“How often should I get a massage?”
That’s a question we frequently hear and the answer is different for every individual. Are you experiencing stress? Are you feeling run down? Do you have aches and pains or an injury?
Sure, massage feels great and it’s a treat to get one from time to time, but if you make massage part of your wellness program, whether it’s monthly or weekly, you can reap the true health benefits of massage.
Here practitioner Caressa Mathews shares her Top 10 Health Benefits of Massage. Enjoy!
1 ~ Stress Relief
By lowering the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, relaxing muscles, and increasing endorphins. This allows the body to enter a relaxing rest-and-recovery mode: an effect that lingers long after the massage is over. Massage triggers a host of brain chemistry responses that can result in lasting feelings of relaxation, lowered stress and improved mood.
2 ~ Boosting Immunity
Several studies have measured the stress hormone called cortisol in subjects’ saliva before and after massage sessions, and found dramatic decreases. Cortisol, which is produced when you are stressed, kills cells important for immunity, so when massage reduces your stress levels and hence the cortisol in your body, it may help you avoid getting a cold or another illness while under stress.
3 ~ Managing Anxiety and Depression
Massage can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression.
4 ~ Pain Management
Massage creates chemical changes that reduce pain and stress throughout the body. One way it does this is by reducing a brain chemical called substance P that is related to pain. In a TRI study, for example, individuals with a form of muscle pain called fibromyalgia showed less substance P in their saliva (and they reported reduced pain) after a month of twice-weekly massages.
5 ~ Greater Flexibility
By working on muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments, and joints, regular massage can improve your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone.
6 ~ Blood Pressure Management
Massage reduces hypertension, suggests a good deal of research. This may be because it stimulates pressure receptors that prompt action from the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that emerges from the brain. The vagus nerve regulates blood pressure, as well as other functions. In a 2005 study at the University of South Florida, hypertension patients who received 10 massages of 10 minutes each over three weeks showed significant improvements in blood pressure compared to a control group who simply rested in the same environment without any massage.
7 ~ Improved Healing Time for Injuries
Massage supplements standard injury rehabilitation procedures, helps the body pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissue and vital organs, and accelerates the rehabilitation process.
8 ~ Better Sleep
If you’ve ever dozed off on a massage table, you don’t need to be convinced that a massage can promote healthy sleep. A number of studies have examined this link, and chalk it up to massage’s affect on delta waves, the kind of brain waves connected to deep sleep, according to Health magazine.
9 ~ Breathe Better
Massage plays an important role in training the body how to relax and help improve breathing. Respiratory issues, such as allergies, sinus problems, asthma and bronchitis, are one group of conditions that can benefit from massage therapy. Massage therapy can not only improve breathing, but also posture. This can lead to an opening of the chest area, as well as the structural alignment and rib cage expansion needed for optimal lung function, she adds. Plus, when the parasympathetic nervous system responds to massage your breathing rate slows and becomes deep and regular.
10 ~ Raise Alertness
Adults who were given a 15-minute chair massage in a small 1996 Touch Research Institute (TRI) study were more alert and completed a series of math questions faster and more accurately.