What Are the Benefits of Leg Massage?

Thai massage series : Foot and leg massage
Someone is receiving a leg massage. (Image: Bhakpong/iStock/Getty Images)

Massage is the therapeutic application of healing touch. Massage is an ancient form of healing and relaxation, and the gentle pressure of hands feels good on sore muscles. Not only does leg massage make you feel good, it has significant health benefits that aid relief from stress, disease, and pain.

Relaxation

Self-massage is an intuitive reflex to injury, over-work or stress says Goddard College Student Affairs Health Services in their publication "51 Simple Relaxation Techniques." Leg massage can help relax leg muscles and it will also contribute to full-body relaxation and diminishment of stress and anxiety. It's easy to massage your legs yourself without expensive and potentially inconvenient professional masseuse intervention.

Goddard recommends starting at the ankle with one hand on each side of the leg and massaging upwards to the thigh and starting again at the ankle. Repeat this process five times. Using your fingertips, massage the knee with circular pressure around the kneecap, then use the fingertips to stroke upward over the back of the knee.

Improve Postural Alignment

Leg, hip, and lower back massage can improve postural misalignment and reduce resulting chronic pain, according to a case study conducted and reported by the International Professional School of Bodywork (IPSB). According to the IPSB, distorted posture can lead to shortening of lower back extensors and hip flexors, which in turn causes pain in the lower back, hips and knees.

Massage is generally accepted as being able to reduce perception of pain, but the IPSB reported that it could do more than that. The organization specifically documented the impacts of leg and lower body massage on chronic pain caused by a long-term pelvic imbalance due to degenerative hip disease. After five sessions of neuromuscular massage therapy administered to the legs and lower back for more than four weeks, the subject demonstrated a considerably straighter back and pelvis alignment, a greater range of motion throughout the body and reported significantly less pain.

Relief from Lymphedema

Lymphedema is swelling, usually in the extremities, caused when a condition stops lymphatic fluids from properly circulating through the torso. Lymphedema often occurs after the lymph nodes have been disrupted or removed due to cancer surgery and other medical treatments. Chronic lymphedema is often a permanent condition that grows progressively worse according to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.

However, appropriate exercise, compression garments and physical therapy including regular massage can help manage lymphedema. Massage therapy aimed at alleviating lymphedema starts with rubbing the torso then proceeds down the affected legs and feet. This massage action helps propel the accumulated lymphatic fluids back into circulation to areas in the body where the healthy elements of the lymphatic system can process them. Appropriate massage therapy coupled with compression garments can significantly reduce the size of the swollen legs.

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