Reflexology is a gentle yet effective complementary therapy for all ages and suitable for most people with very few exceptions and contra-indications. It may be given as a standalone treatment or alongside conventional medicine as part of an integrated care package. Our feet have several reflex points that form a map of your body and reflexology works on these areas by applying pressure to the reflex points. This relaxes your body, improves well-being and encourages your body to work naturally to restore its own healthy balance.
Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massages on offer. It involves the use of massage oil and various techniques to massage your muscles and soft tissues including stroking, gliding, kneading, rolling. Swedish massage increases circulation, energises your body and improves well-being. It calms your nervous system and brings relaxation to your mind and body. It is great for relaxing tight muscles and soothing tension knots.
Examples of Research Demonstrating the Benefits of Massage
Complementary Therapeutic Medicine. 2013 Jun;21(3):158-63. The effect of aromatherapy massage on the psychological symptoms of postmenopausal Iranian women. Taavoni S(1), Darsareh F, Joolaee S, Haghani H. This randomised clinical trial showed that aromatherapy massage and massage were effective in reducing psychological symptoms, but the effect of aromatherapy massage was higher than massage.
Climacteric. 2012 Feb;15(1):21-9. Effect of therapeutic massage on insomnia and climacteric symptoms in postmenopausal women. Oliveira DS(1), Hachul H, Goto V, Tufik S, Bittencourt LR. This randomised study showed that therapeutic massage improved depression, insomnia and other menopausal symptoms.
J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Mar;34(3):379-386. Efficacy and Safety of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Perlman A(1), Fogerite SG(2), Glass O(3), Bechard E(3), Ali A(4), Njike VY(5), Pieper C(3), Dmitrieva NO(6), Luciano A(3), Rosenberger L(5), Keever T(3), Milak C(2), Finkelstein EA(7), Mahon G(2), Campanile G(8), Cotter A(9), Katz DL(5). This trial showed that regular full body massage significantly improved pain, stiffness and physical function in people with knee osteoarthritis.
Complement Med Res. 2021;28(4):292-299. Comparing the Effects of Massage Therapy and Aromatherapy on Knee Pain, Morning Stiffness, Daily Life Function, and Quality of Life in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis. Hasanpour-Dehkordi A(1), Kabiri F(2), Dris F(3). This randomised trial showed that both massage therapy and aromatherapy improved pain, performance, exercise and recreational activities in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Interventions should be prolonged for at least 6 months in patients so their effects appear on the patient.
Burns. 2017 Aug;43(5):1034-1043. The effects of massage and music on pain, anxiety and relaxation in burn patients: Randomized controlled clinical trial. Najafi Ghezeljeh T(1), Mohades Ardebili F(2), Rafii F(3). This trial showed that music, massage and a combination of both interventions were effective on reducing pain and anxiety intensity and increasing relaxation level for burn patients.
Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2020 Feb;45:102070. Effectiveness of deep tissue massage therapy, and supervised strengthening and stretching exercises for subacute or persistent disabling neck pain. The Stockholm Neck (STONE) randomized controlled trial. Skillgate E(1), Pico-Espinosa OJ(2), Côté P(3), Jensen I(4), Viklund P(1), Bottai M(5), Holm LW(6). Deep tissue massage and a combined therapy (exercise followed by massage) both reduced pain intensity up to 12 weeks.
Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2021 Oct;55:102417. The effects of combined sternocleidomastoid muscle stretching and massage on pain, disability, endurance, kinesiophobia, and range of motion in individuals with chronic neck pain: A randomized, single-blind study. Büyükturan B(1), Şaş S(2), Kararti C(3), Büyükturan Ö(4). This study showed that sternocleidomastoid-muscle stretching and massage improved pain, range of motion (extension, left-lateral flexion, and right/left-rotation) and endurance individuals with chronic neck pain.
J Nurs Scholarsh. 2017 Jul;49(4):379-388. Aromatherapy Massage for Neuropathic Pain and Quality of Life in Diabetic Patients. Gok Metin Z(1), Arikan Donmez A(1), Izgu N(1), Ozdemir L(2), Arslan IE(3). This small randomised trial aromatherapy massage decreased neuropathic pain and improved quality of life scores significantly in patients suffering from painful diabetic neuropathy.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2021 Aug;44:101430. The effects of aromatherapy massage with lavender essential oil on neuropathic pain and quality of life in diabetic patients: A randomized clinical trial. Rivaz M(1), Rahpeima M(2), Khademian Z(3), Dabbaghmanesh MH(4). Aromatherapy massage with lavender oil helped reduce neuropathic pain up to 4 weeks after the intervention and improved the patients’ quality of life without causing any side effects.
