The Miracle of Massage

Massage can relieve stress, and so much more

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

If you've never had a massage, don't put it off -- not for a minute. In our stress-worn world, an allover body massage might be just what you need.

Just ask Ms. Connelly, a plucky 60ish southern lady. Her fallopian tube cancer became evident only after it had spread through her pelvis. The weeks when she's getting chemotherapy are tough; her energy is zapped. She's making the best of the cards dealt her.

"I have my achy days," she tells WebMD. "I get these knots in my neck, in my back."

Massage helps relieve that tension, but it also does much more, says Becky Getz, RN, CMT, who is Connelly's massage therapist at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va.

Cancer patients like Connelly are often dehydrated, and a chemotherapy treatment causes areas of the body to become stiff, Getz tells WebMD. "I think massage helps bring chemotherapy, fluids, into the body a little more gently."

In fact, Getz works with many cancer patients long after their treatment -- soothing the dryness, tightness, and pain that surgery leaves behind. "Sometimes the effects of cancer last for years," she tells WebMD.

That's not all. Studies have shown that massage helps with all sorts of conditions -- arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Alzheimer's patients and kids with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may also benefit from massage.

Even more interesting: Kids with diabetes have more normal blood sugar levels after massage. Premature babies gain weight faster when they're massaged. Massage eases depression, keeps depressed mothers from giving birth too early, and prevents postpartum depression.