Getting a massage used to be a luxury but as more people get them more regularly, and realize the benefits they provide, they’ve been growing in demand and popularity. Now that massage therapy is considered a mainstream treatment option, many insurance companies provide coverage for treatment sessions.
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, which all lead to additional benefits. Whether chronic or acute, if someone is tense and in need of a release, or they have been injured and have extensive muscle and/or nerve tissue damage that plagues their body, massage therapy might be worth exploring. It can also be a preventative measure for future problems. Here are some benefits of massage therapy.
When the body is tense and under stress, it produces unhealthy levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which can contribute to weight gain, sleeplessness, digestive problems, and headaches, which can all develop into more serious problems. Massage therapy has been shown to decrease cortisol levels which allows the body to enter a recovery mode. Massage therapy also triggers lasting feelings of relaxation, improved mood, and reduced stress levels which, health effects aside, can improve one’s quality of life.
Not only can massage therapy help with stress relief, but regular massage sessions over a prolonged period of time can boost energy levels, reduce pain, and stimulate individuals on physical as well as emotional levels.
Muscle Relaxation & Flexibility
The purpose of massage therapy is to target the source of the body’s pain by eliminating tense muscles, increasing flexibility, and providing relaxation to the affected muscles as well as the body as a whole. Massage also promotes circulation to the affected or injured muscles, which increases nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues. In turn, this increased activity to the affected sites reduces stiffness and edema (swelling) in the muscles and joints, as well as increases flexibility to help reduce pain. This form of therapy also releases endorphins (pain-killing hormones) which boost the dopamine and serotonin (the happiness chemicals) levels in the body. These hormones assist the body in many ways, physically as well as emotionally.
The long-term benefits of massage therapy are not to be underestimated. Improved circulation is part of a snowball effect that occurs in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a consistent basis. This is because proper circulation brings damaged, stiff, and tense muscles the rich blood supply they need to promote healing.
Improved circulation is the byproduct of hands-on pressure, which moves the blood through the damaged and congested areas of the body. The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow into tissues.The squeezing, twisting, and pulling action of the massage also removes lactic acid from the muscle tissues. The result is increased lymph fluid circulation which carries metabolic waste products away from internal organs and muscles. This results in lower blood pressure levels and improved overall body function.
Lower Blood Pressure
Regular massage therapy sessions have been found to reduce blood pressure levels. A study in the journal Biological Research for Nursing found that people who had at least three 10-minute back massages a week lowered their blood pressure more than people who spent the same amount of time just relaxing.
An individual massage can also reduce cortisol levels and regular massage sessions can reduce trigger sources for anxiety, hostility, tension, and depression and, in turn, reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and/or kidney failure, as well as many other health issues.
A lot of people experience back, neck, and muscle pain from a variety of causes. However, the primary cause of this pain results from poor posture. In fact, chronic back pain, which is the number one reason for missed work days and second most common cause of disability, is often the result of incorrect or poor posture while standing and/or sitting. Being overweight, having poor posture, and repeating movements can also contribute to the strain on the back and other potential problem areas. As a result, the added strain often causes spasms, pain, and tense muscles in the hips, glutes, back, neck, and legs.
Massage therapy can help get the body back into proper alignment. Improving one’s posture can be one of the most beneficial and relaxing aspects of massage therapy. Massage allows the body to relax and loosen the muscles made tense and sore via bad posture. In turn, this allows the body to position itself in its organic and pain-free posture. As part of a consistent massage therapy program, the body’s muscles are loosened and relaxed. Moreover, the joints have greater freedom, flexibility, range of motion, and pressure points are relieved. As a result, the body is able to position itself in an organic and healthy posture. In short, massage therapy helps to correct the positions and movements developed over time as a reaction to pain.
Strengthen the Body’s 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 (or the cause of) sleep disturbances and poor nutrition, the body’s immune system is more vulnerable. Its ability to naturally protect itself against infections, pathogens, and bacteria is greatly reduced.
Studies have indicated that regular massage sessions not only help reduce stress but can also boost the immune system’s natural ability to fight off pathogens and enhances the body’s ability to deliver nourishment. Massage also complements exercise regimens; as exercise keeps the body strong, regular massage therapy can help keep the immune system resilient.