How to Use Massage for Weight Loss

weight loss massage
Tom Merton/Getty Images

If you’re looking for a way to lose weight that doesn’t involve diet or exercise, you’ll find plenty of information on the internet about massage. Many websites recommend abdominal massage and other forms of massage therapy as effective weight loss methods. But before you call your local massage therapist to set up an appointment, you should find out what massage can and cannot do if you are trying to lose weight.

Weight Loss Benefits of Massage

Massage therapy can work wonders for people who are trying to lose weight.  But massage treatment alone doesn’t make weight loss occur. So if you are hoping that a massage will reduce your cellulite, decrease your belly fat or shrink your thighs, you’re likely to be disappointed. 

But massage can make it easier for you to stick to a stressful or difficult diet and exercise program.  These are just some the of the benefits that dieters may experience with massage therapy:

  • Decreased stress
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Decreased muscle soreness
  • Reduced back pain
  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved mental state
  • Better sleep

And if those benefits aren’t significant enough, “massage is also a wonderful healthy way to reward yourself for all of the hard work you are doing!” says Bethany O'Shei of Clay Health Club + Spa in New York City.  Bethany has been a licensed massage therapist for eight years and says she works with many clients who use massage along with a comprehensive program of diet and exercise to lose weight.

“Massage helps release endorphins in the body that give us that euphoric happy feeling,” she says.  “And by doing healthy things for our body we build a better relationship with ourselves and treat our bodies with the respect we deserve.

Several research studies support her claims.  In one report published by the British Medical Journal researchers explain that the healing power of massage is especially helpful for people without a strong support system.

“Touch itself is likely to be therapeutic, particularly in those with limited opportunities for physical contact, such as patients without intimate friends or family or with painful physical conditions.”

Should I Get a Massage to Lose Weight?

Massage can be a helpful part of your complete weight loss program. But it’s important to keep your expectations in check.   Focus on eating a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and getting enough physical activity each day.  Then find a licensed massage therapist in your area who can help you to keep your body feeling strong, flexible and relaxed.