I started going to regular massages a few years ago when I was training for sports events and was getting a sore neck from sitting in front of a computer all day. I found that massage was a good way to release knots, elongate muscles and break down adhesions from previous injuries. It increased blood flow to the muscles, decreased tension and alleviated pain from stiffness. Because I experienced so many benefits, I went for sports massages every second week. It was hard to fit them into my schedule but my massage therapist (who is now a close friend) always found a way to make things work, sometimes seeing me very early in the morning or at night.
Lately I’ve been skipping my massages because I haven’t been training as much, and wanted to save money. But it turns out massages have many more benefits than relieving tension or preventing sports injuries. And after a bit of research I decided that perhaps I need to return to a habit of getting a massage at least once a month.
Here are a few extra benefits of massage and reasons to book your next massage today!
MASSAGE REDUCES STRESS AND IMPROVES SLEEP
We all know that a massage (especially softer Swedish massage) helps us feel more relaxed. This in turn reduces both emotional and physical stress. The soothing benefits of massage encourage the release of endorphins and serotonin, the chemicals that make us feel good. Studies have also proven that massage reduces stress-inducing hormones like norepinephrine, adrenaline and cortisol. It lowers blood pressure and helps us sleep better.
MASSAGE BOOSTS IMMUNITY
A decrease in stress hormones gives your immune system a chance to work more efficiently. The increase in circulation and improved lymphatic drainage from massage can also help boost the immune system’s effectiveness. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage increased patients’ white blood cell count, which plays a large role in our immune system. However, it’s not a good idea to get a massage when you are sick or have a fever.
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MASSAGE CAN HEIGHTEN MENTAL ALERTNESS
As mentioned, massage helps you relax and de-stress and through this, one’s mental clarity can increase. This is likely why some corporates are now offering massages at work and why mobile massage therapists are on the increase.
MASSAGE CAN IMPROVE SKIN TONE
I found that regular massage helped smooth out bumps on my thighs. Although, of course, exercise and a healthy diet must also be considered. Massage reduces tension in the skin and adjoining tissues, and the increase in the skin’s circulation can aid the nutrition cycle and encourage cell regeneration. Massage apparently also encourages sebum production, helping to improve suppleness of the skin. I guess this is why many facials also incorporate massages.
MASSAGE CAN IMPROVE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Research shows that human touch, in a context that is safe, friendly and professional, can be incredibly therapeutic. According to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported being less depressed and less angry.
MASSAGE CAN DECREASE FREQUENCY AND SEVERITY OF HEADACHES
Research from Granada University in Spain found that a single session of massage therapy immediately affects perceived pain in patients with chronic tension headaches.
I used to get tension headaches from a stiff neck and clenching my jaw. My headaches were greatly reduced by improving my seated posture and releasing the tension in my neck and jaw through massage. That said, headaches can result from many medical issues and you should visit a doctor if they persist.
MASSAGE CAN HELP REDUCE PMS
According to a study by the Touch Research Institute and University of Miami Medical School, massage can improve mood swings, bloating, headaches, weight gain, and other PMS symptoms. The researchers found that regular massage sessions lessened symptoms of premenstrual syndrome in women age 19 to 45.
I hope this gives you piece of mind that a massage is not simply an indulgence, but a wonderful way to also improve your health. Go for a couples massage to experience an intimate moment with your partner. Always drink plenty of water after a massage and speak to your therapist about injuries and what you want to gain from your massage. Different aromatherapy oils can play a role in your experience.
*Although every effort has been made to verify the health benefits of massage, we at Equilibrio are not doctors and your medical professional’s advice should be taken above ours.