Lower blood pressure with Massage Therapy

by richard on February 19, 2015

We all have heard massage is good for us. Now a recent review article, “Massage Therapy for Essential Hypertension: A Systematic Review,” backs this claim up with evidence. Twenty-four clinical trials were included in the review, a total of 1,962 hypertensive subjects. (Hypertension is also more commonly known as high blood pressure.) Here is the breakdown of the twenty-four clinical trials.

Total of 24 clinical trials conducted

  • 9 compared two groups,
  • One got only massage for Hypertension,
  • One got only meds.

RESULT: massage better than meds for lowering systolic blood pressure (the top number in your BP reading). No change in the diastolic (the bottom number in your BP reading).

  • 11 clinical studies compared two other groups:
  • One that got meds and massage for Hypertension.
  • One that got only med.

RESULT: massage + meds were significantly more effective at reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure than meds alone.

Here are actual stats. The overall decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure due to massage therapy was approximately 6.9 and 3.6 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) respectively. To put this in perspective, the CDC reports that a 12-13 mmHg reduction in average systolic blood pressure over four years can reduce heart disease risk by 21%, stroke by 37% and total risk of cardiovascular-related death by 25%.

So, here’s the take away:

  1. People who take meds for high blood pressure have better results if they also receive massage.
  2. Massage was shown to be significantly safer than antihypertensive meds based on the number of side effects reported. No serious adverse events occurred in either group, but there were significantly fewer minor adverse events with massage than with medication.

So, lower blood pressure with fewer side effects and you feel great because you got a massage. Sounds like a win-win.


Richard Maas is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Lymphatic Therapist, drummer, and gardener. He and his wife Dianne started practicing massage in 1990.

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