Couples Massage

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The benefits of professional massages are well documented: they provide stress relief, relax stiff muscles, and deliver soothing self-care. But a new study shows that couples may also strengthen their relationship.

The new study, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, was presented this week at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Brighton, England. It involved 38 participants (19 couples) who all completed a three-week massage course.

Before and after each massage session, each partner answered questions about his or her physical and mental health and had measures taken of their energy, irritability, mental clarity, mood, pain, emotional stress, and physical uptightness.

The researchers found that both partners’ well being, perceived stress, and coping abilities improved after each rubdown. Those feel-good results remained even three weeks following the end of the massage training. (Overall, 74 percent of participants continued to do partner massage after the course had finished.)

Previous research has shown that couples tend to operate as a pair when coping with stress, says lead author Sayuri Naruse, a graduate student in health psychology at Northumbria University. The new findings suggest that massaging may help ensure relationship stability, she says, and can be a simple and effective of improving well being.

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