Massage : No pressure !

by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

March 10, 2016


  • Pregnant women risk miscarrying their fetuses if they have a massage
  • Massages spread cancer cells
  • A good massage can combat cellulite and result in weight loss and toning
  • Massages are excellent detoxification tools
  • A massage is the perfect cure for DOMS
  • Massage is an excellent method to enhance blood circulation 


  • In reality pre-natal and post-natal massages are highly recommended by most physicians for the mother’s physical and mental welfare.
  • Quite contrary, massage could be particularly effective in decreasing bony pain in certain cancer patients
  • To all of you who happily dish out exorbitant fees to have a massage remove your cellulite, my deepest sympathies because you have been scammed! Indeed if massage could vanquish cellulite then we’d never see a dimpled thigh by the poolside ever again. Cellulite is stubborn, subcutaneous fat and its cause is multifactorial ranging from hormones to genetics to diet and lifestyle. Start clocking up on greens and fiber-rich healthy foods to combat cellulite. As for losing inches and toning up through a massage, spare me the eye-rolling and get yourself to a gym or outdoors for some strenuous exercise (PLEASE!)
  • Indeed the most widespread myth of massages is its detoxification ability. Sorry folks but massages don’t flush out toxins anymore than a single ice-cube will chill a swimming pool. The pat answer for the toxin to be combatted is Lactic Acid. Lactic Acid is NOT a toxin but actually a metabolic fuel for muscles and evidence of several studies actually denote that massages interfere with lactic acid elimination thereby slowing down recovery post muscle trauma/injury. Similarly drinking water after a massage, something most spas will encourage you to do, to boost the detoxification claim is complete nonsense. The human body is highly evolved to rid us of toxins through urination, defecation, vomiting, exhalation and perspiration. Water will make no difference unless of course you’re thirsty.
  • Again this belief isn’t accurate. DOMS is a self-limiting and self-resolving condition. A massage benefits through the touch response initiated to specialized nerve fibres. The massage provides a rich and novel sensory experience by stretching the muscle fibres underneath and this in turn regulates the heart rate, lowers blood pressure thereby relaxing the receiver. But it is by no means curative of DOMS nor does it restore muscle strength.
  • Massages cannot alter arterial and venal circulation; only metabolic demand can! Want better circulation then either workout or perhaps, give another a massage.


  • Where massages are beneficial is to enhance lymphatic drainage particular post surgery where fluid accumulates around surgical sites (edema). A massage can assist in drainage, which in turn can reduce soreness in and around the area.
  • A massage facilitates comfort through the touch response initiated to specialized nerve fibres providing a rich and novel sensory experience by stretching the muscle fibres underneath. This in turn regulates the heart rate, lowers blood pressure thereby relaxing the receiver.
  • Generally speaking, receivers experience mental and physical relaxation, which in turn boosts energy and alertness and helps one sleep better.
  • Massages are found to be supportive tools in coping with depression and anxiety


  • It is quite common for one to experience soreness the day after a massage due to micro-trauma to muscle fibres.
  • Massages are extravagant and do a fair bit of damage to one’s bank account. 

My Take

I rarely have to wait more than a couple of days before I find inspiration for my articles. This one came to me when I visited my neighborhood spa. Massages for me are not just to soothe my overworked muscles but 90 minutes of drowning out the world – Sheer bliss!


Prior to the massage the masseur asked me if I wanted toned abs? Given that I pretty much give myself heartburn on a daily basis in trying to perfect the ‘washboard abs’ look, I was intrigued. What did a massage have to do with that? “This massage, Ma’am, is excellent for fat burning and skin toning. You will loose 2 inches off your waist for only 200 bucks more!”  I managed to stifle a chuckle and politely declined her offer. She then offered me another massage option, which on the spa menu claimed that it would boost my metabolism by ridding my body of toxins. Needless to say, my mind did NOT find rest through my massage…


Pseudoscientific beliefs and practices are rampant in the massage industry. Yet the biggest problems with massages in general are largely inexperienced and under skilled workers in the industry as well as a serious lack of evidence based studies to depict the effects of the therapy. Certainly the former issue is what results in several minor injuries and discomfort to many.


Still, the industry booms by virtue of marketing itself as THE thing that stands in the way of ultimate relaxation and being stress-free. A cynic like me could argue that a good nap (with mobile phones on silent) too could achieve most of the objectives of a massage at no extra cost. But then, there is a novelty to being wrapped in fluffy white towels and being soaked in gloriously scented oils. It’s only human to be self-indulgent and a good massage spa is nothing short of paradise. Just be careful, not to be a fool when you’re there ;-) 

Dr. Daamini Shrivastav


Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.
View Profile

Related Posts

Early bird or Owl – Workout Wise? [2]

by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav
Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

Early birds or Owls – Workout Wise ?

by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav
Dr. Daamini Shrivastav