeling stressed causes the release of stress hormones. Stress hormones increase the perception of pain and result in muscles to be tightened up. Tight muscles are at higher risk of painful spasms and further injury. Muscle tightness reduces blood flow in the tissues restricting oxygen and nutrients. Reduction of blood flow affects natural healing and delays the removal process of metabolic wastes. Massage helps decrease stress hormones in the body therefore reducing the chance of muscle tightness. Stress hormones are replaced with more positive hormones that stimulate emotions of relaxation and calmness.

A massage can be an effective treatment to relieve stress before intense exercise or competition. Stress, anxiety and adrenaline levels increase in order to mentally prepare the body for activity. Stress, anxiety and adrenaline can have a negative effect on the body and performance. Performance will often suffer due to high amounts of stress. Massage is used as a relaxing technique and is helpful for reducing physical symptoms of stress. Massage helps reduce heart rate, slow breathing rate and reduce tense muscles. Pre event massage is commonly used to maximise performance for important competitions or events.

A massage can help relieve stress during and after pregnancy. Pregnancy can increase stress on the body, both physically and mentally. Physically, the body changes through pregnancy as weight load increases. Muscles become under a larger amount of stress resulting in pain and discomfort. Massage can help relieve stress from the muscles by encouraging them to relax and loosening tight muscles. Pregnancy can also be emotionally stressful therefore increasing tension to specific areas of the body. Back and shoulders commonly carry emotional stress causing them to tighten and fatigue. A massage can decrease the feeling of stress by stimulating hormones from the brain. Massage stimulates specific hormones such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. These hormones produce feelings of calmness, relaxation and happiness. By releasing positive hormones into the body, stress hormones are replaced so that emotions of stress are reduced.

What are the physiological effects of receiving a massage for stress?

Massage can produce many important physiological effects on the body. The physiological effects of massage for stress include:

Soft Tissue Massage targeting latissimus dorsi muscleAbove: Soft Tissue Massage targeting latissimus dorsi muscle

Massage helps increase temperature of soft tissues. Soft tissues include ligaments, tendons, fascia and muscle. Massage increases temperature by creating friction against the skin. Friction causes capillarisation and vasodilation in the blood. Capillarisation and vasodilation is the increase of number and size of blood cells in the blood flow. Increased circulation in soft tissues raises the temperature and encourages relaxation.

A massage for stress also increases the number of feel good hormones released from the brain. Feel good hormones are known as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. Endorphins, serotonin and dopamine stimulate feelings of happiness and well-being. By increasing feel good hormones, they override stress emotions therefore improving mood.

A physiological effect of massage is decreased cortisol. When the body is stressed, the hypothalamus signals the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces epinephrine and cortisol known as stress hormones. Stress signals from the hypothalamus cause the adrenal cortex to produce more hormones which gives the body energy to prepare for "fight or flight" response. Receiving a massage stimulates the opposite nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system helps control the body's emotions back to a relaxed state. Massage blocks stress signals and decreases the number of cortisol hormones being released.

Customer receiving an arm massage while in a relaxed position

What are the benefits of receiving a massage for stress?

Massage to help stress has many benefits. The benefits of massage for stress include:

Receiving a massage benefits the body by improving mood and reducing stress. Massage reduces stress by decreasing the number of stress hormones being released from the brain. The stress hormone is known as cortisol which can produce emotions such as anxiety and depression. Massage enables stress to be relieved and be replaced with more positive hormones.

A benefit of a massage for stress is the result of relaxation. A massage to treat stress results in physical and mental relaxation. Massage relaxes the body physically by increasing temperature of the muscles, improving circulation and loosening tight muscles. When the body relaxes, stress is reduced. A massage helps relax the body emotionally by decreasing stress hormones and increasing more endorphins and serotonin. Hormones released from the brain reflect on emotions being felt. Endorphins and serotonin improve mood by producing feelings of happiness and well-being.

Receiving a massage for stress can also benefit by decreasing pain. Stress and pain can be closely linked and lead to chronic conditions. Massage helps reduce the feeling of stress and helps relax the body. Muscles become looser which allows pain to be relieved. Maintaining a massage for stress also helps reduce muscular pains.

Emotionally stress can unconsciously affect posture. Stress stimulates the release of stress hormones in the body causing muscles to tighten. When muscles tighten, their full movement is restricted. Posture is adapted due to restrictive muscles and is pulled into positions that cause discomfort. Over time, muscles remain in the incorrect positions resulting in increased pain. Massage helps relieve tightness in the muscles allowing more movement to be restored. During a massage treatment at we also advise on correct postural positions that will beneficial long-term.


A massage is an effective treatment to help relieve stress. Stress can impact the body physically and mentally. Many types of massages including therapeutic massage, remedial massage, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage and mechanical massage can help reduce symptoms of stress. Massage for stress can help on many occasions that include chronic pain, tight muscles, pre event and pregnancy. The benefits of a massage for stress is reduced stress, relaxation, decreased pain and improved posture. Our massage therapists working at provide effective massage treatments to treat stress.

How can I arrange a stress relief treatment?

The easiest way to arrange a massage for stress at is to email us at or call us on 0800 033 7800.

You can also book an appointment online and save £10

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