8 Ways Massage Therapy Can Help After A Long Flight

Everyone knows the rush that comes along with traveling. From planning and packing, to flying and driving, the toll of travel can greatly impact the physical and mental quality of your life.

Whether you are flying regularly for business or just going on holiday, the effects of being cramped up in a plane for many hours can have a profound effect on your body. As a result, it is much easier to catch a virus or cold, experience muscle spasms from inactivity and restrictive seating as well as headaches from changes in altitude and pressure. If you add up to that the swelling of your legs, itchiness of the skin, tightness in the chest and disturbed circadian rhythm you might be thinking you’re better off spending your holiday in the back of your yard than on an exotic island.

If all this information had the effect of increasing even more the anxiety and stress related to long hauls and travel, you should know that there is hope!

Massage therapy has proven itself to be very effective in minimising the effects of prolonged inactivity. This form of therapy involves hands-on techniques to increase circulation, relieve tension, reduce stress, relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and promote relaxation throughout the entire body, as well as many other benefits.

If you decide to have a massage session after your flight you might experience the following benefits:

1. It will help normalise circulation and reduce fluid retention

After hours in the air, fluid can build up in the body, possibly causing you pain and discomfort. Massage therapy helps mobilize fluid through the lymphatic system so it can drain more easily. Moreover, it promotes improved circulation via the use of hands-on pressure, which moves the blood through the damaged and congested areas of the body. It’s a safe and effective way to treat water retention without medication.

2. It will soothe muscle aches and release trigger points

Aeroplane seats are renowned for being uncomfortable and sitting for long periods of time anywhere is never good for your body. Massage therapy gets to the root of the pain by relaxing tense muscles and increasing flexibility. It also promotes circulation to the affected area and the release of endorphins (pain-killing hormones), which boost the dopamine and serotonin levels in the body, promoting healing by allowing your body feel good and relax.

3. It will help you release stress and anxiety

When the body is tense and under stress, it produces unhealthy levels of the well-known stress hormone, cortisol, which can contribute to weight gain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, and headaches. Massage therapy has been shown to decrease cortisol levels in the body. This enables the body to enter recovery mode. Moreover, this form of therapy also triggers lasting feelings of relaxation, improved mood, and reduced stress levels.

4. It will minimise the effects of jet lag

Long trips to faraway places can leave you experiencing extreme fatigue, headaches, nausea, all related to jet lag. So, if you are looking forward to be productive as soon as you arrive back from your trip, you need to find a way to re-establish a normal circadian rhythm. Massage therapy can help you have a normal sleeping pattern. As your muscles and your whole body start to heal, your mind is put into a very relaxed state, making it easy for you to fall asleep soundly.

5. It will promote digestive well-being

Different exotic foods could be an amazing experience to try while on holiday, but it could also put a higher demand on your digestive system. The parasympathetic nervous system regulates your digestion, producing needed chemicals and stimulating peristalsis, which moves food through your intestines. Abdominal massage techniques, that act directly on your large intestine are able to help regulate the final stages of digestion. When food moves smoothly through the digestive system your stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, and intestines work together for maximum nutrient absorption, which supports your overall well-being.

6. It will help with hydration

People tend to forget how important hydration is during a long flight. A massage will not only help to increase your blood flow but the oils your massage therapist uses will help to add moisture back into the skin. After every massage, it’s important to drink water. Hydrating after can help prevent excessive soreness, so do yourself a favour and add an extra glass or two to your normal post-massage amount if you’re still feeling sluggish.

7. It can help strengthen your immune system

It is a well-known fact that individuals who experience high levels of stress are more vulnerable to illness and injury. When stress is combined with sleep disturbances and poor nutrition, the impact is directed at the body’s immune system, making people more vulnerable to infections, allergies and different pathogens. By helping to restore  balance in the autonomic nervous system, massage therapy is encouraging the body to fight disease more efficient and have a better response towards stress and anxiety.

8. It will help you breathe better

Unrestricted breathing is one of the fastest roads to stress reduction. Since there’s so much tension that accumulates in the shoulders, chest, and neck muscles during long flights, it’s no wonder that our breathing becomes restricted and shallow. The massage therapist can work on the diaphragm and all the other muscles that support the breathing mechanics to help them regain normal function. This will lead to a deepened breath that would provide more oxygen to the tissues and help you feel better and more energetic.

So go ahead and look to pencilling in your massage therapy appointment when you’re from a flight to help you feel better.


Paul Stonescu is an Osteopath who believes that every person is different and the cause of ailments is not always evident. He works with different specialised techniques to offer an all-rounded experience to determine the root cause of his patients’ problems instead of offering a quick fix. Paul also enjoys participating in marathons and played tennis for almost 15 years prior to his osteopathy career.