Yes, massage therapy can help you relax – but it can also do much more than that.

1. You can use it to counteract sitting for so long

A majority of individuals struggle with postural stress, says Aaron Tanason, registered massage therapist, kinesiologist, and owner of Paleolife Massage Therapy in Toronto. It’s more common for [the stress] to manifest itself as stiff shoulders and a stiff neck. Desk workers, beware. Postural stress can manifest more advanced symptoms in the form of pain or weakness in the low back and glutes when sitting for a long period of time.

Although the benefits of massage therapy are unexpected, luckily, massage can counteract the imbalance caused by sitting. As long as you schedule a regular massage, you can keep your desk job.

2. It eases muscular pain

Are your muscles sore? Massages can help. Massage services improve circulation and reduce pain. When you knock your elbow against a table, rubbing your elbow helps ease the pain,” says Tanason.

According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011, massage therapy can help treat chronic back pain as effectively as other methods.

3. It soothes depression and anxiety

Tanason says the power of human touch can be incredibly relaxing and therapeutic when it is given in a context that is safe, friendly, and professional. A 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that breast cancer survivors who received massage therapy three times a week felt less depressed and less angry.

The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry published a study showing that patients who are depressed and anxious are more relaxed and happier after receiving massage therapy, and their stress levels have decreased.

4. It helps you sleep better

As well as helping those who cannot otherwise rest comfortably, massage benefits encourage a restful sleep. Lisa Marie de Miranda, registered massage therapist and kinesiologist at Paleolife Massage Therapy, says massage prevents anxiety and promotes sleep in patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation. A study from the University of Warwick also found that massages help infants sleep better, cry less, and be less stressed.

“Most RMTs are capable of doing infant massage,” says Miranda. Parents can also perform the therapy themselves if they choose to. There is no specific technique to follow. Parents can soothe their babies in any way they feel comfortable doing.”

5. It boosts immunity

According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, massage boosts patients’ white blood cell counts, which are crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. Moreover, it improves the immune system of HIV-positive people, according to de Miranda.

6. Provides headache relief

If you get a headache, book a massage as soon as possible. It reduces tension headaches’ frequency and severity, asserts de Miranda. Patients with chronic tension headaches find that a single massage session immediately reduces perceived pain, according to a study from the University of Granada in Spain.