Massage therapy is commonly included in packages sold at luxury resorts and spas to their pampered patrons. However, the benefits of massage are not limited to relaxing on vacation. Massage therapy is an alternative therapeutic treatment with mounting clinical research that touts a variety of physical and mental effects worth considering.
This is why many businesses, including hospitals but also private clinics, offer massage therapy sessions. Continue reading to learn the 5 major benefits of regular massages from a licensed practitioner.
The primary benefit of massage therapy is reducing stress and encouraging relaxation. This benefit is why massages are part of so many hotel plans. Even airports now often contain massage clinics for flyers that are laid-over and stiff in the neck after a long journey.
Massages can relieve stress both indirectly and directly. Indirectly, a massage is a carefree environment. The masseuse will take care to provide a safe place for your massage, including relaxing music, low lights, and possibly an essential oil diffuser. For type-A, work-a-day personalities who live with tension headaches on a normal basis, simply the act of stopping, laying down for treatment, and enjoying the massage can indirectly impact stress levels.
However, there is a physiological basis for relaxation as well, which becomes apparent when we look at how stress occurs in the first place. Stress is caused by a change in the balance of several bodily chemicals, namely endorphins, dopamine, cortisol, and serotonin. Cortisol increases during stressful situations as part of our “fight or flight” response, which decreases tissue elasticity and endorphin levels. This is why we often describe stress as feeling “tight.”
A massage can stimulate our autonomic nervous system by addressing tight tissues. By increasing tissue elasticity, cortisol can decrease because our bodies don’t feel the “fight” anymore. This is why a massage can not only make you feel less physically tense but improve your mood as well.
Tissue elasticity and cortisol levels also factor into pain levels. If you live with a chronic pain condition or have suffered an acute injury, your body may respond to your issue 24/7. However, our bodies do not always know exactly what the issue is – even after the painful event has passed, pain can become “centralized” in our nervous systems. Our bodies continue to increase tension and inflammation to fight an injury that is no longer there.
This is how many chronic pain conditions, such as pelvic pain syndrome and even fibromyalgia, can get their start. To interrupt this cycle, studies have shown that massage therapy can have a positive impact on pain management in acute injuries. Teaching tissues to calm down and let their owner relax and sleep can be a major asset to pain sufferers. This includes pain in your back, neck, head, and even arthritis pain.
Additionally, those living with painful conditions might use massage therapy to cut back on their levels of medications, including opioids, which come with many side effects.
Immune System Boost
Many diets advertise their ability to “flush toxins” from our bodies. Massages can provide a way to do so by increasing blood flow to our tissues, which in turn wakes up our T cells. They form the backbone of the immune system by getting on the frontline whenever our body encounters infectious organisms like viruses and bacteria.
Research on immune system function after massage suggests that even one massage can boost T cell production and have your body ready to fight flu season.
Depending on what type of massage you get, massages can be a strenuous workout. While Swedish massages tend to be relaxing, trigger point and sports massages get down to the deeper muscle layers and address adhesions in muscle tissue that have built up over time. This process can be uncomfortable but relieving, too.
Since massage increases the elasticity of your tissues and relaxes your body in general, your performance on the field or at the gym may improve through massage. You may also be able to prevent injuries down the line by keeping your muscles healthier.
These factors, combined with a massage’s ability to release muscle tension, can have huge benefits for your physical performance, which is why athletes often rely on massages to cool off after playing and working out. Many teams keep a massage therapist on retainer for this exact reason!
Better Mental Health
Since all the above can improve your mental health by increasing relaxation, boosting endorphins, improving immunity, and releasing tight muscles, massages can serve as an important part of any general wellness regime. In addition to research-supported physical benefits, massages just make most people feel better. While not a measurable benefit, there’s no end to the potential physical and mental advantages of feeling amazing after a great massage.
Book a Massage
Speedy Sticks offers massage therapy in your very own home, so you can bring all of the benefits to you. Book an appointment now and a professional can bring everything to you for an enjoyable, therapeutic experience.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.