Once upon a time, therapeutic massages were a luxury for the wealthy, a necessity for professional athletes, and a dream for many. In the last couple of decades, though, massage therapy is Main Street. It’s not just fancy resorts and spas that make massages available to clients. There are national massage spa chains in shopping centers, and airports, some natural grocery stores, malls, and yoga studios; even hospitals provide massage therapy.
Massage is the physical manipulation of bodily tissue, such as muscle, tendons, ligaments, and the skin. Massage therapists use their hands, elbows, arms, and fingers to press, rub, or stretch the body. In Thai massage, the therapist also uses their feet.
There are several forms of massage from a gentle type, such as Myofascial release or Swedish massage, to the more intensive like deep tissue massage. If you have never had a massage, here are seven reasons that may encourage you to schedule your first appointment as soon as you finishing reading this article.
[If you want to know more about the different types of massage and what to expect at an appointment, click over our article Finding the Right Massage Therapist for You.]
A therapeutic massage is one of the most relaxing experience you will have. Many people think sleep is relaxing, however, for many, sleep is not restful. They toss and turn at night because of pain, stress, and worry. However, during a massage, you are consciously aware of the relaxed state. This, in turn, can help you to learn other relaxation techniques to use at different times, which can be useful to encourage restful sleep or reduce stress.
A massage therapist can feel and see things you ignore. For example, before going to a massage therapist, you may not be aware of some regions of tension in your body. You may also not be aware of having poor posture that has developed over time from things like working at a computer. Poor posture can shorten muscles, create tender points, and cause pain. After the massage, you may notice how certain habits contribute to stiffness and pain. Noticing may encourage you to look for ways to improve posture or find exercises that can stretch muscles, etc.
Stress is a serious health issue. Studies have shown how it can contribute to or lead to significant health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer. Studies have also shown that a massage can reduce the symptoms of stress like lowering blood pressure and heart rate; a massage can also reduce anxiety and improve mental health and depression.
If you aren’t sleeping well, you are not alone: “It’s estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans experience sleep issues that affect their health.”[i] Studies suggest that massages encourage deep sleep where the body barely moves and is restorative because it increases delta waves associated with restorative sleep.
A massage can increase immune cells, assist with lymphatic circulation, reduce cortisol (stress hormone), and increase serotonin which all help the body to ward off diseases and infections. Massages have also been shown to increase Natural Killer cells that fight viruses and cancer cells.
Reduces Aches and Pains
Muscular strain, injury, tender trigger points, illness, body alignment issues, arthritis, and other conditions can cause pain. They can result in chronic headaches, backaches, sore muscles, and other painful bodily responses. Regular massages can help improve body alignment and reduce pain by releasing muscle tension, manually stretching tissue, releasing trigger points, and relieve other manifestations of aches and pains.
Research shows that massages increase serotonin and dopamine levels which are known as mood enhancing hormones. Right side frontal lobe activity is associated with sadness, and the left side activity relates to happiness. Studies at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Touch Research Institute showed that right lobe activity decreased and left lobe activity increased after a massage.
Who doesn’t want to slow down the aging process or at least age gracefully? All the above benefits mentioned help to slow the aging process and help you to age in a healthier state. Even if you are young, you are still aging, and massage can help you create the conditions to age slower and healthier. For older people, massage has shown to help with some of the signs of aging such as improving balance.
Now that you know some of the benefits of massage therapy, it’s time to book that appointment.
5 Reasons Massage is Anti-Aging (June 25, 2015). Retrieved from http://www.longevitylive.com/anti-aging-beauty/5-reasons-massage-anti-aging
Field, T, et al. Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy (October 15, 2005). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
Lewis, Kristyn Kusek. Massage: It’s real medicine (March 8, 2007). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/03/08/healthmag.massage
Massage Therapy Can Improve Sleep, October 2012. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org
Can Massage Help You Sleep? Retrieved from https://sleep.org/articles/can-massage-help-you-sleep
Using Massage Therapy as a Toll to Increase Your Body Awareness. Retrieved from http://www.bodyworks-plus.com/body-awareness.html
[i] American Massage Therapy Association, Massage Therapy Can Improve Sleep, October 2012