Massage has been around for as long as humankind exists. Apart from feeling good here are our top eleven benefits of massage therapy:
1. Relieves Stress
Stress management is a key component for anyone striving to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Massage therapy has been proven to be one of the most effective methods for achieving stress relief. Research studies show massage therapy actually boosts the body's immune system, which can become compromised from extended periods of stress. Enrolling in a reputable massage therapy program leads to significantly increased energy levels, the reduction of nagging pains, and the improvement of our overall physical and mental performance.
2. Relieves Headaches
In the United States alone, more than 60 percent of the 45 million Americans who suffer from chronic headaches suffer from migraines. The disorder can be debilitating and typically results from high stress levels and/or lack of sleep. Massage, performed on a regular basis, helps the body maintain an optimal level of relaxation and stress-relief, which reduces the chances of migraine attacks and tension headaches significantly by relaxing muscle spasms and trigger points. A recent study showed that massage therapy recipients exhibited fewer migraines and better sleep quality during the weeks they received massage, and the three weeks following, than did participants that did not receive massage therapy. Another study found that in adults with migraine headaches massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. It also increased serotonin levels, believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.
3. Improves Posture
Allowing the body to reinforce healthy and natural movements can be one of the most beneficial aspects of massage therapy. Many aches and pains are due to poor posture. Whether we are driving, working at a desk, or even just standing still, poor posture can contribute to a number of physical aches and pains. Over time, these habits can cause increased body stress and breakdown. With a consistent program of massage therapy, the painful points in muscles are loosened and relaxed, joints have greater freedom, and pressure points are relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to the pain.
4. Encourages Relaxation
In today's fast-paced world, our busy lifestyles can take a toll on our physical and mental well being. Allowing our bodies to relax and unwind is now more important than ever. A therapeutic massage session provides the ultimate experience in relaxation. The lasting effects of massage can range from promoting relaxed states of mental alertness to enhancing our capacity for calm and creative thinking. Through massage therapy, we become more aware of our daily stress levels. This allows us to recognize what true relaxation feels like so we can more easily recreate it for ourselves, before stress becomes chronic and damaging. Having this relief from stress increases our energy levels and vitality, as well as enhances our ability to cope with and enjoy our daily lives.
5. Improves Circulation
The long term effects of massage therapy are much more than just skin deep. Better circulation is part of the chain reaction that happens in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis.
Massage facilitates circulation because the pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. The squeezing and pulling also flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved body function.
Improved circulation is just one more benefit of massage therapy. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, massage can be the key to leading a healthier lifestyle.
6. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has more misconceptions than nearly any other disease. According to the American Heart Association, some of the most common are:
Misconception: High blood pressure has many symptoms
Truth: High blood pressure has NO symptoms. That’s why it’s often called the silent killer.
Misconception: High blood pressure is a man’s problem
Truth: High blood pressure can be anyone’s problem. In fact, women need to be aware of certain things that may put them at greater risk than men
Misconception: You don’t need to have your high blood pressure checked until you reach middle age.
Truth: Children as young as 6 can have high blood pressure. It’s a good idea to start having your blood pressure checked at an early age.
One of the most effective ways to stave off high blood pressure is massage therapy. A number of long term studies have shown that a consistent massage program can decrease diastolic and systolic blood pressure; decrease salivary and urinary cortisol stress-hormone levels; and lower sources for depression, anxiety and hostility.
7. Relaxes Muscles
Not only do tense muscles cause knots and pain in their respective areas in the body, they can create a chain reaction that spreads, making the ability to reduce pain nearly impossible. Massage plays an important role in training the body how to relax. Not only will massage therapy help relax internal muscles through deep tissue techniques; it can also help individuals become aware of their daily stress levels. Once the body recognizes what true relaxation feels like, the mind can then easily recreate it before stress becomes chronic and damaging. Having this relief from stress can enhance our ability to cope with and enjoy life. With deep tissue massage, the massage therapist focuses on deeper tissue structures with intense pressure to release chronic muscle tension and ultimately relax the body.
8. Improves Flexibility
As we age, our joints tighten and we lose the range of motion we once enjoyed in our youth. One of the main reasons we become less flexible as we get older has to do with certain changes that take place in our connective tissues. As we age, our bodies gradually loose fluid and dehydrate. Massage therapy is an effective treatment for increasing and maintaining flexibility and motion. By working on muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, massage can stimulate the production and retention of our bodies' natural lubricants between the connective tissue fibers, making stretching and movement easier, and keeping the body flexible. Massage stimulates the production of the body's natural lubricants to keep flexibility at a maximum, it can enhance athletic performance as the body ages and helps prevent active lifestyle injuries.
9. Improves Rehabilitation
Rehabilitating any injury can be a tiring and frustrating process. While the main goal of physical rehabilitation is to increase strength and flexibility, it often ends before the area has been returned to its full pre-injury state.
Massage plays an important role as a supplement to standard rehabilitation procedures. Massage therapy is also used to aid in pain management as the injury is nursed back to full strength. By committing to a continual massage program, one can accelerate the healing process after injuries are sustained. Many consider the most important component of a successful surgical procedure to be the post rehabilitation process. It is during this process that natural movement is re-learned, and freedom of movement is re-enforced. Massage plays an important role as a supplement to standard rehabilitation procedures. By increasing circulation and relaxing muscles, massage helps the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs. This allows the rehabilitating areas to become more flexible and heal at an accelerated rate.
10. Strenghtens Immune System
Regular therapeutic massage sessions provide significant benefits beyond the immediate relaxation we enjoy. People who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our body’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection is greatly reduced. Numerous studies have indicated that massage can increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural "killer cells") and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall. In one study by Gail Ironson, M.D., HIV positive men were given 45 minute massages five days a week, for a month. They showed an increase in serotonin and an increase in cells that are viewed as the first line of defense in the immune system. This is testing a very narrow aspect of the human immune system, but it does lend scientific credibility to a therapy which is widely recognized as therapeutic, based on experience.
11. Helps Manage Pain Due to Chronic Conditions
Massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen. The incredible benefits of massage are even more noticeable with regular sessions. Professionals at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami explain the more massage you get, the greater benefits you reap. Experts estimate that upwards of 90% of disease is stress related. Perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether may be ideal, it’s not realistic. Treat can help you manage your stress. This translates into decreased anxiety, enhanced sleep quality, greater energy, improved concentration, increased circulation, and reduced fatigue. Research shows that with massage arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain, asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak airflow, burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety, high blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones, and premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and crampingResearch continues to show the enormous benefits of touch– from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing massage and it’s becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units.