Rev Esc Enferm USP. 2020 Oct 12;54:e03612. Massage and Reiki to reduce stress and improve quality of life: a randomized clinical trial. Kurebayashi LFS(1)(2), Gnatta JR(3), Kuba G(1)(2), Giaponesi ALL(1)(2), Souza TPB(1)(2)(4), Turrini RNT(3). This trial showed that massage followed by rest or Reiki reduced stress levels and improved quality of life. The best results in the group which received Massage followed by Reiki were observed in the mental domain of quality of life, emphasizing the scope of Reiki effects on mental and psychological aspects.
J Occup Health. 2021 Jan;63(1):e12243. Physical relaxation for occupational stress in healthcare workers: A systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Zhang M(1), Murphy B(2), Cabanilla A(3), Yidi C(4). This systematic review and meta-analysis included 15 trials representing 688 healthcare workers and showed that yoga and massage both reduced occupational stress in healthcare workers.
Br J Sports Med. 2018 May;52(10):651-658. Exercise and other non-pharmaceutical interventions for cancer-related fatigue in patients during or after cancer treatment: a systematic review incorporating an indirect-comparisons meta-analysis. Hilfiker R(1), Meichtry A(2), Eicher M(3)(4), Nilsson Balfe L(1), Knols RH(5), Verra ML(6), Taeymans J(7)(8). This systematic review included 245 studies. Relaxation exercise and massage during cancer treatment reduced fatigue. Yoga was the most effective at reducing fatigue after cancer treatment.
Cancer. 2018 Feb 1;124(3):546-554.Massage therapy decreases cancer-related fatigue: Results from a randomized early phase trial. Kinkead B(1), Schettler PJ(1), Larson ER(2), Carroll D(2), Sharenko M(2), Nettles J(1)(2), Edwards SA(1), Miller AH(1)(3), Torres MA(3)(4), Dunlop BW(1), Rakofsky JJ(1), Rapaport MH(1)(3). This trial showed that massage reduced persistent cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer survivors.
J Cancer Surviv. 2021 Oct;15(5):799-810. Randomized control trial evidence for the benefits of massage and relaxation therapy on sleep in cancer survivors-a systematic review. Samuel SR(1), Gururaj R(1), Kumar KV(2), Vira P(1), Saxena PUP(3), Keogh JWL(1)(4)(5)(6). This review showed that there was some evidence that cancer survivors who experience sleep disturbances benefit from regular sessions with a massage therapist.
J Affect Disord. 2020 Sep 1;274:1028-1040. Effects of aromatherapy on anxiety: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Gong M(1), Dong H(1), Tang Y(1), Huang W(2), Lu F(3). This meta-analysis included 32 trials and showed aromatherapy massage significantly decreased anxiety levels in different conditions.
Plantar heel pain
Foot (Edinb). 2018 Mar;34:11-16. Manual therapy for plantar heel pain. Pollack Y(1), Shashua A(2), Kalichman L(3). This review of studies investigating manual therapy (deep massage, myofascial release or joint mobilization) for the treatment of plantar heel pain showed that massage and myofascial release were effective in reducing plantar heel pain.
J Clin Nurs. 2018 May;27(9-10):1812-1825. Management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia by an aroma-massage with acupressure treatment protocol: A randomised clinical trial. Fung JKK(1), Tsang HW(1). This small study suggests that aroma-massage with acupressure is as effective as cognitive training and can enhance cognitive training in reducing the severity and distress of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
J Adv Nurs. 2017 Oct;73(10):2283-2295. The effectiveness of massage and touch on behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia: A quantitative systematic review and meta-analysis. Wu J(1), Wang Y(1), Wang Z(1). Eleven studies involving 526 older people were included. The meta-analysis showed that behavioural and psychological problems with older people with dementia decreased significantly after receiving massage.
