We often think about getting a massage as pampering ourselves – like it’s some kind of indulgent luxury that makes us seem spoiled.
But you may be pleasantly surprised to learn about the many health benefits connected to massage.
It is truly a natural form of therapy that can address and relieve symptoms of all sorts of health complications.
So the next time you need to convince your significant other to give you a little back rub, or convince yourself a professional massage is worth it – remember these eight reasons it can make your life better.
1. Massage Can Help You Manage Stress
This Just In! Getting a massage can be very relaxing!
We know – that’s not exactly breaking news, right? But here’s what we often forget…
Stress is directly related to a wide variety of health issues in our lives – from problems as common as migraine headaches to serious diseases like cancer. Managing stress could very well mean you are preventing physical problems in your body.
When we undergo stress, our bodies release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol to help us react to the situation. The problem is that this reaction, which is sometimes called “fight or flight,” can come at unnecessary times or be prolonged – making it hard to relax.
Massage can release important endorphins – like serotonin and dopamine – which are neurotransmitters that help you calm down. They’re often called your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals.
77% of Americans say they deal with the negative effects of stress in their lives. We can’t prove it – but we bet the other 23% get a regular massage.
2. Massage Can Lead to Reduced Use of Painkillers
Here are a few sobering statistic for you…
Prescription painkiller overdose claims more American lives than heroin and cocaine combined.
It’s estimated that around 45 people die while abusing or misusing prescription painkillers every day.
And according to the CDC, for everyone overdose death there are:
– 10 treatment admissions for abuse
– 32 emergency department visits for misuse or abuse
– 130 people who abuse or are dependent
– 825 people who take prescription painkillers for non-medical use
Massage is a better way to help manage your pain as well as your stress. Getting hooked on massage is a lot less dangerous than a painkiller addiction. And even over-the-counter pain meds can have health consequences – especially if they are misused.
WebMD cites a study involving back pain which found massage reduced the need for painkillers by 36%. Of course, massage can be used to help relieve many types of pain – including serious conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
3. Massage Can be Beneficial to Athletes
Sports massage is a therapeutic practice in which the person giving the massage is specifically working with muscle systems an athlete would use.
That’s why boxers, quarterbacks and pitchers will get a rub down before and after a game.
Massage can be a very important part of an athlete’s health regimen and even improve performance. It promotes better flexibility and can help prevent muscle injuries. It can also be used to relieve strained muscles and improve recovery time following a sports injury.
The practice massage to help heal muscle injuries is time-tested. Hippocrates used massage to treat sprains in ancient Greece way back in 400 B.C.
4. Massage Can be Beneficial to Pregnant Women
Another group of people that can benefit from being massaged is women who are expecting a baby.
Regular massage during pregnancy can lead to a quicker recovery time after a woman delivers. Plus, massage from a woman’s partner can also be very helpful while she is in labor.
A woman’s body goes through a lot of intense changes during and after a pregnancy. Massage can relieve swelling in the limbs while reducing muscle, nerve and joint pain.
Massage may even help a woman to regulate and balance hormone levels. This is why massage can also be useful during per-menstrual syndrome as well as for menopausal symptoms. As we already mentioned in No. 1 – massage releases hormones that promote a positive mood.
After pregnancy, massaging may reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scarring. (This goes for any type of scarring – not just for pregnant women)
If you see a professional for massage therapy during pregnancy – you may want to seek out a therapist who is certified in prenatal massage.
5. Massage Can Relieve Anxiety and Depression
Besides supporting good physical health, massage can also improve your mental well-being.
Psychological health issues like anxiety and depression can be related to elevated cortisol levels. Many different studies indicate massage helps combat these issues because it can reduce levels of cortisol while increasing neurotransmitters that combat depression.
Psychological problems often manifest themselves in physical ways. Think about what your body does when you are down in the dumps. You might feel achy and weak, your shoulders droop, you drag your feet and you slump over. Massage experts call this a “structural collapse” that happens when we feel depressed.
