Is massage just a self-indulgent feel-good treat, or does massage have real health and performance benefits? Well, in short massage does all the above – it has several physiological health benefits, aids specific aspects of physical performance, and it feels great! Cambridge Sports Medicine Centre (CSMC) offers 30min and 60min massages with our Sports Therapist Gregg, helping you to take advantage of the proven health and performance benefits afforded by massage therapy. The Cambridge Rugby Men’s 1st XV players rate him very highly!Let’s take a look at some of the science.

Health Benefits

Medical research has shown massage has several physiological benefits that improve health and wellbeing. It has been shown to be a beneficial treatment in certain cancer patients, HIV patients, pregnant mothers, premature babies and in the elderly, just to name a few!

Physical Health

  • Immune function
    • Increases in both the numbers and the cytotoxicity (effectiveness) of Natural Killer Cells
    • Increases in immunoglobulin A (an antibody found in saliva, the GI tract and respiratory system)
    • Increase in CD4 & CD8 (biological markers of immune function)
  • Cardiovascular autonomic regulation
    • Decreased heart rate
    • Deceased blood pressure
  • Pain regulation
    • Decreased perception of current pain
    • Increased tolerance to future pain (measured by increased pressure-pain threshold)

Mental Health

  • Reduction in stress and anxiety
    • Reduction in circulating cortisol (the primary stress hormone of the body)
    • Improvement in subjective ratings of stress via medically validated questionnaires
  • Improvement in mood
    • Increases in serotonin and dopamine (“feel-good” hormones within the brain)
    • Subjective improvement in mood via medically validated questionnaires
  • shown to increase positive perception of body image in menopausal women

Performance Benefits

Massage has been repeatedly shown to improve delayed onset muscle soreness if applied within 72hrs of exercise. It also improves an athlete’s subjective perception of recovery!

While there are specific performance benefits in the recovery domain, massage isn’t helpful in every performance situation and may be a ‘waste’ of time and energy in certain circumstances. For example,  it has been shown that massage has no beneficial effect on performance when applied before the game / event. It doesn’t improve sprint speed, strength & power output, or jump height. In fact, there is the potential that massage may actually decrease performance if applied before the game / event. In these instances you are better off focussing on an intelligent warm up, maximising your sleep, and getting your pre-game nutrition on point!


Massage has several biological benefits to health and performance, and this has been backed by medical research. Book your massage with Gregg at CSMC to reap those health and performance benefits in your own life!

To learn more about how regular massage can make a real difference, please call us on 07801 359916 or complete our enquiry form.