Breaking the stigma around male massage during Men’s Health Awareness Month

Massage could help alleviate some of the biggest health issues men face, such as depression, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. But is there still a perceived stigma around men receiving massages? And is this holding men back from enjoying the benefits of massage treatment?

Although one in five men in the UK are keen to start taking better care of their wellness (according to this Champneys study), 40% said that spa destinations are too feminine and around the same percentage said that they had never been to a spa before.

But should men see massage as an occasional activity at a luxury spa? Or should it be something they can adopt as part of a balanced wellness regime? According to Charlie Thompson, Founder and Managing Director of The Massage Company, this change in perception is key to breaking any perceived stigma around male massage.

 

What are the benefits of massage for men specifically?

According to the British Heart Foundation, around 4 million males are living with coronary heart disease in the UK, compared to 3.6 million females. Meanwhile, Public Health England statistics show that 31% of men have high blood pressure compared to 26% of women.

Men’s mental health has also been a topic of major discussion. In England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Massage therapy is able to help with these issues specifically. It’s proven to lower blood pressure and contribute to better heart health. It also decreases the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) while increasing the production of serotonin (the body’s ‘feel-good’ chemical that regulates mood).

“Massage reduces stress and improves circulation, and that’s really important, but it also gives men the opportunity to relax, which they are fairly poor at doing,” says Charlie. “We find that men are much more likely to be extremely inactive or extremely active, and not create that middle ground with some form of lower-level exercise, such as going for walks. High-quality massage is very effective at providing a solution to both of these extremes.”

 

Is there still a stigma around massage for men?

Paul Medlicott MBA, Chair of The Sports Massage Association, says there is no longer a stigma being attached to men receiving massages, and that it would be difficult to find a man these days who felt uncomfortable getting a sports or beauty massage.

“Massage is mainstream, not some fringe activity, and forms an integral part of the training and recovery regime of elite and amateur athletes,” he says.

“Sports massage therapists work with male teams across elite sports. Every Premier League football and rugby team has a sports massage therapist as part of their multidisciplinary team.”

Charlie says that even if there is a stigma around men receiving massages, this is fading fast as an increasing number of men prioritise self-care and seek out the mental and physical health benefits of massage.

“Around 38-40%% of our customer base are men, and they aren’t just more comfortable in our environment because it’s unisex – they are coming for the same reason many females do,” says Thompson. “They’re stressed, they have muscle tension and they need massage therapy to improve their wellbeing, mental health and their sleep, as well as reduce anxiety.”

 

Making massage more accessible

Charlie adds that massage should be more accessible to men, with clear instruction videos and a safe, unisex environment with professional massage therapists to guide newcomers through the experience. It can be intimidating for anyone, which is why massage centres need to make it easier to visit.

“We take the protection of personal modesty very seriously, and our therapists are specifically trained to wrap and unwrap different body areas at The Massage Company,” says Thompson. “Once you know you are in a professional environment, you relax, your mental health, your physical wellbeing and your overall lifestyle will improve, and your stress will disappear.”

Regardless of how men perceive massage, it’s clear that it has benefits for both men and women that go beyond relaxation, and when adopted into an ongoing routine this can have fantastic consequences for one’s wellbeing.

 

About The Massage Company

Since its inception in 2016, The Massage Company has continued to challenge common pre-conceptions of massage and the stereotype of the industry. Their vision is simple: to bring high-quality massage to the wellbeing mainstream. They want people to see massage as accessible to everyone and good value for money, so it can become a vital and routine part of a better and balanced quality of life. Their centres in Camberley, Tunbridge Wells, High Wycombe, Sutton Coldfield and Putney are in highly convenient locations, with franchise opportunities available and plans to expand on a national scale.