Monday 28th December, 2020

Self massage for anxiety

Clinical trials show that regular massage can help with anxiety


There have been many clinical trials showing that massage can help reduce anxiety. The massages used in these trials varied considerably, yet all produced a significant reduction in anxiety. The thing these massages had in common were that they were all what would be considered remedial massages, while none used any of the commonly taught so called pressure spots to reduce reduce anxiety. These results suggest that any form of self massage that produces remedial massage effects should help reduce anxiety.

In this article we will discuss what works, then give you some simple self help options.


What type of massage will help anxiety
Your self massage alternatives

What type of massage will help anxiety

Type and body part massaged

As the table of clinical trial results below show a vaiety of different massages worked. Most of the massages were mainly directed to the back and shoulder region, but in trial eight the feet and hands were massaged.

Number and frequency of massages

We note that all the trials used regular shorter duration massages ranging from three times a day through to weekly.

Special massage for anxiety

While we see many articles and videos on special pressure spots and so forth to relieve anxiety none of the clinical trials used these. Instead the used normal remedial type massages. This is not to say those special spots don't work, just that the scientists managed to reduce anxiety quiet well without them.

Table of clinical trials of massage for anxiety

NOTE: You may need to scroll the table below left/right for more information



Type of massage




120 patients hospitalised for high blood pressure

Back massage

Six daily 15 min sessions

Reduced anxiety and blood pressure


Carers for cancer patients

Clothed chair massage

Seven daily 15 min sessions

Reduced anxiety and improved sleep


University faculty

Clothed chair massage

15 min, twice a week for 5 weeks

Reduced anxiety, increased speed and accuracy of maths calculations


People with shoulder pain

Thai massage

Nine 30 min sessions

Reduced pain and anxiety


Adolescent wrestlers

Sports massage

Ten 25 min sessions

Reduced stress and anxiety


Workers facing retrenchment

Clothed chair massage

Six weekly 20 min sessions

Rediced anxiety


1290 Cancer patients



Reduced pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression


Surgery patients

Hand and feet massage

Three daily 20 min sessions

Reduced stress and anxiety

Your self massage alternatives

Type of massage

With massage frequencies ranging from three times a day to weekly having a professional massage therapist provide this on a long term basias would likely be prohibitively expensive and inconvenient, so what self massage options are available? We know that the successful massages were all remedial type massages with the following in common.
• The loosened tight muscles
• the stimulated blood
• the worked on tight spots in muscles

Frequency of massages

As self massage is practically unlimitted a home user could copy any of the frequencies used in the trial. Perhaps daily or three times a week would be a good place to start.


We recommend you consult a health care professional to make sure any self massage is appropriate and safe.

Self massage with hands
Self massage using hands

Massage using your hands

As discussed in our article on the benefits of self massage, using your own hands is effective. Keeping in mind that you can only reach certain parts of your body and the massage strokes need to be towards your heart (one way valves in blood vessels) the muscles that can be massaged this way are limited. It is presumed that the best effects would be obtained from massaging the larger muscles, so the use of hand massage to lower anxiety would be limited.

Massage cushion
Massage cushion

Chair and cushion massagers

These are able to massage larger areas of muscle plus are easy and convenient to use so would they would probably be very useful.

Self massage allows the benefits of quality massage at home for little cost

Vibration massagers (Recommended)

These are also very easy and convenient to use. A massage chair would work on a larger area, but vibration massagers penetrate better into the muscles. Vibration massage also has a host of scientifically proven benefits and would be much more effective in helping deal with issues such as injury rehabilitation and musculoskeletal pain syndromes such as back, neck and shoulder pain.

How to use vibration massage

Using vibration massage is extra-ordinarily easy. We ask you to check our our instructions for the fine points and precautions, but basically all you need to do is place the vibration massager on the muscle over the trigger point and let the vibrations penetrate for 30-60 seconds. This can easily be repeated every day.

How to choose a massager

For how to choose an quality massager that will do a great job and that you will be extremely happy with please see our article How to choose a massager, or you can go straight and check out our economical, easy to use professional standard machines: the General Purpose Massager or our Ultimate Quad Head Massager.


  1. Ramu K. “ A Study to assess the effectiveness of Back massage on Anxiety level , Heart rate and Blood pressure among Hospitalized Hypertensive patients at selected Hospitals Tumkur ”. 2018;7(5):87–93.
  2. Pinar R, Afsar F. Back massage to decrease state anxiety, cortisol level, blood prsessure, heart rate and increase sleep quality in family caregivers of patients with cancer: A randomised controlled trial. Asian Pacific J Cancer Prev. 2016;
  3. Field T, Ironson G, Scafidi F, Nawrocki T, Goncalves A, Burman I, et al. Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosci. 1996;86(3–4):197–205.
  4. Buttagat V, Eungpinichpong W, Chatchawan U, Arayawichanon P. Therapeutic effects of traditional Thai massage on pain, muscle tension and anxiety in patients with scapulocostal syndrome: A randomized single-blinded pilot study. J Bodyw Mov Ther 2012;16(1):57–63.
  5. Zadkhosh SM, Ariaee E, Atri AE, Rashidlamir A, Saadatyar A. The effect of massage therapy on depression, anxiety and stress in adolescent wrestlers. Int J Sport Stud [Internet]. 2015;5(3):321–7.
  6. Shulman KR, Jones GE. The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the workplace. J Appl Behav Sci. 1996;
  7. Cassileth BR, Vickers AJ. Massage therapy for symptom control: Outcome study at a major cancer center. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2004;28(3):244–9.
  8. Youssef NFA, Hassan ADA. The Effect of hand and foot massage on alleviating pain and anxiety of abdominal post-operative patients at a University Hospital: A randomized control trial. IOSR J Nurs Heal Sci. 2017;06(03):56–65.

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Dr Graeme

About Dr Graeme

Several years ago Dr Graeme, a Chiropractor practicing in Victoria, Australia was looking for a serious hand held massager his patients could use at home to get the extra quality massage they needed. The ones he found in the shops and on-line for home use looked nice but were not serious, and... read more