We all know that a massage is relaxing, but many people don’t know that regular massage can benefit your overall health. Scientific studies have shown that receiving a massage regularly, once a month or more, can improve some chronic conditions and even support immune function. Here are 5 Reasons to make massage a part of your routine:
1. Immune Support
Our lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste and toxins from our bodies; it also transports white blood cells, an integral part of the immune system. Blood is actively pumped through the body by the heart, but the lymph system depends on smooth muscle movement to flow correctly. Massage, especially lymphatic massage, can help move lymph fluids around the body, speeding up the removal of toxins and the delivery of white blood cells.
Lymphatic massage is a massage technique that specifically focuses on the lymph nodes that are found throughout your body, including those near your throat, underarms, and pelvis. Lymphatic massage can help alleviate the symptoms of lymphedema, fibromyalgia, fatigue, digestive issues, and migraine headaches. A better functioning lymph system will also improve your ability to fight off illness.
2. Improve Chronic Pain
Chronic pain comes in many forms; it may be your lower back, an old injury, or an illness like rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. Massage therapy has been shown to improve pain from all of these conditions. If you are pursuing chiropractic care for an injury or back problems, ask your chiropractor if massage could help speed healing. Often, massage therapy used alongside other treatment methods can help patients to get better sooner. This is because massage relaxes tense muscles and improves circulation, allowing adjustments and other treatments to work better.
Massage also lowers stress hormones and increases endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good hormones that fight pain. These hormonal benefits can help with the pain experienced by patients with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and other painful illnesses. The boost in endorphins has also been shown to improve depression symptoms in fibromyalgia patients.
3. Enhanced Athletic Performance
Whether you play a sport or just suffer through your workout, massage can help you be the best you can be. Most professional sports teams contract massage therapists for their players because of the many proven benefits of massage for athletes.
Massage reduces muscle tension and stress while improving circulation. This results in more flexibility and a better range of motion. Tense, stiff muscles keep you from performing at your best and are more likely to get injured during activity.
Receiving a massage after exercise benefits recovery in several ways. It has been shown to reduce serum creatine kinase, post-exercise, prevent soreness, and support recovery of heart rate and blood pressure after high-intensity exercise. Professional athletes recognize massage as the most efficient way to recover between periods of intense activity.
4. Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Health
Many patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and the physical manifestations of chronic stress, such as tension headaches or IBS, find relief with massage therapy. It’s not just in their heads. The physiological benefits of massage are real and can provide real relief. The combination of reduced muscle tension, lowered stress hormones, and an increase in good hormones like endorphins helps the brain and body function better. Studies have shown significant improvement in symptoms in people experiencing situational stress and depression from things like cancer treatment, chronic illness, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder when they received regular massage therapy.
In these patients, emotional symptoms of depression and anxiety improved along with physical manifestations of these conditions, such as achiness and digestive problems. IBS is a common physical problem that is aggravated by stress. Massage can be used on certain pressure points to stimulate digestion and relieve constipation and belly pain.
Massage can also benefit patients who are receiving other treatments for mental illnesses, it is not a replacement for needed medications or other therapy, but it can work alongside these treatments to improve outcomes. Regular massage can help to improve sleep in patients with psychiatric illness and those with chronic pain. This, in and of itself can help to improve symptoms and functioning, since lack of sleep can aggravate symptoms of these conditions.
5. Improved Quality of Life for Seniors
People of a certain age are more likely to experience osteoarthritis pain, trouble with balance, and high blood pressure. All of these conditions can be improved with the right massage therapy plan. An experienced massage therapist can tailor treatment to be safe for older people, even those who have lower bone density or mobility issues.
Treatment and prevention of balance problems and joint stiffness are essential parts of a senior wellness plan and can reduce the risk of falls and fractures. In individuals who have had joint replacements, massage can help reduce postoperative pain and speed healing so that the patient can get back to life faster.
In addition to helping with balance, arthritis, and other physical conditions related to age, massage can help temper the effects of dementia. A study with Alzheimer’s patients showed that a five-minute hand massage given twice daily could decrease agitation and aggressive behavior, especially during the morning hours. The human contact involved in massage can also aid with the loneliness that many seniors experience and improve the quality of life for older people in hospice.