Massage is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues. Massage techniques are commonly applied with hands, fingers, elbows, knees, and forearms.
Massage therapy is a great form of self-care and an excellent way to help you relax. All that said, massage therapy also provides many health benefits. Just ask someone with chronic back, shoulder, or neck pain, and chances are massage therapy is a lifeline for them. Since massage therapy is used to treat a wide range of ailments, it could be right for you.
If you’ve never tried massage before and you’re curious about how it can help you, here are the eight benefits of massage therapy:
Benefit #1: Promotes Muscle Relaxation
One of the best benefits of massage therapy is that it targets the source of the body’s pain and eliminating muscle tension. By doing so, it also increases flexibility in the muscles.
By getting a massage, you are also promoting circulation to the affected muscles. Doing so increases nutrients to the muscles and oxygen to the damaged tissues. With this, you’ll notice less stiffness and swelling in both the muscles and joints, as well as increased flexibility. All of this positively impacts you by reducing the amount of pain you’re in.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2011, found that the benefits of massage therapy are just as effective as other methods of treatment for chronic back pain.
Benefit #2: Helps Manage Chronic Headaches
It’s been proven that massage therapy decreases the severity and frequency of tension headaches. Research out of Spain found that even just one massage therapy session was able to immediately affect perceived pain amounts in patients with chronic tension headaches.
The next time you have a bad headache or migraine, try booking a massage to see if it helps. Who knows, this could be your new go-to solution for those stubborn chronic headaches and migraines.
Benefit #3: Combats Depression and Anxiety
Massage therapy can help alleviate the symptoms that are associated with depression and anxiety. For example, when you suffer from one of these mental health disorders, muscle stiffness is a common complaint. Massage therapy can help combat this issue.
Also, massage therapy can help with other associated physical symptoms such as back pain, sluggishness, muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, and even help you sleep better.
Benefit #4: Improves Sleep Quality
As we mentioned above, massage therapy can help you sleep better. Since most of us suffer from some sort of sleep problem at one point or another during our lifetime (under extreme stress, while pregnant, etc.) massage therapy can be a viable solution. Massage therapy increases relaxation in the body, thus promoting sleep.
Benefit #5: Boosts Focus
The effects of a massage will actually help improve your attention and ability to focus. This works by lowering your heart rate so you can best pay attention. You may notice that if you’re unable to pay attention that your heart rate is elevated.
Since massage therapy works by slowing down your nervous system, it in turn slows down your heart rate too. During a massage, your pressure receptors stimulate vagal activity, which stems from a nerve in your brain that leads to several different branches of the body. This means that when you’re undergoing the pressure of a massage, it could decrease your heart rate which will help improve your focus.
Benefit #6: Counteracts Excessive Sitting
Do you sit for long periods throughout the day for work? Chances are you do. This can have adverse effects on your health. You may start to notice postural stress which manifests itself in the shoulders and neck.
If this sounds a lot like you then massage therapy may be just what you need. Massage therapy counteracts the imbalance in your body from sitting. So, even if you find yourself sitting for long hours at your desk and are subsequently in pain from doing so, book a massage to help ease the pain.
Benefit #7: Treats Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis. It causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints by breaking down the tissues that cover the end of the bones.
Some research has shown that a 60-minute massage once a week can significantly reduce pain for those suffering from this condition. In particular, it helps alleviate pain in the knee most significantly.
Benefit #8: Boosts Immunity
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine from 2010 found that massage therapy boosts patients’ white blood cell count. This is an important finding since white blood cells play a large role in defending the body from disease.
This shows that not only does massage therapy have short-term benefits, but long-term benefits as well.
Although massage therapy doesn’t treat every condition there is, there’s a good chance that something you’re experiencing can be effectively treated through massage therapy. Why not give it a try?