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Massage for Weight Loss

Health Research
Last Updated Sep 28, 2020

In 2010, sixty people took part in a research project that compared the effectiveness of three kinds of massage in reducing fatty tissue. They were divided into three groups: one lot had a mechanical massage treatment, one group had manual lymphatic drainage and one group had connective tissue massage. The results proved very interesting: all three groups experienced a decrease in the circumference of their thighs, a drop in the amount of fat on their abdomens and an improvement in their waist-to-hip ratio. The group who had connective tissue manipulation experienced the greatest improvement in thigh circumference. Those having mechanical massage saw the best results for abdominal fat loss.

What that means in practice is that whilst massage can produce almost instant improvements to your body shape and size, you will still need to make some changes to your lifestyle and habits if you want to see dramatic results and if you want to keep the weight off. Here’s how it works:

Why Use Massage for Weight Loss?

Massage improves your circulation

A full body massage will improve your circulation. In doing so, it brings blood rich in nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and removes the waste products of metabolism. These waste products are removed via the kidneys as urine. So you know things are going well if you find you need to urinate shortly after having a massage. Massage is going to be particularly useful if you know that part of any additional weight you are holding is down to fluid retention.

Massage improves muscle tone

Regular massage will help to remove tension, aid relaxation, and where vigorous massage is applied (for example over the hips and thighs) it can also improve the appearance of cellulite.

Massage shortens your recovery time following intense physical activity

If part of what is keeping you out of the gym or the pool is the pain you get the day after you have exercised, then look no further. Treat yourself to a massage immediately after your work out. This style of massage is sometimes referred to as post-event massage and is carried out with the aim of clearing any lactic acid and other by-products of respiration that have built up in the muscles whilst you were exercising. As a result you’ll notice less pain (if any) and you’ll be in a much more positive frame of mind when it comes to planning your next exercise session. Sports massage therapists are particularly effective at supporting this kind of massage.

Massage aids stress relief

If stress has been a major contributing factor in your weight gain, then you may want to consider relaxation or remedial massage to help you calm down, stop worrying about possibly to help you break any emotional eating habits that you might have engaged in.

Which Type of Massage Will Work Best?

Although any form of massage will help to support you during your weight loss campaign, there are some kinds that deserve a special mention:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage massage – this very gentle form of massage is particularly effective if you are experiencing severe fluid retention. The effects of manual lymphatic drainage can be quite profound – especially over the arms and legs.
  • Self-massage over the abdominal area – if you know that you are prone to constipation or irregular bowel movements, then regular massage over the abdominal area can make a very big difference. This does not have to be a long drawn out process – simply massage your abdomen in a clockwise motion starting from just by your right hip (you’ll be working in the direction of the flow of food through the colon), Just three minutes of this twice a day can help to relieve constipation, improve abdominal muscle tone and could have you waving goodbye to any pot belly in a matter of weeks.
  • Vigorous massage for cellulite prone areas – as a practicing massage therapist, this has always been one of my most popular treatments. Ask your massage therapist for a half hour treatment that focuses only on the legs, hips and thighs. If the treatment is very vigorous and includes lots of percussive movements, you can start to see a noticeable improvement within days. The best results I have seen for this kind of treatment was a client who had two half hour treatments a week for six weeks and took up salsa dancing as well (one session a week). She made no changes to her diet. Within the six weeks she dropped two dress sizes.

Try out different massage therapies and find experts in your areas, including remedial massage, stone therapy massage, Thai massage, Swedish massage, etc. You can also do online massage consultations with a professional to learn self-massage.

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Originally published on Sep 23, 2018

FAQs About Massage and Weight Loss

How do I make weight loss massage oil at home?

Making a homemade weight loss massage oil takes two simple steps. Pour 10 drops of your preferred essential oil into two tablespoons of carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil. Mix it then pour the mixture into a glass bottle.

Which massage oil is best for weight loss?

Certain essential oils can burn unwanted fat on the abdomen, waist, arms, hips and thighs in the shortest time possible. Lemon essential oil is increasingly becoming a favorite among health enthusiasts because aside from its detoxifying capabilities, the scent of lemon alone can influence a person's mental image of their body.

According to a 2019 study, people who were exposed to the scent of lemon felt thinner and were motivated to shed off extra pounds.

Do infrared massagers work for weight loss?

No. Whilst infrared therapy is widely used for pain relief, improved blood circulation, detoxification and treating skin problems, there is no proof that infrared massagers can help people shed off fat and improve the shape of their bodies.

Can hot stone massage help with weight loss?

No. A hot stone massage improves circulation, relieves chronic pain and alleviates stress. If you want to shed off unwanted pounds, the lymphatic drainage massage is worth a try.

Can a massage chair cause weight loss?

Yes. When combined with proper nutrition and exercise, the regular use of a massage chair can help you shed fat. A massage chair stimulates muscles, improves circulation and speeds up metabolism, which is key to burning more calories.

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