What Are The Benefits of Massage?
Swedish. Hot stone. Balinese. Aromatherapy. Thai. Deep tissue. When you hear the word “massage”, which one of these treatment styles crosses your mind first? Throughout the centuries, this healing modality has remained popular across the globe, and there are various different types of massage that exist today, many of which have strong cultural ties and origins. For most people, the idea of a massage is an appealing one. Perhaps it's because of their seemingly magical power to tackle issues that many people struggle with in the current day (linked to our increasingly sedentary modern lifestyles), such as chronic muscle pain, stiffness, and rigidity. Massage can indeed relax the body — but it can also offer a lot more than that, since its advantages are more than skin-deep. Read on to learn more about the benefits of this practice, and discover how using it as a treatment can not only nourish your body, but also your mind and soul.
Massage Relieves Your Stress
The endocrine system secretes different kinds of hormones in the human body. These chemical messengers can profoundly affect our bodily systems and psychological state. What does this have to do with massages? Well, getting a massage can help to decrease our stress levels by reducing the amount of “stress hormones'' present in the body. This group of hormones – which includes arginine, vasopressin, cortisol, and adrenaline, to name just a few – can, as their name suggests, leave you feeling stressed-out in both body and mind. Their primary role is to guide you to stay alert in certain situations. For instance, if you need to deliver an important speech or engage in a bit of public speaking – those hormones will appear to “back you up” by making you a little nervous, to help keep you on your toes so to speak. They are here to get your body into the “fight mode” of your “fight or flight” instinct, and in doing so, help you (hopefully) boost your performance. Stress hormones can help us cope with dangerous, or life-threatening events. However, stress can exists on a sliding scale: while a little bit of it can actually be a good thing, when we experience it too often or unnecessarily, or it becomes chronic, it can lead to a range of other health problems, from anxiety and depression to digestive issues, heart problems, or sleep troubles, to name some. It can even affect the levels of our other hormones. And in the modern world, there are many circumstances that can lend themselves to chronic stress, from financial troubles and a toxic or burnout-inducing work environment, to the endless stream of information from the 24-hour news cycle. This is where massage can help: it can help to shut down the release of stress hormones. And as the levels of these chemicals gradually decline, you’ll almost certainly feel more relaxed.
Massage Promotes Your Happiness
Massage can trigger the release of happy hormones, which produce the complete opposite effect of stress hormones. Happy hormones give you positive feelings. These feelings range from euphoria and relaxation to trust and satisfaction, depending on which one of the four types of happy hormones it is. For instance, physical touch can facilitate the production of oxytocin – also known as “the love hormone”. This hormone is particularly beneficial for building trust and forming bonds with others. Massage can also increase one’s endorphin levels, which is sometimes referred to as a “natural painkiller”. This chemical has an incredible power to reduce one’s pain sensitivity. It helps to make people feel better, by making them less likely to fully sense their pain. Overall, massage can naturally boost your happiness, enhanced by the powerful healing effects of the happy hormones. These chemicals can not only put a smile on your face, they can also improve your mental and emotional health.
Massage Reduces Your Muscle Tension
One of the most common benefits of massage is its power to relieve muscle tension. Professional athletes often get massages either before or after their practice or training sessions, to either prevent their injuries or help promote their recovery. In fact, massage can effectively help you to relieve muscle tension by increasing the overall range of motion in your joints. This can be hugely beneficial for your physical health, since a better motion range enhances your body's flexibility, which can significantly reduce muscle stiffness and tightness. Usually, having less-tensed muscles can also help you to maintain a healthy blood pressure level, which can potentially protect you from getting blood vessel-related – or cardiovascular – issues. So it’s a wise idea to get regular massages – especially if you spend most of your day sitting! As you feel its benefits, you may be astonished by how much a good massage can relieve your muscle tension while relaxing your whole body. When a massage helps to loosen your muscles, you may even develop better posture, as well as finding greater balance.
Massage Protects Your Body
Massage can help improve your blood flow and circulation, which can, in turn, allow you to heal at a faster rate. In fact, it is even said to help boost the body’s immune system. For instance, studies have shown that regularly getting a massage can help enhance the overall amount of lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell. You may view these cells as the “fighters” or the “guards” of your body’s immune system. These guardian cells, lymphocytes, are here to protect your body from harmful substances that can potentially damage your body, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins. That being the case, massage can not only help your body recover when you get hurt, but it may also protect your health against diseases and infections.
Massage Improves Your Mental Health
Apart from its physical benefits, getting a massage can also benefit you mentally and psychologically. According to a clinical study, aromatherapy massage was found to help reduce symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Another research study explored the psychological benefits of massage, which reported similar findings. In particular, it found that massage can significantly reduce one’s stress, depression, and anxiety levels. The mental health benefits of massage might be tied to the idea of Mind-Body Connection, which explains how your mind and body are interconnected, such that the state of your physical body can have a considerable effect on your mental health, and vice versa. In other words, when your body is relaxed, you naturally become happier. After all, a healthy mind promotes a healthy body, and the same happens the other way around. As your body feels more comfortable and content, you can cultivate more positive thinking, which allows you to enjoy better mental well-being.
There are many benefits of massage. It can not only nourish your body, but also your mind and soul. If you’ve been thinking of getting a massage, make sure you’re choosing a facility with fully-trained and qualified therapists. Whether you prefer a spa-like massage or a clinical environment, always communicate with your therapist to make sure they’re able to meet your needs. Let them know your goals from the beginning of the session – and in doing so, you will be able to enjoy the most appropriate treatment to effectively improve your health and wellness.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: What Are the Different Types of Massage?; Anatomy of the Endocrine System; Hormones - Cleveland Clinic; Stress and Hormones; How the Fight-or-Flight Response Works; What Is the Link Between Love and Oxytocin?; Why Do We Need Endorphins?; Increase Range of Movement; Durability of Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure; How to Help Increase Blood Circulation Through Massage; Natural Killer Cells and Lymphocytes Increase in Women With Breast Cancer Following Massage Therapy; Effectiveness of Aromatherapy Massage in the Management of Anxiety and Depression in Patients With Cancer: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial; The Effect of Massage Therapy on Depression, Anxiety and Stress in Adolescent Wrestlers; The Mind-Body Connection: Not Just a Theory Anymore.
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