I had a massage this past weekend. Of course, most of us know that they can feel wonderful, but did you know that massage has several specific benefits?
Massage is best known for its ability to promote relaxation and stress relief. A safe, professional, friendly touch can not be underestimated, especially in today’s world where many of us have limited access to friendly touch. Touch is known to be necessary for thriving, and one of the treatments for premature babies or babies who are failing to thrive is a gentle, stroking massage. Stress can worsen so many ailments, that an opportunity to relieve stress is important. Improving relaxation can help us to sleep better at night.
Massage can help improve your posture and counteract the long hours we typically spend sitting by decreasing muscle tension and stretching the muscles that tighten as we work. Improved posture can lead to decreased pain, improved balance and improved body awareness and stability.
Massage can improve your immune system by decreasing stress, decreasing cortisol levels in the blood stream, and increasing your white blood cell count.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety can be decreased by massage, by promoting relaxation, decreasing cortisol levels, and helping to create a feeling of well being.
Massage can encourage a person to breathe more deeply, further improving relaxation. Deep breathing can bring in more oxygen to nourish muscles, internal organs, and your brain. Deep breathing promotes respiratory health and cardiovascular health while decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure. It improves circulation, bringing oxygen to the areas where it is needed for healing, while moving toxins away.
The abilities to decrease muscle tension and increase circulation are important in healing injuries. Massage is frequently used in sports injuries, but also to help decrease back pain, headaches, neck pain, postoperative pain, pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and pain from fibromyalgia.
Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing, and manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons, and deeper connective tissue. The pressure can range from the light stroking in Swedish Massage to the deep pressure in Trigger Point Massage focusing on the tight muscle fibers found in muscles after injury or overuse.
While massage is wonderful for most of us, it may be contraindicated, or used with caution in some individual. People with bleeding disorders or those who take blood thinners should be careful, as severe bruising or internal bleeding could occur. If you have thrombocytopenia, (low platelet count) you should be cautious with massage due to poor blood clotting. Those with burns or healing wounds should abstain from massage over those areas until healing is complete. People who have a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) should not have massage in that area as it could dislodge the blood clot and send it to the heart, causing a heart attack. If you have a fracture, you should wait until it is healed, or until a doctor gives you permission before receiving a massage to that area.
Finding a reputable massage therapist is important, but not so difficult. There are many spas and salons that hire licensed massage therapists, and there are many that practice privately in their homes or in your home.
A good massage can add a lot to your life. Beyond assisting with health, the benefits of massage can contribute to an overall sense of wellness.
Blessings and Peace,
- MayoClinic .com
- American Massage Therapy Association