Massage for overweight and obese people: Advantages & best tips

Heather Campbell
 min read

Massage for overweight and obese people is often overlooked as a treatment, and yet the results are amazing.

Massage for overweight and obese people: Advantages & best tipsPeople are generally aware of its benefits, but don’t realize how great it is for weight loss and skin toning.

As a whole, massage and osteopathy are just as essential as healthy eating and exercise for weight loss. They help with water retention, and are incredibly effective in combating cellulite through a combination of scientific and traditional techniques.

Continue reading for the details on overweight-related problems that massages can help with and other weight loss tips.

Massage for overweight and obese people: Introduction

Besides reducing the effects of stress and muscular tension, massage therapy offers treatments to overweight clients with specific needs:

  • Reduces swelling of the limbs through techniques and treatments targeting blood and lymphatic circulation.
  • Helps break down fat capsules in tissues and muscles so that they can be reabsorbed by the body for normal elimination
  • Relieves muscular and articular pains to support the practice of physical activity.

The 4 problems related to overweight that massages can help with

We’ve summed up three common problems and the impact of a massage for overweight and obese people

Blood circulation due to excess weight

The blood circulation system is a circuit that carries blood from the heart to the hands, feet, and organs.

Good blood circulation supplies the body’s cells with nutrients and oxygen while collecting waste like carbon dioxide, uric acid, etc for easy elimination.

Being overweight is bad news for blood circulation.

80% of the veins ensuring blood return are in our lower limbs. Poor muscle mass prevents healthy veins.

So the blood circulates less well and that’s the cause of a feeling of heaviness.

Repeated kneading and draining techniques restore the proper distribution of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the cells of the muscles and joints, thus rapidly reducing the effect of heaviness.

Reduced lymphatic drainage

Without a muscle like the heart to stimulate circulation, the lymphatic network is an open circulatory system activated by movement.

Breathing and muscle contractions help to eliminate waste and toxins from the body.

A combination of excess weight and lack of muscle activity compromises lymph drainage. Drainage is essential because it removes excess fluid from the tissues and helps detoxify vital organs such as the lungs and intestines.

Drainage also activates the immune system’s response to fight viruses, bacteria or parasites that attack the body.

Massage therapy plays an important role in this process, including manual lymphatic drainage, a gentle massage technique designed to stimulate lymphatic circulation.

In the case of lymphedema, manual lymphatic drainage allows the fluid build up to be redirected towards other channels and other lymph nodes.

For more detailed information on lymphatic drainage massage, read our other post Lymphatic drainage massage: What it is, Benefits & How-to guide


Cellulite is a superficial layer of fat under the skin that can take on volume (adipocytes), water retention (poor blood and lymphatic circulation), and fibrosis (modification of collagen fibers).

There are three types of cellulite.

  • Adipose: results from an excess of fat storage
  • Fibrous: related to collagen dysfunction
  • Water retention: resulting from poor blood and lymphatic circulation

Excess weight, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition all contribute to the appearance of cellulite.

Therapy techniques an a certain massage for overweight and obese people help minimize it’s appearance.

Here are two examples.

Anti-cellulite massage

The anti-cellulite massage is a technique that is carried out by vigorous friction and kneading and circular movements. It corrects skin surface imperfections that are often compared to orange peel skin and reduces the appearance of fat cells.

Palpating and rolling as a manual massage technique

The palpate-roll is a manual massage technique that acts on the hypodermis (the deep layer of the skin) and the fascia (the envelope of the muscle) with targeted kneading and continuous pinching with the fingers.

It also flushes fat from the fascia, eliminates cellulite and increases the elimination of toxins, which allows for better blood and lymphatic circulation, thus less feeling of heaviness.


For more detailed information on how abdominal massages can help with constipation, check out our other article: Abdominal massage to stimulate bowel movements: Tips & techniques to relieve constipation

Why deprive yourself of the benefits of massage when you are overweight?

Unfortunately, overweight people are among the most likely to shun massage therapy, feeling uncomfortable because of their excess weight.

If this is the case with you, don’t worry. A well-trained and experienced therapist will completely understand your discomfort.

Therapists are aware that their care touches the person directly and that this may cause discomfort in some cases.

Lose weight thanks to massages

Don’t expect any miracles, just by getting a massage you will not lose all your excess weight

The massage only helps with a balanced diet and physical exercise. If you don’t change your diet or remain sedentary, a massage won’t reduce fat.

Massage helps lose weight without dieting but it has its limits. It boosts weight loss by evacuating toxins and breaking down fatty deposits.

The massage must be targeted on sensitive areas that store fat, and it’s not the feel good type that relaxes you.

Since it targets fatty parts of your body with vigor, you may feel some pain, especially the first few times.

