People used to think of massage therapy as a luxury, something you’d enjoy during a vacation at an expensive spa, or a treatment for athletes injured on the field. But in recent years, massage has become increasingly popular as a natural method for improving issues that range from headaches, insomnia and depression to carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, sciatica and more.
In addition to relieving the pain of a sore knee or shoulder, the benefits of massage extend into areas far beyond simple relaxation. These include:
1. Stress Relief
In today’s world, stress affects almost everyone. Few people can glide through months at a time without suffering a single twinge of discomfort, pressure, anxiety or pain. And while there are many ways to relieve stress, some of the most popular — overeating, smoking or drinking too much — aren’t exactly conducive to good health.
The effects of stress can pile up before we’re even aware of them. Repetitive motions, unusual activities, summer heat, and the pressure of demands on your time all take a toll on your health. That’s where massage can be especially helpful, providing therapeutic treatments that restore balance and wellness.
2. Improved Circulation
The pressure of a massage therapist’s hands moves blood through previously constricted areas, which allows new blood to move in. This new blood is more rich in oxygen, and that’s what tense or damaged muscles need in order to heal.
Better circulation also means relief of cold fingers and toes, which haven’t been getting the fresh blood they need to stay warm. In addition, improved blood flow — along with all the other effects of massage — helps strengthen your immune system, making you less prone to illness and quicker to recover.
3. Toxin Removal
As a professional massage therapist works on your muscles, lactic acid that’s built up over time is flushed away. This makes room for the arrival of lymph fluid, which is what carries away the metabolic waste from your internal organs and muscles, so your entire body feels better.
4. Range of Motion
Massage helps your body become more flexible, making it easier to reach farther and step higher. Focusing on not only your muscles, but also your tendons and ligaments, it helps boost the lubricants between your body’s connective tissue fibers.
This keeps your joints more limber, which makes you less prone to injury during workouts and sports…as well as during everyday events like reaching for a cup of coffee from the clerk at the drive-through window.
5. Chronic Pain Relief
Regardless of where the pain comes from — fibromyalgia, arthritis, neuropathy, shingles, MS or any other condition — chronic pain is tough to live with. Massage helps in several ways.
First, it stimulates your body’s production of serotonin, the hormone which acts as a natural pain reliever. By increasing melatonin and allowing your circadian rhythms to “re-set,” it also encourages deeper sleep, which is another source of pain relief. And the relaxing effects of massage help elevate your mood while lowering anxiety and stress, which makes coping with chronic pain easier.
Further Reading: Top 10 Natural Ways To Relieve Pain
6. Lower Blood Pressure
Providing joints with more freedom, loosening painful points in muscles, and relieving pressure points all contribute to better circulation, which results in lower blood pressure.
In fact, studies have shown that regular massage can decrease both diastolic and systolic BP, which reduces the odds of kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.
7. Deeper Sleep
When stress becomes an everyday part of life, sleep frequently suffers. Massage can decrease sleep disturbances, making life much more relaxing for busy people.
The way it works is by sending you into a deep state of relaxation during the massage, which gives your mind and body an example of what to aim for at home. The more frequently you achieve the kind of total relaxation that massage brings about, the easier it is to re-create that sensation on your own.
8. Healthier Posture
Good posture is about more than just looking good — it also keeps each muscle operating the way it’s meant to, rather than forcing some to work harder while others grow weaker. Bad posture means your internal organs are under pressure, resulting in digestive troubles, and it can even affect your breathing.
But massage helps loosen the muscles plagued by a habitual slouch, enabling your body to move the way it was meant to. This provides relief from the aches and pains caused by unnatural movements adopted as a result of poor posture, and lets you return to a natural stance that offers greater flexibility and less pressure.
9. Better Breathing
Taking short, shallow breaths makes it hard to relax, but sometimes the respiratory muscles in your upper body have become so tight that it’s hard to breathe in any other way. This happens so gradually that nobody notices until a massage relaxes those muscles.
Since massage can improve posture as well, the chest area and rib cage can expand as needed for your lungs to work at their full capacity. In addition, the relaxation that comes from massage makes breathing become more deep, slow and regular.
Getting A Massage
Be sure to tell your professional therapist what areas you’d especially like to correct. You’ll notice the greatest benefits from regular sessions, but even a few here and there can make a difference.
Then relax and enjoy improving your health naturally, in a way that feels good every single time you receive a massage.