When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and this applies to any massage that promote weight loss. Massages simply knead your skin, muscles and other bodily tissue, which can benefit you in a number of different ways, such as releasing stress, relaxing injured tissue, increasing flexibility and even stimulating endorphins. Reducing fat, however, is another story.
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The Benefits of Massage
Besides relaxation, the only potential benefit of a massage is to improve your blood circulation, according to Patricia Floyd, author of “Personal Health: Perspectives and Lifestyles.” Massages do nothing to change the way in which your body metabolizes food, so you’re not experiencing any increase in calories burned. Since calories are key to weight loss, a massage isn’t able to minimize the size of your waist, thighs or buttocks.
Caloric Deficit Dilemma
The only possible way to lose weight is by generating what’s known as a caloric deficit. It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. Massaging a certain part of the body doesn’t help you reach this deficit. Your options are to reduce your caloric intake or increase your level of physical activity. If you cut and burn enough calories to hit a deficit of 500 calories a day, you can expect to lose 1 pound of weight each week. A daily deficit of 750 calories provides a weight loss of 1 ½ pounds a week.
Massage: A Temporary Cellulite Fix
If you’re looking to lose cellulite, on the other hand, a massage may help to reduce its appearance. Vigorous massages combined with laser energy or radio waves can improve blood circulation as well as stimulate the movement of lymphatic fluids within the treated area. This may reduce the dimpled appearance of the skin associated with cellulite, but results are only short-lived, reports CNN Health. Typically, cellulite returns in about six month after treatment. Subsequent sessions are necessary to maintain the improved appearance.
Can Massage Influence Fat Loss Reduction?
Any improvement in cellulite shouldn’t be linked to a loss of fat. The massage isn’t doing anything to break up the fatty deposit or reduce your body fat percentage. Like the idea of spot-reduction, you can’t target fat. Massaging a certain area of the body may help to improve the contour for short period of time, but it’s not doing anything to stimulate fat loss. The only way you can do this is by a caloric deficit.
- “Personal Health: Perspectives and Lifestyles”; Patricia Floyd, et al.; 2008
- National Institutes of Health: Massage Therapy
- "Mosby's Pathology for Massage Therapists"; Susan G. Salvo