Weight loss and firming

Before losing weight and see noticeable changes, you’ll need to do a number of massages, it doesn’t act immediately.

Your masseur will break down the fatty structure and practice real lymphatic drainage.

It is then a matter of massaging the areas that can retain water to evacuate it and make your cells deflate. It also helps to detoxify your body naturally.

Sometimes you may feel bloated, but it’s not fat. It’s just your body trapping water and forming little pockets. These pockets can be drained through massage and that will help with bloating and give you a slimmer figure.

In addition to massages, try to eat healthily and drink detox drinks to flush out toxins that may be stored in your body’s cells, or try intermittent fasting to purge your cells.

Losing weight without dieting alone or with a professional?

Are you going to perform the massages yourself or will you entrust this task to a professional? It is cheaper to do it yourself, of course, as professional massage practice can quickly become very expensive.

However, doing it yourself is also less effective. If you want some serious weight loss, it is advisable to go to a professional.

A professional will perform a massage by hand or with specialized machines. Self-massage can complement this.

Don’t hesitate to ask the professional for some tips to make your massages more effective.

Obesity and massage

Obesity is a difficult disease to treat. Fat, especially belly fat, is difficult to get rid of. Sometimes, diets are not enough to solve this.

To manage this effectively, long-term disciplinary follow-up is required so a nutritionist is essential.

Depending on the severity of the situation, psychological follow-up may also be required throughout the weight loss process.

Curing chronic obesity with professional help

In some cases, the intervention of a specialist is required.

Although you may be driven by a strong desire to lose weight, you should be wary of miracle cures and false promises.

Obesity is chronic with a risk of relapse. This prevention is part of obesity treatment.

3 important points of attention for obese people

Obese people need to pay attention to three main areas:

  • Body acceptance. Overcoming obesity is good for your health and your body. But if you don’t work on accepting your new body, it may be difficult to come to terms with a new identity (remember: body positivity is important in order to be really happy). This is why psychological support is recommended to help you accept yourself better.
  • Regulation of emotions. You may not know it, but stress and other emotions can contribute to weight gain. This is why you need to organize activities around emotion regulation. Moreover, this process towards weight loss is very intense and brings up many emotions.
  • Eating behavior. It is a matter of sticking to what you should or shouldn’t eat. This is not about cognitive restrictions, but rather about controlling your weight by controlling what you eat.

No matter what is offered, know that good nutrition is very important. Eating fulfills an energy need, a nutrient need and especially an emotional need. Of course, depriving yourself is as bad as eating without control.

How does osteopathy help to lose weight?

Osteopathy is a therapeutic method that involves the manipulation of bones and joints.

It is generally used in accidents that have affected the bones, diseases related to the bones and joints, etc.

It is important to be clear that osteopathy does not allow you to lose weight as you may think.

But this technique is of great importance for the effective management of obesity.

What is the role of osteopathy in the management of obesity?

Osteopathy has multiple roles in the management of obesity and thus results.

Balance of the autonomic nervous system

Fatigue, stress, poor breathing and lack of sleep all play a harmful role in our quality of life.

These sensations are controlled by the parasympathetic/sympathetic nervous system. By intervening here, osteopathy encourages a better life.

Reconnect the brain and the gut

Specialists often refer to the intestine as the second brain as these two organs are linked by the vagus nerve.

This nerve is responsible for a large part of the visceral digestive organs and the digestive function.

It’s the same never that alerts the brain to feelings of hunger and satiety.

A better connection between the brain and the intestine is established by acting on this nerve, balancing the communication and thus impacting the patient’s hunger levels and digestive function.

If the brain is in accordance with the intestine, the food balance will be respected.

Restore mobility to organs and joints

Regular physical activity is an absolute necessity for weight loss (consider rebounding for weight loss for example).

If you’re not used to it, the body, muscles and joints can take a hit and the aches and pains can be very discouraging.

Osteopathy intervenes to reduce that pain and stop you from giving up.

Osteopathy is effective in stimulating weight loss

Osteopathy is a technique that could have an indirect but effective effect on weight loss.

The procedures and advice of a specialist can help you through the tough parts, and will help you develop a new awareness of your body.

However, osteopathic treatment alone is not a substitute for conventional treatment.

It is not an end in itself and remains simply a means to optimize the results obtained with adapted management.

Improving the life quality and optimizing the treatment results are the main benefits of osteopathy.

Massage for overweight and obese people: Conclusion

Nothing beats healthy eating and moving to lose weight and tone up, but the journey can be full of pitfalls and temptation.

With regular massages and osteopathy, you can obtain much better – and faster results in both weight loss and elimination of cellulite.

We have given you some to set you on the right track to help you get the figure you want, and more importantly, the healthy life that you deserve.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More