Effects of Swedish massage on blood pressure

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2005 Nov;11(4):242-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2005.02.008.


Swedish massage technique includes mechanically activated muscular tissue and also skin, tendons, fascias, and connected tissue, which indirectly regulates the tonus of the autonomous nervous system. This study set out to examine the effects of Swedish massage on blood pressure. Healthy males were given massage treatment at the Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden. Treatment was over a 12-week period divided into three parts, each consisting of 4 weeks. Two treatment periods contained massage treatment either on back, neck and chest (BNC), or leg, arm and face (LAF), with an in between washout period. The first treatment period with massage decreased systolic blood pressure directly after treatment (BNC: P<0.005, LAF: P<0.01), but no significant changes were seen in diastolic blood pressure. In the second period, BNC massage decreased systolic (P<0.005) and diastolic (P<0.005) blood pressure whereas LAF massage (P<0.05) increased systolic blood pressure. Swedish massage on the BNC resulted in a minor decrease in blood pressure possibly due to sympathetic inhibition. It may be suggested that massage may be tried as a complementary therapy in patients suffering from increased blood pressure due to stress.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Back
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Face
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Neck
  • Thorax
  • Treatment Outcome