According to MassageToday.com…
“Applying massage with the goal of releasing the structural collapse associated with depression will bring the client from a hopeless, helpless collapsed structure to one that is supported and erect. This sense of support will give the client feelings of being stronger and more capable of dealing with the issues of their depression.”
Massage tends to address many symptoms that are a result of anxiety or depression. It may help to lower blood pressure levels, alleviate tough headaches, improve breathing, settle your nerves and more.
6. Massage Can Make You Look Younger
Forget the Botox injections! Why do stick needles in your head when a simple facial massage can make you look younger, healthier and more beautiful?
Massaging will relax your facial muscles, which softens your expression, including those unattractive lines we can get from scowling and squinting.
Makeup artist Gucci Westman told the Wall Street Journal that she often gives fashion models facial massages before they walk down the runway.
“For early morning shows when everyone’s puffy and not quite awake, facial massage is like coffee for the skin. Everything comes to life.”
Since massage improves circulation throughout your largest organ – your skin – it could also give you a more radiant appearance. Simply put – good blood flow gives you that special glow.
Certain skin conditions, such as Rosacea, are connected to or can be aggravated by elevated stress. And we’ve already establish that relieving stress is perhaps the most important aspect of massage. However, we should mention that facial rubbing could irritate Rosacea.
7. Massage Can Give You Increased Energy Levels
Massage can be an amazing, rejuvenating, all-natural pick me up. Who needs another cup of coffee or energy drinks when you can have a massage?
The act of massaging can improve your circulation and increase the levels of oxygen in your blood. That also means it is easier for your circulatory system to deliver important nutrients all over your body.
Perhaps more importantly, it can support the health of your lymphatic system, which is responsible for filtering toxins from your bloodstream (among other things). Some toxic metals can deplete energy levels and alter neurotransmitter activity. Chronic fatigue is a symptom of toxic overload.
There’s another obvious reason that getting massaged can boost energy. It helps you relax – which help you sleep better – which makes you feel more rested so you have more energy during the day.
If you struggle to fall asleep at a normal hour, massage could be an excellent idea – especially if you get that special someone to give you one right before you’re ready to go to bed.
8. Massage Can Boost Your Immune System
Your body’s natural defenses can benefit from getting massaged too. And that means you’ll have a better chance of staying healthy.
As we’ve mentioned, massage promotes the functionality of your lymph system. This system works to remove toxins, potentially harmful bacteria and waste build up. Massage stimulates lymph flow to keep this process moving and keep your body in working order.
Clinical studies suggest massage may enhance the body’s production of natural killers cells – which are known as the body’s first line of defense in the immune system. One promising study in 2005 involved breast cancer patients. It found that not only did the group getting massage therapy report more reduced anxiety and depression than the control group but…
“Natural Killer cells, and lymphocytes also increased from the first to the last day of the study for the massage therapy group. These findings highlight the benefit of these complementary therapies, most particularly massage therapy, for women with breast cancer.”
People who are constantly stressed out tend to get sick more often than others. People who fail to get enough sleep are more prone to falling ill. These people are also more likely to have compromised immune systems – but massage can help!
How to Make Your Massages Even Better
Here’s one more thing you should know about the benefits of massage…
It can also have some advantages for the person giving the massage! A 2012 study involving massage therapy students showed that the person practicing massage also experiences a reduction in anxiety and increased endorphins.
That’s good news! Because most of us can’t afford to visit a spa or get a massage every day. But that shouldn’t stop you from giving and receiving a massage on a regular basis.
Home is the ideal place for a back rub, foot rub, scalp massage – or getting worked over from head to toe. After all – it’s easiest to relax in your own home.
Natural Healthy Concepts offers some great tools for the perfect massage – including many essential oils and lotions. Your skin absorbs so much – you want to be very careful about the ingredients you put on it.