Phys Ther Sport. 2021 Nov;52:1-12. Physical therapy interventions for the treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS): Systematic review and meta-analysis. Nahon RL(1), Silva Lopes JS(2), Monteiro de Magalhães Neto A(3). This systematic review showed that cryotherapy, phototherapy, vibration, ultrasound, massage and active exercise have beneficial effects in the management of DOMS-related pain.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2021 May;43:101344. The effect of hand and foot massage on fatigue in hemodialysis patients: A randomized controlled trial. Çeçen S(1), Lafcı D(2). This trial showed that hand and foot massage reduced fatigue in patients receiving haemodialysis.
J Complement Integr Med. 2021 Mar 30;18(3):579-583. Effect of aromatherapy massage by orange essential oil on post-cesarean anxiety: a randomized clinical trial. Mirhosseini S(1), Abbasi A(2), Norouzi N(3), Mobaraki F(3), Basirinezhad MH(4), Mohammadpourhodki R(5). Foot massage with orange essential oil was shown to reduce anxiety in women after caesarean section.
Int J Nurs Stud. 2020 Nov;111:103747. The effectiveness of aromatherapy on preoperative anxiety in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Guo P(1), Li P(2), Zhang X(1), Liu N(1), Wang J(1), Yang S(1), Yu L(1), Zhang W(3). This meta-analysis of 20 studies demonstrated that aromatherapy could significantly ameliorate preoperative anxiety. The subgroup analysis based on the surgery type showed that aromatherapy had a great improvement on preoperative anxiety for patients awaiting cardiac surgery and relatively low-risk surgery.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020 Nov;41:101240. The effectiveness of massage on peri-operative anxiety in adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and controlled clinical trials. Guo PP(1), Fan SL(2), Li P(3), Zhang XH(4), Liu N(5), Wang J(6), Chen DD(7), Sun WJ(8), Yu L(9), Yang S(10), Zhang W(11). This meta-analysis included 25 controlled trials comprising 2494 participants and indicated that massage could significantly reduce peri-operative anxiety for most types of surgical patients. Specifically, it was effective for pre-, intra- and post-operative anxiety. Acupoint or specific body reflex area massage showed a larger effect than general massage did. Massage was concomitant with the improvement of peri-operative vital signs and post-operative pain.
J Hum Hypertens. 2021 Jul;35(7):627-637. The influence of foot and back massage on blood pressure and sleep quality in females with essential hypertension: a randomized controlled study. Arslan G(1), Ceyhan Ö(2), Mollaoğlu M(3). This randomized study showed that regular foot and back massage significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure and improved sleep quality in women with essential hypertension.
J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 Jul;22(3):817-828. A randomised crossover trial comparing Thai and Swedish massage for fatigue and depleted energy. MacSween A(1), Lorrimer S(2), van Schaik P(3), Holmes M(4), van Wersch A(3). This study demonstrated that Thai and Swedish massage enhanced physical, emotional and mental wellbeing through improved sleep, relaxation, relief of stress and relief of muscular tension.
Int J Nurs Pract. 2017 Dec;23(6). Effect of aromatherapy massage on anxiety, depression, and physiologic parameters in older patients with the acute coronary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Bahrami T(1), Rejeh N(2), Heravi-Karimooi M(2), Vaismoradi M(3), Tadrisi SD(4), Sieloff C(5). This trial demonstrated that massage with lavender oil significantly reduced anxiety, depression, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure and heart rate in older patients with acute coronary syndrome.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 May;35:253-258. Comparing the effects of massage and aromatherapy massage with lavender oil on sleep quality of cardiac patients: A randomized controlled trial. Cheraghbeigi N(1), Modarresi M(2), Rezaei M(3), Khatony A(4). This study showed that massage and aromatherapy massage improved the sleep quality in cardiac patients.
J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jul;24(7):717-724. Effectiveness of Aromatherapy Massage and Inhalation on Symptoms of Depression in Chinese Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Xiong M(1), Li Y(1), Tang P(1), Zhang Y(1), Cao M(1), Ni J(1), Xing M(1). This small study suggested that aromatherapy massage and aromatherapy inhalation both reduced depression in older adults.
J Korean Acad Nurs. 2019 Dec;49(6):655-676. [Effects of Aromatherapy on Sleep Quality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis].[Article in Korean] Kim ME(1), Jun JH(2), Hur MH(3). This systematic review suggested that aromatherapy massage significantly improved sleep quality and that the effect of massage on sleep was significantly greater than aromatherapy inhalation alone.