Massage therapy has been around since the time of the ancients. But, although it has been widely known and practiced for thousands of years for most of that time it was considered little more than an indulgence of the well to do or a type of alternative therapy with no proven health benefits. That’s all changed over the course of the last century and today massage therapy is widely recognized as essential to maintaining robust health and is used by trainers and physical therapists the world over. Of course you can still go into your local spa and have a massage even if you’re not a world-class athlete or recovering from injury or illness. In fact, doing so may help ward off injury or illness down the line.
12 Good Reasons to Have a Massage
Below are 12 benefits of having a massage that everyone in search of better health should be aware of.
1. It Can Help Alleviate the Frequency and Symptoms of Migraines
Migraines are a vexing condition capable of producing intense pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, fatigue, dizziness, auras and more. They can be debilitating and emotionally disturbing and as of this writing there is no cure for migraines. Recent research out of New Zealand, however, suggests that those who suffer from migraines may benefit from having regular massages. The researchers followed two groups of migraine sufferers. One group received regular massages for a period of several weeks and the other did not. In the end it was found that members of the massage group experienced fewer migraines and better quality sleep than the non-massage group.
2. It May Help Lower Blood Pressure
There is evidence to suggest that regular massage sessions may help lower blood pressure and may help minimize triggers for stress-related episodes of anxiety, tension, aggression and even depression. Long term reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure have been observed in many people who partake of regular massage sessions. But the benefits don’t stop there because with blood pressure reduced and other triggers alleviated the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and a host of other conditions is likewise reduced. That implies a regular massage may be one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
3. It Will Help You Recover from Vigorous Exercise
Every athlete who competes at a high level will attest to the value of massage therapy. Virtually every professional sports team on the planet keeps a massage therapist on the payroll these days and they are often the busiest member of the staff. World class runners, boxers, soccer players and Olympic athletes all partake of regular visits to the massage therapist for the same reason: it helps them recover faster and perform better. Massage reduces inflammation and enhances the recovery of damaged tissue. It also provides relief from systemic inflammation that is often the cause of so many aches and pains. The anti-inflammatory abilities of a good massage are similar to those provides by aspirin and NSAIDS but don’t require you to take any medication. For that reason many athletes who are hyper vigilant about their health and conditioning prefer having a massage.
4. It Can Make You Look and Feel Younger
There is no Santa Claus and maybe even worse, there is no fountain of youth. However, having a regular massage comes pretty close to producing the kind of effects that drove Ponce de Leon to distraction. A professionally administered massage will stimulate the flow of blood which is crucial to maintaining healthy, radiant skin. It also enhances the ability of the lymphatic system to remove toxins and helps promote the growth of collagen which is so necessary for plumping up skin. When you go in for your massage make sure you have the masseuse work the muscles of the face, neck and head to optimize all the skin toning benefits massage has to offer.
5. It Will Help Improve Your Posture
Neck and back pain can be debilitating. Often times it also has the unfortunate side effect of causing sufferers to adopt poor posture either in a conscious attempt to accommodate the pain or as an unconscious act resulting from the pain. But it works the other way too. Back and neck pain are often the result of poor posture. And being overweight can also result in problems of the neck and back muscles which in turn can create poor posture. As such it may seem like chronic back pain and poor posture are inevitable for most people. But that’s not the case. A regular visit to the massage therapist can go a long way toward alleviating the issues causing back pain. And in cases where it can’t directly address the underlying causes of poor posture it can nonetheless help promote better posture.
Good posture can help alleviate a slew of health conditions and relieve stress and strain on your knees, hips, back and neck while reducing the frequency and severity of muscle spasms and helping to prevent injury. A good massage helps the body relax into its proper positioning which relieves unnatural stress and strain on muscles all up and down the back. Regular massage also helps loosen joints which provides you greater flexibility. Good posture is the gift that keeps on giving from a health perspective and one of the best ways to achieve it is via regular professional massage.
