Friday 18th June, 2021

Self massage for high blood pressure

Checking blood pressure
Clinical trials show massage can reduce high blood pressure

Overview

There have been many clinical trials showing that massage can lower blood pressure. The massages used in these trials varied considerably, yet all produced a significant reduction in blood pressure. 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 blood pressure. These results suggest that any form of self massage that produces remedial massage effects should help reduce blood pressure.

CONTENTS

What type of massage will lower blood pressure
What point do you press on for high blood pressure
Your self massage alternatives
Table: trials of massage for high blood pressure
Professionals
References

What type of massage will lower blood pressure

There were a wide range massages used in these trials. These are shown in the table below, but lets look at what they found.

Soothing or deep massage

Several trials used stroking massages, Swedish massages or “remedial massage” with excellent effects. On the other hand a trial of 263 patients each receiving 45-60min of deep massage and this produced a blood pressure of 10.4/5.3 and a heart rate reduction of 10 per minute. Therefore, both "normal" and deep massage worked. The only anomaly was a trial that measure blood pressure immediately after deep sports massage and trigger point therapy and got a slight increase. This was attributed to the pain

Regular of once off

One trial used single 45-60 minute massages and these were shown to reduce blood pressure shortly afterwards. However, most trials used regular short duration (eg.10-20 min) sessions ranging from twice a week to daily. It is most important that the reduction in blood pressure be continuous, not just shortly after the massage. In trial four (below) patients were given 10 massages at three per week. The blood pressure was still reduced 72 hours after the last massage.

Reflexology pressure points
Blood pressure was reduced without using any special points

What point do you press on for high blood pressure

There are a lot of special spots that are said to lower blood pressure if you rub them. All of the trials used normal massage without the use of any special spots. This is not to say that rubbing and pressing on any special spots has no merit, just that the scientists managed to lower blood pressure without them.

Your self massage alternatives

Type of massage

The successful massages all had these in common.
• They loosened tight muscles
• They stimulated blood
• They worked on tight spots in muscles

Frequency of massages

Trial four demonstrated the lasting effects 72 hours after, so following their guidelines of three 15 minute massages a week would be an excellent start. Lets look at your options.

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 blood pressure 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)

As we discuss in our article The scientifically proven effects of vibration massage- with clinical applications vibrations delivered by an effective massager penetrate better than manual massage and have excellent benefits. Further, it's application does not require and special massage skill. Therefore, if you follow the correct simple procedure and use an effective machine it should provide excellent benefits.
To find out more about this therapy please see:
How to choose an effective massager
How to use a vibration massager
Our highly effective vibration massager

Trials of massage for high blood pressure

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

Ref

Type of massage

Number/freq/duration

Results

1

Deep Tissue Massage

one x 45 minute

Reduced by 10.4/5.3

2

Swedish/sports

1 x 30-90 min

small decrease/small decrease

3

Remedial

daily x 7, 15 min

Reduced by 3/1.77

4

Swedish

15 min, 3/w for 10 sessions

Reduced from 128/82 to 118/76, 72 hrs after

5

Swedish

6 x 2/w, 10 min

Reduced by 6.44/4.77

6

Legs and feet

10 x daily, 20 min

Reduced by 6.8%

7

Remedial

8 @ 3/w, 45-60 min

Blood pressure reduced from 150/95 to 125/90, heart rate dropped from 105/min to 89/min

Professionals

DrGraeme massagers were originally built by Dr Graeme for use in his clinic, and to prescribe to his patients for additional self use at home. Now these are used by colleagues and other professionals for similar purposes. If you are a professional and wish to know more about vibration massage therapy, or possibly get a sample massager to trial please check out our practitioner page.

References

  1. Kaye, A. D. et al. (2008) ‘The effect of deep-tissue massage therapy on blood pressure and heart rate’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(2), pp. 125–128. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0665.
  2. Cambron, J. A., Dexheimer, J. and Coe, P. (2006) ‘Changes in blood pressure after various forms of therapeutic massage: A preliminary study’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12(1), pp. 65–70. doi: 10.1089/acm.2006.12.65.
  3. Pinar, R. and Afsar, F. (2016) ‘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 Journal of Cancer Prevention. doi: 10.7314/APJCP.2015.16.18.8127
  4. Givi, M. (2013) ‘Durability of effect of massage therapy on blood pressure’, International Journal of Preventive Medicine.
  5. Mohebbi, Z. et al. (2014) ‘The effect of back massage on blood pressure in the patients with primary hypertension in 2012-2013: a randomized clinical trial.’, International journal of community based nursing and midwifery, 2(4), pp. 251–8. Available at:
  6. Walaszek, R. (2015) ‘Impact of classic massage on blood pressure in patients with clinically diagnosed hypertension’, Journal of traditional Chinese medicine = Chung i tsa chih ying wen pan / sponsored by All-China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. doi: 10.1016/s0254-6272(15)30115-1.
  7. Shahrjerdi, S. (2020) ‘The Effect of Eight Weeks of Massage on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate and C-Reactive Protein in Women With Hypertension’, Journal of Arak University of Medical Sciences, 23(3), pp. 398–411. doi: 10.32598/jams.23.3.620.3.

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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



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