Can Massage lower High Blood Pressure?

When I was studying to become a therapist we were taught that massage helps to reduce blood pressure by slowing the heart down, when the parasympathetic nervous system kicked in, and dilating the blood vessels to aid the flow of blood back to the heart so that the heart didn’t have to work so hard. But what is the medical proof that massage does reduce high blood pressure? I wanted to write something about the effects and benefits of Swedish massage on high blood pressure that is based on information that is peer-reviewed medical research.

Tricky to find the answer, is what I found! There were a few studies but they were, almost all, just about impossible to understand because of the medical language used that I cannot decipher; there was a lot of contradictory information and many sites saying that there was no proof that hypertension was reduced. In fact, one of the contra-indications for massage is high blood pressure – “High blood pressure is often taught and seen as a contraindication for massage…where a person already has too much pressure exerted against the walls of the blood vessels, massage will further increase circulation and increase the pressure, leading to potentially dangerous scenarios.”

So, I shall paraphrase some of the positive information I found and include links to the pages for you to read them yourselves.

Hypertension causes excessive pressure to be exerted against the blood vessel walls…but, “….overwhelming evidence demonstrates that massage therapy can reduce blood pressure.” This site also quotes studies conducted in 1999 by the University of Miami School of Medicine; a paper published in 2005 by researchers at the University of South Florida and one published in 2006 by the National University of Health Science all giving positive results of massage on high blood pressure.

This site had a lot of diagrams and terms of which I have no knowledge so I skimmed down to the section ‘Discussion’ to see what the findings were (I could understand this a bit better). It makes for very interesting reading and I conclude with a line from this – “Based on the study and the subject literature, one can conclude that classic massage has a positive influence on the level of blood pressure.”

The important thing that I do know is that massage makes people relax, their bodies to quieten and slow, so I, personally, would recommend you book a massage – soon!

Further sites to look at: – this site quotes a number of conducted studies at the end of the article.


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