6. It Can Strengthen the Immune System
Stress is one of those mysterious forces that is difficult to quantify but plays a very real part in our physical and emotional wellbeing. People under constant stress tend to suffer from an array of maladies ranging from the inconsequential to the serious. Stress can also affect a person’s ability to sleep just as it may affect their eating habits, their weight and their general susceptibility to other problems. Relieving stress then will not only help you sleep and eat better but will also help strengthen your immune system so that your body is more efficient and effective at fighting off problems. One of the best ways known to alleviate stress is to indulge in regular massage sessions with a professional masseuse.
Recent studies indicate that regular massage will help you achieve a higher level of overall health including a more resilient and effective immune system bolstered by an increase in your cytotoxic capacity. That has to do with the ability of your body to produce so-called killer cells that target invasive organisms, certain cancer cells and other diseases. So think of each massage session as a kind of workout for your immune system that helps it stay lean and mean and ready to face all comers.
7. It Can Reduce Symptoms of Chronic Pain
While there is no cure for chronic pain as of this writing a regular massage can go a long way toward alleviating the most debilitating symptoms of pain caused by disc herniation, degenerative conditions of the joints, fibromyalgia, arthritis and more. It is believed that part of the reason for this is because a massage will help increase blood flow as we mentioned earlier. In doing so it brings nutrients and oxygen to all the previously ignored corners of your physiology, relieves stiffness and enhances flexibility. Many people with chronic pain are surprised at how quickly they begin to experience the benefits of massage.
8. It Helps Improve Flexibility
Flexibility is crucial if a physically active person is to perform to their abilities and avoid injury. Whether you are an office worker who runs in the evenings or a professional basketball player who needs to constantly be at their peak flexibility is every bit as important as stamina and strength. A good way to ensure flexibility is to stretch both before and after working out or otherwise performing physically. Another equally effective way is to make sure you make regular visits to the masseuse. In an ideal world the runner, gym rat or football player would make sure they do both.
9. It Makes for More Restful Sleep
One of the most well-known and sought after benefits of massage is its ability to produce a more restful night’s sleep. Many people in fact don’t wait to hit the sack to enjoy this benefit. They actually wind up falling asleep during the massage session, even if they came into that session stressed out and wide awake. As the massage therapist works your muscles blood circulation is increased, tension melts away and endorphins are released that produce a pleasurable response in the brain and a physical sensation that is similar to that produced by morphine, but without the nasty addictive side effects. So if you’ve been beset by stress related insomnia lately go out and get a massage and rest easy.
10. It Helps You Deal with PMS Symptoms
Anyone touched by the scourge of PMS symptoms understands how debilitating, enervating and disruptive they can be to life. Mood swings, headaches, bloating, irritability and more gang up on a woman and drive a wedge between her and her normal experience. Regular massage has been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS, allowing many women to achieve the relief they need without the use of high impact medications.
11. It May Help Reduce Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive stress injuries and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can produce shooting pain and a feeling of weakness in the hands, wrists and forearms. And with more and more people working on computers today these types of conditions are becoming ever more prevalent. If left unattended repetitive stress conditions can produce steady pain that interferes with everything from your ability to do your job to your ability to cook to your ability to exercise and more. Besides limiting mobility the ability to grip objects is also negatively affected by Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and you may find yourself dropping objects in the supermarket or wincing in pain when someone shakes your hand. Surgery can sometimes help in alleviating the symptoms of repetitive stress injuries but there is also a non-surgical way to obtain a degree of relief: massage. Regular massage of the affected areas can significantly reduce pain and has been shown to help some people improve their gripping ability as well.
12. It Reduces Side Effects of Cancer and Cancer Treatments
Cancer and cancer treatments can produce significant amounts of pain and discomfort with patients often needing serious pain killers in order to function on something like a normal level. Pain medication is a double edged sword however. One that provides relief but also dulls the senses and creates both physical and mental addiction to the pain medication. Cancer patients who receive regular massage therapy however often experience reduced pain, more flexibility, greater mobility, better sleep and an overall improvement in their quality of life.